1990 Mazda Protege is Sputtering

Tiny
INVENI0
  • MEMBER
  • 1990 MAZDA PROTEGE
1990 Mazda Protege
134,000 miles

So, my car started sputtering one day after about 20 minutes of highway driving. It doesn't sputter at idle, or when the car is in over drive, but only when I have to give it gas to make an incline or pass another vehicle. The sputtering varies in strength and sometimes doesn't occur at all. About a month ago the sputtering became non-stop. After looking it over, and running it to check different items (like fuel supply, etc), the car refused to even start.

So, I took it to a nearby mechanic who said the distributer was bad. We replaced it. He also replaced three of the four spark plugs. One was stuck in the motor, but was firing okay, so he left it there to save labor expense. The car ran okay. Not what it used to be, however. Soon, I started to notice that the car seemed to get bogged down when climbing hills. A few days later, the car began sputtering at all speeds. I could hardly get it home at 30 mph.

I took it back to the mechanic. He said the plug wires were bad. They were replaced. I picked up the car and it ran great! For about one day. I hadn't driven it on the highway. Today was my first day with the car on the highway, and it started sputtering all over again after about 20 minutes of driving.

What could cause this such that replacing the distributer and wires would help for a short period of time? I'll hop back on and post results from my drive home. I don't know if the condition only occurs after the engine has reached optimal operating temperature, but I'll be sure to make note this time.

I've thought it could be that, after heating up, the Fuel Pump begins to fail, but I can't seem to find a mechanic that agrees with me!

Any ideas?

I appreciate any input!
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 AT 11:56 AM

7 Replies

Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
  • EXPERT
I'd take it back to the same guy. If one of the plugs were seized, then there is a good chance of poor maintence. That isn't his fault. Beside there is a possibility that he can recheck his work and find the cause that would be warrantied. Loos wire for example. Poor plugs and wires can cause to the secondary igntion system and weaken it.
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 AT 12:05 PM
Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
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I'd take it back to the same guy. If one of the plugs were seized, then there is a good chance of poor maintence. That isn't his fault. Beside there is a possibility that he can recheck his work and find the cause that would be warrantied. Loos wire for example. Poor plugs and wires can cause to the secondary igntion system and weaken it. Therefore, I pick "E" none of the above :)
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 AT 12:06 PM
Tiny
COSMO
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: : :

I would get that plug out of the head first. You say he replaced the distributor. But did he replaced the distributor cap and rotor too? Just asking btw.

I would also be checking if you are losing ignition spark when this happens or if you are losing fuel pressure when this is happening (was your fuel tank replaced recently?)

From the sounds of it, it sounds like an ignition break down in the car. There is a chance that the ignition coil or igniter are failing too.

Cosmo. Mazda Tech
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Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 AT 4:30 PM
Tiny
RASMATAZ
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He's running that back pocket of yours dry-give us the benjamins, get rid of him. If you were made to have 4 legs-what happens if you lose one-you end up with 25% less power.

How long ago did you last changed the plugs before you see this guy. Sooner or later you gonna run into an engine problem -remember that fuel is not gonna burn and keeps making its way thru the cylinder washing everything in there. Then Boom! You need a major repair

Even if the pump was the problem-you still got one left to deal with.

My 2cts
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Thursday, January 11th, 2007 AT 7:43 AM
Tiny
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Rasmataz-

We don't know the seized plug is the misfire. In the perfect world spark plugs are changed before they seize, so that when a problem occurs, proper testing can be performed. I agree the plug should get changed, but is the owner willing to cough up the cash if the threads come out? There are 2 side to every story, I wouldn't hang the shop at this point.

When you get a car that isn't maintained, the probablity of multiple headaches are much greater.

Maybe it isn't a great shop, who knows. Maybe he isn't smart enough to charge for troubleshooting. OR maybe the customer isn't willing to pay for it. Of course that is just my donation! Errr. Opinion :)
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Thursday, January 11th, 2007 AT 6:27 PM
Tiny
RASMATAZ
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Well, Mr. SW

You're right on the 2 side story- everyone has one
I guess the man don't know about Heli coils are available. If he had a scope he can finger that cylinder
for problems. So much of preventive maintence huh!

In conclusion-the owner calls the last shot on this, if he expect his buggy to run right. And again it might be an entirely a different problem causing the sputtering
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Friday, January 12th, 2007 AT 2:36 AM
Tiny
SERVICE WRITER
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Ras,

Not looking to pick a fight, I get a little defensive when a shop takes a wrath they don't deserve and the benfit of the doubt is overlooked. It's a plague in this industry. I didn't say that the shop didn't know of the firing of the cylinder with with the seized plug, but that we didn't know.

I find those that don't do preventative maintainence are more often ones that are more apt neglect little problems that should be taken care of before they give way to troubleshooting situation. Little problems like battery cable corrosion, wiring harness corrsion, cracked brake hose, play in a serp belt tensioner, signs of moisture in oil. You know what I mean.

The heli-coils still cost more cash, some of the kits are a little pricy, at least for the customers in Niagara Falls. And there's more labor. You're clearly a good tech, I wasn't challenging your abilities.
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Friday, January 12th, 2007 AT 3:01 AM

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