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Mazda Protege Rust Problems

icvciicvci Posts: 1,031
After noticing rust on my 2003 Mazda Protege 5 I did some searching and discovered that rust is really a problem on these cars. I think we need to have a place that everyone can voice their disgust.

On my car, the paint has completely eroded and there's bare metal in front of both rear wheels just above the lower trim. There's a dime-sized bubble on my roof. And I've got rust bubbling on the window frames on both the passenger and drivers side rear windows. (Those spots were visible summer of 2007.)

Mazda needs to do something about this, a car built in 2003 shouldn't be rusting away after 5 years.


  • I had rust at 40,000 miles on my Protege5. Just behind the passenger side rear wheel well. The leading and narrow edge of the lower panel. I had a body shop do both sides at that location and touch up some rust on the rear door panels.
    At 60,000 miles I have rust on the passenger side above the panel that had rust before.
    I have rust developing at the seams above the wheel well in the engine compartment.

    I am very upset about this, because it could keep me from driving this engineering gem for 200,000 miles.

    Toyota Camry's have a chronic and premature rust problem in the same place, just behind the rear wheels where the body panels come together.

    Rust starts where the steel feathers to its thinnest edge anywhere in the car. Take the metal back so another part of the car has a thinner edge, and the rust will show up at the new location first.

    Toyota did a classic quality deployment study to actually set quality specs for rust.
    They did this by setting the specification for the thinnest dimension for steel on the lower part of the car. Look for areas in the sheet metal where the sheet metal is feathered to a knife edge and may have a ragged look. That's where the rust will usually start.

    With the winning design and technical ZOOM team at Mazda I hope this rust issue gets addressed quickly, and if there is a technical solution for those owners who are disappointed with the performance (rust) of the vehicles they currently own, I hope the owners will be notified by Mazda of the solution.

    There are specialized rust arrestors (not just a paint coverup) that actually convert rust to an inert compound and stop further rust. (Krylon-Duplicolor-"Rust Tough' -Sherwin-Williams). At one time I was marketing manager for Krylon Rust Tough from S-W, and handled marketing for Krylon and Duplicolor. You can find Duplicolor in most automotive departments and auto parts retailers. You can find Krylon in many parts stores as well as major hardware and building and lumber supply retailers.

    Find the detail shop who does the touch up detailing for your local car auctions and you will find a shop that knows what they are doing with this problem. I was very happy with the work done by my body shop. I have not had a recurrence of rust in the 40,000 mile repair.

    Good luck with the rust solution. I will continue to research and explore this issue, and report here what I end up doing with my second bout with rust, and with the rust problem on top of the wheel wells at the seams, in the engine compartment.

  • rminnjrminnj Posts: 2
    I just wanted to reply to this thread a year after to voice an angry ME TOO! Our
    2002 Protege5 started rusting at about 40000 miles in odd places with paint bubbles. Mazda would do nothing. Now with 100K miles on the car and years later it is rusting everywhere..

    - In front of both rear wheel wells (the side molding worn down the paint and the rust has eatenthe entire panel away....both sides.

    - The very top of both rear wheel wells...the paint has bubbled out and is eating vertically upward. Mazda says a stone must had it direectly there (both sides).

    - Where the rear bumper meets the rear wheel well. Again, Mazda says a stone must have done it.. (both sides).

    - Right under the word Protege 5 in the middle of the hatchback the rust has bubbled almost all the way up to the window.. Never a scratch or dent started under the word/eblem.

    -Under all 4 doors ..the weld seal of the door panel has failed and seperated and rust is visible.

    - Entire undercarriage of the car. The undercoating has failed and there is rust visible everywhere. Car is 6 years old and we're afraid the floor boards may give out.

    - All 4 alloy wheels..the paint on them bubbled/corroded up on all edges.

    Except for the bearings and suspension the car has been quite reliable. Too bad because any savings are negated because the body is beyond repair. It's like we purchased an old Honda or Fiat from the 1970's and there is no galvanized metal anywhere on the car.

    When I see those shiny new Mazdas and read the good reviews I get think that even all the new Mazda 3's will be rusting in the rear wheel wells in a few years. A real shame, the car has been reliable but we could never buy another one.
  • 02mazda02mazda Posts: 34
    I also am experiencing the bubbling of paint behind passenger door on leading edge of wheel well. I garage this car 75% of the year. (Vespas need Mazda side in summer). I wash it frequently. Myself. W Turtle Wax Auto Wash. I wax it 3x/year. I baby this car. I love this car. Have seen a silver 02/03 model in town w lots of rust on it. Reason I checked mine out. Has anyone had any luck w Mazda on this? It was not a cheap car. Stickered @ close to $20k w the options I got. I am hesitant to buy another one. :(
  • 02mazda02mazda Posts: 34
    Got a song & dance from local dealer & regional rep about Mazda not being responsible for this on account of climate. I rephrased the response by saying "What you are telling me is that Mazda sells cars in markets that they are not built to handle?" No response. I like the CX7, but would not even look @ another Mazda if this is company policy. Caveat emptor, big time, I guess. I hope Mazda does check these boards out. My 02 Subaru has no rust on it. Had a bad head gasket @ 53k miles. Yes, out of warrany. Many others had this problem. After some wrangling, online w Cherry Hill NJ HQ, they decided to cover it. I inititally requested a 50/50 solution as the car did have 53k miles on it. They covered it all, @ a non Subie shop as we have no dealership in my city. Mazda, do the right thing. Cover these cars! :mad: Overall the car has been gr8. No other problems. A shame they have chosen this course of action (inaction!)
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    would not even look another Mazda if this is company policy. Caveat emptor
    I hear you.

    Actually I'm getting obsessed! As I walk by vehicles I glance at the state of the body and look for rust ... sure enough, I see other Proteges with the familiar pattern of rust around the rear wheel wells. This does not inspire confidence in the brand, especially if you know you have done everything reasonable to maintain the vehicle (e.g. rustproofing). I believe the problem partially involves the manufacturing process and partially customer relations. If auto manufacturers want to survive beyond the initial sale, they should recognize that they have a responsibility to their customers to maintain fair value in their investment.

    In a related vein, Mazda had announced earlier this summer a new painting process to reduce the impact on the environment. Let's hope Mazda is looking for other ways of improving their processes to respond to customer issues.
  • 02mazda02mazda Posts: 34
    It appears to me the only recourse I have will be to be brutally frank & honest when Consumer Reports sends me their annual product survey this year. I have up 2 this point raved about the car, but I will now have 2 B brutally honest about the substandard body on the car. Any other drivers of this marque who subscribe to Consumer Reports could do the same thing if they have experienced these same rust issues. A shame, as overall the car is, & has been, a joy to drive & is quite reliable. I fear Mazda has learned some of the plays out of the Detroit playbook. They should focus on what happened to Mopar & the General as a result & maybe reevaulate this stance? :sick:
  • I have a 2002 Mazda Protege 5. The black rubber piece that covers the middle half of the back bumper needs replacing, it's rippled and turning gray instead of black.
    where do I obtain this piece? or can I? I've searched all over hte web for this "part" or "piece". Ca anyone help?
  • zoomzoom21.
    My plate says Zoom Ohio
    My wife's plate say ZZ Miata

    We're Mazda nuts.

    I also have a 2002 MP5.
    The black rub strip wasn't factory original and if you remove it and clean up the bumper you will be fine.
    However, it is a stocked part at the dealership.
    You may be able to bring back the color with a tire treatment product like Armorall.
    Ask a counterman at Autozone or Advance.
    At this point in time, I'd suggest you remove it, clean up the bumper, and move on.

    I added my strip AFTER I took delivery.

    [email protected]
    Canton Ohio
    70k 2002
  • I appreciate the info. I'll try that.
    I'll let ypu know.

    much thanks!
  • I have a 2003 protege with a rust problem and the hood, roof, and trunk paint faded. The rust spot (paint bubble) is right on top of the wheel well. I, too, baby the car and keep it clean. When I went to the dealer, they treated me like a crook. They pretty much laughed in my face. I have driven mazdas all my life. Well, I just bought a toyota and I will not go back. :sick:
  • You did the right thing. If others also show their displeasure by purchasing other marques maybe they will become a little more customer focused. I would be hard pressed to buy another one. Probably a Subaru for me. I feel your pain. Good luck w your Toyota.
  • Seems to me this might be an opportunity for a class action settlement.
    It is a consistent problem.
    Anyone know of any rust class actions that succeeded on other makes?
    The Toyota pickup had a rust problem with the frame that became a structural problem.
    Toyota gave trade ins on the the problem trucks and a good price on the replacement new truck.
    My brother in law was a victim of this rust.

    The problem with the Mazda Protege5 2002 and 2003 is in the same place as Hondas and Toyotas in the 90's rusted out.

    Best check is to look at a car you are looking to buy, a model that is 7 years old.

    We have had four Miatas, some 10 years old and never had the problem at this location.

    I believe some of the problem Protege5's were made in Thailand.

    Bruce Kennedy
    Canton Ohio
  • iamziamz Posts: 542
    "I believe some of the problem Protege5's were made in Thailand. "

    That is simply not true. They were built in Japan.

    I think you guys expect a little too much out of your cars. It is pretty normal for rust to be showing up on cars that are 7 or 8 eight years old in areas of the country where they dump profuse amounts of salt on the roads in the winters. I can tell you first hand that Honda has always had a problem with rust. Their cars show the same amount of rust and more than my P5. The leading edge of the hood on my VW was considerably rusted after 6 years. It is what it is.
  • I have lived in MD all my life. I had a mazda 626 for 10 years. I had 285,000 miles on it. I had no rust or no paint fade. I have owned a Cavalier for 9 years. I drove it 240,000 milesI had no rust or paint fade. I have a 1995 dodge dakota. I have no rust on it. I take care of my vehicles.
  • iamziamz Posts: 542
    You've been very lucky then. What about all your other Mazdas (besides your 626)? How did they hold up? All my red cars started fading in about 3 years. My yellow P5 took about 7 years before it started showing paint fade. That's pretty good since it always sits outside.
  • iamziamz Posts: 542
    A friend here at work has a Chevy S10 that is one year older than my P5 and half as many miles. It has holes eaten through the rocker panels. If you like your cars pretty and rust free, DO NOT move to Minnesota. We just have different expectations, apparently, based on our experiences.
  • My Protege 5 says "made in Japan". I shall take them @ their word on this.
  • I guess I must have been pretty fortunate w my other cars then. I live on the west coast of MI, not more than 6 miles from Lake Michigan. We got lots & lots of snow. My '96 Taurus wagon never showed rust. My '94 Dodge Shadow never showed rust. Same for my '02 Outback. I keep them very clean & garaged 9 months out of the year. Get @ least 3 coats of wax each summer. Wash them myself w Turtle Wax Auto cleaner. 40k miles is too quick to rust. A shame, as otherwise the car is quite nice. It is a manufacturing defect plain & simple.
  • Must be the great weather you get in MD. If Mazda or any manufacturer wants to sell a car in all 50 states those cars s/b engineered to withstand the weather in whatever market the car ends up in. This car was obviously not designed for our brutal winters, yet it was sold here by a MI dealer. Shame on Mazda. My Outback is a dream here, & rust free to boot.
  • Hi everyone,
    I just wanted to post and say that I bought my Mazda Protege5 in July 2003, and have just started having rust problems in the last few months. Rust on the right rear door and my luck, the warranty ran out just right before we got in to see Mazda about all of this.
    Of course, you know Mazda says they have nothing to do with this, and with no warranty for sure no help.
    Well when we took it to 2 local car repairs, they said it was damaged sometime before I even bought the car, the panel inside the door wasn't affixed properly and the leaking caused the rusting. (the strip alongside the length of the car is also falling off at the rear)
    The damage, they said, was most likely caused at the dealer they got the car from or when they got the car to the dealership where I actually signed & bought.
    Of course, with this information, Mazda still will not budge. I'm really cheesed about this, and with seeing all of you having rust problems on 2003 Protege5's, it makes me mad. It might not be exactly the same situation in every case, but I think Mazda needs to be held accountable.
    My car was serviced by Mazda for awhile and then by independent service businesses, and has never been in an accident, which my insurance can verify.
    For anyone in a similar situation, it might be beneficial to take your car to a local shop and have them check it out and make sure it wasn't damaged like mine.
    I really do wonder if enough people make a case for a suit against them... :mad:
    Anyone who wants to do some more talking about this past this forum, you can email me at: [email protected]

  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    I bought my Mazda Protege5 in July 2003 ... 2 local car repairs ... said it was damaged sometime before ... the panel inside the door wasn't affixed properly and the leaking caused the rusting. (the strip alongside the length of the car is also falling off at the rear) The damage, they said, was most likely caused at the dealer ...

    Hmm, although this may be true, it would be difficult to prove six years after the fact. You may want to consider other options rather than taking on MazdaUSA as the rust will not stop in the meantime. For example, you may want to negotiate with the dealer a reduction in the cost of the repair. In my case, I had the rust on my 2002 P5 removed two years ago; the rear wheelwells and panels were repainted for about C$250 as part of a goodwill agreement with my dealership. Prior to this, I had received independent evaluations of the work required and therefore knew the costs would easily be twice those proposed by the dealership, so I went along with the agreement. Not ideal but this may be better than fighting windmills (with apologies to Cervantes).

    p.s. my repairs have held back the rust for the most part, but it's just a matter of time before it re-emerges; I am counting on another 2 to 3 years before moving onto my next vehicle.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,870
    Unless you have perforation of the panel, it is not covered under Mazda warranty. This is the norm, not the exception for rust warranty for majority of auto manufacturers.

    So, anyone have an actual hole thru a panel?
  • Thank you moparbad, very valuable comment for this discussion.
    The dealers should be more articulate at presenting this case.
    Perferation and industry norm was not mentioned in three meetings with the dealer and/or factory rep.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,870
    Have surface rust on lower rocker at seam on both sides of car and also in the rear wheel wells on inner surface. Will find out this week the cost to repair the problem areas.
    Only 62K on my 03 and the finish is in great condition except for the areas mentioned above. Car has been garaged since new.
    Well, not much I can do living in the "rust belt" with so much salt used in the winter.
  • I saw an 03 this weekend @ local superstore. Had the same kind of rust you describe. Good luck. It was silver. I also saw a newer 626 w rust on the passenger side rear wheel well. I had not noticed this problem on the 626. The car, however, did not look as if it had been well maintained. Dents, dirty glass, very dirty & the driver, w/o resorting to any type of stereotypes, did not look as if he/she was really into maintaining cars. Sorry, I hate stereotypes, too, but Click & Clack would have called her "Dawna". Still love my Protege 5, just put new Generals on all 4(s), but wish they would/could do something about the rust issue. Balance of car is great. I would settle for a 50/50 or even 60/40 repair compromise.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I simply can't believe the number of severely rusted Mazdas I have seen in the last 3 years. A friend's cancer broke out only after 4 years of ownership of her 02 or 03 Protege 5, but I see it on all Proteges.

    So my question is: (assuming Mazda has surely addressed this issue by now??)

    What year was this finally addressed? Did they do it with a thicker coat of hot galvanizing? Or maybe they foolishly weren't using hot galvanizing?
  • autonomousautonomous Posts: 1,769
    edited August 2010
    You are right rust is an issue for the 2002 and 2003 Proteges. Mine started appearing after the third year. I took some preventative maintenance (annual rust proofing) and repair (had rust removed from wheelwells in 2005). Now, over eight years old, my P5 looks very good and should last another couple of years (fingers crossed).

    Since the Mazda3 replaced the Proteges starting in 2004 the problem may be occurring there. I see you posted the question on the Mazda3 forum which is a good idea.

    By "hot galvanizing" I suppose you are referring to hot-dip galvanizing. I would imagine they do use the process but frankly, I've never found a reference to it in the Mazda manual or brochures, so it would be interesting to hear one way or the other.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I think I have seen a newer than 04 rusted P3. Trying to figure out the year they got on top of this.
    Looks like this thread is not too active though it seems, so I guess Mazda owners are a complacent bunch? lol

    Thanks for your reply.
  • It is not that we are not active, it is Mazda will not do anything to relieve our loss. I will not buy another Mazda and I will keep driving the one I have, so people can see the rust on the car. Also, if they ever ask me, I will do my best to let them know that Mazda does not back up their cars, once they are bought.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    I feel badly for you all. But I agree with your strategy. I did the same with Ford many years ago. I am a huge advocate of boycott by the little guy. Enough little guy boycotts with long-lasting conviction, I have to believe forces a mfgr to pay heed and eventually do the right thing.

    With my situation with Ford it was not complicated. It was a cut and dried scene in which they called my bluff of a lifetime boycott and they were totally out of line. It wasn't even a grey area call, so I lost permanent lifetime respect for them as a brand, a name, and a family. I have been burned by Ford, GM, Honda, and VW. I personally know many who have been burned by Chrysler. I have had Subaru, Toyota and Nissan all do the right thing. I guess they were born with a conscience.

    I have found in most situations, it is not a grey area. Either the car co does the correct and proper thing or they stonewall and cause you to become so frustrated they hope (and it is their plan all along) that you simply give up.

    I think it is extremely important that victims write a registered letter to the head of a co and inform them that their stonewalling cost them a customer for LIFE. And don't waiver from that. Furthermore, when you go to buy your next car, confirm who owns who so that you aren't still supporting their thieving butts only under a different nameplate.

    I absolutely loved that you spread the word of unfair treatment. I do the same if the opportunity presents itself.
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