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On-going problems with 2002 Mazda Protege 5

I’ve had the 2002 Protege 5 for 4 years. Bought it at 11,000 miles and now have 85,000. 6-weeks ago, the check engine light started coming on in conjunction with what felt like the car downshifting while driving about 40-45 mph, and having a hard time shifting out of that gear (oddly enough, the RPMs stay between 2000-3000 when it does this, unless I accelerate, then they go above 3000, almost hit 4000 and the car will feel like it “jumps” to the next higher gear). The car will also shake, or idle very rougly, after stopping, or while slowing to a stop, for a period of 3-4 seconds. It feels like it is going to stall out. These two problems seem to happen independently from each other and they come and go – i.e. they do not happen 100% of the time.

So far I’ve had the following work done in the past 6 weeks to try and solve the problems:

-Rear motor mount replaced (what they said would solve the “shaking” problem)

-Spark Plugs and Wires replaced

-O2 Censor replaced (what they claimed was setting off the check engine light)

-Transmission drained and re-filled

-Serpentine belts replaced

-Timing belt and pulleys replaced

Essentially, none of these have seemed to solve the problem of the car feeling like it gets stuck in a lower gear while driving, and idling rough while stopped and in drive. In fact, the problem seems to be getting worse. Does this sound like a transmission issue, or is there something else I need to consider? If it is the transmission, why have two different shops been unable to diagnose it?

I have the EXACT same problem with one exception: I’m assuming you drive an automatic (would explain the shifting problem) - and I have a MT, so I’m not having any problems changing gears.

Were you ever able to get this resolved? I’m a month into similar problems, and have already dropped $1000 + and still no solution in sight…

Why has all of that work been done? Are you doing it, or is someone else? In any case, it is shooting in the dark.

The real question is - since the engine light is on, have you had the codes read? If you haven’t then have them read (many auto parts chains will do it for free). The codes will point you in a much better direction than guessing. You can post them back up here for advice - but you have to post the actual code (e.g. like P0123), not what anyone told you about it.

Here is my guess: you are going to come up with some kind of code that had to do with the torque converter clutch (TCC) - probably something like a “stuck on” condition. That wouldn’t explain everything, but it is a shot in the dark when I can’t even see the barn let alone its broad side. So get the codes read.

I have a 2002 Mazda Protege DX automatic. On the way home from work on the freeway, the throttle seemed unresponsive and my check engine light started flashing. Then, the check engine light stayed on, and everything seemed fine. It again started flashing and lost throttle response, and when coming to a stop light, it idled low and wanted to stall (I put in in neutral to prevent it from stalling). Started driving again and check engine light went back on solid. Once again, it seemed to then drive just fine. Pulled into O’Reilly’s, scanned code- it gave generic cylinder misfire. Drove it home, no problem with check engine light still on (not flashing).

My car has around 120k miles. Not sure when I last had a tune up. I haven’t checked my plugs, but I don’t see how that would be an issue if the check engine light keeps switching from solid to flashing. Last thing I did to my car was replace an O2 sensor several months ago.

Did you ever find out what the issue was with your Protege 5?

rickman33, since replacing the O2 sensor; how is your car now? Obviously, I’m having very similar problems and don’t want to drop $1000’s of dollars into not fixing it.