The car has been very reliable and has always started first go. I have put 14,000km on it in under a year, which isn't bad for a 16 year old car.
First issue was the well known 'flashing hold light'. I researched on the Internet and was ready to face the fact that I needed a new transmission. I took it to an auto transmission mechanic who serviced the transmission and said the transmission was not the problem. It only flashed for a few days then went away for a month.
A month later while driving, white smoke was coming from the engine and the hold light was flashing again but these turned out to be two different issues, I'll talk about the smoke further on. I took the car to a Mazda dealer who only took an hour to find the problem and began work on my car straight away; it turned out that the car's computer had failed and the hold light was flashing as a result. What this means is, the transmission goes into fail mode and the car changes gears based on the speed, and therefore the gear changes were very harsh. So they fixed the computer, which saved a heap over the potential cost of a transmission. I had a heavy duty transmission cooler fitted as well.
It was a coincidence that the white smoke appeared at the same time, the oil sensor just broke and oil was dripping onto the exhaust, so I replaced the spark plugs and leads, air and fuel filter, and gave it an oil change at the same time.
I replaced the tie rods in the front, as well as other steering components.
The car also gets a rather loud tappet noise, but using thicker oil makes them quieter, but I change the oil every 5000km, so they only tend to get louder towards the end of the 5000, but it uses hardly any oil between changes.
Also, when using regular 91 RON unleaded, it has a pinging noise, so switching to premium 95 RON gets rid of the noise.
But I knew when buying a car with my budget and age range, to expect some problems, and I think I got pretty lucky; it has only had age related issues but it has never stopped working.
I love this car.
I spent 6 months looking for my first car. I previously had a 1982 Subaru, which I used as a 'paddock basher', and it survived 2 and a half years of thrashing, so my first road car had a lot to live up to.
I had a small budget, and at the bottom end of the market, the differences in cars is huge; some cars don't even have air or power steering, but I must have been lucky when I found this; it has air-conditioning, power steering, power mirrors and power windows front and back, not bad for 1992. It also as a CD player, cruise control and the air vents electronically swing left to right. It has a nice set of alloy wheels, a spoiler, and the green paintwork hasn't faded.
It gets around 11 litres per 100 kilometers, and most of that is around town, so I can live with that, being a small 2 litre automatic, and it gets down to around 8-9 on a long run.
It performs extremely well, considering it only has 85kw and 170 Nm of torque. It has very lively performance; it comfortably sits at highway speeds and is zippy through town.
I can't believe the quality of this car; there are no rattles or squeaks, and when it has fresh oil, it has a very quiet engine. The seat trim and dashboard plastics have not faded, and are not torn or damaged.
This was a good buy, and I would not hesitate to buy another Mazda. I'll drive this one until it falls apart (if that ever happens) and replace it with a Mazda6.