Mazda has managed to make one of the most stylish, exciting to drive subcompact sedans and hatchbacks. Each generation of Mazda3 has looked sharper than the last, managing to look ultra-modern when they first come out and age pretty well.
It has always been known as a good budget car with nice if not special performance, sleek design inside and out, and a surprisingly high-end feel in the cabin. But the reliability of the Mazda3 has varied a little from generation to generation, with the second generation having a huge spike in complaints for the first year of that design.
The first year of each new generation is usually rough, though, so you should avoid the first model of generation 1 in 2004, generation 2 in 2010, and generation 3 in 2014. So far, there have been few complaints from the 2019 model year’s brand new design.
But outside of those initial redesigns and the second generation, you should expect a safe, reliable subcompact car out of a Mazda3. CoPilot is here to help you buy the right car and make sure you know which Mazda3 model years to avoid.
Quick Answer: Avoid 2004, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Mazda3s
While far from a disaster, the first year of the Mazda3 model line did have a few more issues than the following years, with a few transmission and engine problems, plus some issues with the headlights and air conditioning unit. While not awful, other models are better than 2004. Bu the second generation of Mazda3 from 2010 to 2014 were not.
2010 through 2012 Mazda3s were riddled with problems relating to the transmission and clutch, plus poor interior build quality. While the transmission wasn’t so bad in 2013, it had issues of its own inside the cabin, as well as with the headlights. Then the 2014 model had to deal with bad brakes and cabin quality control, especially as far as the seats and infotainment center go.
OTHER CAR SHOPPING APPS ARE OUTDATED
You won’t realize how outdated other car searching apps are until you try the CoPilot car shopping app. CoPilot does the hard work for you by searching all of the listings in your area and intelligently creating a personalized list of the best buys in the area that match what you’re looking for.
Which Model Years of Mazda3 Are Safe to Buy Used?
- 2005 Mazda3
- 2006 Mazda3
- 2007 Mazda3
- 2008 Mazda3
- 2009 Mazda3
- 2015 Mazda3
- 2016 Mazda3
- 2017 Mazda3
- 2018 Mazda3
- 2019 Mazda3
- 2020 Mazda3
After a few issues in the first year, the Mazda3 did much better for year two and beyond in its first generation. Engine and transmission problems were kept to a minimum, and there were pretty few complaints about the rest of the car. Then after the dark period that was the second generation of Mazda3 and the growing pains of the first model of the third generation, Mazda got their subcompact sedan back on track.
The only common complaint about the 2015 Mazda3 was the infotainment system dying. While nobody wants that, it’s not the most expensive fix in a car, nor is it the biggest safety hazard to the driver. The 2016 model did see some complaints of brakes wearing down quickly, but there were only a handful of complaints, far fewer than the 2014 edition.
And since then, there have been very few complaints filed for the new Mazda3 models. More will come in time, but for now, there aren’t any major causes for concern with newer models, and we wouldn’t consider anything from the late third-generation or early fourth-generation Mazda3 model years to avoid.
Which Model Years of Mazda3 to Avoid:
- 2004 Mazda3
- 2010 Mazda3
- 2011 Mazda3
- 2012 Mazda3
- 2013 Mazda3
- 2014 Mazda3
The first model didn’t have a ton of problems, but those who did complain had issues with the motor blowing and the transmission struggling to shift through all the gears or even outright failing. This wasn’t a common issue, but the 2005 model with far fewer complaints barely costs any more than a 2004.
But after a total of 137 complaints across the first generation, the Mazda3 was redesigned, and the complaints more than doubled in the first year alone. Many drivers reported that the clutch gave out in their cars, making them undrivable until it was replaced.
And this wasn’t a problem late in the car’s life; the average report of this problem was after only 40,000 miles. There were also several drivers complaining of melted dashboards and seat brackets breaking. The 2011 and 2012 models had far fewer complaints, fortunately, but they were for all the same problems, showing that Mazda still hadn’t fixed the issues.
THE BEST USED SUVS UNDER $10,000
We looked into price, reliability, features, and more to create this list of the best used SUVs under $10k on the market today. Take a look - some of the best used SUVs have gone mostly overlooked or forgotten.
2013 had fewer problems with the transmission and clutch but still had some problems with the brakes, the accelerator, the interior accessories, and a new problem where headlights started to flicker out when the brakes were applied.
2014 fixed many of the old problems but had a noticeable issue with brakes wearing down quickly, and in a few cases, the brakes even locked up. On top of that there were some problems with the interior accessories, especially relating to the infotainment system. Mazda was able to greatly reduce these problems after this model year and has been a pretty solid choice since then, but as a rule of thumb, the 2004 model and 2010 through 2014 models are the biggest Mazda3 model years to avoid.
But bear in mind, newer cars tend not to see issues and complaints until they’ve been on the road longer, and not all problems are reported. So, buying a Mazda3 from the safe years doesn’t guarantee you a dependable car, and if you already own one of the model years to avoid, there is no guarantee these problems will present themselves in your car. The most important tips are to properly maintain your car and to always get a trusted mechanic to inspect any car you’re interested in buying.
THE BEST USED MINIVANS ON THE MARKET
When it comes to hauling a lot of people and cargo, the minivan is hard to beat. We’ve factored in reliability, affordability, and functionality to create this curated list of the 8 best used minivans on the market today.
Mazda3 Problem Counts by Year
Get a Curated List of the Best Used Cars Near You
The CoPilot car shopping app is the easiest way to buy a car. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll search the inventories of every dealership in your area to make you a personalized list of the best car listings in your area.
Only looking for newer models? CoPilot Compare is the search engine for nearly-new cars. Only see cars five years or newer with low mileage — CoPilot Compare is the best way to find off-lease, early trade-in, and CPO cars.
The best part? CoPilot is built using the same technology that dealerships use to buy and sell their inventories, so we have more info on each vehicle than competitors. CoPilot doesn’t work with dealerships, so there are no sponsored posts or other shady practices — just the most info on the best cars. Check out our About Us page to see how CoPilot works.