Question about 2003 Mazda Protege

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Mazda Protege 2.0 Engine Problem

I have a 2003 DX protege with 55K miles. I never before had experienced any problems with my engine until some parts got changed this past weekend. I had this changed:

-timing belt
-alternator belt
-water pump

this was a first for those 3 parts. after changing that, the mech also washed the engine (i had this done one time before, 2 years ago without any issues). this took place 2 weeks ago. since then, i'm experiencing the engine kinda stuttering at neutral revolutions. the mechanic turned the revs up at idle to compensate but i want to get rid of the problem at the root cause. the engine problem is more evident if one take a look/hear at the exhaust pipe.

i changed the spark plug cables with no effect.

i would appreciate any insight. i'm not technical so pardon if I'm missing the correct terms.

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  • 6 more comments 
  • gotjam Apr 14, 2009

    Exactly after both belts (timing and alternator), water pump and the engine wash. I first thought this was because of the wash and ppl told me to let the engine dry for a few days, although pressurized air was used to blow water off the engine. After waiting for 2 weeks now and replacing the spark plug cables I'm still with the problem. Sometimes (maybe 1 out of 20) the car will not start on my first attempt.

  • gotjam Apr 25, 2009

    Took the car to a certified Mazda service center for an engine light scan. Basically after the scan they said the problem was a timing issue. I'll take the car to another mechanic to rectify the timing to see if it fixes the problem. So far it appears to be a misplaced timing belt.

    I didn't left the car on the Mazda service center because they charge extremely high over and wanted to keep the car 3 extra days just to do this. Ill let you in the results.


  • gotjam Apr 27, 2009

    The issue is finally solved. I took the car to another mechanic who verified the belt installation. Turns out the belt I bought (non-genuine Mazda) was not fitting correctly. It was not incorrectly installed, just not exactly right. He suggested me buying a genuine belt, which I did and voila!


    Thanks for your insight. Really appreciate it.

  • gotjam May 03, 2009

    The plot thickens.

    The second day after the timing belt replacement, the car broke down on me in the middle of the highway. $100 towing bucks later, the mechanic told me there was a misplaced timing belt coil. I'm not familiar with all the tech-talk so I'm bringing the issue here just to be sure I'm on the right track because to be honest I'm driving the car now with the fear of having it broken again while driving. He told me he fastened the coil that keeps the timing belt tense. Because that was not fastened the belt got out of sync, turning the engine off. Right now it's working, with an almost unnoticeable noise out of the timing belt box.


  • gotjam May 04, 2009


    Tensioner was the word he used. He said he fastened it on both sides (whatever that means).


    I haven't gone back to the first guy. The story behind it is that he washed the engine after changing the timing belt. In order to wash it he drove it for a few blocks, so he must have felt the initial problem. When I went back with the issue the first time, he said the problem most likely was because of the engine wash. He upped the revs a bit to compensate and even suggested me buying a new pair of spark plug cables, while knowing the issue had nothing to do with the wash. In other words, I don't want to deal with him again.



  • gotjam May 06, 2009

    frustrating indeed. now, about that tensioner. I'm a bit afraid of driving the car now. if the tensioner was properly adjusted, should I be worried?


    engine light came on again today.

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler May 11, 2010

    A number of things could have happened, moisture in numerous connections, vacuum line may have been inadvertently knocked off or cracked by moving while doing the job, but it could be that the new timing belt was put on a few notches out of time also. I'd give the guy one more chance at making it right, then check at another repair shop, and explain what happen & see what they say. If nothing turns up as far as connections etc., go, I'd see how much they would charge me to pull cover off & check timing belt alignment. The other thing you might want to consider is having a free trouble code scan done at one of the parts stores that do them free, and see if that turns up anything. Keep me posted.

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler May 11, 2010

    Did you notice it immediately after timing belt was done?

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  • Mazda Master
  • 6,674 Answers

Thanks for update. That timing belt issue, was the first thing that came to mind, well let's hope they find problem. I'd make a point of showing the original mechanic the repair order/bill after to see what his response is, if it is the belt installed wrong. Keep me posted.

Posted on Apr 25, 2009

  • 1 more comment 
  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler Apr 27, 2009

    Glad to help, Happy Motoring & thanks for taking the time to do the rating.

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler May 03, 2009

    Sure he didn't say tensioner or maybe even crank sensor, or cam sensor? Did you go back to last guy that you paid to do it, and see what his response was?

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler May 05, 2009

    Just a little frustrating to say the least eh ?

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