1991 Mazda 626 mechanical question



My wife and I have a 1991 Mazda 626. It seems to be on it’s way out and I plan to replace it in a couple months when I finish up some side work that I am doing. Recently the car has started doing something disturbing and new. When you first start the car and get going, the first time it shifts between 1st and 2nd gear, there is an alarming clunk. It only happens the first time. You can stop at a stop light and when you start going again, the shift between 1st and 2nd is fine. If left parked for a couple hours, it will do it again.

So, my questions are: Does anyone have a reasonable explanation for this? How long do you suspect one could drive it this way before catastrophic failure? What would such failure look like?

Fluid levels look good and I changed transmission fluid about 6-8 months ago. (it was curious that it did not take as much as the book said it should).

Any help appreciated,



In a shameless ploy to bring this thread back to the top of the list. Is there nobody out there with a theory on this? It was my understanding that a clunky transmission would get worse if warm. The clunk alsmost feels like it is coming from the left side of the car and possibly outboard of the transmission. There is no question that it is happening when shifting though.


I think it will drive that way for long enough. Then it can be retired.


I’m not too knowledgeable on transmissions, but if I had to guess, I’d say a pump is wearing out, and takes a while to start pumping the tranny fluid throughout the transmission, but it’s just a wild guess.

In any case, I’d leave it alone, seeing as you’re going to be ditching it in a couple months. I think you’ll probably be fine.

By the way, the reason the tranny didn’t take as much as the manual said is likely because you didn’t drain the torque converter, which can hold up to half of the called for transmission fluid. This doesn’t generally cause any problems, although, it could maybe explain the problems you’re currently having. Anyway, don’t worry about it, the car will in all likelihood last another couple months. Keep your fingers crossed.


I would also bet it would last that long. Once had an ancient Chrysler which worked fine once awakened, but took several minutes to perform the first shift. In cold weather it took many minutes.


[b]I have a 1991 Mazda 626 and mine does the same thing. Harsh/sudden shift from 1st-2nd. And what I’ve determined is that it’s caused by a sticky governor.

But actually, I wouldn’t worry about. If there’s a problem with a transmission, this is how you want it to shift. This way, the clutch plates and metal plates are grabbing quickly instead of slowly engaging which causes slipping. And when a transmission begins to slip, that’s when the clutches wear out and the transmission operating temperature increases.

Tester [/b]