The Mazda 3 is a sporty and fuel-efficient compact car known to be reliable and affordable whether you buy one new or used. However, when deciding whether to purchase this car, you’ve likely wondered what common problems and issues you may have with the Mazda 3.
The most common problems of the Mazda 3 include excessive oil usage, premature wear for the brakes and suspension, and shifting issues. It’s also very common to run into issues with the infotainment system with specific models. And while there are some airbag, clutch, and dash issues, these problems are only relevant to a few models.
Whether you’re looking to purchase or already own a Mazda 3, we’ve researched the reliability and most common problems and included the best solutions to these problems. You can find this information and a detailed look at the car’s reliability in the article below.
Is Your Mazda Having Issues?
There are a few issues that you may run into with the Mazda 3.
If you’re experiencing one of these problems, we’ll provide you the solutions that have proven helpful for other Mazda 3 owners and a good estimate of what you can expect to pay to fix it.
How Reliable is the Mazda 3
While there are common problems for the Mazda 3, many are specific to certain models, making it easier to avoid running into the more severe ones that require expensive fixes.
Overall, the Mazda 3 is a reliable car. It has rated well in popular rankings, such as the RepairPal and J.D. Power rankings.
RepairPal rates the Mazda 3 a 4 out of 5 in terms of reliability. They gave this rating based on its below-average estimated annual repair costs and the likelihood of running into frequent and severe problems.
Most Common Issues with the Mazda 3
1. Engine Issues
One prevalent complaint among Mazda 3 owners is that the engine falls because of broken engine mounts.
When this happens, owners who were in their cars when this happened mention hearing a loud boom and their car shaking and rattling.
A few have also mentioned that the technician who repaired their vehicles has stated that it happens frequently.
Another issue with the Mazda 3 engine is that they’re known to burn access oil. This problem occurs mainly in the 2004-2007 models that have a manual transmission.
When the engine mounts break, it’s pretty simple to have it mounted back. This usually costs between $175 and $190.
However, the oil usage may be more complex since the exact cause isn’t known.
Several owners have been able to resolve this issue by replacing the PCV valve. The replacement valve is only around $17. However, labor costs usually average between $205 and $254 because of the complexity of the job.
2. Suspension Issues
Some Mazda 3 owners have also experienced a strange noise from their front suspension when going over small bumps. This issue is most common in 2005-2008 models, but there are other models this can happen with.
In most cases, this is because the struts and shocks wear out before they should. In turn, there have been several complaints about replacing these at low mileage, often between 40,000 and 65,000 miles.
When shocks become worn, you’ll notice a noisy suspension. You may also see a difference in the steering and braking.
Though not as common, a few owners have reported a problem with ball joints popping out of the socket. When this happens, the driver loses control of the car.
Once the shocks and struts become severely worn, the only option is to replace them. The parts for this job cost around $380 on average. Labor costs will add an additional $170-$220.
You can extend the lifespan of your shocks and struts by:
- Driving at slowers speeds
- Choosing routes with smoother roads
- Keeping tires inflated to the recommended level.
3. Transmission Issues
In addition to suspension issues, 2006-2014 models of the Mazda 3 are known to have several common transmission problems.
The most common are grinding noises when shifting gears and the transmission not engaging in specific gears. Rough or delayed shifting is also a commonly reported issue from current owners.
In most cases, these things occur because the TCM is going bad.
If the TCM fails, your vehicle will most likely go into limp mode to prevent further damage to your car. If this happens, you will not be able to drive the vehicle until you replace the TCM.
If you have this problem, you’ll have to replace the TCM to fix it. A new TCM will cost between $390 and $650. After adding labor costs, the repair is likely to cost around $800.
If the TCM is not the issue, having the transmission flushed may help these issues. On average, this will cost between $150 and $180.
4. Airbag Issues
There are also a few airbag issues with older year models. However, airbag issues are not as widespread.
The most common complaint is that the airbag light comes on randomly. However, just like with any car brand and model, such as a Mazda 3 to a Kia Forte, some models have been recalled because of a defect with the airbags.
2004-2007 models were recalled because of the possibility that the plastic cover could shatter when the airbags deployed, which could cause an injury if the pieces were to strike at such force.
There have also been instances where the airbags didn’t deploy when the car was in a crash.
When the airbags don’t work correctly, it increases your risk of severe injuries if you’re in a crash.
So, if you notice that your airbag light is on, you should have it checked by a professional. When the airbag light is on, it’s usually an indicator that something isn’t working correctly with your airbag system.
It’s also essential to ensure all issues with an open recall are addressed before purchasing the car.
5. Infotainment Issues
While airbag issues are not so widespread, there are many complaints regarding the infotainment system issues of the Mazda 3. These issues are most common in the 2010-2016 year models.
Many Mazda owners have complained that their infotainment system would get stuck in a reboot loop where it continuously reboots itself. This makes it impossible to use the radio, and some owners have pointed out how distracting this can be while driving.
Other issues with the infotainment system include the screen freezing or the screen not working at all. In addition, some have problems with the system dropping phone calls or randomly selecting different options without anything touching the screen.
If you run into these problems with the infotainment system, you can fix them by resetting the system. You can do this by holding the back button, volume knob, and navigation button for 10 seconds.
Some have also been able to fix this problem by having a technician update the software on the system.
Those experiencing problems with the touch screen not working have worked around the issue by disabling it. The video below will show you how you can do this.
6. Brake Problems
Mazda owners owning 2004-2011 and 2013-2015 models have also complained about the brakes. There are 228 complaints regarding the service brakes on carproblemzoo.com.
The most common issue noticed is that the rear brakes squeal when pressing the brake pedal. This generally occurs because of a defective design with the brackets that allow the brake pad to make contact with the rotor.
In most cases, this requires owners to change the brake pads more often because they wear down more quickly.
It’s important that you avoid letting the brake pads wear completely away before changing them. This can cause damage to the rotors and calipers, which will make the cost much higher than a simple brake pad replacement.
Several Mazda 3 owners have been able to resolve their rear brake issues by replacing the calipers. So, if your brake pads never seem to last as long as they should, this could fix the problem.
These replacements cost around between $110 and $290. Labor costs could add up to an additional $200.
7. Sticky / Melting Dashboard
Another issue that affects the 2010 Mazda 3 is that the dashboard could melt. This is because the substances used to make the dashboard do not hold up well in hot, humid weather.
When this happens, it’s likely to leave a sticky, tar-like substance on the steering wheel and other areas.
Some have mentioned that this substance leaves a glare on the windshield, making it difficult to see while driving.
The only way to fix this issue is to replace the dashboard. Mazda issued an extended warranty for this issue that covers this problem for up to 10 years after the original date that the warranty begins.
However, given the car’s age, there’s a good chance this window has passed. Replacing the dashboard that’s not under this extended warranty could cost up to $2000.
8. Clutch Failure
Lastly, 2010 and 2011 models with manual transmissions generally require a clutch replacement. Some owners experienced this problem at as low as 33,000 miles.
It’s also common for the clutch to need to be replaced more than once, according to several who have experienced this problem.
Unfortunately, what causes the clutch to fail so soon in these cars is not completely clear. So, replacing it when it fails is the only solution.
Including labor costs, replacing the clutch could cost up to $2000. On average, the clutch will cost between $200 and $600.
What Years Did the Mazda 3 Have Problems?
It can be overwhelming to look at all of the problems and figure out which year models were the best and worst. It makes it even more challenging when trying to account for the car’s age.
Comparing the PPMY Index numbers from carproblemzoo.com can make this easier since their analysis is equal among all year models, regardless of the car’s age.
When looking at this index, a higher PPMY means the car is more problematic, while a lower PPMY means fewer problems.
As you can see, the most problematic Mazda 3 model years are:
The least problematic years are:
If you’re shopping for a used Mazda 3, you’re better off avoiding the year models known to have issues. Instead, choosing one of the least problematic vehicles is the best way to ensure you have a good experience with the car.
Taking recent recalls into consideration is very important when buying a car. You should know what things have been recalled and ensure that they have been addressed before you purchase the vehicle.
Knowing which recent recall numbers are relevant to your car or the car you’re planning to purchase will help you avoid running into safety issues you could prevent.
Below you can find a few recent recall numbers for the Mazda 3.
|19V272000||Visibility: Windshield wiper/washer|
These are only to name a few. You can find information on all open recalls for a specific model on the NHTSA’s website. Their recall search tool makes it quick and easy to find this information.
To find specific information about open recalls for your car, you can go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls, enter your VIN, and click search.
You can also choose to enter the make, model, and year of your car if you don’t have the VIN on hand.
Once you hit search, you will be shown a list of open recalls that are relevant to your car.
How is it Compared to Similar Cars?
It’s also important to weigh your options. Comparing the car’s reliability to similar vehicles is a great way to ensure you make the best choice without overlooking an option that may be more reliable and better meet your needs.
When most consider the reliability of a car, most give the most consideration to how much they may run into with maintenance and repairs. Luckily, RepairPal provides a breakdown that makes it easy to compare the car to others when considering these things.
The Mazda 3 compares well in terms of reliability. RepairPal ranks it number 9 of 36 other compact cars. However, the Toyota Corolla and the Hyundai Elantra, which are also popular choices for those looking to purchase a compact car, outrank the Mazda 3.
Compared to these two options, the estimated annual repair costs are very close. All three have an average or below-average repair cost. However, the Mazda 3 requires more frequent and significant repairs than the Corolla and the Elantra.
Another important factor in determining how reliable the car will be is considering how long you can expect the vehicle to last.
What is the Life Expectancy and Mileage?
Looking at the life expectancy of the Mazda 3 also suggests that the car is a reliable option. On average, the Mazda 3 lasts between 200,000 and 300,000 miles.
However, these numbers are significantly impacted by factors such as whether it’s maintained correctly and how the car has been driven. Some that have been driven responsibly and maintained well could go above 350,000
Is it Worth Buying Used?
If you’re wondering if it’s worth it to buy a used Mazda 3, the simple answer is yes. However, there are several that can sway this answer.
On average, the value of the Mazda 3 depreciates 48% after five years.
In addition, you should be aware of the things such as age, mileage, and trim that affect the value. By looking at the average asking price for similar cars, you can get a good idea of what price is reasonable for the Mazda 3 you’re considering.
Overall, most who have bought this car used have been satisfied.
What is Good and Bad About the Car?
While the Mazda 3 seems like a great choice in terms of reliability, it’s best to weigh the good and bad things about the car before you decide. The easiest way to do this is to compare the overall pros and cons of the car.
Pros of the Mazda 3:
- Attractive interior and exterior on most models
- Known for having good fuel economy
- Affordable pricing
- Rides and steers smoothly
Cons of the Mazda 3:
- Bluetooth and other smartphone connectivity are not standard
- Not as much legroom in the back seat
- Limited trunk space
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons, looking at what current owners have to say about their experience can help make the decision more straightforward.
What Do Owners Say About the Car?
“I bought this car with 75k miles on it, and I now have 90k miles on it. Good styling nice interior with the nice infotainment system. No mechanical issues so far. The only complaint I have is the engine is quite load when you start it, and it takes a while for the oil to run through the car. Other than that, it has been a great reliable daily driver!”(2014 owner)
“I used to drive Benz , still own an Audi never got problem like Mazda I had to go to my mechanic 4 times in a month, terrible experience, my opinion stay away from Mazda” (2021 owner)
“Handles great, exceptional turns, brakes are good. Absolutely wonderful all around. Soup to nuts a great car. Would recommend to all ages. I’m very impressed how much car I got for the money.”(2017 owner)
Regardless of the car, you’re in the market for, there will always be common problems that will come with it.
Knowing these things and avoiding model years known to be less reliable will help you choose the Mazda 3 that’s best for you.