I bought this car new at the end of 1997 and I have almost 130,000 miles on it. I have the services done and the oil changed - that's it. I have had no major problems with this jewel. I have the automatic transmission, so I don't understand those who have had problems. Are they having their car serviced and oil changed? Anyway, I finally had to get a new battery after 8 years and the guy at my local service center was amazed that it was the original battery. I have had to finally get new tires. This is just a great car, I think I will keep it until it stops and it is not showing any signs of that anytime soon. It still drives like a new car. WOW!
We have been driving this car for 9 years, now, and this was the best car decision we ever made. The car is now 12 years old, and most of the original parts still work fine, including alternator, power options, rad, water pump, steering components, etc. The only unexpected problems were with some replacement wheel bearings which didn't last as long as they should have. We live in a very wintry area with lots of road salt, and the body has held up well. I did a bit of research before we bought the car, so I avoided the automatic (Ford built) transmission of the 90's. Ours is a manual transmission, and it is still smooth as silk ; and the gas mileage is amazing. Basically, I love it!
I bought this 98 mazda 626 about three weeks ago with 232k mile on it, so far, I feel It is a new car, interior, exterior, engine, etc, the engine is so quiet that when I stopped at traffic light, I thought the engine had stopped running. the gas mileage is excellent, the build quality is superb. the clutch is bit stiff, I do not know if it needs to be replaced or it is way it is. Two years later, lubricated the clutch, $130 replaced the engine seal. Now it has 265k on it. Runs like a new.
We purchased our 626 after reading in Consumer Guide that it was highly recommended year and model. We have really enjoyed driving this car. We get an honest to goodness average of 40 mpg. I drive it at 65 to 70 on the freeway and it handles well as far as I am concerned. It never burns any oil and I have gone to synthetic oil. I'm keeping it till it dies because we have been so pleased with it. It only has 122,000 on the engine.
I bought the car for my daughter in 1998 for her to finish high school and go off to college in. The car has never left her stranded, but the automatic transmission has greatly increased the cost of a higher education. I've had the transmission replaced twice, once at 55K miles, and again at 120K. The clutch packs appear to be the weak link in the transmission. I had to change the heater coil in 2000. I made the repairs myself one week end. I'll never do that again.