RepairPal has identified the most common problems for 31 Mazda models based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.
The automatic head lights may be to sensitive or not sensitive enough depending on the setting. The appears to be a design characteristic of this model.
A wire inside the head light switch can fatigue and break over time causing the head lights to be inoperative. There is an updated head light switch to fix the problem.
The flywheel can warp causing a shudder when the vehicle is in reverse.
Distributor failure is common, often causing the vehicle to stall and/or crank but not start.
The radius arm bushing may wear, causing a clunking or popping noise when driving over bumps. To repair, the bushings need to be replaced. Depending on the severity of the wear, the brackets may also need replacement. Driving with worn bushings will shorten tire life and cause tire cupping (uneven tire wear).
If the engine intermittently does not start and is cranking OK, it may be the main relay is defective. The main relay can corrode and fail, requiring replacement.
If the engine surges and hesitates, our technicians recommend checking the condition of the ground on top of the engine block, under the intake. Restore the grounding point if it is found to be corroded or compromised.
If the engine stalls after a cold start (the vehicle has been parked for a while), the idle air control (IAC) valve may be sticking. It may be fouled with carbon buildup. If cleaning the valve does not solve the problem, replacement will be needed.
If the engine will not crank when the vehicle is parked on an incline, the transmission linkage may need adjustment. Some diagnosis is required because this may also be caused by inhibitor switch failure. The inhibitor switch tells the computer that the transmission is in "Park" or "Neutral", and allows the engine to start. If the inhibitor switch has failed, it will need to be replaced along with the "manual plate". Our technicians recommend checking with Mazda for updated parts.
Be sure to check your owner's manual and use the correct engine oil. Mazda does not recommend using synthetic oil in the RX-8's rotary engine.