Protege hiccups

My 1999 Mazda Protegé has the hiccups …every now and then it loses power for a fraction of a second. It lasts just long enough to feel it clearly, but it’s gone before I can think about it. Very distinct sensation, but it certainly doesn’t push me against the seat belt. It’s been doing this for over a year (about 5-7,000 miles). No Check Engine Light has appeared at any time. The timing belt was replaced a few thousand miles back.

Yes, I’ve had it to a mechanic, a trusted local one. I even left it with him for several days. The car won’t hiccup for him. I sometimes notice it around town, but I notice it more when driving on the highway (which has probably been over half my mileage in the past year), but I’m still disappointed that it won’t do it for him. He suspects a spark plug wire – he says it’s probably only one cylinder based on my description – but doesn’t want to start replacing the wires if he can’t diagnose it.

Recommendations? Should I just replace the wires and figure if that doesn’t do it, it’s part of the cost of diagnosis? (This much I should be able to do myself.) Should I try something else? (Or someone else, despite what I know and others say about this shop’s capabilities?) Actually, as I think about it, he could have been encouraging me to replace the wires myself.


At 14 years old it may be time to replace them anyway, distributor cap and rotor while you’re at it. When was the last time it was done? Does your owner’s manual prescribe a change interval? The owner’s manual for my Accord doesn’t specify but my mechanic says they’re good for say, 100k.

Even if that doesn’t solve your problem, they probably needed to be replaced as a matter of preventative maintenance anyway.

Really though, try to maybe swing by your man’s shop on a day when it is acting up and have him go for a ride with you?


Thanks. I’m pretty they’ve all been replaced. Same mechanic has done almost all the work on it since I bought it about 8 years (and 35K miles) ago, so I’m pretty sure he’d have mentioned it if they were old.

Trouble with swinging by when it’s acting up is that most often happens out on the highway, far from home and far from him. And just because it’s acting up one minute doesn’t mean it’ll be doing it a minute later.

Owner’s manual says to change the spark plugs every 30K miles. Doesn’t say anything about the wires.

I failed to mention (gee, I feel like I’m calling Tom and Ray) that this does NOT seem to be related to weather. Dry sunny day or swimming through a thunderstorm – same symptoms. I tried to make myself believe it misbehaved more when wet, but that hypothesis didn’t hold water.

Well, it sounds like new wires and maybe new plugs too is a reasonable next step. Frankly the hiccups don’t bother me much, and I doubt it’s effecting gas mileage, but it bothers my girlfriend – she’s very sensitive to reliability issues even though she’s as old as I am – we met in eighth grade algebra class, fifty years ago.



Bump. I’d like someone with better technical knowledge to give the OP advice.