1988 Mazda 323, barely starts only once a day, no power

Tiny
NEEDWHEELS
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  • 1988 MAZDA 323
My old 323 (1.6L 200,000 miles) lost power on the way home just before the summer.

Now If I try to start it in the morning it will barely turn over and catch - then it will run as long as I keep pumping the accelerator pedal for a minute. After a minute it will will barely idle, but has no "power" to drive, and won't go above 20-25mph.

If I don't pump, or once it stalls, it will refuse to start again for at least a day. Some mornings I cannot even get it to idle after the first "catch".

I managed to replace the fuel filter and then even the in-tank fuel pump myself. To my surprise, no change in the behavior unfortunately!

I'm a poor student so thanks for any ideas - should I sink any more money into parts/labor for it or give up and save for another car?
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Thursday, October 18th, 2007 AT 11:27 AM

7 Replies

Tiny
RASMATAZ
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Might want to check whether the catalytic converter is clogged up.
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Friday, October 19th, 2007 AT 1:57 AM
Tiny
NEEDWHEELS
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Thank you very much for the reply.

I've actually heard that idea from a friend but since that seemed impossible for me to replace myself I was hoping it was something else. Now with your qualified opinion it's starting to feel unfortunately plausable.

Is there any kind of simple test to prove one way or another if it is indeed the "cat"?

Sounds like from this point I'll need to get it towed to a shop :(
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Friday, October 19th, 2007 AT 2:42 AM
Tiny
RASMATAZ
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Remove the oxygen sensor or the exhaust pipe at the exhaust manifold and retest.

Get a gas analysis before and after the catalytic converter.
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Friday, October 19th, 2007 AT 3:32 AM
Tiny
NEEDWHEELS
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I really appreciate your help, thank you.

Sorry to be so clueless but can you give me a general idea where the o2 sensor might be located?
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Friday, October 19th, 2007 AT 5:17 AM
Tiny
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BTW How long since you have this car and when was the last time it seen a major tune-up.

When you put on the new pump did you check the fuel pressure-don't always assumed bcuz its new its good, the sure fire to check the fuel pump operational condition is to check its pressure.

Do the 02 sensor and comeback and let me know what's going on.

Do you know how to use a vacuum gauge-if not get one and start learning and read the instructions in it thoroughly. This tool wiil help you find problems in the engine and also determine the engine condition. By reading the vacuum level an its reaction.
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Friday, October 19th, 2007 AT 5:38 AM
Tiny
NEEDWHEELS
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>> BTW How long since you have this car and when
>> was the last time it seen a major tune-up.

I've had the car for two years - it's never had a tune-up under me, but the previous owner was a mechanic of sorts. I barely drive the car twice a week for 10-20 miles tops (total per week).

I managed to find the oxygen sensor wire and disconnect it, but absolutely no change at all in behavior. What's really strange is that even disconnecting the battery for hours to reset any computer interference does not give that first "catch" (run) that I get every other morning or so. I literally have to wait days for it to work again.

It's been suggested to me that the timing belt may have slipped a notch which would make it lose power the way it did on the way home and on rare occasion when I get it to start now. If so, it's a task well outside by ability and outside the cost I can afford ($500-$600 quoted to me by local shops)

I just wish I could know for sure if it is the belt before giving up completely - no shop will even look at it for less than $75 and I hesitate to throw that much away if it means it's hopeless.
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Sunday, October 21st, 2007 AT 8:14 AM
Tiny
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When you turn the key to On position do you hear the fuel pump? Are you getting fuel upfront? If yes

Try this disconnect a sparkplug wire and ground it to the engine while cranking it over do you have spark?
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Sunday, October 21st, 2007 AT 7:46 PM

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