Fun Facts: Mazda 626
The Mazda 626 wasn't always available as a midsize vehicle. Before the arrival of its third generation in 1988, the 626 was exclusively a compact automobile. The change from compact to midsize was a good move, though, as it elicited strong and positive consumer response. In fact, Car and Driver Magazine even included the 1988 626 in its list of ten best cars for the year.
Before Mazda started the U.S. production of the 626 in its Flat Rock, Michigan plant in 1992, the model was only imported from Japan. That's why the Mazda 626 received awards such as "Import Car of the Year" of 1983 from Motor Trend Magazine in the past.
The GT version of the Mazda 626 (a.k.a. Mazda 626 Turbo) was first offered in 1986. This featured a 120 hp FET engine, a fuel injection system, dual headlights (instead of the usual quad design), and a restyled interior, among others. There wasn't a turbo version of the car every model year, thus it's quite limited in number nowadays.
The Mazda 626 was the first official Japanese-branded vehicle to be certified as a U.S. domestic automobile. This happened after Mazda ceased importing the 626 from Japan and started the production of the model in the U.S. Approximately 75% of the 626's components were sourced locally, thus the model became considered as a domestic automobile according to Federal standards.
The Mazda 626 is a certified movie and television star. It made appearances in the following movies and television shows: Magnum P.I., Internal Affairs, Baywatch, Fast Five, NYPD Blue, The A-Team, Law and Order, and Burn Notice.
While Mazda stopped the U.S. production of the 626 in 2002, the model continued to be produced elsewhere. In Columbia, the Mazda 626 continued to be manufactured until 2006.
2002 wouldn't have been the final year of the Mazda 626 had the plans for the Mazda Performance Series (MPS) pushed through. The MPS looked very much like the 626 as it boasted of the model's trademark exterior and interior features. The grille, headlights, the gauges, and the air-conditioning vents were all reminiscent of the old 626. Basically, it was a sleeker and more stylish version of the model. Unfortunately, the MPS didn't take off as plans for it were eventually laid to rest.
Common Issues of a Mazda 626
While it's no longer being produced, the Mazda 626 remains as one of the more common Mazda vehicles on American roads. That's not surprising, though, since the 626 was manufactured for more than two decades (from 1979 to 2002), after all. And in that span of time, the model had spawned several generations of vehicles, with each improving over the previous one. However, the many changes also came with various mechanical and structural issues. Some of these are detailed below:
This issue is unique to the 1990 Mazda 626. The air-conditioning refrigerant can leak because of corrosion. The steel clamp that's holding the aluminum pipe of the A/C receiver is prone to rust, which can spread to the said pipe. Of course, the pipe can be replaced to stop the leaks. Just make sure that the pipe is wrapped in vinyl tape, though, before reattaching it to the steel clamp to prevent corrosion (and ultimately, leaks) from happening again.
There are times when third-generation Mazda 626s would generate knocking noises that come from the suspension. The noises can usually be heard while driving over a speed bump or taking a sharp turn. Needless to say, this problem can be quite annoying. Fortunately, it can be easily solved by installing a rubber spring seat.
One of the biggest issues of a fourth-generation Mazda 626 is its engine. It's because the engine mounts are rather fragile, to put it bluntly. And when they break, the mass-airflow snorkel tube can become damaged, which could result to engine stalling. Many owners were affected by this issue in the past, thus Mazda offered engine mount replacements that are far sturdier than their stock counterparts.
The fourth-generation 626 is also notorious for its engine noise problem. The reason behind the issue is either carbon buildup in the combustion chamber or slippage between the friction gear and the exhaust-camshaft driven gear.
A common problem of fifth-generation Mazda 626s is brake squealing. Much like the issue discussed above, many owners were reportedly plagued by this in the past. For that reason, Mazda was compelled to come out with a new version of the model's rear brake shoes. This featured a redesigned lining material, which eradicated the squealing problem.
How to Make Your Mazda 626 Run Longer
It's not every day that you can purchase a car—it is a big investment. When you finally got the keys to your new Mazda 626, you surely had high hopes that it will run for a long time. Of course, the car is built to last, but a huge factor in its longevity will also be the way you take care of it. Having a car is like taking care of a child, you have to give it the attention it requires. Here are some tips on how you can make your Mazda run longer:
- Change its oil regularly.
Oil replacement is important for optimum engine performance and will make your car run smoothly. However, it's a myth to have your oil changed every 3,000 miles; you can actually replace it every 6,000 miles, or once every six months.Try to learn the difference between different oil appearances such as a clean oil, a muddy and murky oil, and a dark, viscous one. Knowing what each one corresponds to will give you a hint on the condition of your engine and will also help you decide if it's already time for an oil change.
- Don't neglect your car's battery.
A car's battery doesn't require high maintenance but a simple check-up once in a while won't hurt either. Try to gauge its condition every weekend to make sure that it's not leaking or is not accumulating any sediment or mineral build-up. And if it does have some mineral build-up around the contacts, you can simply clean it off using a battery cleaning brush that can be easily bought at any auto shop. Sometimes, it only takes a simple cleaning to help prevent any major complication.
- Don't wear down the belts.
Timing belts need replacing every 60,000 miles, while serpentine belts should be replaced every 40,000 miles, with exceptions, of course, depending on how you drive and how often the car is used. But in order to know for sure, have them checked at least once a year to see if they are still in good shape and could still function properly. Because your car's timing and serpentine belts should not be allowed to work until they give out. Worn out belts are dangerous as they can fail any time causing other parts of your car to be affected and get damaged in the process.
More often than not, tires are the least part of the car that gets the driver's attention. But tires play a vital part in your car's performance too. A misaligned tire not just pose problems in keeping your car running in the right direction, it also poses a danger to anyone when it finally goes out of control. So, make sure all your tires are not just properly inflated, but are correctly aligned as well. And while you're at it, you can ask your mechanic to swap your front tires with the rear ones so that all tires wear evenly. Tire rotation will allow the less worn out rear tires to replace the overworked front ones. Instead of buying a new set of tires, you'll be able to maximize your use of the existing ones with tire rotation.
The Mazda 626: Mazda’s Bread-and-Butter Car
When the Japanese company Mazda entered the American market in 1970, it became very successful with its unique Wankel rotary engine. It developed cars with this type of engine to differentiate itself from other Japanese manufacturers. The risky move turned out to be a good one—Mazda even went as far as to release the Mazda Rotary Pickup solely for North American buyers. In 1973, however, there was an oil crisis that halted the production of cars with rotary engines. The American market turned to vehicles with better fuel efficiency, and Mazda needed a vehicle to compete with more fuel-efficient cars near the end of the 1970s. The Mazda 626 was the answer—it was one of the car manufacturer’s first few compact piston-engined cars. The Mazda 626 became a top seller for the marque since its release in 1979.
1979-1982: The first run
When the Mazda 626 was released in 1979, its coupe and sedan versions were manufactured with identical features. They both had front MacPherson struts and a solid axle in back mounted on four links and riding on coil springs. The only engine offered was a 2.0-liter SOHC eight-valve with 80 horsepower backed by either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. It sold really well and developed a solid reputation for being a reliable vehicle. In 1980, the engine’s output decreased to 75 hp due stricter emissions regulations. From 1981 to 1982, very little was changed in the 626—a move that proved to be beneficial, as it continued its first run successfully.
1983-1997: A few engine upgrades
During this period, the Mazda 626’s rear-drive was changed to a front-drive platform. It was named "Import Car of the Year" by Motor Trend, an award that the 626 earned due partly to the upgrade to a 2.0-liter engine bumped up to 83 hp. This provided a smoother and quieter operation for the car. Among the features it shared in common with the first generation 626 was a unibody structure, front struts, and a 98.8-inch wheelbase. The engine would soon be upgraded to 110 hp in the late 1980s. Near the end of 1997, the 626’s engine was upgraded to 118 hp.
1998-2003: The final years
1998 saw the 626 as having a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which generates 125 hp. In 2000, front side airbags became new options for the car, as well as larger wheels, four-wheel discs, and rear heat ducts. For the model year 2003, the Mazda6 replaced the 626. Although there was to be no sixth-generation 626, there are still a lot of them on the road today. The 626 continued as Mazda's bread-and-butter car even to its last days in 2002—a straightforward and reliable car.