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USED CARS H O W T O G E T O N E I N YO U R GA R AG E

An expert’s view

MARK MCLEOD, H E X TA B L E R O TA R I E S “What sports cars with the performance of the RX-8 are you going to get for £3000? We sell lots at this price. With the RX-8, mileage is more important than age. In our experience, engines last around 95,000 miles, so you buy one with 50,000 for £3000. You put another 40,000 on it and then one day you might, if you’re unlucky, have to fit a replacement engine for £2000. Now you’ve got another 90,000 miles in it. That’s the mindset you need with the RX-8.”

Mayonnaise? Sludge on the dipstick is not a faulty head gasket but twin oil coolers doing their job.

Buyer beware

OIL Check if Mazda’s recommended 5W-30 Dexelia has been used. The engine is designed to burn oil, so check for a top-up bottle.

The rotary engine is located behind the front axle for 50/50 weight distribution ❞

Also worth knowing

Technical service bulletins included a faulty coolant level sensor, engine vibrations at idle due to a damaged engine mount, and noisy gearchanges from fifth to sixth caused by a faulty synchroniser ring.

How much to spend

£5 0 0 - £2 0 0 0 Early to mid-age RX-8s, but many are likely to have expensive issues. Some genuine bargains.

IGNITION COILS There are four and they should be replaced every 35,000 miles. An original equipment (OE) set costs up to £400. Poor coil performance can cause unburnt ‘fuel wash’ of the chamber walls and compression loss, as well as damaging rotary seals. Signs include hot-start issues, stalling at idle and fuel smell. Fuel also ignites in the catalytic converter, destroying it.

£2 0 0 0 - £2 9 9 5 Specialist-supplied cars fully tested or with engine rebuilds start at £2500-ish.

S TA R T E R M O T O R Some ‘cranking’ issues have been recorded when the engine is hot. Mazda replaced the original N3H1 motor with a more powerful NH31A one.

£6 0 0 0 - £70 0 0 Immaculate 2010-plate R3s.

N O I S E S AT H I G H R E V S Loss of power accompanied by rattles or banging from the engine could be low-grade fuel (try a premium fuel such as Shell V-Power) or failing stationary gear bearing. This allows excessive movement of the eccentric shaft, leading to total engine failure.

Later R3s got Recaro seats and Bilstein shocks

SUSPENSION Rusty top coils in the rear springs can break when the car comes off a garage ramp. It sounds like broken crockery. CLUTCH It can go beyond 100,000 miles but some are known to fail at around 30k.

OIL COOLER LINES Check for oil drops below the car ahead of the nearside front wheel. RUST Sills forward of the rear wheel arches can rust through. Although the inner sills are probably okay, it’s still an MoT test failure. Brake-light surround rusts.

£3 0 0 0 - £3 9 9 5 Tidy, low-mileage 2005-2008 cars. Buy only from people who know the breed. £ 4 0 0 0 - £5 5 0 0 From rare special editions to the best pre-2009 cars.

One we found

M A Z D A R X- 8 2 3 1 , 2 0 0 5/0 5 , 4 3 K M I L E S , £2 9 9 5 Tidy-looking low-mileage car from LC Rotary, which has a good reputation in RX-8 circles. Some bodywork dings but compression tested and new pads, discs and catalytic converter.

D E A L S O F T H E D AY

P85

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23 NOVEMBER 2016 AUTOCAR.CO.UK 83

With thanks to Ben Dunn (rotaryrevs.com), Mark Mcleod (hextablerotaries.com), Reece Sherwood (lcrotary.co.uk)

Interiors stand up well to everyday use and look good

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