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Mazda 323 f (year 2000) intermittent fault


Since buying my mazda 323f 1.8 sport (year 2000 model) I keep experiencing an intermittent fault with firing. When I first bought the car and a day or two after filling the fuel tank, I would start the car only to find the engine firing on two or three cylinders. This initially lasted a couple of minutes and sometimes switching the engine off then on again cured it, but sometimes not. However as time has gone on, it is happening more and more often and the other day the problem kicked in as I was already driving along. My initial thoughts were muck in the fuel tank so put a petrol additive in but problem remains. The car has now done 75,000 miles and has had regular oil changes and servicing. The spark plugs have also been changed. I need to stress that this is an intermittent fault and normally the car drives perfectly.

The issue has now started to happen every 2 to 3 days and I continue to drive the car until it suddenly sorts itself out and fires on all 4 cylinders which may take a couple of miles - not sure if I should be doing this though as it may cause engine damage!?

Do you have any ideas what might be the cause of this issue and also what I need to do to resolve it?

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