Mazda RX-8 Common Problems | Symptoms & Solutions

The valued Mazda Rx-7 with a 13B-REW engine was manufactured in 1995 (and until 2002 in Japan). In 2012, Mazda finally released the long-awaited Rx-8, which had been developing for nine years.

While the Rx-7 was praised for its tuning capabilities, the Rx-8 was left in the dust by a significant margin. Due to the substantial investment required, selecting the best car for your needs is difficult and often stressful.

Even the best vehicles, though, have benefits and drawbacks. The majority of Mazda RX8 issues are minor, although there are a few typical issues that have been documented over time.

Mazda RX-8 Engine Problems

Source: vehicle history / Henry cesano

The RX-8’s engine is one issue that receives the most reports. Its unusual, high-performance rotary engine has turned out to be less dependable than anticipated, especially after 60,000 kilometers. Here are several common engine problems.

  1. Starting problem
  2. Ignition coil
  3. Catalytic Converter failure
  4. Engine flooding

1. Starting Problem

In cold weather, the RX-8’s starter has terrible luck starting the vehicle. In colder conditions, the ignition system is also subpar, requiring the starter, which is already poor, to spin the engine for longer.

Simply put, Mazda employed a subpar starter motor with these engines. Although the motors were modified after the initial recall in 2006, older vehicles are still vulnerable to this issue, albeit less frequently than the 2004–2006 versions. Failed starter motor due to faulty starter and ignition system.


  • Hard to starts
  • No starts
  • Engine won’t crank at all
  • Grinding noise during crank
  • Starter engages but won’t crank


You will have to completely replace the starter motor to solve the problem.

2. Ignition Coil

The Rx-8 is infamous for gobbling up ignition coils, perhaps the least concerning the issue on the list. The ignition coils in the coil-near-plug ignition system used by the Rx-8 are arranged in a cluster and linked to the spark plugs by spark plug wires.

For the spark plugs to spark during combustion, the ignition coils are responsible for turning battery power into high-voltage electrical currents.

The ignition coils are firing so much more frequently than they do on piston engines when you consider a redline of 9,000 rpm. Because ignition coils are electrical parts, they inevitably deteriorate over time.

As they deteriorate, they become less and less able to transform electrical currents into the voltage levels required for spark plugs to ignite.


  • Misfires 
  • Rusty idling 
  • Difficult start 
  • Faulty acceleration 


It is advised to replace the spark plugs and the wires simultaneously with the ignition coils. Thankfully, a set of OEM replacements isn’t too expensive these days, and changing these parts yourself is simple.

3. Catalytic Converter Failure

In most modern automobiles, catalytic converters are the most crucial emissions system. The RX-8’s catalytic converter is prone to breaking down. A jumpy acceleration is the most typical sign of this issue. The catalytic converter would most likely be the culprit if the acceleration wasn’t smooth.

These metals form a honeycomb structure that effectively lessens hazardous emissions through chemical processes. The metals inside the catalytic converter react chemically with the hazardous exhaust gases to transform them into less damaging molecules like carbon dioxide.


  • The engine stalls and won’t rev past a certain point 
  • Significant power loss 
  • Both the check engine and limp modes
  • Jumpy acceleration 


To avoid this problem, swap out these components as soon as they show the first signs of wear and tear. Long-term use of a damaged cat can cause the engine to smoke as hot exhaust gases are returned to the combustion chamber.

4. Engine Flooding

An Rx-8’s engine may flood with gasoline if the cold start cycle is terminated too soon. An accumulation of gasoline in the combustor is too much for the spark plugs to ignite and allow the engine to start. 

It is not recommended to drive your Rx8 through floodwaters. Engine flooding, however, has nothing to do with external water entering the engine. 


  • The engine won’t turn on 
  • fuel odor when attempting to start the engine 
  • Engine starting-up noise but no ignition 
  • In essence, your engine won’t turn on


Flooding happens when an engine is stopped too quickly after a cold start. Never turn off your 13B rotary engine until it has warmed up. You can ensure that the extra gasoline pumped into the combustion chamber is completely consumed before the engine is switched off by warming it up first. 

Moreover, Never transfer your vehicle from the garage to the driver without turning it off first.

Note: Although flooding your engine can damage your spark plugs, there won’t be any lasting effects.

Mazda RX-8 Other Common Problems

  1. Wiring harness failure
  2. Steering problem
  3. Gear knob failure

1. Wiring Harness Failure

Source: Ebay / Poormanmotorsports

Interference with neighboring components is a major cause of engine wire harness wear. An engine wire harness is a distorted part dispersed over a large area and is more likely to interfere with nearby components than other engine parts.

Harness and peripheral part interference can occur for a variety of reasons;

  • Excessive harness margin from long harness branches.
  • Extreme peripheral part margin from assembly processes that don’t adhere to design specifications.
  • Unreasonable layouts due to lack of space or fixed points.
  • Peripheral parts that are too close together.


  • The sole solution for this issue is a replacement, although we offer some excellent advice.
  • Verify that the old and new connectors are identical.
  • To replace the wiring harness, the ends of the wires must be stripped.
  • The wires’ lots need to be turned.
  • An insulated connector should be used to crimp the wires.
  • To connect the wiring, the Insulated Connector must be melted.
  • Ascertain that the wire is secured to the electrical tape.

2. Steering Problem

One of the first difficulties that owners frequently report is with the power steering. Although all the connections appear clean and secure, numerous accounts describe how their RX8’s power steering occasionally comes on and off.

Low-power steering fluid can cause problems with steering and rotating the wheel, and slow turning. There may also be “whining” or squeaking when turning. Fortunately, this is an easy do-it-yourself remedy.


Simply purchase some power steering fluid from your neighborhood auto parts store, use your owner’s manual to find your power steering fluid container, and check the fluid levels. Simply top off the fluid if it’s low, and you’re set to go!

3. Gear Knob Failure

Source: U.S News

You’re having trouble with your gear knob’s illumination. Others who own RX8s concur. Unfortunately, it has become a typical RX8 issue for the gear knob wiring to get loose or break. Fortunately, Mazda did create a modified gear knob to fix the problem.

Although owners have observed specific frequent Mazda RX8 issues throughout the years, Mazdas are still fantastic vehicles. Since no car is flawless, knowing the typical problems you could run into when buying a new car will give you more confidence in your decision.


Replace your worn-out or loosened shift knob right away to prevent this. The sheer number of options on the market makes buying a new shift knob appear simple, but it can be rather tricky.

Can you get a new gear shift knob?

How you removed the old shift knob and how well the new one fits will affect how you install the new one. Installation shouldn’t be complicated if you purchased a direct-fit shift knob because it can be fastened in place.

How To Maintain Your Mazda RX-8

Source: U.S News

The RX8 is a challenging vehicle to maintain. It must be taken care of properly to live a long time. While the 13B engine’s main issues are covered above, I also wanted to mention some tips for keeping your Mazda RX8 in good working order.

  • Increase the frequency of oil and filter changes. Maintain fresh spark plugs as well.
  • Premix 2 stroke into the petrol to assist lubrication on 1st gens especially.
  • Although the transmission is excellent, my clutch bite is harsher and has less travel than my previous vehicles, so if this is the case with yours, gear changes may start choppy.
  • Before revving above 4k, let the engine warm up.
  • If you only traveled a short distance, keep the engine revving for 10 to 15 seconds after turning off the ignition while it’s still running at 3 to 4 k; this prevents flooding, which may occur if you turn it off abruptly.


The RX8 is a wonderful car to own and drive. Still, in today’s world, I wouldn’t anticipate finding a dependable one without a recent rebuild. These factors explain why these vehicles may be purchased for less than an early 1990s Miata with twice the mileage. 

Reading through these typical Mazda RX8 issues should enable you to identify the issue(s) with your vehicle or provide you with future warning signs.


How fuel-efficient is the Mazda RX-8?

The fuel economy of a Mazda RX-8 is incredibly average, if not slightly below average, compared to other sports cars from the early 2000s. The 2011 model can achieve up to 16 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway for an average fuel economy of 19.5 MPG, which is underwhelming.

How much does an RX8 cost to maintain?

A Mazda RX-8’s projected maintenance and repair costs range from $95 to $2697, with an average of $308.

How often should an RX8 be maintained?

Every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first, we advise having your automobile fully serviced.

RX-8 should idle at what RPM?

600 to 800 RPM
The idle speed is often set between 600 and 800 RPM. However, the precise figure will depend on the engine’s cylinder count and whether the car has an automatic or manual transmission.

Which Mazda RX-8 model year is the best?

Numerous 2004 engines are in good condition. Anything manufactured after 2006 is typically safe, while 2005s have a substantially lower failure rate. We advise considering Series 2 RX8s from 2009 onward. Always utilize an engine compression tester before even thinking about making a purchase.

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