Is the FD Mazda RX-7 a Reliable Car?

The FD Mazda RX-7 was produced in the U.S. from 1993 to 1995. It’s the third generation of the Japanese automaker’s fabled sports car and arguably one of the most beautiful cars to ever grace the market. It’s been almost 30 years since the FD RX-7 debuted, but if you’re lucky, you can still find a few pop up for sale. However, if you end up buying one, you may be unlucky when it comes to its reliability.

Can an FD Mazda RX-7 be reliable?

A blue 1993 Mazda RX-7 parked on the side of the street
A blue 1993 Mazda RX-7 parked on the side of the street | Wikimedia Commons

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An FD Mazda RX-7 can be reliable if it was well cared for throughout the years. A recent nationwide search on Autotrader reveals one prime RX-7 example with 23,000 miles on its odometer. A car like that could be reliable considering it hasn’t even been driven much for most of its life. However, that can also be a drawback.

If the engine wasn’t run from time to time, then it’s possible that certain seals and rubber hoses could go bad. In fact, that’s typically a complaint among FD RX-7 owners on some message forums no matter how many miles the car has on it.

Many owners discuss potential issues with the FD RX-7 if the proper care hasn’t been taken to improve its longevity. Some of this care includes regularly driving it to make sure its rotary engine is lubed up and working properly (the same can be said for any engine). There are also complaints of oil consumption, oil pressure gauge issues, and issues with overheating, according to Garage Dreams.

To combat the cooling issues, some owners have installed some “reliability mods” including a larger intercooler, aluminum radiator, and new hoses to preserve the longevity of their cars.

Ultimately, although the third-gen RX-7 is powered by a twin-turbo 13B rotary engine that’s far different than most other engines, it can still be reliable. According to an article published in Hagerty:

“The rotary engine is a very reliable engine when it has been properly maintained… It’s not a stretch for us to see well-maintained stock 13B engines lasting well above 150,000 miles with no major issues. If it hasn’t been maintained, a rebuild at less than half that mileage isn’t uncommon.”

Is the RX-7 hard to maintain?

According to some sources, yes. The RX-7’s Apex seals, which are like piston rings, are highly regarded as the weakest link in the rotary engine. In order to replace them, an engine rebuild is necessary, which could cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000. Otherwise, owners need to keep an eye on the car’s cooling system and oil levels in order to keep it running well.

And while those smaller maintenance items may not cost that much, it’s the constant worry and any potential mishaps along the way that makes the RX-7 somewhat tricky to maintain. If all else fails, you can always swap a Honda engine into it.

How much does an FD Mazda RX-7 cost?

A man sits next to his FD Mazda RX-7.
A man sits next to his FD Mazda RX-7. | David Mariuz

If you just can’t get enough of the FD Mazda RX-7’s looks and want to feel the 225 hp from its twin-turbo 13B rotary engine, then prepare to pay a pretty penny. That aforementioned low-mileage example costs $69,000. But if you want one that’s been beat up or modified, then you can expect to pay around $20,000 to $30,000 for one.

That’s a pretty high cost of entry, especially for a car that has the potential to be unreliable. However, if you don’t mind an engine rebuild at some point, then the FD RX-7 could be for you.

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