Mazda 3s are pretty cool sedans and hatchbacks you would love driving every day because of the impressive and lavishly-furnished interior.
While the Mazda 3 may not be the best car in its category, it does perform well on all on-road terrains and typically lasts long if well maintained.
But then, when going to buy a brand new or used Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback, it is advisable to not pick any model made in the following years: 2010, 2014, 2015, 2004, 2008, 2011 through 2013. These are identified as the worst Mazda 3 years to avoid because they got the highest complaints on CarComplaints.
Mazda 3 Overview
The Mazda 3 is one of Mazda’s finest automobile lines; it comprises classical compact sedans and hatchback cars that you can drive anywhere.
Mazda 3 was first launched in 2003 (with a 2004 model), and since then, the auto line has experienced a ton of revolutions – Mazda3s are in the fourth generation, currently, since 2019.
For the 2019 model, the all-new Mazda 3 came standard with new Skyactiv engine technologies: Skyactiv-X, Skyactiv-G, and Skyactiv-D engines. Each of these engine options had a Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition system and provided responsive speed control at all speeds.
Typically, the standard powertrain in the latest-gen Mazda3s is a 2.5L engine, configured as front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive.
Generally, the Mazda 3 is a great ride and one of the best vehicles you can buy in its compact car category. It comes with an intuitive infotainment system.
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Mazda 3 Years To Avoid
Not all Mazda 3 are created equal; some model years seem much better and promise more reliability. Hereunder is a quick list of the Mazda 3 models years you should avoid buying, especially if you’re going to buy a used Mazda 3.
Well, these model years are not totally “crap” – they simply have a higher number of complaints from owners – as reported on CarComplaints. Also, we’d explain the common problems experienced with these Mazda3 model years.
- 2010 Mazda3
- 2014 Mazda3
- 2013 Mazda3
- 2012 Mazda3
- 2011 Mazda3
- 2004 Mazda3
- 2015 Mazda3
- 2008 Mazda3
This list is provided in a hierarchy; the 2010 Mazda3 is the worst model year, which means that it got the highest complaints from owners. 2008 is the least in the ranking of “Mazda 3 years to avoid,” it had fairly bad reviews but is still pretty good to buy.
Common Problems With Mazda 3 Sedans/Hatchbacks
1. Clutch Failure
The most common problem with Mazda 3 models made in 2010 (both the sedan and hatchback). Other model years listed above had this problem, but it wasn’t as significant as it was with the 2010 Mazda 3 models.
Typically, the Mazda3 clutch problems start from 40,000 miles (as reported by most owners who had either of the models listed above). The cost of fixing clutch failure in Mazda3s is approximately $1,200.
2. Brake Issues
Most owners of the 2004-2011, 2013, and 2015 Mazda 3 models allege that they hear squealing sounds from the rear brakes, and this happens because the brake pad contacts with the rotor.
Experiencing early brake wear is one of the highest-reported problems of the 2014 Mazda 3. Hence, most of the owners had to replace the brake components earlier than they expected – it’s even more annoying when you have changed your Mazda 3’s brake components multiple times before hitting 100,000 miles.
3. Dashboard Melting
Surprised about that? Well, a good number of Mazda 3 owners have complained about the car’s dashboard melting and feeling sticky. This usually happens if you pack outside where the sun hits the dashboard directly.
You can fix this issue by using a dashboard surface cleaner to wipe down the entire dashboard. You can find a good dashboard surface cleaner or dashboard repair kit for $150 or less. Dashboard melting was commonly reported on the 2010 models.
4. Malfunctioning Infotainment System
The touchscreen infotainment system installed on newer Mazda 3s seems to have a couple of issues. Most Mazda3 owners that got the all-new infotainment system complained it changes radio settings, navigation, and other functions without being touched.
Well, most Mazda 3 owners were able to fix this problem by changing the touchscreen and/or the CPU. Some other owners had to re-install a new infotainment system to stop the issues.
5. Excessive Vibration and Thermostat Problems
Another common problem with 2004-2011, 2013, and 2015 Mazda 3s is excessive vibrations and thermostat problems.
The vibrations come from poorly balanced tires, improperly-fixed brake components, or a faulty motor mount. On average, it costs $100 – $200 to fix/replace the Mazda3 motor mount.
Also, faulty thermostat problems are linked with the 2004-2010 and 2013 Mazda 3s; the thermostat typically gets stuck in these model years – causing the engine’s temperature to drop. Fixing a stuck thermostat ranges from $20 to $150.
Most Reliable Mazda 3 Years To Buy
The 2020 model year is the best in the fourth-generation years. Other good years include 2017, 2005, 2016, 2021, and 2022 Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks.
Whether you’re buying them brand new or used, these model years have an incredible reliability and can last a very long time if maintained properly.
Are Mazda3s Reliable?
Generally, Mazda’s Mazda3s typically take home a 3.5 out of 5 rating in terms of reliability. More so, RepairPal ranks Mazda3 9th out of 34 similar cars in its category; on RepairPal, Mazda3 has an incredible 4 out of 5 rating in terms of reliability.
This proves that the Mazda3 models are really a good, strong car to buy.
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What are the Mazda 3 years to avoid? 2010, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2004, 2015, and 2008 model years should be avoided because many current owners of Mazda 3 produced in these years have shown gross dissatisfaction regarding the reliability and constant breakdowns they face with their Mazda3.
Notwithstanding, the Mazda3 is a great ride – fun to drive – and sophisticated, just as you’d expect from a modern sedan/hatchback.
Also, Mazda3s are really affordable to maintain; according to RepairPal, the average annual repair cost of Mazda3s is $433, which is below the industry’s average for compact sedans and hatchbacks.