The timing belt tensioner pulley may make a squealing noise from the timing cover area on cold startup. An updated tensioner with a thicker mounting bracket to eliminate vibration may be needed to solve the problem.
Problems for specific Mazda Protege years:
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Most reported 1990 Mazda Protege problems
An electrically shorted air flow sensor can cause a crank-no start condition. Diagnosis may show that ignition spark is normal, and there are no trouble codes stored.
A loose or corroded ground terminal on the driver's side of the cylinder head can cause a rough idle, misfires, and there may be trouble codes. Restore the ground to the cylinder head.
If the engine will not start after distributor rotor replacement, a common mistake is to install the distributor rotor in the wrong position. The rotor may seat in three positions and one should note the direction before removal.
A loud ticking noise may be heard from the top of the engine, particularly when the engine is still cold. It may also be heard after the engine returns to idle after freeway driving. The noise is commonly caused by a lack of oil flow through the hydraulic valve lifters. Modified lifters are available to alleviate the problem. Following the maintenance schedule for oil changes will also help prevent a recurrence of the noise.