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Noise/driving problem, Mazda 96 Protege,

133224 miles, mostly city driving, automatic transmission

This weekend the car started bucking, problems shifting into gear, chugging, slight odor of oil, very slow moving. This morning (in my pf’s) I ran the Scan OBDII and there were no error messages. I checked fluids and they were fine.

Possible problems?

I am at a decision point, get rid of the car (needs tires, front brakes and it burns a bit of oil each month (1-2 cups) or fix it.

I think I have fallen out of love with this car, has rust on it and numerous bumps and bangs and scratches but I am saving for a different vehicle and should be able to look at used cars this fall. (student loans now paid as of fall of last year, so that money goes for the car savings each month) I have not put any work into the vehicle at all last year or this year other than oil change and spark plugs and have not spent my car repair budget for last year or this year so far.

I have a history on this discussion list with this car. :slight_smile:


I would fix the car and keep driving it but it sounds like you have reached the point of selling and buying a new one. Never trade vehicles because you are basically giving yours away.

There is a used car lot in my town that only buys Toyotas at auction, with only 1-2 owners. He does not take trade ins. It would be my intent to sell the Mazda myself.

Thanks for responding!

You didn’t ask a question in your post, but I’m presuming you’d like some guesses on what’s causing the symptoms too. It sounds like it might be an automatic transmission problem. Please clarify what you mean by “problems shifting into gear”. It may be all you need is a proper transmission service, dropping the pan replacing the filter, and re-filling with fresh fluid.

As far as keeping it or not, I expect you already understand that a 20 year old car isn’t going to be as reliable as a newer one. But as long as you are willing to suffer the problems of older cars, and you feel the car has been serviced on time and driven gingerly over the years, if you can live w/ more frequent and sometimes considerably expensive repairs beyond routine maintenance, and occasional difficulty finding replacement parts which makes the car unavailable to use, with only 133 K, I expect this car has quite a few miles left in it.

Thankyou for you assessment. After studying the manual for this car on the transmission section, the worst possibility is a need for an overhaul. The fluid is brownish pink (bad) but has not leaked since the level is still high. Just need to figure out what the cost is for an ovewrhaul…

You have “fallen out of love” with this car. Find a car you can “love” and afford.

The Mazda Protégé was one of the best compacts made in that era. A friend of my wife had one and passed it on to her son. She then bought a more recent Mazda.

After 20 years it is easy to “fall out of love” with a car when the problems pile up.

However, make sure you replace it with an equally reliable car, such s a Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, or Hyundai Elantra.

Consumer Reports has a buying guide with complete ratings.