CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Mitsubishi Mirage - Overall impression after 1+ years of ownership

I know that the cheap Mitsubishi Mirage had quite the discussion here a little over a year ago when myself and at least one other member decided to buy one. At the time it was the cheapest car on the market with all the incentives I got. I have about 20,000 miles on my car. My GF has the same car but has about 25,000 miles.

Sure, the car isn’t a Mercedes or a Cadillac but I have overall been impressed with the quality of the car for basic cheap transportation. I smashed into a deer before 3000 miles and it didn’t total the car. I just just bought oil and a filter to conduct the first oil change and held off until I knew it wasn’t totaled. I am sure it being so new was the main reason it wasn’t declared a total loss. It was repaired and I went on my way.

The small engine has plenty of power for most driving. I don’t find myself slowing down on hills or having trouble keeping up with the speed limit or faster. Sure, the car isn’t a powerhouse but that isn’t the intention. I find it fine for most driving.

The car requires a 0W20 synthetic oil. I am sure much of this is for mileage and the extended change interval. They suggest a 7500 mile oil change interval for most driving styles. Some people change sooner and some go a lot longer than this. Their oil analysis results say this is OK but I want to keep my warranty so I have been doing 5000 mile OCIs after the first one at 3000 miles (break in). I have seen this with my GF’s car as well. Forums dedicated to this car also mention no excessive oil burning although some break-in consumption is normal. I find that pretty good for using such thin oil.

The car used some oil during the initial break in period but that was it. It dropped about 1/2 of the way between the full and add marks on the stick. I wasn’t going to add oil until it got to the add mark as I didn’t know if there was anything special about the factory fill for break-in and wanted to keep that oil as pure as possible. I have seen no noticeable oil usage between changes since the first 3000 miles. Apparently the engine has broken in well and tolerances must be within pretty tightly controlled specs. This can’t be said for a lot of cars with a much higher level of respect such as Toyota, VW, etc.

The only actual problem I had with the car was likely related to the deer collision. I got a check engine light and horrid running right after getting the car back from the deer repair. The code indicated a mismatch between engine sensor inputs (forgot the code) so simply unplugged and reconnected the various sensors under the hood in the Autozone parking lot where I had the code read. The code cleared on its own within a few miles of this and there have been no further drivability issues. Yes, I know this is a new car and it is under warranty but I thought this was a simple thing to check, especially considering I was busy and the dealer is 100 miles away. Yes, they do offer free towing but I just figured it might be something simple. Apparently they hadn’t snapped the connectors in quite tight enough during the repair.

My GF has had no issues besides an air bag recall. Apparently mine was caught before I bought it so I didn’t have a recall. I had the dealer run the VIN just to be sure.

We both got the base model so don’t have cruise control. That is my fault as this is an option on upgraded trims of the car. I understand aftermarket or factory parts salvaged from wrecked cars can easily be added as the harness and computer are ready for cruise if I really wanted it. I might look into this once the warranty is up as that is one thing I kinda miss.

I wish the car was offered with a 6 speed manual. I would want the first 5 speeds to be the same and the 6th to be a taller gear for better economy on the highway. I think the engine could easily handle a taller gear at highway speeds and feel this would be something worth offering.

Overall I think it is a fine car if you can live with some of the bare bones features. I kinda like not having everything controlled by a computer/touch screen to be honest. I find some higher end cars frustrating. I tried to open the door to see while backing into a tight space on a Mercedes recently and the car locked up the brakes and put the transmission in park.

1 Like

Good informative post. Is your Mirage a 5 speed manual then? Or an automatic? Mitsubishi’s aren’t’ very common here in San Jose, that would be my main concern with that brand, parts availability, especially used parts from wrecks you’d need later on. If you are a diy’er, what’s your experience with the car’s OBD II system? Do you have a compatible scanner?

Mine is the 5 speed and the base model. It actually has Bluetooth integration and a decent audio system. I kinda like that the controls are simple and not a touch screen.

Yes, buying the car is a gamble for parts long term. No one knows if the brand will survive in the US but Mitsubishi appears to have partnered with Nissan so hopefully that is a good sign. They seem to be picking up in the market but no one knows if there will be support long term.

I am familiar enough with OBD II to diagnose a lot. I also have a shop manual for this car but I haven’t really needed it except that one time and I didn’t have it with me in the car. The code I got seemed to indicate a mismatch between the TPS, MAP, and MAF sensors or something along those lines. I don’t remember the exact code or description but I unplugged all the sensors around the intake and reseated the connectors. That was all it was.

Junkers and salvage parts are not as hard to find as you might expect. This is such a cheap car that it doesn’t take much to total it out and put it in the junk yard or give it a salvage title. There definitely isn’t the parts network on new parts. A water pump for this car costs like $400. The clutch is similar. The Geo Metro has a $50 water pump and a $100 clutch and those are lifetime warranty parts!

I was hoping Chrysler would bring it to the US as their subcompact. It is called the Dodge Attitude in some other countries. Besides badging, the car is essentially identical in the mechanical sense. It could replace the Dart or similar. You could always buy Chrysler parts as they are the same. If this car comes to the US parts will become more common.

1 Like

Good update and glad to know both cars are working out for you. I assume GF’s is automatic. I was just reading a random review of the car and they were also impressed by BT and the audio on such a car with the price tag.

I am sure that you would be able to find parts if needed down the road. The internet is a vast place, you might have a few hiccups with down days though but not a deal breaker IMO.

I actually found the water pump for like $130 now. These have come down quite a bit since I last looked.

I also looked up the serpentine belt and they look to be about $20 for the 3 year warranty one at Autozone. I think these were unobtanium at one time except for the dealer so that is good to see. I found thermostats there as well but no radiator hoses. I found them online for a pretty typical price though. This is definitely a car where I will definitely have to order parts.

The coolant is some blue Mitsubishi spec type. Anyone familiar with what the blue means compared to other coolants? I know many people just run the universal type but I don’t wan’t to do that, at least until the warranty is up. The dealer told me they would sell it to me. It was expensive but will only need to be done like one time under warranty as it is long life.

Here’s what’s in my Insight. I always use the stuff from Honda.
Coolant

Glad to hear that the car’s working out well for you, i see a few around town but we no longer have a mitsubishi dealer here, it was basically a separate sales office on a lot between the Nissan dealer of the same group and their Chrysler/jeep dealership with parts/service over at the jeep dealer. Closed up within the last couple months.

most cars depreciate at about the same rate. a $18k car is worth 40% less after 3 yrs and a $30k car is also worth 40% less. but it cost more per mile for the nicer car. can you afford a $10k loss/cost vs a $16k loss? depends on your income i guess. or maybe you make good money and dont want to spend a lot on a car? everyone is different

The main purpose of this car is to drive to my jobs since the mileage is great. I also drive on lots of gravel so why tear up an expensive car? Anyway, it has done a lot better than many probably expected for what it costs.

I am not sure if the coolant is the same as Honda but plan to stick with the factory fill throughout the warranty period which is actually quite long. “At Mitsubishi, we are so confident in the quality, reliability and durability of the cars we build that we back our passenger cars and sport utility vehicles with extensive warranties. This list is headed by a 10-year/100,000 mile Powertrain Limited Warranty, a 5-year/60,000 mile fully transferable New Vehicle Limited Warranty, a 7-year/100,000 mile Anti-Corrosion/Perforation Limited Warranty and 5-years/Unlimited miles Roadside Assistance. So now, when you drive off in your new Mitsubishi, you’ll leave with even more peace of mind, knowing you can enjoy it to the fullest for many years to come.(Excludes Lancer Ralliart, Lancer Evolution, i-MiEV and Raider - See details below.)”

@cwatkin. I prefer a basic car. I wouldn’t miss the cruise control. Back in the late 1950s, I was probably the only teenager on the planet that thought the Studebaker Scotsman was an o.k. car when it came out in 1957. A radio wasn’t on the option list. If you wanted a radio, you had to go aftermarket for a radio. The only factory options I would have wanted were the Borg Warner overdrive and the antislip differential. An automatic transmission wasn’t even offered. With the overdrive, the Scotsman could get 30 mpg on the highway. The Scotsman had a manual choke–no automatic choke to cause problems. The heater was a recirculating box type under the dashboard on the passenger side. One didn’t have to take out the dashboard to replace a heater core.
If I was 50 years younger today, the Mitsubishi Mirage would appeal to me.

The Mirage looks like a relatively easy car to work on compared to most these days. The deal is most owners haven’t really had to do much to them so that is the good news. I routinely see reports of them going about 250,000 miles before needing actual repairs and not just routine maintenance/wear items.

They are still a modern car with some computers in them. The throttle isn’t a direct linkage but I guess this is essentially for the government mandated traction control.

The oil is pretty easy to change. The filter isn’t as easy to get to as others I have done and needs a wrench for sure. The only thing I have done is oil changes up to this time.

The “expert” car reviewers rip on these cars for the most part because they are so basic. Then there are the fair ones who point out that inflation adjusted, these things are cheaper than the Yugo, Hyundai Excel/Mitsubishi Precis, and other total duds, yet offer so much more in quality, comfort, and safety.

The Nissan Versa always comes up as another cheap car option. The problem is that there are a lot of issues. Overall quality seems to suffer and some pretty significant problems such as oil burning and piston slap surface within 40,000 miles.

I think the Kia Rio has a lot to offer for not a whole lot more as well.