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4131 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  djracertt03
Well I'm pretty torn right now, this is my first post since I don't actually own a Mazda but am looking for info more in-depth than what is posted. My 02 Mustang GT 5sp got totaled back in November and I am now about to get the insurance money. So I'm really buckling down on a decision on a new vehicle and that has lead me to Mazda's. My main overall concern is the Mazda 3s vs. 6i vs. 6s, all in the 2004-2006 range since that best fits my budget. Yes I know I threw a 3s out there but I have no experience driving these so I'm hunting for overall opinions. The 3s and 6i are very appealing because they have a pretty decent powered 4 cyl that would be good on gas and a little fun. Do these engines have the same issues that concern the 6s engine? As in: do they have precats that fail and spit material back in the combustion chamber and cause the engine to destroy itself? That is the main reason why I am leaning towards those rather than the 6s, even though the 6s is what I REALLY want to get because of the v6. How common is the precat failure? How common is the engine destruction from the precat failure/clogged? How expensive is the preventive maintenance issue for that problem (EGR delete/reroute, exhaust manifold with improved cats, headers?) Also to note, all cars that I am looking at are pretty high mileage, around 120k+. At this point is the 6s a ticking time bomb and chances are the damage is already being done? I don't have a lot of money to throw and paying for an engine swap is not something I'll have cash to do down the road in the near future. Other than that, let me know what you guys think about your cars! I'm really interested, these seem to be rather nice vehicles that are reliable and stylish.

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Welcome to the forum, Matt.

I'm sorry to hear about your mustang, but glad everyone (from the sounds of it) is okay.

Let me answer your questions to the best of my ability.

The 3s and 6i are certainly more reliable and far less prone to precat destruction than the 6s, especially once you surpass 120k miles.

I would say that the going-rate for 6s precat destruction after 150k miles is around 60-65%. Not very good chances, though my numbers may be skewed a bit seeing as we see more people joining this forum for help because the car died than just to say "hello, my car is awesome." Know what I mean?

Engine swap would actually only run you about an extra $1200 - 1700. These are Ford Durotech engines and quite readily available for about $700 - 800.

I say "only" but that's still more than not having to replace the 6i ever.

EGR swap, headers, cats, and the works would help prevent the destruction, but that's assuming that damage hasn't already been done - which is very hard to prove if it's worth the risk in dumping that money or not. It certainly doesn't hurt, but it may not extend the life long enough to be worth it if the car's already in bad shape internally.

Beyond that: these cars are an absolute blast to drive. The Mazda "Zoom - Zoom" slogan represents the joy of just driving and nothing more. These cars are meant for drivers, not A to B. The Mazda 3 is a little go-kart and it loves to zip around corners (my fiance has one) but if you want a more grounded and "robust" car, go with the 6. Not as agile, but it will make you smile when you take a turn faster than you'd expect to be able to in an affordable sedan. No honda or toyota in your range is going to do this.

The v6 will get you some nice power but the risk is yours to take. We have plenty of people on this forum in the 200k range who own v6s.

Anyways, sorry for the book. Hope this helps in your endeavors.
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I am partial to the 6i due to the 4cyl has little to no issues. Mine has close to 140k on it and have had no issues other than oil changes. Just throwing my 2cents in on this

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i have the I Sport, love it, i havent ever had any engine problems ever, 196K and still runs like a champ
Late reply but thank you all for the information. I still have not received insurance money yet so I'm still car shopping. Found an '06 Mazda 6i, 5sp, 132k miles that I'm going to look at and test drive soon. I test drove a Mazda 3s that was in MINT condition with 142k miles, I really enjoyed how it handled and accelerated, made me giddy in a way. Unfortunately I found out that it sold this weekend, there goes that. How well does the 6i respond to bolt-ons? Can the ECU be tuned? Thanks again, I have a feeling I'm going to be hanging around. At least I hope to.

PS: Thank you especially Byakuya, your information was great and definitely helped driving my decision in looking for the 4cyl instead of the V6. Sounds like they didn't change the pre-cat system to accommodate for the larger exhaust output of the V6. I'm going to try to avoid that like the plague haha. Well not really. But it's not my top choice anymore.
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personally i wouldn't "waste" money on a car like this that isn't already turbocharged and doesn't have a crazy amount of aftermarket support. you could probably add an intake for some cool sound/few horsepower, and it might even pay for itself eventually if your fuel economy goes up a little, but anything you do without spending $500+ isn't really going to be discernable.
I have a 6i about ready to turn 170k and have not had any major mechanical failures. The best thing you can do is purchase the actual OEM Mazda service manual on eBAY (on CD). I paid less than $30. If you have a good set of tools and the OEM manual, most everything service related can be done in your driveway

To date (outside of general maintenance) -- bought most on RockAuto:
Engine mounts -- $120
Used starter -- $40
Power steering pump -- $160
Intake Hose (between airbox and throttle body) -- $40
Intake gaskets -- less than $30
Power steering rack (was leaking due to power steering pump failure) -- $350
Brakes (all new rotors/calipers) -- $200-300

I live in the rust belt but the body has held up quite well. I do keep the car garaged and washed weekly. Stay away from cars that have excessive body rust. Also stay away from automatic ones - they are pigs (mine is the 4 spd auto).

Aside from fluid changes and the above parts - everything else is original.

It has 170k and still has original suspension! There are no noises and the car still rides nice with level suspension (no sagging in the rear).

Upgrading to factory Speed6 rims and 2008 clear tail lights really changes the look of the car (see photos).


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