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Hey everyone, I am extremely naive when it comes to cars so I just thought I would ask you all for some advice. I just purchased a 1996 Mazda Protege LX with 88k miles on it. It has some problems that I have noticed and I am unsure how to handle them. I observed that the temperature gauge fluctuates (Faulty thermostat?) up or down only when the AC or heat is not on. It idles kind of weird (EGR Valve issue?). The gas gauge does not work (sending unit?). The exhaust flex pipe broke while driving the other day now the car is extremely loud to drive. The valve cover gasket is leaking (maybe?). The steering wheel constantly jerks while driving (alignment issue?). When I put the car in park the RPM revs up past the "2" mark (idle issue?). I don't even know where to begin with fixing this. I bought it because of how low mileage it has but now I am second-guessing myself, is this car worth fixing all these things? What is an estimate of cost to fix all these things?
 

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Please don't take offense at my question; You bought a car with 88 thousand miles on it and didn't know about all of those mechanical issues? Unless you can do all of that yourself you could be talking about thousands of dollars of work at a garage. If you can do it all yourself then go for it! You keep a Protege running and it could go 200 thousand miles as long as the body doesn't rust out.

I would say it is all about cost.
 

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Hey everyone, I am extremely naive when it comes to cars so I just thought I would ask you all for some advice. I just purchased a 1996 Mazda Protege LX with 88k miles on it. It has some problems that I have noticed and I am unsure how to handle them. I observed that the temperature gauge fluctuates (Faulty thermostat?) up or down only when the AC or heat is not on. It idles kind of weird (EGR Valve issue?). The gas gauge does not work (sending unit?). The exhaust flex pipe broke while driving the other day now the car is extremely loud to drive. The valve cover gasket is leaking (maybe?). The steering wheel constantly jerks while driving (alignment issue?). When I put the car in park the RPM revs up past the "2" mark (idle issue?). I don't even know where to begin with fixing this. I bought it because of how low mileage it has but now I am second-guessing myself, is this car worth fixing all these things? What is an estimate of cost to fix all these things?
I guess I shouldn't assume that you checked the coolant level and power steering fluid level. Low coolant can result in fluctuating heat gauge readings as well as fluctuating heater performance. Low power steering fluid can result In jerking or inconsistent feel of steering. Check the easy things first.
 

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I am maintaining and running my 1992 Protege' with 146K miles on it. Superbly built in Japan with solid components. Of course I bought it new so I have been maintaining it meticulously. I don't know when they started making these babies on shore.

My only issue is the rust which is understandable given the age.

A few notes - I had to replace the radiator twice due to leaks. What you say about your temperature might be a leaky (and blocked) radiator. When you run heater, the heater core is acting as a radiator and circulating the coolant. Start checking your coolant level as suggested by @Milly1.

My '92 Protege doesn't have an EGR valve - not sure if 1996 has one. Check the label under the hood.

I replaced my valve cover gasket in ~2000. Bought it at the dealer and replaced myself. It's been a perfect job since - no leak.

Good luck,

NG
 
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