(note: this needs to be moved into the FAQ section and made a sticky)
So you just bought your first RX8, or you bought a used one, and you have a rotary engine you not familiar with. First off, relax, its really not that different, but here are the little things you’ll want to do / know to make sure you enjoy the car and it lives a long and happy life.
The following is a brief summary of the rx8club.com forums collective wisdom after nearly 95,000 threads and 1.7 million posts. It is not totally comprehensive, but will cover most of the major issues for first time rotary RX8 owners. Most of the recall issues only apply to cars built before the 2006 model year, but double check you car just in case.
1. Occasional Aggressive driving is good – First off its fun, second, it helps prevent carbon buildup in the engine and intake system. Make sure you rev to at least 7500rpm to make sure all the intake valves open. You don’t need to redline every start, but once a day is fun and good for the car.
Oh, and please don’t attempt the 7000rpm clutch dump launches the magazines did to get their 0-60mph numbers. This is not the aggressive driving that is mentioned above. Its suicide for your clutch and transmission.
2. Make sure your car has the latest PCM flash and recalls – Below are the major recalls that seem to have affected most people. Most are simple and can be done by the dealer in a day.
a) PCM (Powertrain Control Module) Flash – The RX8 has a very complex computer driving the engine that has gone through several firmware upgrades. Make sure your on the latest PCM flash from the dealer.
b) In the summer of 2006, a major emissions related recall was conducted on 2004-2006 RX8’s related to catalytic converter, and in some cases engine failures. For most people, the recall simply involved a PCM update, some owners had faulty catalytic converters replaced, and some owners had engines replaced. If you own a used vehicle, make sure recall 4206F was performed.
c) Ignition Coils – older cars had coils that overheated and would misfire, its easily to tell by flipping a coil over and looking for a burn spot on the back side of the coils. Mazda redesigned the coils in 2006.
d) Starter and Battery – the original 04/05 RX8’s had a weak starter and battery that could contribute to flooding. Hard starts are the main symptoms, and the dealer can install an upgraded starter battery package to fix the issues.
e) Upgraded Spark plugs – along with the starter, the leading spark plugs went through a redesign in the 2005 to help with flooding issues. These improved plugs should be the only leading plugs you buy. (part #NGK RE7C-L)
f) Rough Idle – the Engine mounts and mount brackets were redesigned in 2005 to alleviate rough idle issues. Heat from the exhaust manifold can also damage the passenger side engine mount. Check with you dealer about an upgrade if this is an issue.
3. Use only OEM spark plugs – The RX8 and RX7 use special unique NGK plugs designed for rotary engines. The plugs should be replaced about every 25,000 miles, which is sooner than most piston engines.
4. Whats the deal with flooding? - Flooding is the term for the engine not starting due to excess fuel into the combustion chamber from a cold start and shutdown. Rotary’s, and most other cars, run rich at warm-up and then gradually lean out as the engine warms to operating temp. Starting a cold engine and immediately shutting it down before its warmed up can lead to excess fuel being left in the combustion chamber which makes the engine struggle to light off. The simple solution to not flooding is to properly warm the car up (coolant temp needle to the half way point) before shutting the engine off. Flooding tends to happen when people move their car to wash, repair or service something then immediately shut the engine down. The stronger starter and resigned plugs listed above have helped to alleviate this issue, but just make a practice of warming the car up before shutting it off.
5. Check the oil level every other fillup or twice a month – The rotary engine injects oil to lubricate the apex seals in the engine, so it naturally burns oil, especially the harder you drive. Most owners keep a quart of oil in the car at all times and check the oil twice a month.
6. Hitting the track? Toss in a little premix – If you going to drive the car especially hard for extended periods of time, it is wise to add 4/6oz of two stroke oil to the fuel for extra seal lubrication. Its not required, but it’s a good safety measure to protect the engine
That’s really it folks, there are of course other specific issues, but the above covers 90+% of the issues and problems associated with the RX8. Hopefully this provides a framework to better understand your car and the forums. Additional technical service bulletins and recall information can be found at