shifts hard from 1st gear to second automatic. rest of gears are smooth
What year is the car? A colleague of mine had an older Mazda 626 which their son drove to school. Had the same prioblem, and the Mazda transmission is very expensive to fix. So they gradually drove it into the sunset. If you are lucky, a fluid and filter change and adjustment might be all you need. I would go to a reputable shop and aget an wstomate first.
I would add that “a reputable shop” DOES NOT include Aamco, Lee Myles, Cottman, or any other chain operation. Look for an independent transmission shop that has been in business for at least 3 years, and you should get a decent repair job at a fair price.
Agree; the chains don’t have a good reputation; I go to a local family-owned shop that does very good work. So good, in fact that the local Volkswagen dealer has them do their transmission work for them.
A 1998 Mazda should not have the transmission on its last legs. If OP is lucky a few hundred dollars could do it.