Here Are The Mazda CX-3 Years To Avoid

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Think of Mazda as the little Japanese company that can; it’s the Hiroshima-based automaker that holds its own against larger competitors like Toyota and Honda. Among Mazda’s recent offerings was the subcompact CX-3 crossover, which was sold in the U.S. through 2021. It’s an ideal alternative to more common small SUVs like the Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V, but what are the Mazda CX-3 years to avoid?

Let’s dive into the answers, so you’ll be prepared when shopping for a pre-owned CX-3. We’ll explore what’s been supplied to carcomplaints.com and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Mazda CX-3: The Basics

  • Model Years (U.S.): 2016-2021
  • Class: Subcompact crossover/SUV
  • Passenger Size: 5
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD only, 2020-2021)
  • Engine (U.S.): 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine rated for 146 horsepower (148 horsepower, 2018-2021)
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic transmission
  • Trims: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring (Sport only, 2020-2021)

Source: KBB 


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The Essentials: Mazda CX-3 Years to Avoid

These details cover owner-provided reports, manufacturer recalls, and technical service bulletins (TSBs). Often referred to as unofficial or secret recalls, TSBs are repair advisories issued by automakers. Unlike official recalls, TSBs don’t come with any regulatory or legal force. In addition, TSB issues can range from minor problems, like correcting wording in the owner’s manual, to substantial repair work. And while TSBs aren’t an accurate reliability predictor, these reports can at least alert a prospective buyer about potential troubles ahead.

Mazda CX-3 Years To Avoid: Problem Counts By Model Year

Here’s a summary of owner complaints about the Mazda-CX-3 (by model year) reported to carcomplaints.com and NHTSA.

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2016 Mazda CX-3

Avoiding the first year of an all-new vehicle is sage advice, as mechanical gremlins often surface when a model debuts in the marketplace. And, unfortunately, the 2016 CX-3 confirms this recommendation with 64 reported complaints, the most for any year of this Mazda. 

Engine trouble is the most common issue, with specific problems including starting difficulties and sudden power loss. Electrical and fuel system complaints are also cited occurrences. If these woes don’t steer you away from the 2016 CX-3, then perhaps 791 TSBs will. That’s more TSB than any other CX-3 year. Mazda also issued a recall for a malfunctioning tailgate that may fall when open.

Based on these details, the 2016 edition is at the top of the list of the Mazda CX-3 years to avoid.  


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2017 Mazda CX-3

As is common with the second year of many vehicles, problems tend to drop significantly. And such is the case with the 2017 CX-3. Complaints fall to 19 reports, and engine troubles are a fraction of the total; most issues center on the fuel system. Carcomplaints.com also details a handful of reports about the heat and air conditioning. But, otherwise, owner-issued problems are minimal.

TSBs dropped as well, with Mazda issuing 609 service and repair advisories, ranging from the airbags to the powertrain. As of this writing, there are no recalls for this model year. It’s safe to add the 2017 Mazda CX-3 to your shopping list, but it’s always advisable to have any used vehicle inspected by a mechanic before buying. 

2018 Mazda CX-3

Mazda continued to improve the reliability of the CX-3 for the 2018 model year. Owner complaints plunged to eight total objections, with the only common problem being electrical issues for two owners. The trend is mirrored with technical service bulletins, as the total declines to 473 advisories. As with the previous model year, there are zero recalls (as of this writing). 

Looking into the few available reports reveals one complaint about the turn signal not disengaging after turning. But, there’s no evidence of any definite pattern of problems like there was with the first CX-3 model year (2016). So, the 2018 CX-3 is another model year that gets a thumbs up. 


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2019 Mazda CX-3

Things continue to improve for the CX-3 as the 2019 model year rolls around. Owner-reported troubles are still low (12, according to carcomplaints.com), with half of the problems involving the electrical system. There are also single complaints about the engine, brakes, or lights. 

The total number of TSBs declined as well, with Mazda issuing 391 repair and service briefs. But, overall, there are few issues with this version of the CX-3.

Perhaps the most significant reliability matter involves a fuel pump recall. It was a problem across several Mazda models and model years but only affected the CX-3 from 2019. If you’re considering a CX-3 from this year, check its recall status by looking up the details using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.

2020 Mazda CX-3

There’s no meaningful reliability information about the 2020 Mazda CX-3, including other sources like RepairPal and Consumer Reports. Mazda did issue 194 technical service bulletins, but this is almost half the number of TSBs for the 2019 CX-3.

The lack of complaints can stem from different reasons. A drop in sales is one. Mazda sold 7,336 2020 CX-3s compared to 16,229 units for the previous model year, according to carsalesbase.com. So, there are fewer examples on the road to complain about. The decline is due to the automaker only offering the CX-3 as a base model (the Sport trim) to steer customers to the newly launched CX-30 crossover. Another explanation for no reliability reports is that the 2020 Mazda CX-3 is too new to have problems.

2021 Mazda CX-3

Similarly, there’s no word about dependability for the 2021 CX-3. Mazda sold only 5,100 CX-3s in its final year (in the U.S.), so the absence of complaints is no surprise. But buying a pre-owned 2021 CX-3 (and some earlier models) includes the possibility that it will be covered by a warranty. Mazda covers its new cars with three years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection. There’s also a five-year or 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.



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