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blackshine007

626 Transmission Faq

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Despite Mazda's recurring efforts to create a sports-sedan image for the 626, which would seem to demand a stick shift, most of them went out the door with automatic transmissions, and judging by message boards, mailing lists, and my personal correspondence, a lot of them are coming back in the door with transmission problems. A few of the common questions are answered here.

Which automatic transmission do I have in my 626?

Assuming you're driving a North American-spec 626

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Can I expect problems?

Early versions of the CD4E piled up a fairly terrible repair record, some of it the transmission's fault, and some of it Mazda's implementation of it. In the '94 626 specifically, there appears to be a quirk in the speedometer gear set, and since the transmission's shift points are determined at least partially by reported vehicle speed, this can result in erratic shifting and the flashing of the infamous Hold or O/D Off light

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What does the Hold function do?

"Hold" is a switch that changes the shift patterns of the transmission. Not all 626 models have it. Where Hold is offered, the normal shift pattern with Hold off is:

D: 1, 2, 3, 4

S: 1, 2, 3

L: 1, 2

With Hold engaged, the shift pattern becomes:

D: 2 (briefly), 3

S: 2

L: 1

The typical shift pattern for a 626 without Hold is:

D: 1, 2, 3, 4

2: 2

1: 1

These cars will generally have an O/D Off switch on the shifter, which changes D to 1, 2, 3.

What does it mean when the Hold (or O/D Off) light is blinking?

According to Mazda, it is an indication of an electrical problem in the transmission. Actually, it could also be an indication of bad sensor data reaching the transmission. This light and the Malfunction Indicator ("Check Engine") light are rather closely connected; since this transmission is computer-controlled, you could be getting signals from either. If this is happening to you and you're not up to reading codes, as I'm not, you should probably go to the dealership or to a garage that speaks fluent Mazda and get the codes pulled. The pertinent ones you're most likely to encounter, on a pre OBD II vehicle, are:

06 No signal from vehicle speed sensor

12 Throttle position sensor signal open or shorted

55 No signal from drum speed pulse generator on trans

60 "1-2" or "A" shift solenoid circuit open or shorted

61 "2-3" or "B" shift solenoid circuit open or shorted

62 "3-4" or overrun clutch solenoid circuit open or shorted

63 Lock-up solenoid circuit open or shorted

Mazda switched the automatic 626 to OBD II around the 1996 model year, so if you have a '96 or later, you'll need a full-fledged OBD II-compatible scan tool. The '94 and '95 models reportedly come with Ford's EEC-IV diagnostics.

A Technical Service Bulletin exists for some 1999-2001 models. TSB 05-005/02 deals with one specific circumstance: after extended highway driving, the O/D off light is blinking and code P1783 is set (excessive ATF temperature). Occasionally there will be overflow through the dipstick tube and harsh shifting. Mazda's recommended fix is to replace the radiator and to install an auxiliary cooler for the transmission. Note that this is not an extension to the standard factory warranty.

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So it doesn't mean the transmission is about to melt down?

Not necessarily. It is a legitimate cause for concern, but real transmission breakdowns tend to manifest themselves in a manner far more dramatic than mere flashing dash lights.

When problems do occur, the transmission has a perhaps-misnamed "fail-safe" mode, in which it seems to act like a worn-out three-speed with jerky shifting action. Mostly, it's cutting the computer out of the circuit and relying solely upon the hydraulics to do the dirty work.

What does it cost to have a transmission rebuilt?

It depends on your local conditions, though $1200 to $2000 is probably fairly typical. It is Mazda North American Operations policy that Mazda dealers do not do rebuilds; if the repair is something more complicated than seals and gaskets, or the pump, they will swap the transmission for a previously-rebuilt model, most likely assembled by a former Mazda facility in Jacksonville, Florida that is now operated by Delco Remy, at a price on the high side of $2500. Expect a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty on transmission work.

If there are so many of these failing, shouldn't Mazda be picking up the tab?

Apparently there have not been enough complaints to Mazda North American Operations to induce them to initiate any other service programs, or to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to warrant a government recall. At this point, I would recommend that anyone facing a major transmission-repair bill on an out-of-warranty 626 file the appropriate complaints, just to help the process along.

While threading your way through the MazdaUSA.com Web site can be torturous, it is still possible to reach actual persons at MNAO. The first step should be the standard Customer Service line at 800-222-5500, if only because it's necessary to document the entire experience. The NHTSA's toll-free hotline is 888-327-4236, and they maintain an online complaint form.

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Is there a chance that it's not the transmission at all?

There is. Remember that the more recent transmissions are totally under computer control. Partial or complete failure of the computer is rather uncommon, but computer problems can manifest themselves as transmission problems. When my previous 626 (a '93 with the GF4A-EL) went into a phase when it would start off in third gear

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It took me long enough, but I finally found the info ya'll have been longing for, So read up and ENJOY!!!

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