Problems with my 02 protege

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
Hi all. I'm new to the forum. I just bought myself a 2002 Mazda Protege ES with 141k miles, power everything and sunroof for $2000 (has some rust on rear quarter panels). I am very new to little cars as my only other car right now is a moderately modified dodge cummins. Getting 17mpg wasn't cutting it.... Plus I have to make a trip from Ohio to Wyoming and back.

1) I'm having a small problem with the trans. It's an auto 4 speed. Every gear shifts hard and there is no slippage whatsoever. However, when the car is cold, and you drop it into drive, it will take a second.... Sometimes even up to 3 seconds for the car to drop into drive. Once it does, it is perfectly fine. When the car is warmed up, the hesitation to go into drive is near nonexistent.

Is this a big problem? Or can I live with it? It needs to survive a 3500 mile trip at the very least. I'm very impressed with the mpg's. So far I got 32mpg hwy (hand calculated!) at 75mph and 28.6mpg mixed driving.

2) I'm hearing some odd rattling from the rear that is very noticeable on rocky roads and bumps.. Even on flat roads you can faintly hear the rattling. It sounds like it could be struts/strut mounts from what I have read online. If I post a video of the sound, could you all help me pinpoint what it is?

Thanks all!
 

03protolx

Member
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2003 Mazda Protege LX
Your trans may be going, but don't give up. FN4A-EL trans....some people have reported just draining the fluid and re-filling it with new Dexron III or ATF M-V fluid has cured some or all issues.

Give that a shot, if it doesnt help.... your trans is probably dying. Try to find a used one out of a junkyard of a wrecked protege. you'll need 5-6 hours to R+R the transmission and you should be alright.
 

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
Your trans may be going, but don't give up. FN4A-EL trans....some people have reported just draining the fluid and re-filling it with new Dexron III or ATF M-V fluid has cured some or all issues.

Give that a shot, if it doesnt help.... your trans is probably dying. Try to find a used one out of a junkyard of a wrecked protege. you'll need 5-6 hours to R+R the transmission and you should be alright.

Thanks for the input! Which of those two tranny fluids would be best? Or are they one in the same?
 
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03protolx

Member
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2003 Mazda Protege LX
It all depends on how much you want to spend, really. M-V fluid could get on the expensive side, and some people have reported that it doesn't last as long as a synthetic Dexron III, which will be considerably cheaper. In the end, Dexron Wins. Thats what I have running in my protege currently, and that's what I ran in my 1997 protege in which had 305k miles on it when it finally went.

I replaced my fluid at about 120k miles (unplugged the trans cooler line, let the engine run and the transmission pumped out all of the old fluid). I have to say, the difference was incredible. I was getting a slow 1-2 shift, weird torque converter shutter, and OD was hesitant. All of the "issues" went away and about to hit 140k miles, no problems. I took a 850 mile trip down south, ran great.
 

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
Thanks for the help man. Like I said, I come from a totally different automotive scene... Big hp, big torque and just install a dual disk clutch into a manual trans and it all holds. This is very different. I've rebuilt a manual, but I would never want to rebuild an auto.

So to drain the trans, you can't just pull out the drain bolt and let it drain?
 

03protolx

Member
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2003 Mazda Protege LX
You should only need about 7-8 quarts, if you do the full fluid flush. if you plan to do just the drain and fill, then about 3 quarts.
 

KKummins

Member
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2002 Mazda Protege ES
Well if I replace it with a synthetic, I'm forced to drain the entire transmission correct?
 

MaxPower

Member
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'01 Pro ES
That rattling from the rear means you need either 1) new swaybar endlinks or 2) new strut mounts. From rockauto.com endlinks are ~$20 each and strut mounts are $20-25 each.
 

03protolx

Member
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2003 Mazda Protege LX
You don't exactly have to drain it ALL...but It is advised. You also don't have to go synthetic.

If you only drain the pan, the effectiveness of a drain and fill is only about 40%.

Do it the right way, get all of it out of there.
 

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
Talked to a local auto parts store worker and he said if that's the only problem I have (delay going into drive), then don't worry about it. He said it wouldn't even be worth dropping the pan and replacing the fluid because that could knock debris loose and make everything much worse. He did recommend using a trans additive that should help but he said it doesn't sound very necessary. Is he right or wrong about debris getting knocked loose by replacing the fluid? Also, I'm not sure if I'm finding the correct fluid to replace it with if I were to. Are you talking about the valvoline max life full synthetic for dex/merc/mercon LV? Or the regular valvoline dex/merc?

As far as suspension, I replaced both rear strut mounts and struts... Seems to have helped a lot but I may need to replace the sway bar links to get rid of all of the noise.

Thanks!
 

03protolx

Member
:
2003 Mazda Protege LX
That is sometimes the case with auto transmissions, but if it isn't slipping, replacing the fluid will probably help. You don't have to drop the pan, but just to take the trans drain plug out. Just draining the pan and topping it off will prolong the life of the trans.
 

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
Well now I am in a whole new level of a predicament. I went to leave a friends house last night and the "o/d off" light was flashing. I pulled out of the driveway and had no power. I'm pretty sure 1st and 2nd gear were nonexistent. My whole ride home, it never once shifted to 1st or 2nd even when I tried to get it to. So I limped it home using 3rd and 4th, and went up my driveway in reverse (steep driveway) in order to make it home. I read online that I should have some codes to read so I will do that within the next couple hours and post back on here what they were. I'm hoping to god it's just a solenoid of some sort...

This morning I tried to run it (only in the driveway) and it wouldn't shift into 1st or 2nd. A half hour later, it dropped right into 1st. I'm scratching my head big time.
 

03protolx

Member
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2003 Mazda Protege LX
yeah the VICS solenoid is a completely different issue. Your OD light flashing and the history of a rough shift/slow shift sounds like a bad shift solenoid or speed sensor. You were probably driving in 3rd and 4th gear because of limp mode. I'd try to see if you can find somebody with an "advanced" scanner that you can scan the history of transmission codes.
 

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
yeah the VICS solenoid is a completely different issue. Your OD light flashing and the history of a rough shift/slow shift sounds like a bad shift solenoid or speed sensor. You were probably driving in 3rd and 4th gear because of limp mode. I'd try to see if you can find somebody with an "advanced" scanner that you can scan the history of transmission codes.

Thanks for that input. Are you still talking about an OBD II scanner? Or something else? I only used a pocket scanner that I have and that's all that came up was the VICS, which made no sense to me. I will check on that today.
 

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
Through a friend who has been in the auto repair business for a few decades, he called a reputable transmission shop and had me placed in front of others to get it looked at (since I am leaving for Wyoming Thursday morning. They should be contacting me tomorrow to let me know what codes came up and what needs replaced. I'm hoping it's a solenoid or speed sensor!
 

KKummins

Member
:
2002 Mazda Protege ES
Bad news. No transmission codes came up. They said the fluid was pretty black, meaning that clutches and such are going bad. Yet it didn't look that bad to me? He said he thinks the transmission isn't going to last a long time. Should I just change the transmission fluid and try it out?