I think my car is losing power to 1 cylinder

'99 Mazda 323 Protege.

Manual, fuel-injected, 4cyl.

Engine code: CE04D16

ok so just recently started having troubles with the car. It ran fine then all of a sudden I lost what felt like 15-25% power, and the engine felt like it was shaking a little.

When revving, then engine would shudder. Idle rev went from just over 1000 to around 500. there was very little pickup when increasing speed. I can only assume it is losing a cylinder. But since it is fuel injected, people have been saying check the leads, (from where to where?), the distributor, spark plugs etc etc. Now for the last couple days it has been jumping backwards and forwards, from regular to slow.

What is the problem, can I fix this myself, or do I need to take it to a mechanic?

The first thing would be to pull the plugs and check for any that look fouled or an excessive gap. While the plugs are out a compression test would rule out internal engine problems in the lower end.

If the plugs have not been changed…I would install new ones.

Your wires could be losing their ability to carry the spark, or the rotor and cap could also be the problem.

You could also have a air filter that is so blocked that not enough air can flow for proper combustion. Fuel filter also could be the problem, or a bad injector, but injectors normally don’t come on and off unless it is a wiring harness problem.


Is there a check engine light illuminated or even flashing on your dashboard? If yes have your code read (sometimes free at autoparts store).

Modern cars(1996+) do not run like you describe without a Check Engine lit unless it is more subtle.

What is the problem, can I fix this myself, or do I need to take it to a mechanic?

Depends on your abilities whether or not you can fix it. I’d go with everything @Yosemite suggests. If you understand everything he suggested in his post, you likely have the abilities. Its pretty likely you’ll find the problem with those steps. Good Luck.

It sounds like it is missing. Might just be one cylinder, or could be more than one. If this were happening to my car and a quick visual inspection of the ignition system wiring didn’t show any obvious problem, the first thing I’d do is what Andrew above suggests, read the diagnostic trouble codes from the engine computer memory. Since this came on suddenly, there’s a good chance you’ll find what’s wrong just by doing that.

This kind of problem fairly often ends up being complicated to isolate and diagnose. Unless you are seriously diy’er inclined, taking your car to a good independent shop is going to get you back on the road with a smooth running engine quicker.

Edit: Did anything unusual happen just before this started to happen? Like did you buy gas at a different gas station than normal? Or had some service work done?

I think Yosemite has given you excellent advice to start. If the operational problem is still in evidence after changing the plugs, rotor, cap, wires, and air filter, you may need to rent or buy a code reader. NOTE: number and keep the plugs in case you need help “reading” them. Post back at that time and let us know how you’re making out. We’ll either advise or congratulate you at that time.

You seem to be describing a textbook case of an engine “Misfire” Sounds like one cylinder is out to lunch. Nothing a simple tune up wouldn’t cure. Yosemite gave solid advice. If this were my vehicle…I would simply replace the Plugs, Distrib Cap and rotor…and wait to see if the wires are still ok… The wires are usually last to fail…but do go bad. Hell…just do the full tune up…Plugs, cap, rotor, wires, Air Filter, Fuel Filter…and hit the road.

You could do one item at a time if you really want to know what was the culprit. My guess it that the culprit lies within the Spark Plug, Distrib Cap and Rotor and Wires Category. It will be one of those items… Most people dont care to know the precise cause…if you dont…just replace all of those items at one time… If you DO care to know…replace the items one at a time. The problem will reside in one of those simple tune up items. All of them are easy enough to replace even for a novice.