There are few cars in the used market that can elicit the type of emotion that you feel when driving a Mazda RX-8. The sound that its rotary engine makes when you hit the 9,000 rpm redline is intoxicating and the way the car carves through corners is sublime. All this emotion comes at a hefty cost, though, as the Mazda RX-8 is one of the most unreliable cars you can buy. But is there be a way to make it more reliable?
Why is the Mazda RX-8 unreliable?
The Achilles heel of the Mazda RX-8 is under the hood. No, it’s not just one part of the engine, it’s the whole thing, as the Renesis 1.3-liter rotary engine that powers this sports car is known to be a gas-guzzling, unreliable machine. Instead of pistons, the rotary engine uses rotors to operate, and over time, they tend to wear down.
Basically, the rev-happy nature of the engine tends to make the apex seals, which are located on the edges of the rotors and make contact with the rotor housing, wear down quickly. When these seals wear out, they need to be replaced, which calls for an engine rebuild. However, there are measures that can be taken for more longevity.
Pre-mixing the fuel
Since the RX-8’s engine is prone to eating up oil very quickly, one recommended step is to pre-mix the fuel that you put into the tank. Basically, you add a little bit of 2-stroke motor oil to your fuel tank when you fill up so that seals in the engine are better lubricated resulting in less oil consumption. If you daily drive the Mazda RX-8, then it’s recommended to add about half an ounce of oil for every gallon of gas. Since this technique is so popular, there are even pre-mixing kits to help you get started.
Just note that it’s recommended to remove the stock catalytic converter with a straight pipe as the premixed fuel can blow it out. This means that the car will not pass smog.
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Replace ignition coils and plugs
Another step to take in making the Mazda RX-8 more reliable is to replace the ignition coils, plugs, and wires. This is a pretty simple process and a typical maintenance item in most cars, however, it’s more crucial if you’re planning to make the RX-8 last longer.
Get a cooling fan control kit
As we stated before, the RX-8 likes to rev really high and as you can probably imagine, it builds up heat very quickly. It’s typically recommended that you replace the radiator and cooling hoses with aftermarket ones that flow more freely, but you can also get a cooling fan control kit. This kit allows alters the temperatures in which the cooling fans turn on. At the stock setting, they usually turn on when the engine temperature gets to 206 degrees Fahrenheit, but with this kit, they will turn on at high-speed mode when the engine gets to 180 degrees.
How long will the RX-8 engine last?
There are various answers and speculations as to how long a typical RENESIS engine can last for. Just like any other engine, taking the time to care for it properly will make it last longer than usual, however, that could mean 80,000 miles or less. Unfortunately, if you don’t know what you’re getting into, you might run into issues later on.
However, follow the steps and procedures that we outlined here could make the RX-8 engine last longer and stay cooler, unless you can afford to rebuild the engine every few years. Just remember that the Mazda RX-8 is relatively high-maintenance, but if you would rather not deal with it, just buy a Honda S2000 or a Mazda Miata. You won’t regret either one of those cars.