1990 Mazda RX7 GXL 13B Rotary from North America


Excellent performance, but not at all worth the hassle


Alternator belt snapped and all belts had to be replaced at 190,000 kms.

Clutch was totally gone at 192,000 kms.

It always idled badly and would shut down if air conditioner was turned on.

Some electrical items would not work once in a while, such as windshield, sunroof, power windows.

The Apex Seals on rotor 2 just blew last week, the car is no longer driveable.

General Comments:

The RX-7 was a really well-handling, fun and sporty car. It could turn with stock suspension like it was on rails! It was super-fast and the engined revved really fast and really high.

Cabin comfort is pretty good, too. The seats were nice and noise was pretty low. It was tiny inside, but it was comfortable, although somewhat hard to see out the windows when merging or changing lanes.

Despite all the good looks, comfort and capabilities - this car is only meant for those with money to waste fixing the troublesome rotary.

I changed the oil every month as a preventative thing, as the engine naturally injects oil into the rotor housing. Despite doing this, the engine just died one day.

No exaggeration here, let me tell you my story: I drove to work in the morning and the car was perfectly fine. Then when I got off work at night, the car had a super hard time starting. And when I finally got it started, it shook like crazy, didn't have power and was really loud. Finally, I got it diagnosed as a blown Apex Seal. In order to fix that one lousy part, the entire engine would have to be disassembled. Needless to say, I've had enough of this car.

If it isn't one thing, it's another with this car. It also had the tendency to develop rust really fast.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th December, 2003

6th Mar 2004, 10:04

Did you always warm it up properly before driving?

Did you service it every 5000?

Are you sure that it's not just an apex seal stuck in it's groove?

4th May 2005, 20:59

I'm surprised you hadn't anticipated a seal failure at nearly 200,000km's! Rotary engines have a shorter life, it's the price you pay for the performance, and I don't know any RX7 owners, myself included that weren't aware of this at the time of purchase.

20th Aug 2005, 22:10

I agree with the comment about a stuck apex seal. This happens typically in the rear rotor causing it to lose compression which in turn will cause very rough idling/driving, but the rotary will almost always get you home. I've had a few that have gotten me home on just one rotor and home was far away. DON'T give up yet, anything WORTH doing is NEVER easy.

2nd Dec 2005, 13:39

My engine is amazing... no problems, ever. The only problem I've had is the security system draining the battery.

My only complaint would be that it isn't fast enough.

9th Aug 2008, 23:11

What did you honestly expect from a 20 year old car? You don't have the passion to own an Rx7, I'm glad you sold it.

Rotaries are like hot women, high maintenance but well worth it.

26th Oct 2008, 18:05

I just bought a 1990 Rx7, and this year the lady put two batteries in it, and now it won't start, there's nothing, you turn the key and the car doesn't even make a noise it's as if the security system has shut every thing off. Does anyone know how to fix this.

1990 Mazda RX7 Convertable 1.3L (13B) Rotary (Non-turbo) from North America


Cheap power! Fun to drive, indestructible


Apparently when I bought the car, the engine had been replaced 20K before I bought the car, but that was a used car dealer talking and from close inspection, I don't believe it.

The oil injectors stopped working (the one way valves clogged), leading me to start mixing 2-stroke premix in with my gas (people look at me funny at the gas station). It's an easy fix.

The seals around the top of the windows that close by the convertible top have managed to start leaking. They cost $50 a side to replace.

Intermittent windshield wipers stop working every so often, so I have to turn it one speed higher. Just a minor annoyance.

General Comments:

This car is loud.

The gas mileage is almost garbage (18 average for me, 17 city 24 highway) Not really THAT bad for a sports car, but still not great.

This car puts up with my abuse and loves it. It doesn't care if you rev it to 8100RPM before shifting.

With the sport breaking package, it stops quickly. The front end doesn't dive like most cars, it just stops.

It hugs turns like you would never belive, and the torque curve is amazing. Just an endless rush of power.

The car doesn't have much low end torque to speak of.

It's a great conversation piece when you can tell people your car has no pistons. I ask them to guess how big the engine is.

Its nice being able to put the top down in the winter, with the amount of heat that the heater core can put off.

The seats are uncomfortable, and the cabin is somewhat small and cramped. It gets kid of annoying for me (6 feet) on long trips when the top is up.

Its nice having speakers in the headrests. They are rather low quality though.

This car has no storage space. The trunk is big enough to fit a golf-bag in.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th September, 2003

3rd Mar 2005, 08:04

Hello, I originally posted the above in 2003. I still have the car and it is March of 2005.

Problems that developed:

1) A heater hose exploded, causing half the coolant to exit the engine. It is the hose directly under the oil filter, and this is a common RX-7 problem (as oil gets on the hose and bloats it). The hose cost $12 to replace.

2) The master brake cylinder is dying, it leaks when the car is left cold for more than a day, completely draining itself in about a week if the car is left sitting.

3) The mufflers rusted out.

4) The clutch wore out, (that is to be expected, it had 110miles or so on it)

I have also modified the car, there is a huge aftermarket for this car, so quality parts are very easy to find. I now get around 22MPG to 26MPG.

This car is very, very easy to work on.