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Mazda 626: All Common Problems You Should Know

Mazda 626: All Common Problems You Should Know

What kind of problems does a Mazda 626 normally have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should keep an eye out for when you’re in the market for a 626. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:

Most commonly, the Mazda 626 has problems with the headlights malfunctioning due to faulty wiring or failing fuses. Furthermore, the dashboard paint can start to peel off, and the engine has several problems caused by different parts such as a failing timing belt, turbo, or wastegate actuator. Finally, the water pump, actuator, or fuel pump may need replacement.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll tell you how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A Mazda

Exterior Problems

The headlights are often the most problematic in these vehicles. The wiring harness, the fuses, the relays, etc., give up after a long run of like 20 years. It’s not uncommon that one will face problems related to electronics. Make sure you check all the lights, low beam/high beam, windshield wipers, indicators, brake lights, etc.

The fuses can be checked behind the glove box compartment and the one inside the engine bay. If a voltmeter shows a reading other than zero after placing both the connectors on either side of the fuse, then you need to change that fuse. A single fuse can cost $2 on average.

If you are looking at the wiring harness, make sure that the wires are properly insulated and there are no cuts or melted sections along with the wiring harness. A bad harness would cause the battery to lose charge quickly, and the engine would go haywire. The replacement cost for the wiring harness varies on a Mazda 626, depending on the exact area where it’s damaged. 

Interior Problems

The Dashboard Paint Is Peeling Off

The dashboard paint will start chipping away sooner or later. It happens due to prolonged exposure to the sun, and for these vehicles, there has been quite a long exposure. Because of that, a single scratch will peel away the rubber-like skin, so you will have to deal with a hard black plastic dash.

Or you can put on vinyl wraps of your own choice on the dashboard that no longer has its skin. But, to make sure you don’t have to face this problem, scratch the dashboard a little with your fingernails and see if it comes off; if not, then great. But if your nails do get filled with chipped paint, it means the vehicle has taken a lot of beating from the sun. 

Vinyl wraps can sometimes be very costly, $400 on average for a professional finish. But you can also go for dash covers for around $50. The cover will hide the cheap plastic, and the right one can really enhance the interior look.

Engine Problems

Timing Belt Issue

This is a big one, and it will cause serious damage if not dealt with. If you hear rattles as if metallic beads are being shaken in a jar, you are having a timing issue. If this issue escalates and the timing jumps abruptly during high speed, then your engine is done for. Make sure that there are no rattles when you hear the sound of the engine.

The timing issue is actually the camshaft and the crankshaft alignment; both need to be in sync. If they go out of sync, the timing is out, and now you need to have the timing adjusted. Most of the time, the whole timing chain needs to be replaced. The timing belt replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $600.

Turbo Problems

Mazda 626 comes with a turbo as well. Those variants that have an integrated turbo should be checked carefully because turbos are expensive, and they have a life span after which they fail to work and require replacement, so ask the owner if he has replaced the turbo or not. If the one you are looking at never had it replaced, you would have to add the price to a turbo.

If it has been changed recently, you can rest assured that you won’t have to spend extra cash on a new turbo. Refurbished ones are also an option, but they don’t last much and go to heaven pretty soon. The OEM ones are the most long-lasting.

Turbo replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $1000.

Wastegate Actuator

The wastegate actuator arm is notorious for causing rattles, which are often unbearable. This is not a fault that you would have to spend hundreds of dollars to fix. You can put some rubber inserts around the hollow parts, make sure not to hinder the actuator arm movement, or otherwise, you will have a problem that will cost you hundreds of dollars.

So, be very careful not to hinder the movement. After these inserts, you will get rid of that annoying rattle.

Rattling Noise

Make sure that you are listening carefully to the sound of the engine. Ask the person from whom you are buying. I want to perform a cold start. When you start the car, you can open the windows and the hood to listen to the sound of the engine. See if there is some unusual rattling noise coming from the engine.

Rattling is not common and is often a symptom of a serious problem. Most of the rattles are due to faulty rockers and lifters. This can be dealt with before it escalates into something more serious. These problems occur due to negligence in the maintenance of the engine. If oil changes haven’t been done regularly on time, then you are sure to hear rattling.

A properly maintained car has no leaks, and there are no rattles, and most importantly, the car is kept extremely tidy. You can’t really tell if the car is properly maintained or not if it’s standing in a dealership for used vehicles as they have all of their inventory detailed. If you are buying your next ride directly from a person, then you can use this tactic.

Common Vacuum Leak 

The most common place to have a vacuum leak is where the throttle body meets with the intake manifold, and most of the time, when the throttle body is taken off of the intake manifold, the gasket in between gets damaged and can no longer hold vacuum. If the gasket is not in good condition, always make sure to replace it with a new one.

Other places where the vacuum leak might happen are the connecting clamps, these clamps hold together two different components, and that connection might be the culprit because of whom we are experiencing these leaks. So make sure that all the connections are tight. There are methods to check for air leaks, one of the DIY is to use a cigar’s smoke.

But the easiest one that doesn’t require removing any components would be the brake cleaner method. You can clean the vacuum hoses and the components where the leak might be with water. After cleaning the area of interest, start the engine.

You can spray little bursts of brake cleaner onto the clamps and the intake manifold, near the throttle body, on the vacuum side of the Mass Air Flow Sensor, EGR valve and hoses, etc. If there are any leaks, you will see bubbles in that area. After you have found the leak, you can replace the gasket if it’s the connecting area.

If it’s a whole, cracked area of the vacuum component, then you have to replace that part.  Gaskets are not that expensive to replace except for the engine’s head gasket, which costs $1000 on average. Make sure that oil is not leaking from the head gasket area of the engine. 

Always check the area where the car is parked to see if there is some oil; if there is an oil puddle, you surely have an oil leak somewhere.

Poor Idle And Misfires

Poor idle and misfires are the symptoms of a bad combustion process. For good combustion, we need air, compression, fuel, and spark. If even one of these is not optimum, we won’t have proper combustion.

In most cases, given how old the car is, we have more than one root cause. The following components can be the possible culprit for this issue which can cause a wide range of issues including hard revving while in park.

  • Ignition Coils ($320 on average including labor)
  • Fuel Injectors ($1000 on average including labor)
  • Spark Plugs ($65 on average including labor)
  • Vacuum Leaks (depends on the affected part)
  • Clogged EGR valve ($100 on average to clean)
  • Clogged Vacuum hoses (depends on the affected part)
  • MAF sensor Problem ($430 on average including labor)

Other than the MAF sensor, all other things come under normal maintenance items. The clogged parts can easily be dealt with by using seafoam. Carbon debris is the culprit which blocks the engine internals and prevents the smooth flow of gases, thus preventing smooth combustion.

Seafoam is super high-quality petroleum that dissolves the carbon debris, clearing all the residue that gets stuck inside the hoses and giving us free-flowing pathways. You can add a can of seafoam in a full tank or in an almost empty tank to get fast results. But it’s recommended to use regularly in small amounts rather than huge amounts in one go.

If you are looking at a car that didn’t have the other things mentioned here changed already, then you would have to change them one way or another. It’s better to add the amount for these parts; replacing them would make a day and night difference in the smoothness of your engine.

The clogged parts don’t really need removing and cleaning. First, it costs money, and second, it takes time, so it’s much better to use the seafoam that will clear the internals without needing to open them and cleaning them separately. 

Transmission Problems

The Mazda 626 is relatively reliable, but you would face transmission issues if the fluid changes were not regular. Most of the time, the issue might not be that serious, i.e., it might just be a sensor that is not working or might need a fluid replacement. Adding transmission fix “no more slipping” would also do the trick by mixing with the transmission fluid.

Suspension Problems

Sway Bar Issue

A widespread problem that occurs in the Mazda 626 is related to the sway bar components. The ride will become very unstable and would have excessive body roll. 

The sway bar bushings often go out, and the sway bar itself might also need replacement. End links are also problematic, coupled along with the sway bar issue. Sway bar replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $150.


The suspension components cause a lot of times these rattling noises, and in the case of Mazda 626, it’s most probably the sway bar components fault. Another area where the clunks might be coming from is the ball joint.

These joints wear out due to old age and cause these clunks and are especially prominent when going over bumps and potholes. One ball joint replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $100.

Electronics Problems

Water pump replacement

The water pump is a known failure with the Mazda 626, causing overheating, coolant leaks, and lots of whining noise. The water pump replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $450.

Alternator Replacement

The alternators are prone to fail, and why wouldn’t they? The vehicle is super old, to begin with. The alternator is responsible for keeping all the electronics happy with the current. If the alternator fails, the battery will drain super quickly, and the electronics will go nighty at night. On top of that, the car will fail to start even. So make sure that the alternator is in working condition.

Start the car a couple of times and turn on all the electronics to see if they are working. Most of the time, the fuses and relays are the culprits, and If not, then the equipment itself is the problem. Alternator replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $380.

Fuel Pump Replacement

These fuel pumps don’t last 20 years, so it’s one of those things that need replacement. Check if it has been replaced or not. Fuel pump replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $750.

No Crank/Starter Issue

The starter is also a problem that is likely going to occur sooner or later. If it has already been replaced, then awesome, and if it hasn’t been replaced before, you should consider the cost of replacement because it will help you get rid of the frustration in the future.

The engine will not crank if you are having a problem with your starter. The starter replacement cost for a Mazda 626 on average is $330.

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