Is Mazda A Reliable Car Brand? What You Need to Know

Mazda is one of the most common car brands we see on the roads today. As California lemon law lawyers, our job isn’t to dissuade people from purchasing or leasing vehicles from certain manufacturers.

Mazdas are great cars. In fact, the brand was voted Most Reliable Car Brand in 2022 by Consumer Reports.

We’re here to educate consumers about the potential risks and provide guidance if they purchased or leased a vehicle with manufacturer defects.

Today, we want to dive into the Mazda car brand. We’ll discuss the most reliable models, the most problematic ones, and the common issues we’ve seen with the brand.

Let’s dive into it.

The Mazda Car Brand

Mazda Motor Corporation, a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer, was founded in 1920. Initially known as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd, the company originally started manufacturing machine tools before transitioning to vehicles in 1931.

The company officially adopted the name “Mazda” in 1984, inspired by the ancient Persian deity Ahura Mazda, the god of wisdom, intelligence, and harmony, as well as a homage to its founder, Jujiro Matsuda.

Over the years, Mazda has been recognized for its innovation in automotive engineering and design. The company is best known for its development and use of the rotary engine, which propelled the Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S in 1967, marking Mazda’s entrance into the sports car market.

Mazda has added advancements in fuel efficiency, safety, and environmental friendliness. Today, Mazda maintains a global presence, continuing to develop vehicles that prioritize the joy of driving and embody the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship.

The Most Reliable Mazda Models

Reliability should be one of the top qualities to look for in a vehicle. Mazda is known for producing dependable machines – and if you’re considering this brand, here are a few that are least likely to cause problems:

1. Mazda CX-3

The Mazda CX-3 is a compact crossover SUV known for comfort, fuel efficiency, and performance.

It’s powered by a robust 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that churns out 146 horsepower, with the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Garnering a 4.5 out of 5 stars for reliability, the CX-3 ranks among the most reliable Mazda models on the market.

The experts estimate that the costs of repairs/maintenance are around $345/year.

2. Mazda CX-5

Next on the list of most reliable Mazda models is the CX-5, a midsize SUV known for high performance – combined with a luxurious and spacious interior. The model has a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque.

With a reliability score of 4.5 out of 5 stars, the CX-5 is among the top of its class. Despite its impressive dimensions and power, the average annual repair cost is only estimated to be around $447.

3. Mazda2

The Mazda2 is the smallest subcompact hatchback in Mazda’s catalog in America.

It’s built with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine yielding 100 horsepower. Similar to the CX-3, the model features a choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, which provides a fuel efficiency of 27 mpg in urban areas and 34 mpg on highways with the automatic version. It gets 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the manual version.

Maintenance with the Mazda2 is modest, with an average repair bill of around $449 per year. The vehicle boasts a reliability score of 4.5 out of 5 stars, making it one of the most reliable Mazda models in the subcompact category.

Mazda Models with the Most Issues

On the other side, here are some of the models where Mazda issues are most prevalent.

1. Mazda 6

Classified as a mid-size sedan, the Mazda 6 is one of the fastest-selling models in the company’s history. However, it has been plagued with issues over the years – with a total of 81 recalls on record (as of this writing).

The 2009 and 2010 models each have 11 recalls. The 2012 Mazda 6 has 7 recalls, and the 2003 model takes third place with 6 total recalls. If you’re considering purchasing a Mazda 6, it may be wise to reconsider the aforementioned models, particularly the 2009 and 2010 versions, given their rate of Mazda issues.

2. Mazda MPV

The MPV is Mazda’s premier minivan model – which was produced from 1988-2006. the MPV takes second place in the most recalled Mazda models, with 53 total recalls.

The 1989, 2000, and 2004 models share the top spot for the most recalls, each having 5. In second place are the 1990, 1991, and 2002 models, all of which have been recalled 4 times. If you are looking to buy a used MPV, we recommend being cautious of these model years.

3. Mazda Tribute

The Tribute is a compact SUV that was produced from 2000-2011. Originally intended to be a less expensive version of the Ford Escape, it was replaced by the superior CX-5 after a string of Mazda issues. The Tribute has a total of 53 recalls to its name.

The 2001 model has the most recalls, with 14 – followed by the 2002 with 8, the 2003 with 7, then the 2004 & 2008 with 6 each.

Common Mazda Issues

Mazda issues come in all shapes and sizes. As a California lemon law lawyer, these are the ones we see most frequently.

1. Brake Booster Failure

This issue is most prevalent in hotter climates. It occurs when there is a loss of power assist, which causes problems with the brakes. The most common complaint is the brakes become more difficult to push.

2. Defective Clutch

A faulty clutch usually leads to a plethora of other problems – which include degradation of the flywheels, pressure plates, and clutch disks. Eventually, this will cause the clutch to fail entirely.

3. Recurring Engine Issues

OF all the Mazda issues on this list, engine failures are the most detrimental. Many consumers have complained about a malfunctioning Engine Monitoring Unit, which can cause the vehicle to break down completely.

4. Faulty Valve Timing

Mazda models built with L-series engines are known for defective variable valve timing, leading to slack timing chains, engine breakdowns, and oil seepages. These Mazda issues are commonly reported via a prominent ticking sound.

5. Transmission Failures

Transmission failures are one of the more common Mazda issues we see – which create problems when the vehicle shifts gears. If the car is not under warranty, transmission repairs are very expensive.

6. Melting Dashboards

Long and repeated exposure to sunlight has been shown to cause Mazda dashboards to melt and become sticky. This issue could potentially be attributed to the use of subpar materials in that part of the car.

7. Water Pump Malfunctions

This problem is most common in the Mazda CX-9 model. In certain instances, drivers have also voiced concerns about the failure of the brake power boost unit. If left unattended, this issue could potentially result in a collision.

Additionally, water pump failures are extremely expensive to fix (if not under warranty). It’s estimated the repairs can be as much as $4,000.

8. Do Mazdas Hold Their Value?

Yes. Mazdas generally hold their value very well. The Mazda car brand is well-known for producing reliable vehicles, and the engines of these cars hold up well in the long term. Some of the Mazda models with the highest resale values include the Mazda 2, Mazda 3, CX-5, and MX-5 Miata.

What To Do If Your Mazda Is Defective

If you believe your Mazda vehicle is defective, there are a few things you can do.

1. Step One: Check the Warranty

If the vehicle is exhibiting signs of a defect, you need to see if the warranty is still valid.

The general Mazda car brand warranty is good for 3 years/36,000 miles and 5 years/60,000 miles for the powertrain. If the warranty is still good, get in touch with the manufacturer. They will direct you to a certified repair facility to fix the problem.

If you bought the vehicle used, check to see if there is a dealer warranty. These are typically good for 30 days/1,000 miles.

Do not take your vehicle to a 3rd party mechanic while under warranty – as this could void it.

2. Step Two: Look in the State’s Lemon Qualifications

If the Mazda is experiencing recurring issues, you may have a lemon on your hands. In California, your Mazda must meet the following qualifications:

  • The vehicle was covered under the warranty – manufacturer or dealership – when the defect was first reported; and
  • The defect is substantial in that it impairs the vehicle’s safety, functionality, or value; and
  • The defect was not caused by driver abuse or neglect; and
  • Mazda’s certified repair facility has been given a reasonable number of attempts to remedy the Mazda issues – usually at least two; or
  • The Mazda vehicle has been out of service for repairs for 30 or more cumulative days.

You will need to prove your Mazda meets these requirements with records and documentation.

3. Step Three: Contact a California Lemon Law Lawyer

If your Mazda meets the qualifications of California lemon law, you will need to get in touch with an attorney to file a claim. Keep in mind, Mazda has no intention of compensating you for a defective vehicle – it’s not like returning a defective item to Walmart.

You will need an attorney to fight for fair compensation.

Start by scheduling a consultation. The attorney will assess your documentation and determine if you have a valid lemon law claim.

Get in Touch with a California Lemon Law Lawyer

At Cline APC, we have handled many lemon law cases with the Mazda car brand. No matter what problems you are facing, we are happy to point you in the right direction.

Our firm works on a contingency fee agreement. This means no out-of-pocket costs to take your case – we make a percentage of the total settlement AFTER we win.

We provide FREE consultations to Mazda owners and lessees. Call us directly at 888-982-6915, send an email to, or fill out a case evaluation.

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