It went a little something like this...

I had an '87 Toyota Camry (handed down from parents) from Summer of '92 until I found my RX-7. Actually, a buddy of mine spotted it for sale at a local dealer's used car lot. I went and looked at the car, test drove it, had my roommate test drive it, etc. I decided it had to be mine.

So, on Monday, August 19th, I took the day off from work and went to the dealership first thing in the morning. Took the car to have a pre-purchase inspection done (wanted to make sure the motor's compression was in good shape). The place I took the car to gave it a once-over, and found a few things, notably the hot start problem, a weak battery, non-working AC, rough idle, and a radiator in need of a flush. After the inspection, one of the guys that looked at the car told me "You shouldn't get one of them turbos...they just go bad." Thank you, Mr. Redneck Mechanic!

Went back to the dealership and hammered out a deal...$3800 for the car. After trade in, my damage (tax, new Florida plate ($200), title, etc.) I got it for $1500 on the nose. Life was good.

First Day's Repairs: New Sears Die-Hard Gold battery, changed oil with Castrol GTX 20w50, new air filter, new thermostat.

Later that week...: Started in on the finish. The paint was quite oxidized. I went to work on it with Mother's 3-step wax (as per the 2nd Gen FAQ) and brightened up the finish considerably (Mother's Rules!). Changed the spark plugs with NGK BUR7 and 9EQ's, Gunk'ed the engine compartment, RainX'ed the windows, put on Bosch wiper blades (the best).

Side note: If you RainX, here's the trick: KEEP PUTTING IT ON. Squirt it on a folded paper towel and apply a coat to the window. Put more on the paper towel, and apply. KEEP DOING IT. Eventually, the coat will get nice and thick on the window, and won't be smearing as much. At that point, take a dry paper towel and massage it in. I then use RainX's window cleaner (good stuff) to even out the finish on the window. Rain don't want none of my window!!!

Leak Patrol: I realized I was losing water, and smelling antifreeze whenever I opened the hood. I removed the bottom aerodynamic cover under the engine, and went looking with the trouble light. I noticed a trail of water coming from the weep hole at the water pump. New water pump time! Found one at a local import auto parts store for $54. Then, the heater hose below the oil filter sprung a leak. New hose from MazdaTrix solved that problem. Second on the agenda were oil leaks. First were the two O-rings at the base of the oil filter pedastal. $2 bucks each from the Mazda dealer, a 10mm wrench, and 15 minutes solved that problem. The only unsolved oil leak is the gasket at the oil return line on the Turbo.

Quirky Electrical Fun: First on the agenda was the dome and door lights that weren't coming on. The pin switches on the doors were rusty; I pulled them off, sanded the rust off, squirted them with WD-40, and wala! Lights! The cigarette lighter didn't work; simple blown fuse. The non-working AC (knocked $1000 off the price!) was broken Logicon solder joints and a recharge of freon. Fixed some more quirks doing some re-soldering on the CPU as well.

Stereo Time: The factory head unit and speakers were cute, but they had to go. BTW, the factory head unit weighs about 10 pounds! I think I strained something removing it! Bought the wiring harness and the bracket for the stereo. Put the stereo (Sony XRC-210) and Clarion EQ into the bracket. I installed my Kicker separates in the front factory locations, and put the tweeters inside the air vents in the doors. Sounds pretty good, and is totally stealth. The 10-disc changer went into the passenger storage compartment. I removed the storage compartment and mounted the changer vertically to the back of the storage bin. Works quite well. My Soundstream amp is mounted behind the passenger seat, vertically, attached to the "wall" behind the seat. The Infinity Kappa 6.5 coaxials went into the shock towers. The factory panels there were for 4" speakers, so I made some out of floor tile (don't ask - the brackets suck. I'm gonna replace 'em). My Soundstream USA 12" is in a sealed box, covered in red carpet (to match the interior) at the back of the cargo area, held down by those way-cool straps. A side note: After I installed the stereo, my dash illumination, as well as the running lights on the car, went out. The fuse would blow the instant you turned the lights on. After pulling my hair out, wasting money on a new light switch, and going crazy, I discovered that the radio illumination line is a GROUND when the lights are off!!! I promptly re-grounded the stereo to the frame of the car. Thanks to George Dodworth for helping with that problem!

Intercooler Removal Discoveries: One day I decided to remove the intercooler to see what was under it. Doing so, I found a vacuum hose that was off (fixed my rough idle!) and the cable from the cruise control box was off! I re-attached it and wire-tied it on for good measure. Cruise worked great after that.

The Quest for an Air Bypass Solenoid Valve: The one that came with my car broke. The plastic nozzle sticking straight up that has a hose going to the intercooler broke off, so I superglued it back on. Well, it broke again during my turbo removal (see below). And, when a superglued item breaks, it is never to be joined again. I tried epoxy, I tried JB-Weld, but it was such an awkward joint and was under a great deal of heat and stress. Finally located one at MazMart Auto Recyclers in Atlanta for about $50 - man oh man did it fix my problems!

The Great Turbo-Exhaust Manifold Gasket: I had an exhaust leak that kept getting worse. Upon doing some investigative work, I discovered it was the turbo to exhaust manifold gasket. $40 later I had a new one from MazdaTrix in my hands. As per the 2nd Gen FAQ, I set about removing the turbo. Removed all the intake stuff (intercooler, air box, air pump, air control valve, BAC valve, etc.). Then, removed the pre-cat and discovered it was rather plugged. A length of pipe and a sledgehammer known as Junior fixed that problem (it's REAL empty now). The main cat was in good shape, so I let it be. 3 of the 4 nuts holding the turbo on were removable BY HAND - I discovered later the previous owner had the turbo rebuilt, and they didn't use lock-tab washers. The nuts worked their way loose, and the gasket blew out. Anyhow, put it all back together and spent the next week debugging the intake system. BTW, this project started at 9 am Sunday and we fired the car up at 11 pm that night (long day!). The moral of the story is: if you gotta replace the turbo, take care of all the gaskets! It's a bitch to take the turbo off!

Turbo Output Hose: Well, the output hose that connects the turbo to a metal pipe that continues up to the intercooler was cracked. I Duct taped it, but that wore out pretty quickly. Well, I wanted to get a new silicone hose, but the price was a bit high. Finally, I took the hose with me to AutoZone and found a radiator hose that was the same diameter. Two hose clamps, and WHAM-BAM! Fixed that problem. Car idles great now.

Shift Lever Bushings: Well, I finally got around to ordering the shift lever bushings and boots from MazdaTrix. It turned out to be a very easy job to do, but it's a job that's nice to have a second set of hands. Once I got the shift lever out of the car, I realized there were NO shift lever bushings in there! Normally, one would expect to find pieces of the previous bushings, but they were non-existant. I put in the new bushings and boots and went for a drive...WHOA MAMA! It's a whole new world of shifting! The lever neatly slides into each gear, instead of flopping into gear. Definitely a "bang-for-the-buck" repair.

More Oil Leaks; Oil Metering Pump: Well, it seemed as if the oil metering pump o-ring had done itself in, so I ordered a new one from MazdaTrix and went to work. Removed all the junk that was in the way (air box, etc.) and started removing the pump itself. Real easy to remove - there's the 4 oil lines going from it, 2 (I believe) bolts holding it on, and the rod going to the throttle linkage. Well, you're supposed to remove the rod from the throttle, not detach it from the pump, but I detached the damn thing from the pump. Anyhow, the o-ring that was on there was hard as a rock. I picked it out, took the pump inside the house and cleaned it up, doped the new o-ring with oil, and put it on. Now the fun part - putting the control rod back on. I think I about killed myself trying to get the damn thing back on. I gave up and resumed the project the next day (don't ever start a project like this at 10:30 PM on a damn cold night!) Showed the weird spring assembly to my roommate, and he said, "Oh, it goes like this." 5 minutes later it was back on. Oy Vey.

Yup, Even More Oil Leaks: Oil Pan Gasket: One Sunday afternoon I drove my car up on ramps and went to work replacing the oil pan gasket. It took a lot of torque to get the one motor mount that attaches to the oil pan off, but I got it. Removed all the oil pan bolts and the temperature/level senders out of the side, and pried the pan off. Not too hard. Scraped the old gasket off, and cleaned out the inside of the pan. Mated the gasket on with Loctite's new "Gasket Maker in a Cheez-Whiz can" (great stuff!) and put the pan back on. It was starting to get dark and cold at this point, so I locked up shop for tomorrow. Found out that the motor mount didn't want to go back on - the motor had dropped a little, and it was physically impossible to get it in there. Big Fun. Well, I had a floor jack with some wood on it supporting the transmission, so I got a big stack of wood, lowered the floor jack, prayed that the 1 motor mount and transmission mount would hold, loaded it up with wood, and successfully raised the engine. Got everything back together, and it looks like it's doing good. There's a minor leak around the oil level sensor, so I'm going to remove it and put some gasket stuff on it. That'll take care of that problem.

Front Brake Pads: My front pads were getting thin, so I went to Pep Boys and picked up some Raybestos pads. First off, I realized that the 4-piston calipers on my car are the EASIEST brakes in the world to change!!! You barely even need tools! Anyhow, I discovered that the pads that were on there were Sumitomo (I was really impressed with them...didn't fade or squeal) and I popped the new ones on. In a word, they suck. My grandma could fade 'em on the way to church!!! Regardless, they'll work for now...I have to get some Carbon Kevlar boys on there somehow!!!


Last Revision: 1/30/97