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Old 28-01-2015, 11:24 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Launceston, Tasmania
Car: 323 SP20
Posts: 5
New member from Tas

Hi all, I'm Steve and I work as an Electrical Engineer. I purchased a yellow Ď03 323 SP20 (BJ series 2 apparently) manual hatchback with 96,000km on the clock (supposedly, more on that later) last year when I wanted a more reliable but still fun daily driver to replace my í94 Honda Prelude, which became a dedicated track car. It came with some generic RJR 17Ē rims, lowered king springs, an aftermarket alarm and stereo with a 12Ē sub in the boot and an amp under each front seat, a custom cat-back exhaust, Pacemaker 4-1 header and a bunch of girly mods like pink car seat covers and wiper blades, chrome wiper arms, floor mats (yes chrome floor mats!!), shift knob etc. etc. Apart from the king springs, exhaust and stereo I have nearly returned it back to stock now. Iíve just recently Iíve ripped out the piggyback alarm system since that stopped working too. My brother had one the same back when they were still fairly new and Iíd always wanted one, when he sold his I didnít have the cash so I went without for a few years. Itís been a great car so far but I am having a few issues that I hope you guys can help out with.

The big one is that the check engine light does not work. I took it to Supercheap to get them to pull any codes with their scanner and they couldnít get it to talk to the ECU through the diagnostics port under driverís side dash. So I took the cluster out to see what the issue was to find that there actually is no check engine light, the cluster surround in the spot where it is meant to go is solid. There is a ďholdĒ light above though which I understand is only for the auto models but the fuel/temp gauge is from a manual. Looking at the service history book that came with it and Iíve only just realised that the VIN on the back of the book does not match the VIN for the car itself either. Looking closer at the service history and there are a few red flags that I should have noticed a lot earlier too:
  • The initial 1000km service was done in Jan í03, where the car wasnít even built until Apr í03 and didnít receive compliance until May.
  • According to the service record, all the services prior to í05 are from the same place in Melbourne, then there is a single service in Sydney in í07 before the car came to Tassie in í09. I spoke to Mazda and the intake manifold recall service was performed in í05Ö in Tassie.
  • Between the í05 service, the í07 service and the í09 service there is only a 19,000km jump in 3 years and 8 months.
I really want to check the VIN and compliance plates (these at least match) against the engine number and any other chassis numbers to be sure I didnít get a chop-shop job. Itís fairly obvious now that the cluster is not out of that car. Iím giving the previous owners the benefit of the doubt here and assuming the changeover happened sometime in that í05 to í09 gap. Theyíd put 40,000km on the car in the 4 years they owned it (seems about right) and have regular service history from the time they bought it and the timing belt was done 20,000km ago. Since owning it I have changed every fluid in the thing and mechanically it seems to be spot-on. The CVís are in great condition, it doesnít burn or leak any oil, it doesnít smoke and it doesnít seem to have reached the middle-aged-hump where everything starts failing. I do want to check the condition of the timing belt to be sure though. I can only assume that there arenít significantly more Kís on the chassis than what the clock shows. Iím beginning to wonder if the problem is with the ECU itself since from studying the wiring diagrams it looks like there is no common wiring between the diagnostics port and the CEL. Outside of the obviously incorrect cluster I canít find any damage to any wiring so Iím at a bit of a loss. The next step is to take it to Mazda to see if the Mazda specific port in the engine bay works. I donít really feel like paying an auto-electrician $150 an hour to try and diagnose this issue. Worst case I found a couple of clusters with low-ish km online for around $100, so it wonít be a big deal to fix if this is indeed the problem. The lesson here would be to pay the $36 before buying a car to get the VIN checked out.

Moving on to some more minor issues, I am missing the covers to the front seatbelt pillar mounts and a couple of the seat rail covers. I just need to hit up a junkyard but I doubt there are going to be any SP20ís nearby. Does the SP share much trim with a normal Astina/Protege?

My fog lights donít work. Iíve checked the lamps, the switch, fuses and the relay and theyíre all good. When the headlights are on the fog light button illuminates but pressing it doesnít do anything and the indicator on the dash doesnít come on. Seems to be something amiss with the wiring between the switch and the dash but I havenít had any luck tracing out the problem. At the foglights themselves I get 12V on the positive when everything is turned off and no ground on the negative, but when the lights are turned on I lose the 12V and get continuity to ground. At no point does the relay click. I wonder if the console is the issue here too. I did find a spare 16-pin connector up under the dash on the driversí side near the heater core that doesnít seem to be for anything, itís the only plug Iíve found that isnít plugged into something. Any clues what this could be for? It might reach and fit into the 16-pin plug in the instrument cluster, but there is already a plug in there albeit with only 3-4 actual wires going in.

The SRS light was flashing. I diagnosed it as a code #11, the driverís side seatbelt pre-tensioner. When I pulled off the trim I found there are no pre-tensioners at all, there is just resistors in their place to fool the SRS system into thinking theyíre there. Am I right that these are a small gas cartridge that explodes and pulls the seatbelt tight in a crash? I havenít found any evidence that the car was ever in an accident though. Iíll one day get around to getting some new seatbelts with pre-tensioners so that itís not dodgy.

My fuel consumption seems to be a bit higher than I would have hoped. I live on top of a big hill only 5km from work and a majority of the rest of my driving is generally short stints around town so I know it is never going to be great. Initially I was getting about 350km out of a tank before the fuel light comes on at just under the 1/4 mark, and it takes around 40L to fill it from there. So far I have tried:
  • Swapped the stock wheels back on and fitted new tyres
  • Upped the tyre pressure to 35psi and check them constantly
  • Started taking the highway to work which takes longer but I can maintain a better average speed and it isnít as hilly
  • Changed to BP 98 Ultimate
  • Not driving like a moron
  • Not using the A/C (donít really need it down here that often)
  • Not carrying unnecessary weight (donít need to anyway)
  • Changed to a K&N panel filter
  • Changed the plugs, fuel filter and all fluids (including transmission)
  • Run a bottle of fuel system cleaner through
I always thought a fuel light should be for ďyouíre about to run outĒ not ďit might be nice to fill up in the next week or soĒ. Iím probably just used to the Honda where the light only came on when itís down to fumes. With everything Iíve done Iím still consistently getting around 10.8L/100km no matter how I drive, however the performance seems to be getting better and better. What does everyone else get out of these things? From the searches Iíve done this is pretty typical for older Mazdaís with mostly city driving.

Iím not really planning to modify the car any more I just want to keep it running and not give me any (more) grief. I really donít care how many Kís are on it and while Iím pissed that someone has done the dodgy, the car is mechanically sound and runs great so if I can fix these electrical issues then Iíll be a happy chappy. Iíll probably drive it until it is scrap anyway so the resale value is meaningless to me. I have the old stereo out of the Honda which I am slowly swapping in since its better quality but thatís about it. Is there anything that people commonly have problems with or things to keep an eye on? Iíve been doing the servicing myself since I can and Iíve been through half of the mechanics in town and I canít find one that actually cares or takes any pride in their work, it does need a valve adjustment though which Iím not 100% comfortable doing myself.

Anyway, thatís the story so far. Thankyou for reading my life story/rant and I apologise for the wall of text.
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Old 29-01-2015, 11:03 PM   #2
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Location: Sydney
Car: SP20
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!! Welcome To AstinaGT !!

WOW! Nice write up.

Sorry to hear of your problems with the car, looks like you've gone through alot to figure things out, hopefully most problems don't turn out confusing and costing alot.

Should post up some pictures of your car
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Old 30-01-2015, 05:38 PM   #3
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Old 01-02-2015, 04:45 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: New Zealand
Car: Sport 20 MT4WD
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Welcome to the forum.

I can't give you much help other than to say my 4wd BJ1 FSZE running on BP 98 is averaging 8.9l/100km.

Good luck and keep us posted on any findings.
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Old 10-02-2015, 07:46 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Launceston, Tasmania
Car: 323 SP20
Posts: 5
Thanks guys. Here's a quick pic...

**Forgive the weeds in the driveway. As you can see she's in desperate need of a polish and the headlights could use some love.

I had another crack at the wiring on the weekend and I'm pretty certain all the electrical issues trace back to the cluster, there doesn't seem to be any issues beyond that. I did manage to get the dimmer working on the head unit too.
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Old 10-02-2015, 08:40 PM   #6
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Old 15-09-2015, 05:12 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Launceston, Tasmania
Car: 323 SP20
Posts: 5
Hi all, sorry I haven't been on here with updates or anything, I did plan to be an active member not just one of those "help me my car broke" people.

On that note, help me my car broke lol.

Seems the poor fuel economy issue has been getting steadily worse over the last few months, it gets on average about 12.5L/100km which to me is simply ridiculous for this size car/motor. Then the real problems started. It keeps doing what feels like misfiring, the idle will drop to almost a stall occasionally, and will shudder if off throttle for a while like when going downhill. It has even failed to hot-start a couple of times and has all the symptoms of being flooded, I have to turn it over with the accelerator all the way to the floor to get it to start.

Now the big issue is that the ECU is not throwing any codes. It did have a P0421 (HO2S out of range) so we replaced the primary O2 sensor and now that's cleared. I've had it to a mechanic since I'm at my wits end but he doesn't believe it is an issue with the fuel system, he thinks there is a dodgy sensor feeding mis-information to the ECU and has basically told me to go somewhere else. I'm really eager to not to just start replacing parts until I get lucky but the MAF sensor and/or the coil packs are seeming more and more like the (expensive) culprits.

Does anyone have any better ideas? Is this a common issue with these things?
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Old 15-09-2015, 05:44 PM   #8
Mad Mat
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Location: Salisbury - Inner City
Car: 1997 BA Hardtop - Had a 2003 BJii J48 Sport20, and 2x bg SOHC astina hatches
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Hey man,

My money is on coil packs and CAS (crank angle sensor)

1994 323 BG Hatch 2005-2007 Crashed into truck
1991 323 BG Hatch 2007-2008/9 SOLD
2003 BJ SP20 J48 Hatch 2008-2011 Regretfully SOLD
1997 BA I4 Sedan 2012-CURRENT
1985 BF 323 Hatch 2014-2015
1989 MX5 2015-2015
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Old 03-10-2015, 03:39 PM   #9
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Sydney
Car: 323 Astina Hardtop V6
Posts: 404
Welcome buddy.

I really like the sp20s i was thinking about what Phil dough said about the fsze engines, yep awesome.
323 Astina Hardtop Sedan V6 Sports Pack
KFZE - 130 kilowatt Screamer
MAZDA V6's ROCK!!!!!

Rolla Sportivo/T Sport/RunX
2ZZGE - nutter of an engine lol
2.75 inch CAI with Red Pod Filter
Stock Exhaust

Future Plans :
Slowly will see.
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Old 03-10-2015, 06:58 PM   #10
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Launceston, Tasmania
Car: 323 SP20
Posts: 5
Thanks guys.

So a little progress maybe. I was doing some more reading and came across a rare issue where the oil can leech out of a K&N panel filter (of which I installed one at the start of the year) and gather on the MAF probe, seems unlikely or why on earth would K&N sell panel filters for any car with a MAF? Anyway, on a whim I pulled out the MAF and IAT sensors and gave them a clean and whatta ya know, the fuel economy seems to be getting better and I haven't had another no-start episode since. Just in case I was at a wrecker today and picked up a CMP, IAT, MAF and the coil packs out of a base 323 for only $20 so if symptoms start up again I can start swapping.

We've added another Mazda to the family too, a '97 121 Bubble for my wife to do Khanacrosses and Motorkhanas in. Only cost us $400 and has only 200k on the clock, it's mechanically sound but is pretty messed up on the outside so should do the job nicely. Only mod needed is we want to swap the brakes out of the 1.5L 121 or a metro since the calipers are bigger and the rotors are vented.

Last edited by SP_Steve; 03-10-2015 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 20-10-2015, 08:04 PM   #11
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Launceston, Tasmania
Car: 323 SP20
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Well, symptoms cropped up again so I swapped ALL the bits I bought from the donor car at once (MAF, IAT, cam position sensor & coil packs). It's hard to say at this point but it seems that the fuel economy has picked back up and I still haven't had another no-start issue, but I'm still chasing a random mis-fire. I think the only sensor that hasn't been changed at this point is the crank angle sensor so I'll give that one a go. The idle tends to drop a bit when it's acting up too so all signs look to be pointing that way (as has been suggested). Might go new on this one though, seems like the sort of thing I don't want to mess up with used parts.
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