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1997 Mazda Protege DX

I have a 1997 Mazda Protege DX. When the weather is cold it has trouble starting. It will turn over until the battery is dead. Even with a jump it wont start. I tried starter fluid. When the weather is warm, it has no trouble starting. My brother in law had the car before me, and it started every time for him. Just recently, it has had problems starting. This car isn’t driven alot due to the trouble starting. We tried spark plugs, fuel regulator, fuel system flush, and do not know what else to do.

If it will not start using starter fluid, the problem is most likely ignition, not fuel. Ignition means coil(s), wires, plugs, cap and rotor. Your car has a distributor with the coil built-in. Next time it will not start, you need to check for spark. Then you need to check to see if the coil is bad. A Haynes manual should have the correct procedure to test the coil with a multimeter. If the coil is bad, I recommend just replacing the entire distributor. Disassembling the distributor to get the coil out is a difficult task on these cars. If you can even find a separate coil.

@Joedunk, I am going to speak out of personal experience, as a mechanic, and with personal experience with a 1997 Protege LX 1.5

My brother has the aforementioned 1997 Protege 1.5
He had trouble starting
Extremely long cranking times
The engine had extremely low compression
The valve lash was much too tight
I corrected the valve lash (swapped out the appropriate shims)
The engine instantly started after this repair

That was almost 2 years ago, and it’s still starting quickly.
He’s put several thousand miles on it since then.

My 1997 mazda factory service manual lists the 1.5 engine’s (I’m almost certain your DX has this Z5 engine) valve lash specs

Intake 0.25-0.31mm (0.010-0.012in) cold
Exhaust 0.25-0.31mm (0.010-0.012in) cold

Your compression is listed as 195psi.

Have you hooked up a fuel pressure gauge to the rail? I know you don’t have a test port, but you could tee into the supply hose. That’s what I did to rule out fuel issues.

I think the next step should be a compression test.

If it was the valve lash being too tight wouldn’t the problem be worse when hot?

@oldtimer11, before I fixed my brother’s car, it started better when hot.