Reviews

LAST UPDATED:  March 19, 2021

Mazda Mazda3 Reliability

Is the Mazda3 a perfect commuter or a nightmare in waiting?

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PUBLISHED ON March 19, 2021

James Gilboy

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Since its introduction, Mazda’s oddly-named Mazda3 compact has been a darling of the press due to its frugal consumption, sporty ethos, and quirky design. The most recent generation, the one that dropped in 2019, is among one of the most fun compact cars still on sale. But what most automotive reviewers aren’t tasked with determining is whether or not the cars are reliable. 

Reliability is a difficult task to determine based on a few hours or a few days of driving. For that, you need years of data, customer testimonials, NHTSA information and recalls, and much, much more. Thankfully, you’ve come to The Drive, which has pooled all that information in one such place. Here! 

To set you up for success on your next automotive purchase, we’ve compiled the below guide to help you hack your way through the noise and make the best financial decision you can when you’re considering a new or used Mazda Mazda3. And yes, we’re going to use that weird name a lot, so get used to it. 

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Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

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Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

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What Makes a Reliable Brand?

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability

Short answer: you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

Mazda Mazda3 Specs

Vehicle Type: Compact Car

Doors: 4/5 

Engine options: 1.5 L SkyActiv-G F-P5 I4, 2.0 L SkyActiv-G PE-VPS I4, 2.0 L SkyActiv-X I4, 2.0 L e-SkyActiv-X I4 (hybrid), 2.5 L SkyActiv-G PY-VPS, 2.5 L SkyActiv-G PY-VPS I4 turbo

Total internal combustion range: 382 miles

Is The Mazda Mazda3 Reliable?

As detailed above, reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we can’t make a definitive statement that the Mazda3 is reliable or unreliable. 

To better assess its reliability, however, we’ve assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the Mazda3’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.

The Mazda3’s NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the Mazda Mazda3’s issues throughout the years.

2021

Recall: Tire Air Valve May Leak 

Complaints: 1

2020

Recall: Front Brake Caliper Bolts May Loosen and Fall Off, Emergency Braking Can Activate Unexpectedly

Complaints: 2

2019

Recall: Emergency Braking Can Activate Unexpectedly, Rearview Mirror Glass May Detach From Housing, Head Restraint May Detach, Software Error May Cause Engine Stall, Wheel Lug Nuts May Loosen and Fall Off, Incorrect Air Bag and Seat Belt Indicators

Complaints: 42

2018

Recall: Windshield Wipers May Become Inoperable, Incorrect Valve Spring May Cause Engine Stall

Complaints: 20

2017

Recall: Windshield Wipers May Become Inoperable

Complaints: 28

Common Mazda3 Problems and Repair Costs

As with other car brands, not all Mazda3 models are built to the same exacting standards. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic Mazda3 offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.

2010 Model Year: Interior Plastic Melting

Repair Costs: $140, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“After 44 degrees celsius day, I noticed a gap between the central dash and the console. Didn't really think much of it initially until the next day when I noticed it still there. Apparently, the heat had deformed the central console and the glue had failed. Took it to the mechanic who contacted Mazda for me and apparently the only way to fix it is to replace the whole dash for the price of $2480AUD!

The mechanic suggested that it was a result of leaving my car outdoors all the time, and recommended a sunshade, but I've always used the sunshade so I guess the only conclusion is that Mazda used CHEAP plastic that can't withstand much heat!”

Oh, and then, let's place the starter in the bay directly underneath these plastic pipes so that when they do crack and start to leak, the starter can take a bath in the coolant.” 

2010 Model Year: Clutch Failure

Repair Costs: $1,200, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Second clutch replacement in this car, between 40 and 70k miles. Driving a clutch my entire driving life, and never had a problem until now.”

2012 Model Year: Gear Grinding

Repair Costs: $4,800, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“To update this complaint, it did end up being a transmission problem. :( I don't know the exact details but the shop said that basically a bearing went out and damaged parts of the transmission. Final repair bill - just under $5k!

The biggest lesson I took away from this: don't rely on 1 data point - I had a 2008 3 prior to this that had zero issues so I thought that meant I'd be ok declining the extended warranty when I bought this one used. I figured I had slim odds of encountering a bill in excess of the $2k they wanted. I bet poorly. :(

I will give Mazda some credit. We started noticing the issue right after the 60k / 5-year warranty ran out (still under mileage but over the years by about 5 months). They did offer to pay part of the bill as a reward for being a loyal customer to both the brand and the dealer I took it to. I ended up taking it to an independent shop I trusted but the offer was appreciated.

Hope you have better luck than I did!”

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

According to JD Power, this score, “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.” 

2021: 78/100

2020: 78/100

2019: NA/100

2018: 78/100

2017: 81/100

2016: 81/100

2015: 81/100

2014: 81/100

2013: 80/100

2012: 81/100

FAQs About the Mazda3

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Is The Mazda3 Expensive To Maintain?

A: They can be, though again, that depends on how you treat it, how the previous owner treated it, and if you’ve followed Mazda’s regularly scheduled maintenance. 

Q: Is a Mazda3 High Maintenance?

A: There’s no clear answer to this, as detailed above, it’s largely dependent on how you treat your car and follow its regularly scheduled maintenance.

Q: How Many Miles Does a Mazda3 Last?

A: According to Consumer Reports, new cars are all designed to exceed eight years or about 200,000 miles. However, individual mileage may vary based on, as stated above, how you treat your car. 

Q: Are Repairs Expensive on the Mazda3?

A: As with all repairs, it depends on the part affected. If it’s deep within the engine, it could be quite expensive. If it’s a loose body panel, likely not. 

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote