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Which to fix first?

I own a 1996 Mazda Protégé with 128,000 miles. I have limited financial means and need to repair brakes, an engine intake boot, drive belts. Which do I need to fix first? second? last? Brakes do not squeak or grind (yet) and still work.


They all have the potential to leave you stranded. A drive belt should be cheap. If you’re really trying to pinch pennies and there’s enough meat on the rotors, and they’re not grooved too bad, you can put some cheap pads on without resurfacing them. Call around.

Asking us which of these parts to fix first, without telling us exactly how much friction material is remaining on your brake pads (and whether there are any hydraulic leaks and/or unusual reactions when you push the brake pedal ) is not realistic, due to an absence of vital information. Similarly, we don’t know about the actual condition of your drive belts.

However, even with the reality that once a drive belt snaps you will not be able to go very far, I would have to advise you to concentrate first on your brakes. Any time that there is any question regarding the condition of one’s brakes, that issue needs to take center stage. In case you aren’t aware of it, your brakes could fail…today…even if you don’t hear any unusual noises at this point.

After fixing the brakes, then I would concentrate on the drive belts–even though we don’t know the condition of the belts as compared to the condition of the brakes.

I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that fixing the intake could placed last on your list of priorities, but–once again–we can’t examine the part(s) in order to know exactly what the nature of the problem might be.

Given the paucity of information that you provided, the above advice is the best that I can give, and I hope that it is useful to you.

I’ve read all your posts and am not familuar with the Protege enough to tell you how many drive belts your particular enging has. But I would think, two.
The belts should be about $60.
As far as 20% brakes in the rear, that means that you only have 1/5th of the brake pads left, so they may soon start to make noise from the wear indicators…telling you it’s time.
I presume that the fronts are too far gone and you already plan on having those changed.

FRom my experience the front brakes seem to need replacing more often than the rears, so these may last you long enough to try making it a couple of 6-9 weeks, as long as they don’t start making noise.
Why not have him replace the blets and front brakes along with the intake boot and ask for a quote on the rear brakes so you know how much you will need to come up with.


I’ll put answers to all three posts here.

Drive belts: you have a timing belt whether you have the 1.5L or 1.8L engine, and it should be replaced at 60,000 mile intervals. Assuming the previous owner did it at 60,000 miles, you are due for another replacement. But unless you know whether the last owners did the job, presume he didn’t. You are way overdue, and this is job #1. Replace the serpentine belt at the same time. If the timing belt cover has to be removed to get to the water pump, replace the water pump too. This should run $600 to $1000.

Brakes: this is a safety issue, but should be done second since you could lose the timing belt at any moment and pad wear is not critical yet. You do not need to do the back brakes at the same time. Make that #3.

The air intake hose is only $35 at Rock Auto, and is cheap enough that you should just add it to the timing belt work. It will only take 5 to 10 minutes to change.

If your brakes still have pad on them, I’d vote for the drive belts first.
If the brakes are paper thin, do the brakes first. Especially of you commute to work. The other items can leave you stranded. Bad brakes can leave you dead.

From reading all of the above, I think I can afford all of them at the same appointment. I did have the waterpump and timing belt replaced a couple of years ago.

Thankyou all for posting.