Strange Mazda Starting Problem


I have a 1997 Mazda Protege. From last winter it started giving occasional starting trouble, especially on the not-so-cold days. My mechanic tried to diagnose the problem, and ruled out the fuel injector and battery (3 month old at that time), and suggested I gently depress the gas pedal while starting. What exactly the problem is :

When you turn the ignition it cranks and sounds like spark is delivered, but does not turn over. If a little gas is applied briefly the car will turn over and idle like it should , but this happens only rarely. More often, I have to hold down the gas pedal for a while (sometimes ~ 2 minutes or so) before it can idle on its own. This kind of behavior happens almost exclusively on not so cold days (e.g. a mild winter day in Boston or a rainy day). This usually happens in combination with the car not being driven for a long time (overnight or at the end of the work day). If the car has been resting for less than a couple of hours its normally even on a mildly cold day. On warmer / dry weather days it starts normally even the first time in the morning.

Please help me with this problem, as my local mechanic seems to be clueless, and I’d hate to go to a delear - service facility. Thanks a lot


When were the spark plugs and wires, air filter and fuel filter changed? Follow the maintenance guide in your handbook. The engine coolant temperature sensor is a suspect, too.== me_art12


If there is a cold start valve on this engine I would check that out.

You stated that the injector was inspected so I assume it isn’t leaking and flooding the engine.

Another thing you might try when this trouble happens is press the accellerator all the way down while cranking the engine. It may help get it started.


I vote for the idle air control (IAC) valve or whatever Mazda calls it.


thanks for the suggestion, I somehow thought pushing the accelerator way down can be used as a last ditch effort rather than recurrently as this problem manifest. Am I just being way too paranoid ?


do you know where this part is located, and since my mechanic did not think of it (or didnt want to go down that path) would a dealer-mechanic be a better option (seems like overkill for a 1997 vintage) ??


OK another thing that will happen on these cold starts, if I turn on lights/radio/AC right after starting idle speed dips a bit for like a second but then recovers. Also, the times that I have to hold down the gas for a while to make it “idle” , after releasing the gas pedal it Idles only at a low ( 500-700 rpm) value. Dont know if it is related but I thought I should mention.


Hi, I tried pushing the gas way down , and it does start right away. But is it safe for the engine to keep doing this regulary ?