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Up top, for a reason: The best way to search this forum:
RX-8 Club has tons of information on hand. And I mean tons. Literally. Add up the weight of everyone's brain, and it will be several tons. Sorry, I know that was bad.
Collectively, we know more than any one dealership, tech, repair shop, or spec manual. However, as usual, the information doesn't all sit in one place, it doesn't sit in one head, and we have our idiots, our morons, our ********, our kids, our jerks, and our literary incompetents. Just like any forum. Fortunately, we have relatively fewer of those than most other car communities out there. But they still exist.
We also have a Search button, and a Search function for the board, but it isn't very good. It removes words that it sees as common or too short, but are a critical part of the search. It doesn't allow for search by relevancy, as in real relevancy. You mostly have to do alot of hunting and pecking in the search results to come up with what you might be looking for.
Add the two above issues together, and you can easily take all day to find only bad information.
But I have good news! You can improve your results and search speed by up to 15% by switching to Google!
As in Google.com.
Go to Google.com, and in the search box, type: site:rx8club.com
Then a space.
Then start typing what you are looking for.
Your Google search results will be ONLY from this forum, and it will use all the power and intelligence of the best search engine in the world.
I still use that function nearly every day between RX8Club.com, Miata.net, Mazdas247.com, Mazda-speed.com, and Stackoverflow.com. So if you have a question that you think is common, give that search method a try, sit back with your beverage of choice and start reading
Additional Google Search tip:
If you are trying to search within a specific thread for information threads that turn out to be very long, add the name of the thread to your search in quotes. This will not restrict the search to just that thread, however the results from that thread will be bias'ed towards the top of the Google search results, and usually be the first results.
Additional Google Search tip:
If you are getting lots of noise in your result set for some reason, or things not related to your problem, add negative qualifiers to your search string. For example searching site:rx8club.com alternator -starter will only give you results that DO contain alternator, and DON'T contain 'starter'.
Often, it may be helpful to use this with: -mobile and/or -m.rx8club.com to remove the mobile sites -tagged to remove the links that are only a list of threads with the tags (our tag system is largely useless)
Think you have a question that we can't answer? Check out post #8 of this very thread.
The engine failure story: (Updated October 14th 2013)
RX-8 engines don't have a very good reputation. Unfortuantely, the reputation is well deserved. Fortunately, the general public at large has it ALL WRONG, while at the same time as generally being right.
Back in 2004-2005, reports of RX-8 engine failure started to pop up, alarm was generated, and the reputation was born that these engines don't last 30,000 miles. Part of this was that engines were actually failing. The early ECU flashes weren't injecting enough oil, and things were wearing out fast and/or breaking. MSP16 was the final iteration to try to solve this. However, this was only part of the problem. MOST of the problem was simple mis-diagnosis. Owners would feel misfires or power loss, they would change their spark plugs, and the problem wouldn't go away. They would take it to the dealer, who would poke around trying to find a problem, and not finding one, decide that the engine needed replacement. They would order an engine, put it in the customer's car, and send them on their way. It wasn't until years later that dealers started realizing that the IGNITION COILS were failing around 30,000 miles. There are no hard numbers, but many of us believe that a large portion of the original "engine failures" were nothing more than simple ignition coil failure, and were replaced needlessly.
Now, add to that problem that Mazda's engine reman plant that would take the 'dead' engines and rebuild them into remanufactured engines was bad. REALLY bad. The quality control was nearly non-existant, skilled workers were no where to be found, and the result was that a rather large number of engines from the plant were far worse than the original factory engines. These reman engines were popping very quickly as well from their own issues. Yes, this means that a customer could have had a great engine, had it erroneously replaced by a dealer not realizing that it just needed new coils, and get a terrible engine put in as a result.
This is how many of the original 2004s and 2005s went through multiple engines. Replace something that isn't broken with something that is and yeah, things aren't going to go well. Reman quality is significant better than it was, but certainly not perfect still.
Now, if you remove those problems from consideration (the original ECU flash and the reman quality problems), then the engine is very reliable. There are still several major design flaws that tend to hurt the lifespan of the engine, and there are other failure methods where you can destroy a perfectly good engine REALLY fast through in-attention. Most RX-8s DO get a 2nd engine within 100,000 miles, so yes, engines are replaced all the time on the forum, but not for the reasons that the general public likes to believe.
How many are replaced?
Well, that is still mostly guess work and theory, though there is some indication from outside sources and leaked Mazda information that around 50% of RX-8s have had at least 1 engine replacement in it's lifespan.
How about the newer RX-8s though? Shouldn't they be good to go?
In 2009 they introduced some subtle but significant engine changes correcting several things, the most critical of which was an increase in oil pressure to RX-7 ranges (they dropped it for the 2004-2008 years for some reason), and re-introducing the center oil injector (they deleted it for the 2004-2008 RX-8s for some reason, all prior rotories had the center injector). This doesn't make them immune to engine failure however, for example a failed thermostat could kill a perfectly good engine, but it helped to reduce the wear-related failures a bit.
A compression test should be standard before anyone buys an 8 though, just to be on the safe side. Most dealers charge $120 to $250 to do a compression test. I go more into the compression test itself in a post further down.
You might be wondering why it is that we have such a poor outlook. The problem is that there are so many different ways for an engine to fail:
- Excessive carbon buildup accelerates seal wear, causing compression loss (particularly a problem in automatic RX-8s)
- Excessive carbon buildup unseats the apex seals, causing compression loss (particularly a problem in automatic RX-8s)
- Excessive heat buildup warps the housings to one degree or another, preventing the apex seals from sealing, causing compression loss (particularly a problem with older RX-8s that haven't had a cooling system overhaul)
- Excessive exhaust temperatures overheat the side seal springs, warping them until the side seal pops out of it's location, clips the exhaust port and shatters, throwing shrapnel through the engine (particularly motors that are turbocharged, supercharged, or see nearly 100% track time)
- Fuel pump failure or high lateral G left turns with low fuel causes fuel starvation under load, creating a lean spike that causes detonation and shatters seals (particularly a problem with older RX-8s that haven't had a fuel pump replacement)
- Cat failure (even more common than engine failure) causes localized heat and pressure buildup that overstresses the seals and breaks down oil viscosity, leading to various issues (particularly a problem with new owners that don't know to replace their ignition)
- Clogged oil injection lines prevent oil from being injected, leading to excessive apex seal wear and side seal overheating, leading to compression loss and/or catastrophic failure (particularly a problem with long oil change intervals)
- Subpar reman engine quality, starting with low compression that accelerates any other issue (reman quality has improved over the years, but bad apples are still reported)
These are just the common failure methods. There are uncommon ones, and/or freak ones, like a transmission issue snapped one guy's e-shaft somehow (probably a defective e-shaft that was too weak), or issues that are entirely owner caused, like too low octane or not keeping on top of the oil level.
Any single preventative measure you can find only addresses at best a couple of these, maybe just one method, and maybe none at all (but people think it does). And since you don't usually know how well the engine was put together in the first place, it's largely a roll of the dice on these engines.
Short answer: If possible engine failure makes you that uncomfortable and/or paranoid, then this is not the car for you. You have to accept the issues or ownership will turn into a nightmare. It still could anyway, but your mindset going in is far more important than statistics. The more prepared you are, financially and mentally, the less of a problem any of this will actually be for you.
Yes, I paint a bleak picture. However, it really isn't much worse than any other sports car. Every sports car out there has had it's share of problems. Why do we still love the RX-8 anyway? We love it because of it's ability to plaster a grin on your face. More on that later.
The oil burning story: (Updated February 15th 2014)
One of THE MOST pervasive complaints about the RX-8 is how it burns oil. Everything from neighbors to arm chair racers to magazine editors like to rave and complain about how much oil the RX-8 burns.
Well, it's true. The RX-8 does burn oil. However, this isn't actually a problem, and no, we haven't deluded ourselfs into believing that some oil burning is "ok".
The RX-8 burns oil intentionally. After all, the engine seals are inside the combustion chamber! The only way to to lubricate the seals inside the combustion chamber is to inject oil (or have oil in the fuel, called premix). This oil then gets burned under combustion, so it has to keep oiling, and oil keeps burning. On average, you should see about a quart of oil burned every 1,000 miles. If you aren't burning anywhere close to this, something is wrong. If you are burning way less, you aren't getting enough oil injected, and your engine doesn't have much chance of lasting long. If you are burning way more, then either you intentionally increased the oil injection and it isn't an issue (1 qt every 500-900 miles), or you you have an oil control ring failure, and oil is leaking into the housing (1 quart every 200-400 miles), or have a severe vacuum problem where the engine is actively sucking oil into the intake. An oil control ring failure will require an engine rebuild to fix, although isn't inherently bad. You will have more oil smoke, you will burn oil faster, your plugs will get fouled faster so your coils won't last as long, but not much else. Let your oil run too low though, and you can fry your engine from being too low on oil.
Keep the oil filled above the 1/2 full mark, letting the oil light come on means you are already critically low. Don't overfill though, since overfilled oil spills into the intake and gums up your intake valving, and can easily cause costly repairs. It is also recommended that you use a long necked funnel when you add oil to prevent oil from going down the vacuum line instead of into the engine.
Another point to consider though, is that nearly all performance cars out there burn some oil. Most trucks do, many commuter cars do.
Toyota considers burning 1 quart every 1,000 miles within acceptable burn rates.
Ford considers burning 1 quart every 1,000 miles within acceptable burn rates.
BMW considers burning 1 quart every 1,000 miles is actually fairly good.
Porsche considers burning 1 quart every 1,000 miles within acceptable burn rates.
Do a search for any car you want and "excessive oil consumption". Read the stories people have, and when a dealer has told them that the oil burn rate they are seeing is "completely acceptable."
Time and time and time against you will see that 1 quart every 1,000 miles is pretty damn common! But, for some reason, these engines that aren't supposed to be burning oil don't get hammered for burning it (probably because people just don't notice, thanks to a large oil pan), and the RX-8 gets hammered for intentional oil injection by everyone in sight.
Flooding: (Updated February 15th 2014)
Another major complaint about the RX-8 is the tendency to "flood".
What is flooding?
Flooding, per the rotary engine term, is when there is too much gasoline in the combustion chamber. This really only happens when driver attempts to start the engine, but the engine doesn't immediately start. The ECU is pumping fuel while the engine is cranking, and if the engine doesn't start up quickly enough, all this fuel just soaks the plugs, washes around in the housing, and keeps the ignition from actually firing.
Flooding is only a concern if you have a weak ignition system, failing compression, failing battery, and/or failing starter.
Every single flood I have seen reported ended up coming down to one of these failing: Battery, Starter, Coil(s), Plug Wire(s), Plug(s), and/or Engine Compression.
If it's the battery that failed, the starter can't spin the engine fast enough, so the engine won't get good enough compression, and the air/fuel mixture won't ignite with any force.
If it's the starter that failed, the starter can't spin the engine fast enough, so the engine won't get good enough compression, and the air/fuel mixture won't ignite with any force.
If it's the engine compression that has failed, the engine won't get good enough compression, and the air/fuel mixture won't ignite with any force.
If it's the coils, plug wires, or plugs that have failed, it doesn't matter what compression you can achieve, what engine speed you can reach, you need a spark to light the air/fuel mixture!
Stay on top of the maintenance (long term included!) and you will wonder what all the fuss was about. Coils, plugs, and wires, should be replaced every 30,000 miles, possibly sooner if you detect something starting to fail, since people have had them fail as early as 8,000 miles or 15,000 miles, though that's rare. You can replace them for as little as about $200.
You don't want to shut off while it's cold simply because when the engine is cold, the ECU dumps more fuel into engine to help it warm up, and it leans back once the engine is warm. This extra fuel can make it harder to start an ignition, which a healthy ignition system is perfectly capable of overcoming. Weaken the ignition with failing plugs, coils, wires, alternator, starter, or battery, and you have a flood on your hands, and all the associated problems from that.
How do I fix flooding?
THere are many methods, but the method you should always try first is what Mazda has built into the ECU logic. Hook up another running car to the RX-8's battery with jumper cables to keep the battery from dying. Then hold the gas pedal to the floor (this signals the ECU to stop all fuel injection while cranking) and crank in 5-10 second intervals, waiting the same amount of time between each to let the starter cool down. Repeat this 10 times. Then take your foot off the gas pedal and try to start normally. If it won't start, repeat the series of cranking with the gas pedal to the floor.
If it still won't start, do a search on the forums for deflooding DIYs, and pick ONE of the other methods to try at a time. Don't mix methods, that can cause it's own problems.
Cooling Cooling Cooling! (Updated October 21st 2013)
It is my opinion that more Renesis engines are lost due to cooling system failures than anything else. Perhaps it was not always the case, but as a larger and larger percentage of RX-8s are well past the normal cooling system lifetime, there are more failures occurring from that than anything else.
What do I mean by "cooling system failure"?
The rotary generates a LOT of heat. All this heat has to be shed somehow, and it's the cooling system that needs to do it. The major parts of the cooling system are:
- Radiator (Sheds heat from the water it sees)
- Thermostat (sends water that is hotter than the target temperature to the radiator to be cooled)
- Water Pump (belt driven from the e-shaft pulley, pushes water through the engine)
- Overflow or Expansion bottle (removes air from the system and provides a filling point)
- Coolant lines (rubber or silicone hoses that allow the water to remain contained as it moves around the engine bay)
If even one of these components fails, at all, even in a slight way, it is possible for you to lose your engine.
Our coolant seals are really only trustworthy to a coolant system temperature of about 220F (104C). Past that, you have an increasing risk of having one fail from the heat. If you pass about 240F (115C), you have an additional risk of warping the rotor housings, which is even worse. Making this all much worse, is the fact that our factory coolant temperature gauge (the one in the instrument cluster) won't start moving off of 'center' until 235F-240F (113C-115C)
So far too many owners expect to rely on that gauge to tell them if there is a problem, and expect that there is only REALLY a problem if it gets all the way to the right. All the way to the right is 300F+. If you think about his combination a bit, you can see why so many engines are lost due to cooling system failure.
So how do I know how hot my engine is running?
OBD2 is the answer. OBD2 is an emissions compliance standard that has existed within the US since 1996, and ALL cars that are sold in the US since then are required to be compliant with it. I believe this means that most foreign versions of cars sold in the US are OBD2 compliant as well, though I am not 100% sure about that. Emissions? Yes, Emissions. An engine that is operating near 200F produces less emissions than one that is operating lower than 170F, or higher than 240F. However, the end result of the standard means that the actual coolant temperature is reported through the CAN BUS network (a communication standard), and is available on the OBD2 port. You can get an OBD2 device that reads live data, and get the actual engine coolant temperature. The ECU reports it in C in increments of 1 degree, so conversions to F will be in increments of 1.8 degrees. But it's close enough. The best way of getting at this data is through a bluetooth OBD2 adapter. Plug it in, no wires to deal with, and then pair your smartphone or tablet to the OBD2 adapter. Then download any one of the numerous free OBD2 apps ('Torque' is the best for Android), and you can get a full readout on nearly everything that the ECU can report. You can read/reset CEL codes, read live data, and record data logs. And you can do this with any car you own, or any friends and family that want help. Highly recommended. Bluetooth OBD2 adapters start around $20, and go up to $150. They all generally work, though the higher cost ones are typically longer lasting and/or have faster communications. Exceptions exist however.
What can I do to prevent a cooling system failure?
Proper maintenance of your cooling system is CRITICAL. Annual cooling system flushes are important if you aren't using Mazda's FL-22. (Why FL-22? Read this thread: Issue Many Are Ignoring: Most Coolants Contain 2-EHA (which 'eats' silicone)) Every 2 years is acceptable if you use that. Mazda says their coolant is good for 5 years, but $40 in coolant isn't worth the risk of a $4,000 engine is it? DEFINITELY replace the coolant by 60,000 miles if it hasn't. Regular coolant flushes will help prevent other cooling system components from failing, however, they will still fail in time.
The thermostat is often the first to go, and is a $65 part (at most). I personally recommend upgrading to Mazmart's 172F thermostat to give your system a bit more head-room, but don't go lower than 170F for the thermostat, or you will be causing CELs, poor gas mileage, and power loss (the ECU is expecting at least 170F when up to temp).
The coolant bottle is also a common failure point, though usually in the coolant level sensor before a pressure problem with the cap. The sensor is integrated into the bottle, so if your coolant light keeps coming on and your coolant is full, then the sensor has just failed. Replace the bottle with a new bottle and cap for $130ish from Mazmart. WARNING: Regardless of if you or someone else does the replacement, there is a little hose that runs from the front of the bottle to the top of the radiator. This hose is stronger than the radiator nipple it connects to. CUT the hose in half and remove the two halves independently, because breaking that radiator nipple means you HAVE to replace the radiator. It can not be repaired. Mazmart has a bottle listed that includes this small hose for this very reason.
The radiator is next, and typically when it starts to fail it will tend to just slowly clog up, with less and less surface area actually shedding heat. A replacement OEM spec radiator is available from Mazmart for $150 (MT, the AT is slightly more). Avoid Mishimoto, it is a well known brand, but it is inferior to OEM, AND more expensive. If you want to upgrade, talk to BHR. They developed an upgrade in the Arizona heat that will outperform OEM and last longer.
If you are replacing the radiator, might as well replace the coolant lines too. They can sludge up in several points and cause their own problems. Typically something else will fail first, but if you just replace other parts and not the lines, the lines won't be all that far behind, and might destroy the new parts you installed. Silicone lines will run you around $300, rubber lines are far cheaper. Keep in mind that there are 9 major coolant lines (could someone get me the actual number and list of which ones they are?), so most coolant line kits you see that are 3 piece obviously aren't sufficient. Even the 6-piece kits won't have critical lines replaced. The best bet is to order all new OEM lines individually, rather than a kit.
What happens if I see the needle move?
Just because the needle moves and you are in danger territory doesn't mean that you automatically have engine damage, but it's likely. Cases have been known where people have avoided damage. It isn't likely though. Once you have fixed the cooling system, you need to test for coolant seal failure. Pressure test the cooling system is a good way (most corner shops), as long as you know that every single other part of the system is fine. Otherwise, get the oil tested (Blackstone Labs) for coolant, get the coolant tested for combustion gasses (most corner shops), and inspect the plugs for the presence of coolant after it sits overnight. Failing any of these means you need a new engine or an engine rebuild.
If you are only overheating when stopped or at a low crawl, the problem is most likely a fan airflow problem. Either the fans are running when they should be, or your radiator is getting blocked. Safely stop the car and shut the engine off and see if you can find an obstruction to the radiator or fans.
If you suffer a catastrophic cooling system failure that starts spraying coolant everywhere, shut off the car immediately. It is highly unlikely that you will avoid engine damage, but it's possible. As little as 10 seconds of running without coolant in it can be terminal for the engine.
In case it hasn't been clear enough yet, you CAN NOT let your RX-8 overheat.
Most problems that crop up in the 8 start very small and get serious because they aren't addressed. For example coils start going bad, plugs then start getting fouled from excess unburnt fuel, unburnt fuel rapidly degrades cat life, clogged cat can over stress the seals and over cook the O2 sensors, localize heat too much which accelerates oil breakdown and increases engine wear...
Most of the owners that remain trouble free are trouble free because they keep on top of their oil changes, their oil level, and their ignition health.
Then again, that stuff is like taking cholesterol medication and regular exercise for your heart. They help prevent problems, but it doesn't eliminate risk and it doesn't mean that you still won't die of a heart attack. Mazda factory QC over the engine tolerances has improved quite a bit, but it is entirely possible to be sitting on an engine waiting for any chance it can to fail. It's also entirely possible to completely ignore all the recommendations and get 160,000+ miles out of the engine (one owner came on here thinking her engine was blown, come to find out it was just badly flooded, but she didn't know anything about rotaries and still had it healthy at 160,000 without doing what she should have)
It very is much like a heart, or lungs, or whatnot. All you can do is reduce the risk of failure.
Cooling and Lubrication are 99% of the battle to keep these engines healthy. Mazda didn't have enough of either from the factory, a flaw that puts us behind the curve. Several mods that are common can go a long way towards improving engine live. Namely the ReMedy water pump and thermostat, BHR ignition upgrade, COBB AccessPORT (for the part that allows you to monitor temps and set a lower threshhold for the radiator fans). Even removing the cat and going with a midpipe helps I think, as it helps keep heat away from the engine, and you don't have to worry about a clogged cat causing more problems. My engine was perfect until my cat failed, and it's never been right since. In spec, not replaceable point, but not back to the above average that it was. If you have a 2009 or newer, you have a Series2, along with the improvements to the engine that should mostly solve the lubrication problems. They still need better cooling.
But you also have the warranty. 100,000 miles, 8 years for the engine core. (if you are in that and outside powertrain, a "free engine" may still cost you ~$500 for all the fluids, gaskets, etc... associated with the engine, but not part of it)
Another source of problems is repetitive short trips, without getting the engine to temperature for at least a few minutes. Limited internal temp, and a proportionally larger amount of running time is under temp, increases carbon buildup dramatically, which leads to all sorts of further problems.
TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins)
You should familiarize yourself with the official Mazda TSBs here: http://www.rx8club.com/trouble-shoot...4/#post3258090 TSBs ARE NOT RECALLS! They are Technical Service Bulletins, and are nothing more than a set of instructions from the factory to the dealers to tell them how to handle specific customer complaints. You will only have warranty coverage on a TSB IF YOU HAVE AN ACTIVE WARRANTY THAT COVERS THAT AREA OF THE CAR. Most TSBs would be covered under bumper to bumper, which was 3 years 36,000 miles, and is expired for all series 1 RX-8s. A few more fall under the powertrain (5yr 60,000 miles).
- Misfires are shown by a blinking check engine light (CEL), and are usually caused by a failing coil, failing plug wire, and/or failing spark plug. They can also be caused by cat failure, engine failure, vacuum leaks, fouled e-shaft sensor, dirty MAF, missing intake screens, aftermarket intake, failing intake valve actuators and a few other items. Start here for diagnosis: Suffering From a Misfire? START HERE.
- Water in the tailights. Primarily a 2004 and 2005 problem, but can be seen across all years, including Series2, is a failing tail light gasket that lets moisture into the tail light lens. The improved gasket from the dealer helps, but isn't perfect. You have options for repair, including DIY stuff and aftermarket gaskets. Drilling the tail light is a quick and easy solution, but is not recommended.
- The clutch pedal assembly is weak, and over time the pivot points wear through the mounting points, and eventually this will cause a failure in the assembly. A squeaking clutch when you push it and release it signals the issue getting worse. Getting a new assembly only solves it till that one breaks. There are a few options for fixing it, including welding at your local shop, buying a bracket from Race Roots, or buying a fully welded up assembly from BHR. As a result of the NHTSA investigation, Mazda has extended the warranty on the clutch pedal assemblies to 100,000 miles*. If yours starts weakening or breaks, go see a dealer. If they don't believe you, bring your paperwork, or get it here. *Only North American RX-8's.
- Discolored or foamy substance on dipstick. The oil collects moisture in colder ambient temperatures. You may notice that the dipstick will look like it has wierd discoloration. This has been discribed as foamy, milkshake, white crap, brown oil, etc... This is normal, and nothing of concern. If you want, you can pay a large chunk of money to make it go away, but there is no harm to it, so just ignore it. Drive your engine harder to cook it off if it bothers you.
- MAIC, or "Marbles in a Can" is a fortunately not common issue where you may hear a rattling sound from what sounds like the glovebox area, sometimes accompanied by inconsistent power loss. This is usually Secondary Shutter Valve (SSV) failure, which is typically caused by the valve getting over carboned, from oil burping or oil excessive oil vapors in the intake. Dealers will charge $2,000 or so to replace/clean, but you can DIY it for pretty much free, just look for the DIY thread here.
Another possible cause for MIAC is here: Please help potential new owner with question - MIAC?
- Power Steering:
Mazda's QC missed a little issue with the coolant overflow tube, as it dumps overflow right onto our power steering connectors (the main power and torque sensor connections). Even without an "overheat" condition, overflow is possible, which in turn can affect the condition of these connections, causing various power steering issues, including complete failure. Then there are other issues that can crop up, including too much salt, dust, or debris interferring with the grease on the u-joint in the steering shaft, rack failure, and control module failure. The u-joint re-greasing is dirt cheap, easy to DIY, the connector quality isn't much harder (clean, replace harness for $100, or eliminate the connections and just make it solid wire). The rack and control module are REALLY expensive however. Most power steering issues were addressed by dealers replacing the module or the rack, when all the car needed was some clean connectors. Ideally, swap the coolant overflow hose to a longer one and run it farther down, where it won't bother anything.
This is the main thread for Power Steering issues: Power Steering Failure
- Weak Starter:
On 2004 and early 2005 models, the starter was pretty weak. Mid 2005, Mazda upgraded the starter that they use, and it works pretty well, and lasts quite a while. The 2004 and some 2005 starter upgrades WERE free, but the owner had to do something about it with the dealer. It was NOT a recall. So if you have a 2004 or 2005, it is entirely possible that you still have the original, and very weak, starter.
- Motor Mounts:
Our motor mounts collapse/degrade over time. This causes the car to shake more, especially at idle. This isn't the actual engine attachment points, but rather just the vibration dampeners. However it is not inherently a problem that you need to rush out and fix. Adding more vibration to the car isn't inherently bad, but can lead to other problems with rattles and joints wearing down. Most people choose to live with it.
- Catalytic Converter Failure:
This is too common unfortunately, as the heat and emissions level of the RX-8s engine is not friendly to cats at all. Additionally, most of the encountered failure points on an RX-8 cause misfires, and misfires will destroy a cat quickly. A clogged cat is dangerous to the engine, the car, and your life.
If it does fail, you have options: catalytic converters, cats, cats, cats
- Trouble starting:
There are numerous things that cause you to have difficulty starting. Here is a thread that goes into all the common ones: Starting Issues? START HERE.
Importance of Ignition Health: (review) ************************ READ THIS!!!! ************************
One of the most often overlooked or ignored parts of RX-8 ownership is the health of the ignition system. This includes the ignition coils, spark plug wires, and spark plugs. They fail. Often. So often as to be critical parts of regular maintenance.
Mazda officially lists the plug wires and plugs as part of regular maintenance, but not the coils. Many dealers STILL don't know how easily the coils can fail. And they fail about the same time as the wires and plugs, which is about every 30,000 miles. Some can last longer, some shorter, and it's more related to your total RPMs than it is to your mileage. Highway cruising is easier on the coils than spending a day pounding around a race track.
When coils fail, they don't suddenly shut off. They start producing weaker pulses scattered among strong ones. The rate of weak pulses slowly increases and pulses start getting dropped entirely, which is where misfires start. All of this means that you aren't burning all the fuel and aren't using all the air that the engine pulled in for that combustion, and it unburnt fuel and air gets dumped into the exhaust, where it happily ignites with the presence of plenty of heat. This saturates the cat in both fuel and heat, and will rapidly kill the cat (A $1,300 USD replacement). Continuing to drive on a failing cat will add other problems such as engine damage and vehicle fires. I am not exaggerating, this can happen with just a single cat failure!
Example: RX8 Engine responce HELP!
Plug fouling and wire failure is largely the same result, since all 3 pieces are needed for a complete spark. Foul the plug and it doesn't matter if the coil and wire are good. Break down the wire and it doesn't matter if the coil and plug are good.
Symptoms of ignition failure include: Power Loss, mileage drop, unstable idle, bad idle, inability to idle, shaking at idle, unstable high rpm, misfiring, flashing CEL, coughing engine, glowing cat, flooding, inability to start, inability to pass an emissions sniffer test, and just about anything you can think of where a weak or missing spark causes problems.
And if one fails, it will cascade to the other trio on the same rotor. A plug that can't fire will start fouling the other. A coil that can't fire a plug starts wearing out rapidly (if you want to test this, just unplug a wire from a plug and run the engine for a while. The coil will rapidly fail. Not unique to rotary engines)
Why do coils fail so easily?
This is largely because Mazda opted for cheap coils because of RX-7 owner complaints about how expensive their coils were. The RX-7 coils lasted much longer though. So Mazda went cheap, and so we have to replace regularly. And you can't compare to piston engine coils. A piston engine with the same setup of 1 coil for 1 plug has an average RPM of about 2,500rpm and the coil is firing every other revolution, so the coil is firing about 1,250 pulses per minute. Our rotary has an average RPM of more like 4,000rpm, and each coil fires every revolution, so about 4,000 pulses per minute. That's a bit over 3 times more. Even a piston max RPM of about 6,000rpm vs our 9,000rpm makes the difference 3,000 pulses per minute vs 9,000 pulses per minute, or 3 times as fast.
If our coils would last about 3 times longer, you are talking an average of 90,000 miles.
So keep your ignition healthy!
Where can I buy new ignition coils?
You have a number of options for coils:
- The Cheapest option: BWD/Intermotor coils from auto parts stores like Advance Auto. These ARE OEM coils, just being sold to auto parts stores directly from the original manufacturer. This is common for virtually every OEM part for any car older than about 5 years old. 4 coils, 4 plugs, and 4 wires can be had for around $190-220 total based on whatever promotion is running at the time, shipped to your door for free. They are considered to be the first coil revision and you should expect to need to replace them around 20,000 miles, 30,000 miles max. They often come with a "lifetime warranty" by the auto parts store, which could potentially be leveraged for perpetually new coils.
- The Best Upgrade: The BHR ignition coil upgrade can be had for around $500, which eliminates the need to continue replacing coils periodically, as well as deliverying a significantly stronger spark for minor mileage and power gains. It is a proven kit with top notch customer service supporting it. It includes the wires, you still need to add plugs ($80)
- The For-Sure OEM: Mazmart sells all 4 coils of the latest OEM coil revision (C) for around $250, (just the coils, you still need to add plugs and wires) Supported by top notch customer service. They will likely last longer than 30,000 miles, but we don't have much solid data on how long the latest coil revision will last. If you are having trouble getting other coil options where you live, or are wary about purchasing coils from other sources, then this is your cheapest option for coils straight out of the Mazda dealer parts network.
- The Most Expensive option: Buying from a dealer will run you around $300+ for the coils, $500+ for coils, wires and plugs, and if you have them do the install, expect to get a bill for anywhere from $700 to $1,800. You may not get the latest coil revision, and it is unlikely that the dealer or techs will be able to tell you what coil revision you have. Yes, you are getting shafted if you take this option, so bring lube.
- The Highest Risk option: Ebay coils continue to pop up as counterfeit, mislabeled, dead on arrival, and have zero post-purchase support largely. They are the "cheapest" listed price, but when you add that $92 or whatever to the price of anything in the list above from having to do it over again, you can see that they are no longer the cheapest option. Do it right the first time. "Motor King" coils are popping up at an attractive price on Ebay, but are being proven as ineffective, to the point of being unable to get the engine fired. "Mazda" branded coils on ebay are almost always counterfeit. Check the seller's name though, since some of our vendors sell legitimate coils there. The price will be $200+ though. Anything sold as "Mazda OEM" under ~$26 per coil should really be considered as suspect and probably counterfeit.
Always go with OEM plugs. The only reason to go with anything else is if you are turbocharged or supercharged, have researched ALL the options, and decide to go with something different. Even most FI setups use OEM plugs.
NGK brand, two each of:
RE9B-T <- (trailing / top plugs)
RE7C-L <- (leading / lower plugs)
You can get them from most vendors, Amazon, and autoparts stores easily. The price range is $18-$20 for each plug typically, $72-$80 + shipping total.
Be wary of "LSx D585 coil upgrades", as not all D585 coils are created the same, and the standard generic D585 coil is not properly designed internally for the RX-8's ignition needs. They generally "work", but there are anomalies and performance issues that have to be solved, if they can be solved. Definitely NOT a plug and play option, even if it is advertised as "plug and play". There is a lot more on the subject to understand, so it would be to your benefit if you learned about the needs prior to making a purchase.
Gas Mileage: (review)
If you are considering, or have purchased, an 8, you will likely have one of 3 opinions on gas mileage:
1) I am buying a sports car, or won't be driving this regularly, so I really don't care about mileage
2) I care a bit about mileage, but I think what I get is fairly reasonable
3) WTF, I am getting terrible mileage, these car's suck! All RX-8's are gas guzzlers.
If you have the first or second opinion, then congratulations and join the club. If you have the 3rd, then keep it to yourself, we aren't interested in listening to it. Gas mileage has been discussed, killed, resurrected, killed again, reincarnated, burned alive at the stake, beheaded, cremated, and BURIED AT SEA. Please leave it there.
The reality is, a healthy RX-8 will get 17-18mpg city, 22+mpg highway. But 'healthy' means completely healthy: healthy coils, wires, plugs, O2 sensors, carbon free engine, good compression, healthy cat (or no cat), good transmission/diff fluid, no vacuum leaks, clean MAF, clean ESS. Let even one of these slide, and your mileage WILL drop, and it will drop fast. If you believe that RX-8s simply can not get this mileage because you have never seen it, then there is only 1 person to blame, and that is YOU. If you don't get this mileage, then there is something wrong with one of the above points. Or with your foot. Your right foot can make the mileage drop quite a bit as well. And I don't mean granny driving as the answer to good gas mileage. Smoothness is more important than speed. Smooth and fast is better mileage than unstable and slow.
People also tend to point at it being a 1.3L engine, and assume that a 240/238/232 hp rotary "2-stroke" engine is as efficient as a 1.3L 4-stroke piston engine (which is probably in the 70-90hp range). This simply is NOT the case.
So if you can't get this mileage, start poking around for what is wrong.
For reference, here is 8,330 miles of mileage data from my Sevenstock trip around the country in September 2010. The lowest tank was 13.99mpg (14mpg basically), and that was in non-stop tight curves on the Pacific Coast Highway where I was having fun blasting along. Note the 4 tanks over 23mpg, 11 tanks over 20.00mpg. Also note how the highway mileage drops as speeds go up. Once you cross the ~70mph range, the wind resistance does start stacking against you more and more. It's easily a several MPG drop going from a cruise of 70 to a cruise of 80+. And those were probably closer to 85-90. The 18mpg in northern NV wasn't really highway, but it was alot of really straight empty terrain, and speeds that I won't talk about publicly
Cost of Ownership. (Consider for deletion)
The cost of owning this car isn't low. It's not as high as some people think, but it is alot higher than people expect that aren't actually thinking it through. DO NOT MAX OUT YOUR FINANCES purchasing this car. Any car really, it's stupid. But here are the costs you should have over the first 30,000 miles:
- 1,764 gallons of gas - $5,294 (using 17mpg and $3 per gallon)
- 40 quarts of oil for oil changes - $160
- 10 oil filters - $120
- 30 quarts of oil to top off with - $150
- 4 spark plugs - $80
- 4 coils - $140
- 4 plug wires - $60
- 4 tires - $800
- 2 quarts of transmission fluid - $20
- 2 quarts of rear diff fluid - $20
Plus any other failures that occur, such as:
- Cat failure - $1,400 (free if within 80,000 miles, but can cause other issues)
- O2 sensor failure - $285
- Steering rack failure - $2,000+
- Lower intake manifold or SSV failure - $2,000 (dealer, I don't know the parts cost to have a self cost)
Multiply any items by 2 if you purchase them from a dealer.
Multiply any items by 3 if you purchase them from a dealer and have the dealer do the labor.
Cold Weather (re-write)
I would recommend working on getting a set of alternate rims and winter tires. The rims can be complete garbage (mine are mismatched ), but it makes any winter condition drivable, and even fun! (as long as you are still clearing the snow with your air dam, but if you aren't, no one else should be on the road there anyway, the government would probably be shut down) If you take this route, buy them sometime in the summer when no one is looking and you can pay significantly less.
Cold itself is nothing to worry about unless your ignition system is weak. Stay on top of your ignition system (learn to subconsciously pay attention to the stability of the revs and how smooth, or not, the power band is, etc... Start feeling that hesistation and roughness, and it doesn't go away with WOT runs to redline, your ignition system is starting the downhill. Doesn't mean it will go right away, but the longer you wait, the greater and greater your flood risk, power loss, and mileage drop.
Also throwing in that I have driven my 8 through the last 4 New England winters. The car you have doesn't matter for anything but sheer ground clearance. FWD vehicles and SUVs are more likely to have more winter friendly tires on OEM, sports cars are more likely to have OEM summer tires, and this is where the difference is. As long as you have ground clearance though, my 8, with winter tires, will out-drive any SUV or jeep on OEM tires. My work is on a hill, the highest point in the state, and each winter I regularly climb the last steep hill into work, often winding my way around stuck SUVs and trucks.
Outside of tires, the 8 is low torque, more weight over the rear than most big engined sports cars, and a great set of driver aids. My only concern for driving it in the winter at all is the salt. The only time I got stuck was when it started dumping snow and the plows were not sent out until literally half of the state was stranded in gridlock and ditches, and the snow was simply too deep to push through. The low ground clearance was a bonus though, I was one of the first stuck, and thus got one of the only tow trucks. The tow truck got stuck on my street about 30 yards from my driveway after dropping my 8 off. Even he needed the extra weight at that point.
If you drive winter on summer tires, you will crash.
If you drive winter on all seasons, it will be touch and go, careful driving, prepare to be stuck periodically
If you drive winter on winter tires, rule the road and enjoy up to ~4-5 inches of fluffy snow on the road surface before you get stuck.
Which oil to use (Updated October 11th 2013)
The most debated question in the community, bordering on a religious war, so I won't try to cover every point here.
It boils down to deciding for yourself.
Some go with 5w20, to stay with Mazda's recommendation in North America. Some go with 5w30 to go with Mazda's recommendation outside North America. Others go to 10w40 or even 20w50, the most common weights among RX-7s. The general argument revolves around if 5w20 is too thin or not. Typically, you want to go with a heavier weight oil (higher numbers) the hotter the environment you live in. Many manuals outside of North America state something to this effect. So research up on it, and make your own decision.
Dino vs synthetic is another hot topic, with the main argument revolving around if the strength of the synthetic is worth the cost, and if there is any better burning (or not better burning) than dino oils, and if any deposits are left behind that could increase engine wear. Mazda only recommends non-synthetic, but does not require it. Your decision.
And yes, all weights of oils mix with all other weights of oils, roughly averaging the numbers. Half 5w20 and half 5w40 is roughly 5w30, for example. Not precisely, but close enough. Dino also mixes entirely fine with synthetic.
And you know what the kicker is at the bottom of this whole oil debate pile? It doesn't really matter
Fresh oil on regular changes is far far far more important than ANY of the above attributes. And the only impact that crankcase oil type and viscosity lubrication has on your engine's lifespan is bearing wear, which is not a severe concern for us, since we have numerous other methods of engine failure that have nothing to do with oil attributes!
Outside of lubricating the e-shaft bearings and being available for injection into the combustion chamber (where none of the attributes above matter at all), the oil's benefit is a secondary method of assisting to keep our engines cool. Oil is fantastic for transporting heat out of the engine. And all types and viscosity do that equally well, or as close to equally as won't make a tangible difference.
There are claims that synthetic doesn't burn as cleanly as dino.
Well, are you really going to argue that filthy dirty 4-stroke dino oil burns cleaner than filthy dirty 4-stroke synthetic oil? NEITHER of them were meant to be burned, and crankcase oil is very very filthy. If you are so concerned about how clean burning your oil is, then get a SOHN adapter and start burning clean 2-stroke! Then you can pick the oil that you want for the high stress, high rpm, high sheer environment of the e-shaft bearings.
So if oil weight matters to you, then do some reading on the various opinions, find an opinion you somewhat agree with that is made in reference to the climate you drive in, the drive style you do, and your budget, and go with that.
Interested in looking at oil testing data?
There is a fairly limited amount of actual test data about oil. What we do have is used oil analysis tests, by companies like Blackstone Labs. These tests measure the amount of contaminates in the oil, things like water, gasoline, wear metals, sulfur, etc... They give a pretty good idea of how well the oil you are sampling protected your engine. The discussion thread about the tests is here: Used Oil Analysis - Post Them Here
Oil discussions are generally frowned on by established members. The problem is that there are so many opinion, no consensus, very limited testing, lots of myths, and a colossal amount of misunderstanding. The "oil war" hasn't really ended, and never will. Please just let it be a "cold war" however, and avoid trying to argue about it in random threads.
If you, a new member or a new owner, REALLY want to discuss your oil choice, please do it here: New Member Oil Thread
Young Owners: (This was writen to one specific owner, but I am leaving it with the personal and targeted verbage)
A side note added: about a year after I wrote this to that specific owner, he totaled his 8. One of the best and most respectable kids to show up on the boards, and it still happened to him.
To be brutally honest though, we often make heavy attempts to steer kids (sorry, you are ) away from the 8 as a first car. First cars are usually neglected, abused, and/or wrecked. And we don't imply that it would all be your fault either. My first car last 2.5 months, ending it's life with an SUV landing on it's hood while I was stopped. Shit happens. How prepared are you to lose a car that you will probably form an emotional attachment to? (it happens. Everyone either loves or hates this car)
Abusing the 8 doesn't have the same definition as other cars, but, with no real road experience, driving the 8 properly is insanely easy to land you in significant legal trouble. My first day driving my 8 I was up to 123 on I-70 winding through the mountains without any straights before I got woken up from heaven by passing another car like it was standing still, glanced down at the speedo and was shocked to realize how fast I was. Most owners have this same type of experience. If it happens at a bad point, you are talking arrestable.
Again, you seem smarter than most teenagers that come on here, and with the money saved up for it, more responsible and probably would take better care of it, but just some things to keep in mind. You can find a great Miata for a few thousand that will help teach you about maintenance while still getting the same handling without nearly the speed potential.
Regardless of your decision, I highly highly highly recommend you get to local SCCA autocross events. Seriously. Even 1 event will help improve your driving. Keep doing it for fun and education though, it's the best bang for the buck that you can have in your own car. Driver mods before car mods.
Automatic vs Manual: (Updated November 13th 2013)
The Manual is overall faster and quicker than the automatic, enough though they both produce about the same amount of torque, or acceleration Gs that you feel. The manual, having the higher redline, just means that it can hold those acceleration Gs, that acceleration rate, for longer before having to shift to a higher gear with a different torque multiplier.
One won't really feel faster than the other until you get to 125mph, where the auto's speed limiter will kick in (manual's don't have that). The manual will get there quicker than the auto, but it won't really "feel" faster.
The paddle shifters on the 8 are just additional "buttons" that trigger up and down shifts, just like the shifter's + and - gates. You are still asking the ECU "ok, please shift now", and which direction to go. You still have the slush box reaction time, the same shift speed, etc... and the ECU can still decide to ignore your request, or shift on it's own.
The higher end supercars with paddleshifters aren't slush boxes, but rather what is essentially a computer controlled clutch foot and shift wrist. It disengages the drivetrain, moves the gears around, and re-engages the drivetrain. In less than a heartbeat.
Our auto's don't have that.
The RX-8's automatic transmission isn't "Tiptronic". That is a brand name of Porsche transmissions, that a few other manufactuers license the name from Porsche to use. Saying an RX-8's automatic transmission is a "Tiptronic" is saying that the RX-8 has a Porsche transmission in it, which isn't true. Anyone that thinks "it's the same thing!" are misguided. It's like calling the RX-8 a an Izuzu Rodeo since the RX-8 has 4 wheels, 4 doors, an engine, a steering wheel, and some seats, just like the Izuzu Rodeo. Yes, it's an automatic transmission that you can manually shift, but it is not a "Tiptronic".
So how much power do we have anyway?: (re-write)
Officially, the RX-8 produces somewhere between 228hp and 238hp, depending on what publication you look at. Mazda kept revising the numbers, but the engine's actual output never changed. This is for the 6 port manual transmission engines. The automatics produce less power, because of their lower redline. The 4 port automatics produce around 192hp, and the 6 port automatics produce around 212hp.
This is all measurements at the crank. The actual power put down at the wheels is significantly lower. Completely healthy 6port MTs put down about 180whp and 130wtq. The auto's are correspondingly lower.
Now, what does this actually mean?
Well, first take a look at the numbers. Notice how they are lower than an Evo's 300hp rating. And they are lower than a Mustang's 260hp-340hp.
This means the RX-8 is SLOWER in a straight line.
If you buy an RX-8, do NOT be shocked that you won't win at the drag strip. If you want to win there, buy a different car. If you buy the RX-8, don't come crying to us later on. We bought the car knowing full well how much power it produced. Those of us that want more do something about it. We don't create threads to whine about it. You can join us in flaming the people that do create threads whining about it, because you were smart enough to learn first. They weren't.
Our engine, when every single part of the powertrain is healthy, is at a bleeding edge of performance. It doesn't take much at all in the way of something not ideal for power and efficiency to fall off. The engines all typically fall to around the same point, ~170whp (6 port MT), and from there it takes a ton of problems or huge failures (like excessive carbon caking or cat failure) to really kill the engine. Maintaining it on that razor's edge is the difficulty.
From the factory, the 8 is VERY well tuned (mechanically). There are only 2 things you can do for easy power:
- Custom tune to remove some of the "safe" parts of the tune. The AccessPORT is available for Series1, MazdaEdit is available for Series1 and Series2
- Removing the naturally restrictive catalytic converter.
Doing the rest of the common upgrades piston cars get (intake, exhaust, pulleys, etc...) nets you MAYBE 5hp. MAYBE. Depending on the brand, alot of them are inferior to the OEM stock system, and plenty cause you to lose power.
The basic engine design/configuration of the 13b used to only put out around 110hp naturally aspirated. Mazda has adjusted and tweaked everything to get it to a razor's edge of how much power they can pull out of the same basic 1.3L engine, and they have over doubled the original hp. A lot of R+D went into squeezing this much power out of the tiny engine, and companies that just slap something together typically make it fall off that razor's edge of peak performance, and the impact is considerable. Think of the engine as already modded to nearly peak N/A HP, and you will start seeing how it's hard to get any gains, and easy to create losses.
Another way to think about it would be to think about a Civic B16 engine. It's a 1.6L engine that from the factory makes about 160bhp (plus or minus a bit depending on what car it's in). Someone can take that engine and go all out on modifying it to make as much N/A power as they can. Max power reported seems to be around 240bhp (sound familiar?). This includes more expensive engine management, higher compression, possibly some displacement increase, different cams for port timing changes, etc... So, what if Honda had released the engine from the factory with 240bhp from those changes? Well, think about how these compare to the RX-8's Renesis:
There would probably be quite a bit of trouble getting it to pass emissions standards (like the RX-8)
The stress on the cooling and oiling systems would be considerable (like the RX-8)
The engine wouldn't be expected to last forever, frequent rebuilds would be standard (like the RX-8)
It would cost THOUSANDS for tiny power increases (like the RX-8)
It probably wouldn't take to being turbocharged very well due to the high compression (like the RX-8)
Does it make more sense now? Mazda basically already modded the engine to get near max N/A HP, detuning it only slightly to get it to pass emissions and having to add the obligatory catalytic converter. It's difficulty and costly to improve on their design as a result.
So...how DO I get more power?
If you want power, you have to go forced induction: turbocharger, supercharger, or nitrous. For turbocharging or supercharging, you need a starting amount of about $8,000 to $10,000 for a complete set up. If you find what you think is a "deal", please don't get fooled. If you spent $1,500 on your turbo system, you will still spend $8,000 to $10,000 in modifications, errors, swapping parts, getting stuff to finally work right, and probably an engine replacement along the way. There is NO complete key that is 100% perfect. Every single kit has something wrong with it that you will have to correct. If you don't have an AccessPORT or MazdaEdit, you have very little chance in making it work. Piggy backs will not work with the RX-8, the ECU is too smart. Standalones are possible, but rarely pursued for street cars.
If you don't go that route, then the most you can expect is about 200 whp without a custom engine rebuild, which can run you $5,000+. The advancements in porting work have been slow coming, but they are still moving the needle upwards. BDC has the higher N/A power recorded for a non-race team, posted on 5/16/2011 here: BDC Street port vs. stock port dyno comparison - RX8Club.com 223whp:
The first car was done in 2007 and was stock engine (fresh), stock ECU, with an AEM intake setup, catalytic convertor deletion, and all else stock. Basically a base mod car plopped on the dyno.
The second car, done more recently, is my porting job and heavy intake/exhaust mods.
Please note that "heavy" has not been defined as of this edit. The gains are from more than 1 source. Likely full 3 inch headers to tips on the exhaust, entirely unknown what the intake is. The porting work above was mostly on the intake ports rather than the exhaust ports. There was also likely significant improvement in the seal tolerances over factory specs.
Eric Meyer posted his 233hp dyno sheet here: 233 rwhp dyno sheet - RX8Club.com
But keep in mind that it's likely his team invested $100,000+ (just a guess) into the R+D of the engine and drivetrain to get it there (including special treatments of the transmission and diff to reduce drivetrain loss)
Don't get fooled by any "chips", ebay or otherwise. There is no "chip" for the RX-8 that will do anything beneficial. The best you can hope for is nothing at all...a costly metallic sticker on your ECU. You can easily fry your ECU with one though, and that is $1,600+. The only reliable method of improving the ECU is through an AccessPORT or MazdaEdit. The piggybacks such as Interceptor-X and GReddy's E-Manager are terrible for the RX-8. You can get it to run, kinda. But you won't be making more power than stock. There are a few other ECU flashing tools out there, but most are no longer supported, and had trouble to begin with.
If you think you want to go turbocharging or supercharging your engine, start here: Series I Major Horsepower Upgrades - RX8Club.com and keep reading thread after thread. Get to know the issues people have had, read their responses, their solutions, their frustrations.
What about other engines? Don't even think about posting a question about an engine swap. Please. Do yourself a favor and just avoid clicking the "new thread" button. 20B (3 rotor engines) have been done, but they cost $20,000+ just for the swap itself. 4-rotor swaps have been completed I think twice. They run $100,000+. There have been a few swaps with the older 13Bs from RX-7s. They are cheaper, but still alot of work.
There have been a few other successful swaps, including a couple of LSx engines and at least one 2jz engine. More have been started than have been completed, as they usually run out of money, out of patience, or out of desire. Does it mean these other swaps can't be done? Not at all. It just means that you will have all of the pain, frustration, lack of answers, and lack of support.. And if successful, you would have the glory from a few, the hatred of some, and the lack of notice or caring from the rest.
So what is this engine anyway? It's not a piston engine?: (review)
You may have heard that this engine is not a piston engine. This is correct. The RX-8 is powered by a rotary engine, based on the principle design developed by Felix Wankel, from whom Mazda bought the exclusive rights to develop. The rotary engine is very hard to describe with just words, so here are a few pictures:
Exploded view of the engine and it's component parts
All put together:
The total package is quite small compared to piston engines: (That is one rotor, housing, and the eccentric shaft)
So how does it work?
Basically, the combustion sweeps the rotor around the e-shaft in an off-center looking wobble. (This is actually an RX-7 engine, but the basics are still the same)
Here is a YouTube video of the components and motions of the engine:
Dramatic difference from the traditional piston engine.
So, as you can see, we have 3 combustions per rotor for every full rotation of each rotor. However, due to the gearing reduction around the e-shaft, each rotor spins at 1/3rd the speed of the e-shaft. So when you are at 9,000rpm, each rotor is only spinning at 3,000rpm, however each rotor is producing 9,000 combustions per minute, for a combined total of 18,000 combustions per minute. This is most of what produces the buttery smooth power delivery of a rotary engine. You can also see that the motion is already rotational in nature, rather than the continual start/stop of pistons in a piston engine. This is the other main contributor to the smoothness of the engine.
Our "lack of torque" is also a byproduct of this. Each combustion is quite small, and there isn't much leverage provided by the e-shaft angles.
So what makes our engine different from prior RX-7 engines that are also listed as 13b engines?
Primarily, the difference is the location of the intake and exhaust ports.
RX-7 engines had their ports on the rotor housing, so the apex seals sweep across them.
RX-8 engines, the Renesis, have the ports on the end plates and center iron. This means that the apex seals do not sweep across them at all. This enables unburnt gasoline in the exhaust post-combustion to be more likely to stay in the engine to be burnt the next time around, rather than getting swept out into the exhaust system. This improves emissions and fuel economy.
The other primary different from the RX-7 engines is that the Renesis has higher compression rotors, also in the name of power, emissions, and fuel economy.
4 port or 6 port, which cars had which?: (Updated January 6th 2014)
At first release, there were two different basic engine designs. The 4-port and the 6-port. (In Europe and some other regions, the 4-port is referred to a "192hp" or "197hp", depending on the transmission, and the 6-port is referred to as "hi-power", "232hp", etc... i believe all of these had the 6-speed manual in those regions.) The difference is essentially that the 6-port has 2 more intake ports than the 4-port. This allows a higher amount of air flow into the engine at high RPM. A 4-port beyond 7,500rpm is being choked by difficulty flowing enough air. The two additional ports in a 6-port provide enough air flow to overcome this problem.Like any other intake flow change, allowing more airflow at higher revs means a shift of airflow optimization away from low revs. The 4-port actually has a few ft/lbs of torque more than the 6-port as a result
2004-2008 5 speed Manual transmissions: 4-port engine, Series1 design (combination was not sold in North America)
For 2009, the engine design was updated in make subtle but significant ways:
2009-2012 All transmissions: 6-port engine, Series2 design.
Swapping between engines:
Of the 3 designs (4-port Series1, 6-port Series1, 6-port Series2), each design is directly swappable into RX-8s that had that same design. So you can use a 6-port from a 2008 Automatic directly in a 2004 6-speed manual with zero modifications, and vise versa.
The Series1 and Series2 engines can be physically installed in each other's vehicles, however the OMP and electronics differences are considerable. Swapping between Series1 and Series2 will involve replacing every electronics module in the car, even the ones not engine related.
The 4-port and 6-port can likewise be physically installed in each other's vehicles, but there are significant electronic differences that will require replacement or re-coding of at least the ECU, likely additional components. If the 4-port to 6-port swap also includes a change of transmissions then there are additional hardware components that need to be converted as well.
Swapping between any of the different engine designs becomes a long and costly process.
How do I quickly tell which one a car has?
The easiest method is to look for the Upper Intake Manifold (UIM). It's the large curved section of black plastic that curves from the center right side of the engine bay to the back left (from a perspective of standing in front of the car looking at the engine bay). Look for the presence of the two intake runners that lead to the two extra ports. The runners you are looking for are to each side of the main runners, and are positioned lower
This is a 6-port. The front lower runner is circled in red
This is a 4-port. There is no extra runner where I made the red circle
Want more technical information from Mazda?: (re-write)
Attached is a PDF page from Mazda regarding some of the more specifics, including the engine limitations of the various configurations, and how the intake runners work
An excerpt regarding the dynamic intake:
The sequential dynamic air intake system (S-DAIS) operates in response to engine speed by controlling the secondary and auxiliary ports, and opening/closing the variable intake valve installed upstream of the secondary port’s shutter valve. In this way, the system achieves optimal control of intake pressure propagation for each port. RENESIS also takes full advantage of the twin rotor’s charging effect to boost intake for more substantial low-to-mid range torque as well as increased torque and power output at higher engine speeds. Since all valves are formed to streamline flow through the intake passage during valve opening/closing, intake resistance is substantially reduced.
The intake system on the 4-port engine has 2 intake ports per rotor, for a total of 4. Intake ports are controlled by opening/ closing of a variable intake valve governing use of the secondary intake port. First, at low engine speeds, only the primary intake port is used, speeding intake flow for improved low-end torque. Next, the secondary port comes into operation at around 3750rpm through the opening of its shutter valve, slowing intake flow to increase low- and midrange torque. In addition, the 6-port engine’s auxiliary port opens at about 6250rpm to maximize intake port area and boost high-end torque and power output to the upper limit. Finally, with the 6-port engine, the variable intake valve opens at around 7250rpm (approximately 5750rpm in the 4-port engine), effectively lengthening the intake manifold for improved mid-range torque.
What does the Check Engine Light (CEL) Mean?: (Updated October 14th 2013)
The Check Engine Light, also known as a CEL or MIL, is a light that is lit up on the dash by the ECU when it detects something wrong. It is NOT comprehensive about everything that could go wrong. In fact, your car could be on fire and it wouldn't know. The ECU only monitors EMISSIONS related items, due to the US laws that were enacted in the 1990s regarding emissions and OBD2 compliance. There is a quiet push going on as of this edit to further expand the items monitored, which may result in an "OBD3" in the next 10-15 years. Also, note that it monitors far more than "the engine", for example the ECU knows if your gas cap is loose, and will throw a CEL code for a fuel system EVAP leak.
If your CEL lights up, you can clear it a few different ways:
1) Disconnect the battery without reading the code to see what is wrong. This also clears your fuel trims, audio head unit presets, DSC/TCS learned parameters, and your car may idle roughly for the next few drive cycles.
2) Go to an auto-parts store that will read the code for you for free, and then will clear it for you if you wish
3) Buy a code reader for less than a diagnostics fee at a shop, read and clear it yourself, and read all future codes on all your cars for free
4) Buy a bluetooth OBD2 dongle and pair it with your smartphone or tablet and an OBD2 app
5) Go to a shop and pay their one time diagnostic's charge to get the code for you
6) Go to a dealer and pay their even higher one time diagnostics charge to get the code, and then charge you even more for fixing it.
When the CEL lights up, there will be ONE OR MORE of these codes stored in the ECU. Some hardware failures will 'throw' more than 1 code:
DTC # Condition Light DC Monitor SelfTest Memory
P0030 - Front HO2S heater control circuit problem - ON - 2 - HO2S heater - C, O, R - Yes
P0031 - Front HO2S heater control circuit low - ON - 2 - HO2S heater - C, O, R - Yes
P0032 - Front HO2S heater control circuit high - ON - 2 - HO2S heater - C, O, R - Yes
P0037 - Rear HO2S heater control circuit low - ON - 2 - HO2S heater - C, O, R - Yes
P0038 - Rear HO2S heater control circuit high - ON - 2 - HO2S heater - C, O, R - Yes
P0076 - VDI solenoid valve control circuit low - OFF - 2 - Other - C, O, R - Yes
P0077 - VDI solenoid valve control circuit high - OFF - 2 - Other - C, O, R - Yes
P0101 - MAF sensor circuit range/performance problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0102 - MAF sensor circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0103 - MAF sensor circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0107 - BARO sensor circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0108 - BARO sensor circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0111 - IAT sensor circuit range/performance problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0112 - IAT sensor circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0113 - IAT sensor circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0117 - ECT sensor circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0118 - ECT sensor circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0122 - TP sensor No.1 circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0123 - TP sensor No.1 circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0125 - Insufficient coolant temperature for closed loop fuel control - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0126 - Insufficient coolant temperature for stable operation - ON - 2 - Thermostat - C - Yes
P0130 - Front HO2S circuit problem - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, O, R - Yes
P0131 - Front HO2S circuit low voltage - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, O, R - Yes
P0132 - Front HO2S circuit high voltage - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, O, R - Yes
P0133 - Front HO2S circuit slow response - ON - 2 - HO2S - C - Yes
P0138 - Rear HO2S circuit high voltage - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, R - Yes
P0139 - Rear HO2S circuit slow response - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, R - Yes
P0171 - System too lean - ON - 2 - Fuel system - C, R - Yes
P0172 - System too rich - ON - 2 - Fuel system - C, R - Yes
P0222 - TP sensor No.2 circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0223 - TP sensor No.2 circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0300 - Random misfire detected - Flash/ON - 1/2 - Misfire - C - Yes
P0301 - Front rotor misfire detected - Flash/ON - 1/2 - Misfire - C - Yes
P0302 - Rear rotor misfire detected - Flash/ON - 1/2 - Misfire - C - Yes
P0327 - KS circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0328 - KS circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0335 - Eccentric shaft position sensor circuit problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C - Yes
P0336 - Eccentric shaft position sensor circuit range/performance problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C, R - Yes
P0410 - AIR system problem - ON - 2 - AIR system - C, R - Yes
P0420 - Catalyst system efficiency below threshold - ON - 2 - Catalyst - C - Yes
P0441 - EVAP system incorrect purge flow - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, R - Yes
P0442 - EVAP system leak detected (small leak) - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, R - Yes
P0443 - Purge solenoid valve circuit problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C, R - Yes
P0446 - EVAP system vent control circuit problem - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, R - Yes
P0455 - EVAP system leak detected (large leak) - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, R - Yes
P0456 - EVAP system leak detected (very small leak) - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, R - Yes
P0461 - Fuel gauge sender unit circuit range/performance problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0462 - Fuel gauge sender unit (main) circuit low input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0463 - Fuel gauge sender unit (main) circuit high input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0480 - Cooling fan No.1 control circuit problem - OFF - 2 - Other - C, O, R - Yes
P0481 - Cooling fan No.2 control circuit problem - OFF - 2 - Other - C, O, R - Yes
P0500 - VSS circuit problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0505 - Idle air control system problem - OFF - - - R - No
P0506 - Idle air control system RPM lower than expected - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0507 - Idle air control system RPM higher than expected - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0562 - System voltage low (KAM) - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0564 - Cruise control switch input circuit problem - OFF - 1 - Other - C, O, R - Yes
P0571 - Brake switch input circuit problem - OFF - 1 - Other - C, O, R - Yes
P0601 - PCM memory check sum error - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0602 - PCM programming error - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0604 - PCM random access memory error - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0610 - PCM vehicle options error - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0638 - Throttle actuator control circuit range/performance problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C - Yes
P0661 - SSV solenoid valve control circuit low - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0662 - SSV solenoid valve control circuit high - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P0703 - Brake switch input circuit problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0704 - CPP switch input circuit problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P0850 - Neutral switch input circuit problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P1260 - Immobilizer system problem - OFF - 1 - Other - C, O - No
P1686 - Metering oil pump control circuit low flow side problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C, R - Yes
P1687 - Metering oil pump control circuit high flow side problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C, R - Yes
P1688 - Metering oil pump control circuit initial check problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C, R - Yes
P2004 - APV stuck open - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2006 - APV motor control driver IC problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C - Yes
P2009 - APV motor control circuit low input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2010 - APV motor control circuit high input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2016 - APV position sensor circuit low input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2017 - APV position sensor circuit high input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2067 - Fuel gauge sender unit (sub) circuit low input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2068 - Fuel gauge sender unit (sub) circuit high input - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2070 - SSV stuck open - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2096 - Target A/F feedback system too lean - ON - 2 - Fuel system - C, R - Yes
P2097 - Target A/F feedback system too rich - ON - 2 - Fuel system - C, R - Yes
P2102 - Throttle actuator power supply line circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2103 - Throttle actuator power supply line circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2106 - Throttle actuator control system-forced limited power - ON - 1 - CCM - C - Yes
P2107 - Throttle actuator control module processor error - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2108 - Throttle actuator control module performance error - ON - 1 - CCM - C - Yes
P2109 - TP sensor minimum stop range/performance problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C - Yes
P2112 - Throttle actuator control system range/performance problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C - Yes
P2119 - Throttle actuator control throttle body range/performance problem - ON - 2 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2122 - APP sensor No.1 circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2123 - APP sensor No.1 circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2127 - APP sensor No.2 circuit low input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2128 - APP sensor No.2 circuit high input - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2135 - TP sensor No.1/No.2 voltage correlation problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2136 - TP sensor No.1/No.3 voltage correlation problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2138 - APP sensor No.3 /No.4 voltage correlation problem - ON - 1 - CCM - C, O, R - Yes
P2195 - Front HO2S signal stuck lean - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, R - Yes
P2196 - Front HO2S signal stuck rich - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, R - Yes
P2257 - AIR pump relay control circuit low - ON - 2 - Air system - C, O, R - Yes
P2258 - AIR pump relay control circuit high - ON - 2 - Air system - C, O, R - Yes
P2259 - AIR solenoid valve control circuit low - ON - 2 - Air system - C, O, R - Yes
P2260 - AIR solenoid valve control circuit high - ON - 2 - Air system - C, O, R - Yes
P2270 - Rear HO2S signal stuck lean - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, R - Yes
P2271 - Rear HO2S signal stuck rich - ON - 2 - HO2S - C, R - Yes
P2401 - EVAP system leak detection pump control circuit low - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, O, R - Yes
P2402 - EVAP system leak detection pump control circuit high - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, O, R - Yes
P2404 - EVAP system leak detection pump sense circuit range/performance problem - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C - Yes
P2405 - EVAP system leak detection pump sense circuit low - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, O, R - Yes
P2407 - EVAP system leak detection pump sense circuit intermittent/erratic problem - ON - 2 - EVAP system - C, O, R - Yes
P2502 - Charging system voltage problem - OFF - 1 - Other - C, R - Yes
P2503 - Charging system voltage low - OFF - 1 - Other - C, R - Yes
P2504 - Charging system voltage high - OFF - 1 - Other - C, R - Yes
I have a Flashing Check Engine Light! (Updated October 23rd 2013)
A flashing Check Engine light in any modern Mazda means that the ECU is detecting a misfire.. Period. There are no other conditions that will trigger a flashing CEL.
Misfires can be caused by numerous different possible failures, and are involved in nearly every common parts failure in the RX-8. They need to be addressed quickly however, as they can lead to additional cascading failures if ignored in addition to killing your fuel economy and power.
Warm it up before hard driving! (re-write)
This is true for ANY car out there. Not just rotaries. Let the car warm up before you start mashing the throttle or revving the snot out of it. Keep light on the throttle and under 4k rpm until the water temp needle is pointing straight up (or however slight off of straight is normal for your car). Even then, technically the oil temps aren't fully up yet, but they are getting there. Mazda actually put a lower rev limit when the water temp is under a certain point to help reinforce this. The 2004-2008 RX-8s have a rev limit of ~5,500 rpm until the water temp reaches 100F (I think, might be off). The 2009+ RX-8s have a 2 stage rev cut, at 5,000rpm and 7,000rpm I believe, each at a different water temp point. This doesn't really mean that it's 100% safe just because you have cleared the rev limit, so give it some time, take it easy, and let it warm up. No need to let it idle warm (though some do), light throttle driving is just fine.