Question about 1993 Mazda Protege
First, if the vehicle is still under warranty, then take it to a Ford dealer for an examination.
Second, if you were told that it isn't the starter or spark plugs, both of which require some mechanical knowledge and close-up examination, why couldn't that presumably knowledgeable person diagnose the problem???
Third, why do you suspect the fuel pump? A bad fuel pump typically would cause very rough driving, which you did not mention. If you are able to run "a couple of hours" without incident, then it's not the fuel pump.
Fourth, "injector cleaner" (along with any alleged cleaning fluid for any other part of your car, other than the windshield washer fluid, of course!) is very rarely needed these days, and it will only last for one tank full (folks think that if they fill the tank, then add the "cleaner" fluid, then fill it up when it gets half-empty, that the fluid will "stay" in the tank at full-strength, but, unfortunately, it will only be about half as strong, if that).
************* WARNING ****************
The following paragraph discusses the battery, alternator, and relevant fluids and connections.
Working on ANY electrical system - - car or otherwise - - is potentially DANGEROUS, even if you're "just" cleaning the battery terminals. If you don't know what you're doing, then find someone who does; it isn't worth losing your life or eyesight, or getting burned from sparks or battery acid.
Fifth, I'm assuming that you (or someone else) checked your battery with a voltmeter, and checked that both terminals (the things sticking out of the battery which are connected to cables) are clean and free of white or green corrosion (you might want to check the other end of the battery cables, where they are attached to the vehicle, itself, but that is rarely necessary). Also check that the alternator connections are fully attached. Unfortunately, even "dead" batteries can register 12 volts; 13 volts is ideal when the engine is running (it may be as high as 14, which, for most vehicles, is fine; higher voltages are needed to keep the battery charged; more on that in a moment). To properly test the battery, make sure that the engine and all the appliances (radio, lights, A/C, wipers, windows, etc, etc, etc) are turned OFF. Then, check the voltage at the battery; it should be at least 12.5 volts. Then, turn ON the engine AND as many appliances as you can, then check the battery (with the engine and appliances running); ideally, the battery should read at least 13 volts, which indicates that the alternator is doing its job, keeping the battery "healthy" and charged. If the battery reads more than 15 volts, with the engine on or off, then that *could* be the sign of a different, potentially dangerous, overcharging problem, but that wouldn't cause the problems you're having. You could also check the amperage, but that can be very, very, very, dangerous for the untrained, so I'm not going to explain it, here. If BOTH tests are BELOW the thresholds I mentioned, then either the battery or alternator are the problem. Most modern alternators last many, many years. Since your vehicle is over 4 years old, and probably still has the original battery, then it may be time to replace it, as that would cause the EXACT problems that you described, especially in hot weather (cold weather, too!). Don't skimp on the quality of the battery; make sure to get one with at least the mfr's recommended CCA (Cold Cranking Amps), which should be clearly listed on your current battery and/or user manual. Consider going up one level (usually an additional 200 or so CCA), which will help the car start in extreme temperatures, with the difference in prices between CCA's usually between $10 and 20 (considering that's the cost of a few luxury cups of coffee, and less than the cost of a fill-up at the gas pump, it's more than worth it!). Final thought: in all my years of driving, I have found that the little window on sealed batteries, which is supposed to tell you the "health" of your battery, is completely worthless! And, using a "hygrometer" on an "open" battery is equally worthless, since you might leave the slot covers improperly seated, thus causing battery fluid to leak out; besides, if the battery is at the point where the hygrometer says it's bad, you'd already know it when you couldn't start the car at all!
Happy Motoring! (I *had* to say it!) ;)
Posted on Jun 25, 2008
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