1995 Mazda 626 LX 2.5L V6 from North America
I wouldn't have too many hopes on this car
- New front tires (probably because the tires were completely bald due to misalignment).
- 4 wheel alignment.
- Cooling system flush (bad maintenance by previous owner).
- New battery twice (twice in the space of 6 months. Bad alternator might have been the reason for killing the first new battery).
- New alternator (previous one was just 1-1/2 years old and had just 6000 miles, but was out of the 1 year warranty. I guess it was a case of a bad re-manufactured part).
- New coolant hose (wrong specification hose used previously, could not hold the pressure).
- New CAPS for the radiator & reservoir tanks (wrong specification cap was installed by previous owner).
I owned the car for 6 months and was not happy with it. It has a 6 cylinder engine, which kind of makes the parts organization under the hood very cumbersome. The end result is more labor hours for all fixes, and thereby taking up the repair costs. Even a simple task of replacing the air filter was cumbersome; the box does not come off easy, and you have to squeeze the filter out and in. The water pump is tied to the cam shaft, and hence replacing this part involves removing the timing belt; to me that is not good design, considering that the vehicles have to undergo regular maintenance repairs and replacements, and therefore the maintenance procedures should be kept as simple as possible (this design is found in most Japanese & American cars).
I learned of the transmission problem while I was hunting for a cooling leak fix. You can find mention of this even in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_626#1993. The transmission on my car had not given way, but I could feel it was hard after driving above 10 miles. I think the reason being that the transmission starts getting taxed once the transmission oil heats up and gets thinned. This was clearly evident to me when there was a coolant leak, which was causing overheating, and the transmission would not respond, even with my accelerator floored!
From what I read, you can get an external transmission cooler installed to protect your fragile transmission, and it shouldn’t cost much. But when I checked around with the local Mazda dealers, they didn’t know what I was talking about, and this would mean it isn’t easy to get one installed. The transmission oil & filter change should be done religiously at 30,000 intervals instead of the 60k on other cars. I would be surprised if I found a used car with so much care taken. Also I read that you could reduce the stress on the transmission by using the stick shift (in the automatic) more often, which is when I started using it e.g. when I start from a stand still until the overdrive speed is reached; to climb even mildly upward slopes; 2nd gear in city limits with heavy traffic and crawling speed, etc. This was my first automatic transmission, and hence was not miffed in following these driving tips.
The mileage I got on this car was clocked at 21 MPG (as per manufacturer specifications) in the city. This car could have been designed for a higher mileage, considering what a Camry or Accord of the same age give, and that this car is no bigger or heavier than those.
When I bought the car new, I went on a long drive; a 150 mile trip (both ways included) and didn’t have any problems. I was more concerned about the rumbles and shakes the car was having. I had a wheel alignment done, and it became much smoother, but it would never hold straight, and would veer to one side very mildly. This model has a frozen caster, and I do not know what this implies with relevance to making adjustments and this issue.
I don’t like the blunted corners in the car, and to me it gives the car a bland look. This is evident in all Mazda models, even today, and is not appealing to me.
The plus points of the car are that, it is loaded with stuff like power seat, sunroof, power antenna, ski bag holder for the price.
I would definitely consider a Toyota/Honda/Nissan if I had to choose a Japanese car, and would never buy a Mazda ever again, until proven with time.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 19th February, 2007
20th Feb 2007, 16:07
OK, a few things.
This car is 12 years old. All the problems you list are completely normal for a car this age.
I'm not sure where you're shopping for tyres, but I have an MX-6 with the same tyres and have never had any problems finding replacements. The last ones (admittedly cheapo ones) cost me 45 UKP fitted.
21 MPG is normal for a V6 engined car this size in the urban cycle, and probably similar to any similarly sized six cylinder car.
Whoever told you about the water pump drive is wrong. Although it is located behind the timing belt, it is actually driven off the second auxiliary drivebelt, not the timing belt. It is a pig to replace though - I'll agree with that.
The tapping you are hearing on start up is completely normal, as it is caused by the hydraulic tappets not being primed with oil. Injector system treatments will have no effect, although use of 10W-40 grade oil will help a bit. The HLA's are unfortunately very prone to gumming up and tapping constantly at idle when fully warm.
UK spec automatic MX-6's had an oil cooler fitted in addition to the radiator heat exchanger, but from what I've heard, this wasn't fitted to American models. I believe you can get an aftermarket oil cooler, but don't expect the birdbrains at main dealers to give you any help. You should change the transmission fluid every 2 years / 24k miles, which is pretty much common to most automatic transmissions. If you have a leak and the fluid is low, you are almost certain to inflict damage if you blast the engine to get anywhere.
Remember there are two automatic transmissions, and your Wikipedia reference refers to the CD4E transmission, which is notoriously bad. The V6 model has the 4EAT Mazda transmission, which is still far from the world's most robust ATX, but if you don't beat seven bells out of it, it'll last.
Come check out the UK section of mx6.com sometime.