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Mazda Protege Maintenance and Repair



  • I am considering buying a 1999 Protege LX from Hertz (mileage is about 28,000). I test drove the car and everything checked out fine. However, I noticed that when the car is in drive and I am stopped, there is some engine vibration. Is this normal, or does it indicate an impending problem?
  • carlrjrcarlrjr Posts: 35
    It isn't unusual for a computer-controlled engine to wiggle a little at idle because the ECM is messing around with the idle control to get the best emissions. How's the power and/or performance otherwise? If it doesn't die or hesitate when you take off it should be no big deal.
    However, as with any used car, have a mechanic or even a dealer check it out. Better to spend under $100 before you buy then to spend a lot more after.
    I'm not that familiar with Mazda's scheduled maintenance, but a tune-up is likely due at 30K; that tune up will probably eliminate this problem.
  • Other than that slight vibration, the vehicle performed very well. Thanks for the info and the advice.
  • lgblgb Posts: 30
    I own a '92 with a 1.8L engine. I don't have alignment problems, but I do have one missing hub cap. Have you tried a dealer alignment? I'm not a dealer fanatic, but experience is that a regular shop just does not deal with these cars that often. good luck.
  • Thanks to all for the insight on the LX vibration issue. As it turns out, w/a clean air filter & new plugs, the car is running strong & fuel economy is averaging about 29 MPG. However, the car still makes a racket when stopped in D or R. Last week my son slammed the rear driver-side door shut while the driver side door was open. To my surprise, I heard a hint of the rattling noise that annoys me so while stopped in gear. After dragging my wife out to help, I determined that the sound component of the vibration is coming from the hood latch! If I pop the hood open, the sound goes away! I looked at the latch mechanism & cannot figure out what adjustment is possible to hold it down tighter (if that is the fix). There are no apparently missing dampening parts around the perimeter where the hood contacts the grille. A folded cloth (outside the engine compartment rubber seal of course) does the trick, but I am really hoping for a more elegant solution. I am already about $300 into this problem, so I am not in huge rush to go back to the dealer. Any suggestions?
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    On most cars, there are little round rubber plugs attached to either the underside of the hood or the upper side of the fenders and radiator support where the hood closes. They usually look like little (maybe an inch in diameter) rubber "nuts" -- complete with six sides. On most cars I've had, these "nuts" have threads underneath and can be screwed in or out to vary their height. If yours has them, you can unscrew them a turn or two to adjust the closure distance so the hood shuts good and tight.

  • What gives? I have a '96 Protege LX with 42K miles. One day while on the interstate highway coming from the beach going about 70mph, the 5th gear slips out into neutral. I could not, for the life of me, get it to go back into 5th gear. I had to drive the remaining 45 miles back home in 4th gear! I take it to my local mazda dealer and they wanted $1200-1500 to replace my transmission. They said I had lost 5th gear and I had some seal leaking. I told them that the 5th gear slip thing only happens after an hour or so at highway speeds not around town, so I still had 5th gear. Since I don't have $1500 available (I'm a college student), any suggestions or alternatives in my case. I guess I don't believe them. My opinion is that a manual tranny should last the life of the car, that's one reason I bought a 5 sp in the first place. This has only 42K miles on it for God's sake. So right now it's sitting in my driveway collecting dust.
  • speedyptspeedypt Posts: 200
    I had to replace the plug wires on both of my '92 LX Protege's at 40k. The problem presented the same on both, anything over partial throttle resulted in sputtering. I thought it was "all over" until I had the dealer check it out...sure enough, new plug wires did the trick.

    Try that first before dumping any other money...



  • Hi, I have a 99 Es automatic with 21,000 miles. A few weeks ago, my Over Drive and check engine indicators came on. It had no pick up. I took it to the dealer and after several tests they found out my transmission needed to be fixed Since of course, it was under warranty they replaced it. Apparently, some dealers were noticing this problem out in California. Has any one else had to replace their transmissions????? I love my car but am very surprised.
  • Have never heard of the over drive light coming on. Do you live in Cali? Wonder if it has anything to do with the strict emissions in Cali? Glad you got it fixed under warranty.
  • My '94 Protege horn has just recently started going off for no reason- at any time, day or night, even while I'm driving it. Smacking the steering wheel seems to stop it, but as that's a little ridiculous, I've resorted to pulling the fuse out anytime I'm away from the car (even more ridiculous, except when I'm woken up at 5am). I'm guessing it's an electrical problem somewhere within the steering column, but does anyone have any ideas? Oddly enough, it didn't happen until it started to get cold down here..
  • No, we live in New Jersey. We were just surprised that a year old transmission went bad. Thanks anyway!
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    no indication whatsoever before it went kaput?
  • Sounds like there is a problem with the counterbalance shaft. The counterbalance shaft runs the 5th and reverse gears. 1 to 2 gear and 3rd to 4th have synchros, so they help match engine speed. 4th gear is always a 1:1 ratio so you can drive it. How does reverse work? You might ask around to some foreign car specialists. Sometimes, these inde's can quickly diagnose and fix the problems easier and more helpful. A tranny with properly changed fluid generally lasts a long time. If you've ever disassembled a newer automatic tranny, a freakin' 5 speed is nothing compared to the automatic complexities.
  • Sometimes, condensation can complete a circuit and cause strange problems. YOu might have a small amount of condensation completing the horn circuit somewhere. Sounds like the horn mechanism might be the trouble spot. I would go through and clean and inspect the connections at the horn assembly. I would also disconnect the horn and stick a multimeter to the lines to measure continuity. That way, the horn wires can be messed with wihout the horn actually going off and better isolate the problem. It doesn't sound too complicated. Hope this helps.
  • Yep, moisture could be closing the circuit. You may be able to clean things and fix the problem, or maybe bend the contact [usually spring steel to increase clearance.
  • On "clunk": items sliding around in the trunk may clunk! (my experience, with that vast sea of carpet); If air conditioner is on, its compressor may be deactivated as you accelerate, leading to clunk (a guess, since that is a behavior of some other cars' compressors, to minimize drag on the engine when accelerating).
    On overdrive problems, or any problems: be sure to check the NHTSA information easily linked-to via Edmunds, which shows "formal" complaints of problems to NHTSA.
  • My 97 5spd dx stalls when coming to a stop. Doesn't seem to matter whether we downshift or coast. Dealer and and independent mechanic found nothing wrong.

    This happens in spells. Used to happen only when the tank was less than half full, and only when one of us drove it. The problem became dangerous last week, stalling when I had to slow down because of obstructions in road, for example, so we took it in. The mechanic drove it around town, checked the computer, and found nothing wrong. Seems to drive fine now.

    Any idea what the problem is?
  • Please help. I spend a small fortune for guesswork but the problem still exists. My 92 Mazda Protege stops while driving after every right turn. I am out of ideas. Maybe someone can diagnose this problem , or maybe someone experienced this same weird problem. I will be very greatful.
    Best regards,
  • This one could be a difficult problem. I would do some driveabliity checks, like checking the fuel pressure and also check for vacuum. Have you had your fuel filter changed? Sometimes, these overlooked little filters can cause all kinds of stalling and rough engine running problems. It might be something like too low of an idle problem. Check the pcv valve too.
  • I've heard problems like these on other cars. In most instances, it's a wiring problem, such as a harness being pulled too tight or a frayed wire problem in the steering column or some other component rubbing wires. You might try inspecting under the dash and turn the wheel while inspecting the wires, making sure none of them are touching. You might check under the hood as well to see if any wires are rubbing there. Also, shake wire clusters to see if the problem occurs while the car is sitting at idle. Just a few ideas. Maybe someone else has ran into this exact problem with this model year or something.
  • If I remember correctly, the electrical connector for the fuel pump is accessible by pulling the rear seat cushion. You might try checking this connector to see if it's properly seated; if it's loose, it's conceivable that the force of a right turn might be enough to break the connection temporarily, which would cause a stall.
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    call 1-888-car-talk for expert advice for free!
  • Holy SH**, is this for real? My 5 year old could have put together a more concise posting.

    Talk about a need for remedial spelling.

    Must be a Daewoo owner in disguys, oops, sorry, I ment disguise.
  • Nice post, glidescope.

    It's worth noting that (at the moment, at least) there are NO Daewoo owners that bothered to enter complaints on that site.
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    ... we are blaming Mazda for a dealership that has poor management. Since when does a bad experience at a McDonald's drive-thru make all McDonald's restaurants bad, for example?

    People are human, and it appears from the above post that possibly there were problems/ignorance on both sides of the bargaining table.

    If you don't like the service you receive at one dealership, take it to the management. If that doesn't work, go to another dealership! But your poor experience at one dealer doesn't change the fact that I've owned four Mazda vehicles, all purchased from the same good dealership in Richmond, VA!


  • HELP!!! My 99 Protege (manual trans.) is 5k miles away from the end of its warranty and I have yet to find a solution for this problem. At about 2000 rpm's when accelerating, there is a rattling coming from somewhere near the front of the car. There was a TSB that seemed to relate to this, but I have since had the dealer put the part on and the noise still exists. I have been to the dealer 3 times now with the car and they can't seem to track this thing down, it is tough because you can't get it to make the noise when it is idling. I am just wondering if someone has had this problem or knows of any other recourse I may have if the dealer can't pinpoint the cause (even though they admit to hearing it on a test drive). Thanks for any help,

  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    of rattling? does it sound like marbles or knocking or muffled or distinct or thick metal noise or thin plate noise?

    One thing you can get checked is the transmission axle ends (they contain sliding bearings to compensate for suspension movements) at the differential side. If they are worn out, you may get rattling sound under load, not under regular cruise speeds.
  • My dad's 2000 DX has a problem similar to this. It will happen when the car is idling in drive at a stop light, but it doesn't happen ALL the time. Only every once in a while. It sounds like two metal plates vibrating against each other coming from the left side of the speedometer cluster just in front of the windshield. His car only has 2000 miles on it, but he doesn't drive much so whenever he hits 3000 miles to change his oil I will mention this to the dealer (But I doubt they will be able to fix it)

    I heard of a TSB about exhaust resonance when you rev the engine to around 3700 RPM that will make something rattle, but I don't think that applies since the car is does not rev at 3700 RPM idling!
  • chikoochikoo Posts: 3,008
    there are no moving parts in the area where you indicate near the windshield! are you pretty sure about it?
    all the major moving parts are on the right side.
  • I'm pretty sure it's coming from the area to the left just behind the left air vent.
  • Somebody discovered the source of their rattle was the hood. Needed adjustment so it would close tight. Just a thought.
  • That's what I was thinking, but the problem is not too serious. I will have it looked at when the oil is changed at the dealer.

    Mpshute: I don't know if this will work, but try grabbing the corner of the hood where the sound is coming from and try to see if it is loose. Then, go to the dealer and tell them you have an idea of where the noise is coming from, and they should look at and fix it if that's where it's coming from. (That is, if you have a good service department)
  • "As an ex future mazda owner, I wonder how mazda can get away with treating someone as they did in the story above? Isn't it illegal? Im now strictly looking at Toyota."

    I don't quite understand what you are trying to pull here, but you have to understand that most of the Protege owners that post here were not born yesterday.

    Thanks for posting that link though. It was very helpful in that I didn't have to search for evidence for the point I am about to make. Here is a link to the Toyota complaints on that same link.


    There was even more complaints on the Toyota link than the Mazda link...including people complaining about getting cheated out of their deposit and being treated rudely.

    I suggest you take your game and move it over to the Saturn forum. Oh yeah, Saturn has a link on that web site too.
  • brajabraja Posts: 25

    I had posted a note a while ago stating that
    the radio in my 2000 ES gets interference
    (in FM) from the engine. The weaker the
    station, the stronger the interference, like
    a sputtering noise whose frequency increases with
    engine RPM.

    The dealer recently replaced the radio, but
    the new one does the same! The dealer called
    Mazda and the solution suggested was to
    incrementally replace all engine electrical
    components that could cause interference. I.e,
    the dealer would replace parts one by one
    until the interference stops! I'm highly
    skeptical of this approach, and I don't
    want to screw up factory-installed engine

    The dealer also claims that he sees the
    same problem with another brand-new 2000

    My questions are:

    1. Is there anyone else out there (2000
    protege owner) who has
    this problem?

    2. ANy idea on how to fix this??

  • For this sort of noise, start with plug wires. I assume there's no distributor, so consider the coil after that. Another possible cause might be a bad ground for the radio.
    There are also filters that can also be installed between the antenna and the radio; a good car stereo shop would be familiar with this problem. Does this also affect AM radio?
  • Usually, poorly shielded spark plug wires (or otehr ignition related component) will cause the crackling noise in the stereo. A whine is alternator induced and caused by a ground loop (fixed by grounding the stereo elsewhere or you can sometimes use a transformer in the 12v switched lead. Floating grounds are often a problem in noises. Most cars have a frame-mounted antenna and if you were to disconnect the ground lead on a stereo, it will still work because it is "grounding" through the antenna. This is a "floating" ground. It has the entire frame of the vehicle to travel through,before it goes through the small frame to ground lead to the ground on the battery. This is why aftermarket stereo components (or even shanging spark plug wires) can cause these problems. It sounds ignition-induced. A stereo shop could fix this, but that's what warranties are for, right?
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    I'm an amateur radio operator and I have a two-way VHF radio installed in my 2000 ES, just like I did on my '92 Protege LX. I had a similar problem in my '92 that caused the same kind of interference you describe on both the mobile radio and my AM/FM stereo.

    The plug wires in our cars go down into the valve cover before contacting the head of the spark plugs. They pass through that rubber grommet you see on top of the valve cover and go another few inches before meeting the plug, in other words. What happened on my '92? Moisture had caused one of the wires to arc through its insulation and short to the metal "tunnel" above the plug. Replacing the wires (about $40) did two things -- it made the car run better, and the interference disappeared.

    You can check this yourself -- unplug your wires and look for burn-through marks (black sooty spots) on them between the rubber grommet and the top of each plug. Even if this ain't the problem, it's a cheap ($0) way of ruling out the wires as the culprit!

    Good luck,

  • I still have a hesitation when I accelerate, its been happening for 3 years now. I think there are 2 things that may be causing this and a remedy may be almost impossible to achieve.
    1.The throttle plate and assembly needs to be cleaned regularly. This may smooth things out. ( upper engine cleaning systems are expensive and you may get some results with Tektron) 2. The automatic transmission is electronic and shifting is rough, this may add to that hesitation when accelerating. My car downshifts from 4th to 1st and redlines when I try to accelerate after braking and cornering. I have my car at the dealer today, with 6 weeks left on my warranty. These are ongoing issues with the Mazda Protege. I really like the car and want to keep mine.
  • deki80deki80 Posts: 3
  • But I could go through a dozen of those two-dollar shirts sequentially, and have six bucks left over, and you're still wearing that same old shirt. Unless you drive a Morgan, you'll have to do better than that for a comparison.
  • speedyptspeedypt Posts: 200
    What are you doing posting in here? Go back to your overpriced VW. Expensive? On my third Protege and have not had a major problem with a single one. Went to Scottsdale Porche with a client three months ago. They charged him nearly $80 for a frickin' oil change!!!! Even if they used full-synthetic oil, that's nearly three times what it should cost. Mazda did my last oil and filter change for $12.95. Sounds like you are calling yourself a chump!

    Stick to topics you know something about. The Protege is an extremely reliable car and has been recognized for it's overall value by both Car & Driver and Consumer Reports.

    Wanna talk depreciation? Okay....

    1996 Porche 911 Turbo in Sunday's Arizona Republic with 48k, stated original title, no salvage title or damage. New it cost over $105,000.00, selling for $38,500 OBO FROM A DEALER!!! 63% depreciation in 4.5 years.

    1996 Protege ES cost 17,000 new with 68k miles, again no damage, "like new" for 9500.00 OBO from a dealer. 44% depreciation over the same period.

    Tell me again how buying a more expensive car is better?

  • mq76mq76 Posts: 1
    I have a 98LX 5 speed. my idle fluctuates often. when I'm idling at a light or whatever, it often will go up to 1000-1300 RPM and the shoot down to 700ish. I've taken it to the dealer twice and had it adjusted while I was there. It used to be worse, it would almost die on me...i just want to try to get this resolved before my warranty runs out. anyone else have this problem and fix it? Also when I'm accelerating and the RPM gets above 3000RPM I can hear a rattling. sounds like plastic really... what could it be. I don't know much but i do understand the rattling=friction and friction=wear.

    In response to post #49 - my protective plate on my driver's side wore out and made my lock inoperable. the dealership replaced it. my passenger door is wearing out but sill works i have about 8000 miles to get that replaced.

    In response to post #30 - my brakepads wore out just before 30,000m and i'm not a super freak stopper...i drive like my dad as of late. it seemed unusual. but i replaced them and got my tune-up. hopefully these will last longer.

    sorry about my long windedness.

    by the way i love my protege although i am jealous of my little brother's '99 it seems to have more room inside.


  • I have a 2000 Mazda Protege with 4800 miles on it.
    After driving long enough for the engine to be fully warmed up, say 20-25 minutes on the freeway,
    and am idling for 1 minute or longer, I notice a burning oil smell. It only occurs with the heater on, and only at idle. It is not overpowering, but noticeable. I had the oil changed and thought that might have been the cause(spilled oil on the engine), but cannot find any oil anywhere on the engine. I am not losing oil either. I have tracked
    the smell to a location right next to the timing belt cover, but cannot find a drop of oil leaking anywhere. Anybody else run into this smell/problem?
  • fritz1224fritz1224 Posts: 398
    Has this particular topic board been gone for awhile? I thought maybe they just dropped it because it wasn't very active. Possbily proof of the quality of the Protege. Anyway, glad to see it back. I have had my 2k ES 5sp for 3400 miles now and still get a thrill when driving it. Gotten plenty of compliments on its looks as well.
  • I'm interested in a 2001 Protege for my daughter. Who is the best and most reliable dealership in Phoenix/Scottsdale area? If you know a specific salesperson, please include. Thx
  • curt3curt3 Posts: 101

    I am the proud owner of a 2000 Protege LX that I bought in December of 1999. I will be turning 30,000 miles within the next two weeks and I have had absolutely no problems except for pinging with cheap gasoline. I am happy to say that this Mazda replaced its evil twin Kia Sephia that I traded in on the transaction.
  • gweedogweedo Posts: 4
    I don't know if anyone else is having this problem, but the tires that came factory on my 2G Protege suck in snow, ice, rain and anything other than road. I cant remember the brand name (Yoko something) Is anyone finding a better tire that performs a ton better, on stock rims? I live In Omaha Neb. So...Snow and ice is a 6-7 month season.
  • jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
    I have a '95 Protege LX 5-spd with the 1.5. Bought the car new and to date have 120k on the odometer. Only problems have been relatively minor:

    1. Rear defrost switch, replaced under warranty

    2. Dome light bulb, replaced under warranty.

    3. Small crack in exhaust manifold at 100k. Bought used part and replaced myself.

    4. Check engine light at 100k. Replaced both Oxygen sensors myself(relatively easy to do with ramps and a few tools) and this fixed the problem.

    5. Some ideling irregularities when stopped in neutral similar to Mq76 post above. Problem has gone away and car never stalled, so I ignored it. This may be related to bad gasoline.

    6. Some CV joint clicking starting at 70K and noticable on left turns when car is first run(cold). This goes away when warm and since both boots are fine I will ignore this until it gets really bad.

    Overall this is the highest quality car I have ever owned. Engine is still tight and powerful. Does not burn or leak any oil and I change it every 7,500 miles with full synthetic. Clutch is still strong and the original brakes went 115K(mostly highway miles). Finally, since I tow a trailer/ATV quite a bit and have tested the top speed (115 mph) on several ocassions, I consider myself a tough user. To top it off I get 30-40 mpg.

    To save money on parts consider used from nationwide used Mazda parts dealers listed on the internet. I got a used exhaust manifold for $80 and a used secondary O2 sensor for $120. I also bought a new main O2 sensor from carparts.com for $60 with a coupon. Mazda dealer prices are much higher.

    Now I just wish someone could make a minivan as reliable as my Protege for $18K.
  • speedyptspeedypt Posts: 200
    I bought from Bell Road Mazda (9th Ave and Bell Rd) and I've been very happy with them. They cut me a HELL of a deal too. If you are going there to buy, email me at [email protected] and I'll split the referral fee with you! (Bell Rd Mazda pays a $175.00 referral fee to buyers who send them other customers who buy cars from them.)


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