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Thread: 16 Years Later, I got one

  1. #1
    Registered Member yoothgeye's Avatar

    2003 Protege5

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    16 Years Later, I got one

    This is obviously my first post to this forum, I’m not new to the car game or forums.

    Back in 2002 or possibly late 2001, I saw the zoom zoom Protege5 commercial on TV. I had been a fan of wagons and this one really caught my attention, so I went to the Mazda website to check it out. I was looking over it’s stats and there was a banner on the page telling me I’d get a free gift card or something for taking a test drive. The next day on my lunch break I went to the dealership for a test drive, they only had a couple Protege5s on the lot fresh off the truck, a yellow and red, I asked to drive a manual and the red was, so we took it for a spin. I had no intention of buying it, I don’t buy new cars. I liked it a lot.

    Anyway, I just let some dreams die, I keep my wife in “newer” vehicles while I just buy older stuff to play with. Currently my wife has been driving a 2012 Mazda CX-9 for the last year and it’s a nice vehicle. I’ve been driving a ‘94 Civic VX hatch (a car I wanted for over 14 years) but it just wasn’t a good fit for my kids. I sold it a few weeks back and at the same time I was selling it I was looking for a Protege5 since they are finally in the price range for what I buy for myself.

    I test drove a few but settled on a 2003 manual (didn’t even consider any autos) with 157k miles. It’s pretty clean and mechanically sound. So far I’m loving it.

    I looked on Facebook for Protege5 groups (since most forums have been killed off by Facebook) but couldn’t find anything, so here I am. Hoping to get good information here.


  2. #2
    Team Pro5 Jackie chan's Avatar

    Pro5

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    Nice story! Welcome to m247!

  3. #3
    Registered Member yoothgeye's Avatar

    2003 Protege5

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    I mentioned that I drove a few cars before buying this one, first off, there were none local. I emailed and called and texted plenty of people about their cars, and it's crazy how many people selling cars won't return messages or return them slow. While selling my Civic, unless you sent a message in the middle of the night, I responded within minutes.

    The first P5 I went to see was about an hour a way, the guy was asking $2000, his dad said he would probably take $1800, his dad said the engine was clean enough to eat off of and the interior was nice. I knew from exterior photos that it used to be a yellow car but had a bad grey paint job over it. The car had 133k miles. When I went to see it, it was bad. Mechanically the car was great, but cosmetically I didn't have time for it. A few dents not seen in the photos and a big one on the rear wheel arch that was full of bondo. Interior was missing parts and what was there had been covered in red felt or painted white and then splatter painted red. This had been a "competition" bass car, so all factory stereo wiring was cut, bad wiring everywhere else and no stereo. The bass had cracked the windshield. The aftermarket fart pipe muffler had rusted and fell off. 17" ugly aftermarket wheels with bald tires. Engine was not that clean. New battery with no battery tie down. Strut bar gone, air box gone, roof rack broken, just a mess. I told the guy I couldn't give him more than $1200, he said no and I thanked him and left. 2 miles down the road I got a message from him saying he would take it, but I just kept driving.

    After seeing those horrible aftermarket wheels I found a set of Mazda3 wheels and tires on Facebook local for $80, I went and picked them up and was very surprised that they have over 1/2 tread left.

    The next car I went to see was listed for $3500 at a small dealership a couple hours away. It was yellow, paint faded but clear coat still there. 115k miles. I got to the dealer and he gave me the key and I looked all over it and started it. I was taking mental inventory of everything wrong with the car so I would be ready to make an offer, I didn't have close to $3500, haha. Just little things, radio didn't work, missing a rear headrest, missing strut bar, dent in wheel arch, I found some bubbles under the paint, wheel center cap missing, this car had the roof rack delete (I wanted a rack), the wheels were oxidizing under the paint and would need to be stripped, it had a flat tire, no huge issues. Then I took it for a test drive and immediately knew something was wrong. It either had a bad slipping clutch or the computer was pulling power from the engine. Then the check engine light started flashing and then it went solid. The car had NO get up and go, it was bad. I took it back and told the salesman something was wrong with it and I'd be in touch if he figured it out. I left to go about 20 minutes to see the next car.

    The next car was the one I bought, everything works, paint isn't perfect, some parking lot dings, and a crack in the front bumper. He was asking $3400 but on the phone I told him it was a little high and most were going for $2000-$2500, he had said he would do $2500. After the test drive I was talking with him about the car and offered him $1700, he kinda groaned and I knew that was a low offer, he came back with "Make it $1900" and I shook his hand. We went to his house to get the title and he was happy with the deal and so was I.

  4. #4
    Registered Member

    protege5

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    lol yes, buying a cheap used car is always an adventure. I always keep my options open but i know what cars to stay away from. like yourself i keep my wife in a nicer newer car and i could really care less what i drive or really what it looks like, as long as it reliably gets me where i need to go. However coming from a background of many years of wrenching on cars for a living, I can check 2 or 3 things and know if a car is a diamond or a boat anchor. I looked at several because my corolla had been burning so much oil i was tired of feeding it... about a quart every 1000 miles or so. Still ran and drove great just burned a ton of oil (and oddly never saw a hint of smoke either). I found a protege5 that was less than 10 minutes from my house, they had it listed for 2500. And craigslist is one of those funny things... either it's a great deal and it will be gone a couple hours after it's listed or it will still be there in 2 weeks because it aint worth nowhere near 2k. Being it was 10 minutes away I jumped in my car with a pocket full of cash and headed over. It was a high school girl, she was selling it because she had a really hard time driving it because it was a manual. overall in good shape, just dirty. And the front bumper and hood were a little banged up because she had a habit of letting out the clutch before she shut the car off (further evidenced by the back of her mom's altima and garage door lol).

    I had a hard time driving this thing and finding the gears because what were once shifter bushings, no longer existed. While in gear you had a solid 6 inches of play in either direction... but ran good and drove good. I offered 2k cash and drove it home. Fast forward 2 years and 100k miles, it's really been a great car. over 250k now and runs awesome still. Water pump is starting to make a little noise and starting to hear some noise (I didn't bother replacing it when the timing belt broke, just threw on a new belt and let it roll) but otherwise i've got no complaints. I drive a lot and even with 250k on it now, i still wouldn't hesitate to hop in it as it sits and drive anywhere.

    There's a lot of helpful people on here. But having just bought it i would recommend checking the timing belt and motor mounts, find the post about the "permanent AC flashing light fix" and I would stock up on H7 headlight bulbs. They say it's an interference engine, but many people (myself included) have the timing belt break and are fine just putting a new one on. As long as you've got a puller for the crank pulley/harmonic balancer (cheap at harbor freight) and an impact to break loose the crank bolt replacing the timing belt is a couple hour job. They have a very common problem of the AC light blinking on setting 2 and there's a simple fix for it that just takes a couple resistors. Honestly i took my switch apart and cleaned all the gunk out of it and it was fine, but did the resistor thing anyway. And the only other common problem is that they love to eat low beam headlights for some reason. I think it's the design of the headlight housing and overheating the bulb but regardless, myself (and many others) seem to go through a set of bulbs every 3-6 months depending on how much you drive your car.

  5. #5
    Registered Member yoothgeye's Avatar

    2003 Protege5

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    Thanks, you've answered some questions already, I was wondering if it was an interference engine but hadn't researched yet.

  6. #6
    Registered Member babyluv1's Avatar


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    Welcome! Looks pretty nice from the pic.

  7. #7
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    protege5

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoothgeye View Post
    Thanks, you've answered some questions already, I was wondering if it was an interference engine but hadn't researched yet.
    everywhere you read says "yes" including the package the timing belt comes in (think i used a gates belt but don't remember now honestly). mine stripped about 10 teeth off the belt around the crank pulley so it quit turning. I had planned to replace it anyway but just hadn't gotten around to it. The kicker about a timing belt is that it will almost always fail at a time/location that is decidedly most inconvenient for you. Mine happened about 100 miles away from home. So my loving wife was more than excited to come get me, i just came back the next morning with a tow dolly and pulled it back home. $30 later at o'reilly was back up and running good as new again.

  8. #8
    Registered Member yoothgeye's Avatar

    2003 Protege5

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    Quote Originally Posted by babyluv1 View Post
    Welcome! Looks pretty nice from the pic.
    It looks good at a distance, but overall it's really good for age and mileage. No rust was my main goal and there is none.

  9. #9
    Registered Member z100's Avatar

    2003 Mazda 323 Protege Sp20

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    Welcome! Neat looking hatch, I've got a silver sedan and the silver is much easier to keep clean too!

  10. #10
    Team Pro5 Jackie chan's Avatar

    Pro5

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    Quote Originally Posted by z100 View Post
    Welcome! Neat looking hatch, I've got a silver sedan and the silver is much easier to keep clean too!
    Cough, cough... easier to keep LOOKING clean... but yes, I envy that lol.

  11. #11
    Registered Member yoothgeye's Avatar

    2003 Protege5

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    Thanks guys, just did my first easy mod, gonna post a DIY.

  12. #12
    Registered Member nelvolks's Avatar

    02 Mazda Protege 5

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    MD
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    Welcome.

  13. #13
    Registered Member

    02 protege5 ES 5dr

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoothgeye View Post
    ...No rust was my main goal and there is none.
    Well done, you have a bit of a unicorn there lol. I have only heard of such things..

  14. #14
    Registered Member yoothgeye's Avatar

    2003 Protege5

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    Quote Originally Posted by horseflesh View Post
    Well done, you have a bit of a unicorn there lol. I have only heard of such things..
    Depends on where you live. I’m on the east coast so it’s 50/50.

  15. #15
    The Diagram Dude pcb's Avatar

    2002 mazda protege 5

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    Quote Originally Posted by horseflesh View Post
    Well done, you have a bit of a unicorn there lol. I have only heard of such things..
    Got To Texas !!!!
    I've heard they are ALL Unicorns in Texas !!!

    There's fricken herds of them !!;!
    The Diagram Dude

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