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Mazda Protege Maintenance and Repair



  • I recently bought a 2003 Protege ES. Beautiful car, but... I took it in after 3 weeks (1300 miles) for a rattling inside the engine. I do a little car repair, and thought it was the heat shield, because it seemed to stop after the engine heated up. They kept it for 2 weeks. I decided to send them a certified letter (lemon law first step). Boy did that get a response! They called me in and said my car was ready. When I got there, they said they couldn't fix it, and Mazda Corp. said it was the sound made when some valve stays closed when the engine is cold to help the vortexing of fuel/air mixture and increase performance. So they developed a calibration for the computer to solve the problem. Thing is, they told the dealer that it probably wouldn't help. And it didn't. And the car performs poorly while making this sound. But be that as it may, they said I must accept the car as is, they will not authorize any more work on it, they are taking away my rental, and I can never bring the car in for a rattling inside the engine again. If in the future they develop a fix for it, I will be called in. When I originally took the car in, they said if they couldn't fix it, they would replace the engine. Well, they lied. Now they expect me to just deal with it. So what about when I try to sell it? Explain to the buyer that the noise is OK? I've heard that Mazda is a good car, with few problems. Well, this is what happens to you if you do have a problem. Any one else with this noise? The other cars on the lot don't make this noise. The service manager checked it out. And he said he would be mad if it were him, but in court he will have to say what Mazda told him to say. They tried to give me this explanation that maybe only that week they made the engine a little different. I'm so frustrated. Please someone respond.
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    If it's when the car is cold (-10C), a lot of PROs are harder to drive/accelerate/shift gears. So what I do is start the car, let it sit for 30 secs and drive. In 3-5 mins after driving easily (RPMs below 3.000 at all times), the car warms up and becomes a pavement beast.

  • I wish I could relax, but it only gets to about 40 F on the coldest of days here. When I say the engine is cold, I mean it is about 75 F.
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    in that case, there's definitely something weird. Might wanna ask this question in the main Protege Sedan board. Usually Mondays are slow, but everything picks up by Tue/Wed. There are some knowledgeable people that may have the answer for you.

  • i posted it there. anyway, maybe i'm so upset because I figured protege to kinda be a performance vehicle. i wouldn't have expected a rattle above 3000rpm. jeez, it doesn't even redline for another 3000 or so.
  • protege_fanprotege_fan Posts: 2,405
    The Engine rattle of death (or death rattle, etc). Last I've heard, it's an ECM fix.
  • well, they told me there was a calibration-they would flash the computer, they said. anyway, it didn't work. can you tell me where the "death rattle" is documented? or any other ideas about protege performance as a function of its computer?
  • protege_fanprotege_fan Posts: 2,405
    To do w/ the VTCS of the 2.0L engine. It is well documented at
  • thanks to all who provided info for me. it was greatly appreciated. a friend suggested that since there were more people with the same problem, maybe together we could force Mazda to fix the problem. jeez, i had no idea this phenomenon was so common. i'd never heard about it before, and I did a lot of research before my purchase. but apparently, from what you guys are saying, it has been around for years. this makes me wonder why it hasn't been addressed by Mazda. and i mean fixed, not acknowledged!
  • protege_fanprotege_fan Posts: 2,405
    If it ain't broke....
  • I was having problems with my blower motor making a clicking sound, like a leaf or debris was caught in the fan. I took the car in to Gunther Mazda in Ft. Lauderdale for the routine oil and filter and mentioned the problem. They replaced the blower motor at no charge, no questions or hassels, no more clicking. Hats off to Gunther Mazda!!!
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    go to another dealer....if you can convince him...
    my tranny used to make clunking noise when punching on gas pedal or coming to a fast stop....Mazda dealer and then the MAzda Rep said it is "NORMAL"...[non-permissible content removed].

    Went to another "Elite" dealer....changed the tranny immediately after checking out other proteges on the lot for the same sound.
  • Drive it down to Gunther in Ft. Lauderdale, mabey they'll toss in a new HVAC fan too!!! (hahaha!!)
  • estoesto Posts: 136
    I'm looking at buying a used 94 Protege DX with automatic tranny and AC. So far, everything seems OK; all that I can see/hear/feel is cosmetic dings and scratches on the outside. Are there any known issues with this vintage of Protege? My old GLC and '87 323 served me well, and I'm hoping this one will also. Thanks.

  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586

    General Info


    Good luck!

  • My brother is having the following problem with the radio/CD player in his 2000 Protege.

    If you have a part replaced at the end of your basic warranty (in this case, the radio/CD player) does that piece of equipment carry its own warranty or is it covered under the basic 3 year warranty? What if it is replaced on the last day/mile of your basic warranty, does that mean that the new part has no warranty if it fails one week later after the basic warranty has expired?
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    I would think any new Mazda part in a car has a 12mths/20.000kms warranty. I'm sure your dealer will fix it free of charge.

  • manavimanavi Posts: 150
    I know exactly what you're talking about.

    I have a 2001 Protege ES. When I reach 3500 RPMS, I can feel a little more oomph in the car and it surges forward strongly.

    I think I read somewhere that something in the muffler opens up at 3500 RPMS.

    Anyone else hear about this?
  • protege_fanprotege_fan Posts: 2,405
    Peak torque is reached at 4000're probably experiencing the car nearing the peak.
  • Here's the twist to the story, the car is at 79,500kms and the radio has been acting up, (the same problems some people have reported with 1999-2000 radio/CD players, long track search times, crunching sounds and slow loading and ejecting.) Ajax Mazda says they can send the unit our for repair with no guarantee when its coming back, or they can swap it with a refurbished radio. When asked how long the warranty is on the refurbished unit, they said its part of the basic warranty, which runs out in a matter of weeks.

    Any suggestions?
  • rotarykidrotarykid Posts: 191
    Im my 16 or so years as a mazda tech, we have always ordered an audio unit to replace the one that has a problem. The "new" (sometimes refurbished, but like new) unit comes in, you drive your car in, and we replace the unit. I am talking about warranty situations here. There was never any "sending out for repairs" when it came to warranty. As far as being at the end of the warranty, your brother will just have to bite the bullet. A reputable dealer would get something done for you if the new unit, that technically goes out of warranty in 3 days, went bad in a week. No guarantees though.
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    Mine was replaced too a week after I got the car b/c the CD would not eject. They had A LOT of PROs in 2001 around July-August with this problem. Any decent Mazda dealer will keep that in mind if the new unit stops working again.

    Now I know Avante Toronto does a good job of keeping existing clients happy. I'm not sure how they'll treat somebody who's never went there for an oil change, considering you expect the dealer to honour the replacement if it breaks...

    I can also recommend Scarboro Mazda (Warden/Lawrence) - that's where mine was replaced b/c Avante (North Toronto at the time) did not have any left in stock.

    You might want to have your bro call a few other dealers and ask what happens if the new unit breaks soon - say within a month or so. I don't know how service is at Morningside Mazda, but sales wasn't their strong point!

  • I have a 2000 ES 5-speed, with 42K miles, bought new. Overall, I really like the car but it's had more problems than any other Protege I know of. Differential replaced at 11K, catalytic converter replaced and other exhaust issues at 37K, two different suspension issues... All has been covered by warranty so far...

    I'm pretty darn envious of those of you who just have stereo issues!
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    That's the most problem-plagued PRO I've heard of! Did you mod it, went over curbs with it? It really seems out of the ordinary...

    I only had the stereo replaced and the spoiler's LED (3 lights burned). Otherwise the car has been superb!

  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    What exactly were the symptoms that prompted these repairs? I have had the rotten egg odor intermittently, but not worried about it. What other exhaust issues? What about the differential, what were the sounds, operation etc. that indicated this problem. Suspension problems?
  • OK, I had to dig up the service records, and there was soemthing I forgot about. So here's the major stuff:

    8/00 Replaced differential due to "internal failure"

    9/01 Replaced EGR valve (car was idling roughly and almost stalling)

    4/02 suspension issues and oil leak fixed by tightening bolts etc.

    9/02 Replaced ignition wires, battery, catalytic converter, and did coil ignition recall work (this was after the check engine light kept coming on, and car was running roughly)

    1/03 Replaced rear stabilizer links

    This just seems like too much for this car. The car hasn't been modified in any way, and I am a fairly conservative driver. The check engine light problem, however, did only start after my husband foolishly parked the car sideways on a very steep, muddy hill, and the car was not the same afterwards. (don't ask; if I'd been with him at the time it wouldn't have happened!)

    Here's the deal: I expect to be able to get another car by late summer. I *want* to go with another Mazda (possibly a P5) but I'm worried about the same thing happenning again.
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    This is not what I would expect from a Protege. I mean most people's PROs have been flawless since new. Some have 50.000miles w/out problems...

    Unfortunately, it sure looks you got a REALLY bad one. Same thing happened with my previous car - a 93 Civic that blew headgsakets, cylinder heads, radiators, the A/C, and the auto tranny was on its way out too. Not to say Civics are bad cars, but I just got a REALLY bad one... So I guess bad cars exist among even the most reliable brands.

    I would not hesitate buying another Protege today if I had to. I also understand why you have reservations towards this car, considering the hassles you've gone through.

    If you do, get one with either a 5spd or regular auto tranny - no manumatic. Just my suggestion, based on reading the PRO and 6 boards.

    Good luck!

  • rotarykidrotarykid Posts: 191
    An internal failure of a component such as a transaxle differential is rare on any japan-made car, so sounds like bad luck for that issue. As far as the cat converter going bad, the recall that replaces the faulty ignition coil came a little too late for some of the proteges out there. Most pros that had the faulty coils had their check engine light come on with a misfire code. This misfire caused raw fuel to enter the converter and damage it. Typical scenario at the dealership was this: misfire code kicks in between 20-30k miles, car is fitted with a new coil and usually wire set to go along with it for good measure, comes back around 30-40k with a cat-code(p0421) prompting the replacement of the converter. Case closed. Main reason I can see for the recall is not a safety issue, but a money issue for mazda.
    EGR valve going bad is another very odd failed part for a mazda. Sometimes an egr code in the pcm is brought on by a failure other than the valve itself, and could have been misdiagnosed.
    Those sway bar links have been an issue with most of the newer pros. If you hear any clunking from your suspension, front or rear, you probably need at least one sway bar link. Job security for me, pain in the neck for car owners.
    All in all the pro is an excellent car and is probably the most trouble free in the mazda lineup.
  • You guys have been really helpful. Does anyone else have input?

    At this point, because I have extended warranty coverage and access to another car if I need it, I will probably keep the car... until the warranty runs out (I can't remember when, either 75K or 100K miles). It's a good car; I can deal with minor hassles like this as long as they don't come too often...
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