The introductory part of this repair guide is intended to help you learn more about the inner workings of your Mazda and save you money on its upkeep and operation. It is designed to aid owners of both piston engine and rotary engine powered Mazdas to perform service operations on their vehicles.
The first two sections will be the most used, since they contain maintenance and tune-up information and procedures. Studies have shown that a properly tuned and maintained car can get at least 10% better gas mileage than an out-of-tune car. The other sections deal with the more complex systems of your vehicle. Operating systems from engine through brakes are covered to the extent that the average do-it-yourselfer becomes mechanically involved. This repair guide will not explain such items as rebuilding an automatic transmission or transaxle for the simple reason the the expertise required and the investment in special tools make this task impractical. It will give you detailed instructions to help you change your own brake pads and shoes, replace points (where applicable) and plugs, and do many more jobs that will save you money, give you personal satisfaction, and help you avoid expensive problems.
A secondary purpose of this information is as a reference for owners who want to better understand their car and/or what their mechanic has to say. In this case, no tools at all are required.
Before starting disassembly, read through the entire procedure. This will give you the overall view of what tools and supplies will be required. There is nothing more frustrating than having to walk to the bus stop on Monday morning because you were short one bolt on Sunday afternoon. There is nothing more embarrassing than to have to call the local gas station to tow your car from the driveway because you can't get something to go back together the way it came apart. So read ahead and plan ahead. Take or draw a picture of the component if you have to. Each operation should be approached logically and all procedures thoroughly understood before attempting any work.
All sections contain adjustments, maintenance, removal and installation procedures, and repair or overhaul procedures. When repair is not considered practical, we tell you how to remove the part and then how to install the new or rebuilt replacement. In this way, you at least save the labor costs. Backyard repair of such components as the alternator is just not practical.
Two basic mechanic's rules should be mentioned here. First, whenever the LEFT side of the car or engine is referred to, it is meant to specify the DRIVER'S side of the car. Conversely, the RIGHT side of the car means the PASSENGER'S side. Secondly, most screws and bolts are removed by turning COUNTERCLOCKWISE, and installed by turning CLOCKWISE.
Safety is always the most important rule. Constantly be aware of the dangers involved in working on an automobile and take the proper precautions. (See "SERVICING YOUR VEHICLE SAFELY" in this section and the SAFETY NOTICE on the acknowledgment page.)
Pay attention to the instructions provided. There are 3 common mistakes in mechanical work:
- Incorrect order of assembly, disassembly or adjustment. When taking something apart or putting it together, doing things in the wrong order usually just costs you extra time; however, it CAN break something. Read the entire procedure before beginning disassembly. Do everything in the order in which the instructions say you should do it, even if you can't immediately see a reason for it. When you're taking apart something that is very intricate (for example, a carburetor), you might want to draw a picture of how it looks when assembled at one point in order to make sure you get everything back in its proper position. (We will supply exploded views whenever possible.) When making adjustments, especially tune-up adjustments, do them in order; often, one adjustment affects another, and you cannot expect even satisfactory results unless each adjustment is made only when it cannot be changed by any other.
- Overtorquing (or undertorquing). While it is more common for overtorquing to cause damage, undertorquing can cause a fastener to vibrate loose, resulting in serious damage. Especially when dealing with aluminum parts, pay attention to torque specifications and utilize a torque wrench in assembly. If a torque figure is not available, remember that if you are using the right tool to do the job, you will probably not have to strain yourself to get a fastener tight enough. The pitch of most threads is so slight that the tension you put on the wrench will be multiplied many, many times in actual force on what you are tightening. A good example of how critical torque is can be seen in the case of spark plug installation, especially where you are putting the plug into an aluminum cylinder head. Too little torque can fail to crush the gasket, causing leakage of combustion gases and consequent overheating of the plug and engine parts. Too much torque can damage the threads, or distort the plug, which changes the spark gap.
There are many commercial products available for ensuring that fasteners won't come loose, even if they are not torqued just right (a common brand is Loctite®). If you are concerned about getting something together tight enough to hold, but loose enough to avoid mechanical damage during assembly, one of these products might offer substantial insurance. Read the label on the package and make sure the product is compatible with the materials, fluids, etc. involved before choosing one.
- Crossthreading. This occurs when a part such as a bolt is screwed into a nut or casting at the wrong angle and forced. Cross threading is more likely to occur if access is difficult. It helps to clean and lubricate fasteners and to start threading with the part to be installed going straight in. Then, start the bolt, spark plug, etc. with your fingers. If you encounter resistance, unscrew the part and start over again at a different angle until it can be inserted and turned several times without much effort. Keep in mind that many parts, especially spark plugs, use tapered threads so that gentle turning will automatically bring the part you're threading to the proper angle, if you don't force it or resist a change in angle. Don't put a wrench on the part until it's been tightened a couple of turns by hand. If you suddenly encounter resistance, and the part has not seated fully, don't force it. Pull it back out and make sure it's clean and threading properly. Crossthreading a spark plug can transform a simple maintenance task into a major expense.
Always take your time and be patient; once you have some experience, working on your car will become an enjoyable hobby.