This is a story about how ‘The Curse of One-Hundred Thousand Miles’ paid me a visit and gave my car a good working over, and how the awesome people of an automotive internet forum helped me overcome.
Watching the odometer rolling over from 99999 to 100000 miles in a car is one of the more memorable automotive milestones. Although many modern cars achieve 100k with little to no issue and no major maintenance, not that long ago 100k miles was a massive achievement, but also signified the beginning of the end. Electrical gremlins, leaky gaskets, major maintenance jobs like timing belts, and things of this sort would start to leave you with a broken down car and/or a much lighter wallet. I’ve always referred to it as the ‘100k Curse’.
Earlier this year, my 2004 Mazda RX-8 passed the 100k milestone. I have owned the car since 72k miles and I invested a lot of time and money into making it as reliable as I could. The first 28k miles of ownership were so trouble-free that I started to think to myself: “All these people who say RX-8’s are unreliable are full of it. This car has been one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned!”
And then the 100k curse came and slapped me with a harsh dose of reality......
Between 100k and 101k miles, my RX-8 was plagued with three separate, but significant failures that rendered the car pretty much undriveable for periods of time. Fortunately all the issues I had were already experienced by other people and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that they documented their hardships on www.rx8club.com. If not for the help I found within RX8club’s substantive forum, at least two of the three problems would have taken a lot longer to diagnose and repair.
My first problem started on a short drive to the park with my family. I was driving along at around 35MPH when all of a sudden, the car just died. I put the hazards on, came to a stop. I was a bit confused as to what happened so I just started the car again and it fired right up. I revved it a bit and ran the car at varying RPMS to see if I could hear or feel anything different, but nothing seemed wrong.
About 5 minutes later, it happens again. Now I know for sure that something is up. Once again it starts up and drives, only to shut back off a couple minutes later. I limped it to the park and I looked under the hood to see if I could find anything wrong, but nothing looked out of the ordinary. I get on my phone and search something to the effect of “RX-8 cutting out while driving” I came across this This Thread. Since I knew my plugs only had 8k miles on them with upgraded ignition coils, and a free-flowing exhaust, I quickly moved to the MAF sensor as the possible culprit.
I limped the car home, stalling at least a dozen more times and swearing under my breath about what a pile of crap the car is. The next day, I picked up a new MAF, installed it, and reset the E-shaft profile. I put 100 trouble-free miles on it that day and considered it ‘fixed’.
I was driving my son to school one morning and had backed into a parking space. After I backed all the way in, I looked at the dash to discover that my ABS and Traction-Control lights had magically appeared. That was a bit of a surprise as I didn’t feel or hear anything out of the ordinary. When I started the car again, the lights were still on. So I made the short trip home and once again hopped on the computer and began my research. I came across This Thread. This gave me some places to start looking although I found it somewhat mind-boggling that so many things can result in the ABS and traction-control lights to show up.
Due to some bad diagnosing on my part, I first thought it was a bad brake-pressure switch as the one on the car was sticking. After replacing it, the warning lights were still on, and at this time I also learned that I had no brake lights at all. Armed with that bit of information, I went back to reading through the aforementioned thread.
My next step took me to fuse-land. As with another Mazda I own, I wasn’t looking for the right fuse because of poor wording. Instead of looking for a ‘BRAKE’ fuse, I should have been looking for a ‘STOP’ fuse. When I finally found the ‘STOP’ fuse, I noticed it was blown. I replaced it, started the car and the warning lights were off! I thought I solved the problem, but then I stepped on the brake and *poof* ABS and traction-control lights reappeared in all their splendor, and not surprisingly, the ‘STOP’ fuse was blown again. Now I clearly knew I had a short in the wiring somewhere. This Thread led me directly to the culprit: broken wiring from the 3rd brake light harness that runs from the trunk to the body.
I spliced in some new wire and re-wrapped everything as snug as I could. My dash was once again warning light free and I had functional brake lights.
My trouble-free driving lasted all of 3 days. I made my usual hard 2nd gear right-hander that puts me on to a nice long expressway entrance ramp. This is usually a wide-open-throttle run up and through the merge point. But on this day when I hit 7500RPM’s, it lurched so hard that I almost hit my face on the steering wheel and it’s still-need-to-be-replaced Takata airbag.
The car seemed to drive just fine under low RPM’s and light loads, but the high RPM pulls I did over the next couple days had mixed results. Sometimes it pulled to redline, although there was a lot more vibration going on. Other times, it fell flat on its face.
Once again, I started looking for possible causes on the internet. But this time, I had a pretty good idea what it was as I had a similar problem in my Fiero which was a bad fuel pump not supplying enough fuel under load. I confirmed this with my scanner as I could see that my air-fuel-ratio was way lean under load and a ton of timing was pulled, which resulted in the massive power loss and backfires. A new fuel pump was ordered and thanks to This Thread I had it reinstalled in about an hour.
My RX-8 fired right back up and has been running trouble free and pulling strong to redline ever since. I have put on about another 3k miles since this happened and hopefully my battle with the ‘100k Curse’ is over.
So, in the end, these problems weren’t major and I was able to fix them all myself with minimal cost, but I can’t stress how helpful RX8club was to me in diagnosing my issues and showing me how to replace things. And I didn’t even have to start any new posts as these were all things that have happened before to others who actually took the time to document their problems.
I know many automotive forums aren’t as popular as they used to be, as the shift to social media outlets has become more popular. But bulletin board-style forums are still a treasure trove of information and much more search-friendly than other outlets. I certainly don’t post on them as much as I used to, but I still visit a number of forums multiple times a day. But when I have an issue with my cars, the first place I go to is to whatever car-forum I need to go to.
Thank you to all of you who take the time to post your problems and solutions online. And also thank you to those of you who help to diagnose these problems that we have.
The author, who goes by ‘Joe’ in real life, is an automotive enthusiast and likes to pretend that he’s a decent writer. He owns a 2016 STI and a 2004 RX-8 and hauls his wife and two kids around in both of them because he’s too stubborn to own something sensible. He has also owned a 500hp Fiero and likes Mighty Taco. You can reach him at AkursedX@gmail.com