I bought my car brand new in Nov 1999. Regular maintenance (oil changes @ 4000 to 6000 miles), radiator flush, timing belt, etc, per manufacture's recommendation. This is my second Mazda (first was '84 Mazda 323 sedan-also brand new- drove over 250,000mi). My Protege has the original transmission (5speed manual) and engine. This car has spent 12 of it's nearly 16 years in northern winters. It's spent most of it's lifetime outdoors (no parking shelter) and started every time. Nothing has failed while driving. When the vehicle warranty expired, I prefer working with an outside mechanic shop. Yes, the car has rust, and has more exterior noise than the first day I drove it off the lot. There are a few small issues w/electronics (occasionally cd player doesn't work, & occasionally driver door lock must be manually operated). Minor stuff. The car starts every day, gets decent gas mileage. I'm still hoping for 400,000 miles, though it's possible the car may not make it. In any case, my experience is, that Mazda makes a fantastic product. If you're looking for value and reliability, this is the brand.
Purchased my 2000 protege with the proper 5-speed manual in late 2012. Ever since I purchased it I had no mechanical problems. The 1.6ZM Engine runs like clock work and is zippy,the ride is somewhat comfortable, there are no squeaks and rattles, . However, I wish this car had more power.Another issue is rust. I noticed that the protege has the tendency to rust around the rear wheel arches. I talked to an auto body shop and they told me that Mazda during assembly the wheel arches had two pieces of metal spot welded and over time water and debris would seep in between the spot welds causing it to oxidize. Other than those two minor issues this vehicle is one of the most reliable and tough.
I like the exterior look the front looks somewhat aggressive and you can find eye-lids to make it more aggressive. despite being 15 years old, I can still find JDM (Japanese domestic market) parts for my protege after doing some research. I also found out that this car has many other names like Mazda Familia (Japan)manufactured from 1963-2003.5 , Ford Tierra, and Mazda Isamu Genki (Taiwan)manufactured from 2000-present day with parts! If you have a protege try to research foreign parts. You'll be surprised at what you'll find.
Next time, I would like the engine to have more power!
I absolutely loved my Protege, it was very reliable, comfy, and fun to drive.
I put 150K on it. It also got excellent gas mileage.
It will not play burned cd's and had a year where I had to have the belt replaced a few times, since then it's been running like a top.
Just traded it in today for a newer car, but was sad to see it go.
I really hope it goes to a great home!
love everything about this car.
only thing they could do to make it better would be to have abs breaks.
I own the stick shift model. 90% highway miles for its entire life (175k miles so far). Averaging 32-33 mpg for entire life. It's aging as expected - can definitely tell it's not immortal; little things breaking, but nothing big yet. Would you believe that I didn't have to replace the front disc rotors until over 90k miles on it? Pretty wild - I really wasn't 'stretching' into unsafe-ness. replacement rotors lasted "only" 60k miles. Clutch still tight, zero oil consumed, and I'm not particularly diligent with changes (avg ~5k miles). Other than the exhaust heat shield getting loose more than once - 2 or 3 welding jobs over time to stop the noise, no odd/out of place troubles.
Nimble little beast!
Pretty much same as everyone else's. My only regret in buying this car is dealing with the road noise - worst on the tollways which unfortunately is where 90% of all my hours have been spent. Good tires don't help - I tried. I will pay extra next time for a quieter car!!!!