Mazda3 Maintenance & Repair

guestguest Member Posts: 770
Please share Mazda 3 problems and possible solutions here.


  • Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    Discuss Mazda 3 routine maintenance and other care issues here.
  • vishanpvishanp Member Posts: 1
    I got my Mazda 3 GT December 18th.... what a great car! However I now have a problem... The engine light has come on and has not come off since New Years Eve?! I called the dealership and they say its just an electrical problem.....kinda frustrating!
  • petpadpetpad Member Posts: 153
    This was reported by a few others on the Mazda 3 sedan thread. One owner of a MZ3 has been offered by his dealer to have his ECL light analyzed by a Ford dealership and will report soon on the problem. Most dealers aren't too sure yet about it, so thier ignorance may not be all that surprizing. Stay tuned on this and other MZ3 threads.

  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    Hey Folks,

    I noticed the other day that while the car is at rest, and only at rest, you can hear a faint high-pitched whining sound while seated inside.

    The sound actually was coming from under the hood, and extending into the cabin. But it disappears as soon as the car is in motion. It's not a loud sound, but I was very curious as to what the source was. It doesn't come from the fan or AC unit, or the engine or transmission.

    So I took it into the dealer.
    It's actually the power steering unit. The fluid pressure is programmed to constantly change, depending on the speed of the car.

    So when the car is not moving, the power steering fluid pressure is highest (to make it easier to steer), and makes the faint whine. But when the car is on the highway, the pressure is the lowest (to make it a little harder to steer).

    The dealer says it's designed this way, and there's nothing mechnically wrong with the car. I imagine the faint whine will be completely corrected for next year's model year (as they work out real-world bugs like this).

    But for those who have Mazda 3 cars now (Jan-04), if you hear this faint noise, you can relax and take it easy, knowing all is well. Your car is still like fine wine (even with faint whine).
  • mazda3indymazda3indy Member Posts: 13
    I am finally moving my CEL story to the appropriate thread:

    As some of you know, my check engine light came on about 2 weeks ago. The car appeared to be operating normally, but the CEL would not turn off. I took the car to the dealership and they said that the code indicated that the thermostat was stuck open. They replaced the thermostat and the light went off.

    This morning, 500 miles later, the check engine light came on again. I called the dealership and they said that the problem is not the thermostat. They just learned about the software bug in the engine computer.

    This software bug was mentioned some time ago by everfeb and fowler3. My dealer says that there are no mechanical problems and that the car is okay to drive. The software will take about 2 weeks to arrive and they will flash my computer then.

    My dealer doesn't know exactly what causes the bug to rear its ugly head or what the mechanical effect is on the engine itself.

    Sure, there might not be any mechanical problems now, but what if the computer glitch is causing my engine to do something damaging to itself that will cause damage before I get the software update, like running rich?

    Since they don't know what the software bug's effect is on the engine's operation, I can't find justification for them to say that it is okay to drive it.

    Canadians on the forums are having this problem, and so are Americans, so I assume that every North American Mazda3 so far has been shipped with the same buggy software onboard.
  • bluong1bluong1 Member Posts: 1,927
    Thanks! So the bug is just confirmed.

    Actually I'm the one who brought the bug issue into the attention: bluong1 "Mazda3" Dec 4, 2003 3:57am
  • petpadpetpad Member Posts: 153
    Keeping my fingers crossed and everything is honkydory.. My 3 is singing happily everytime I take it out.

    On the power steering whine story, I couldn't help but to make a link to aviation hydraulic systems... I just hope the "whining power steering" system has a fail-safe operation, meaning that if that whining thingmabob was to fail, that you can still steer. In a helicopter for instance, if you lose your hydraulically-assisted flight controls, you can still land, albeit with much stiffer controls. Full hydraulic hardovers have happened where the controls jammed totally and human force could not prevent the subsequent crash. Hopefully the sophisticated power steering in our 3's will allow us to steer safely should it fail.

  • slash764slash764 Member Posts: 2
    I know no one can tell me specifically about the 3, but do Mazdas in general last long? Can they be compared to say a BMW in terms of longevity?
  • petpadpetpad Member Posts: 153
    slash... This will generate lots of opinions, but it all depends on how well you care for your vehicle, and also where you live. Older BMW's are very expensive to maintain by the way.

    I see old Mazdas regularly, such as Mazda 323's and 626' in particular. If you stick to regular maintenance and protect the body from rust if you live in salt-infested roads, you will be fine. In then end, a Mazda will cost you a LOT less than any BMW, in terms of initial costs and long term costs.
  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
    I had a 86 Mazda 626 that I drove 244000 miles over 14 years.
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    I went against my dealer's advice, and had them change the oil, at 2000km.


    Mostly paranoia. We've had such cold weather in Toronto (-22C/-8F), that the hard starts were horrible. Not only that, but everyday I have been revving this engine "high" at times, approaching 3500rpm gradually, holding it, and then varying the speed to break-in the motor. The oil was being consumed slightly, and getting brown.

    Of course, this is all normal...but being me, I did an oil and filter at Mazda anyhow...and it could be my imagination, but the car LOVED's purring now. Revs are noticeably smoother, and it seems quieter. I won't do a change now until I hit the regular 4month maintenance interval (or 5000mi/8000km).

    Cheers, folks.
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    Just before doing my early oil change...

    I kept asking the service guys at several dealerships if there was a special "break-in" oil put in by the factory, and nobody would definitively say.

    Like trained seals, they all just said, "We recommend following the maintenance schedule outlined in your vehicle manual". No variation. Word for word. It was like they were following a playbook. That's fine. I know it's probably sound advice. They all acknowledged though, that changing the oil and filter at my mileage (2000km/1240miles) certainly would not HURT the car. I'm glad I did, because the engine sounds and feels better.

    They did tell me in no uncertain terms though:
    1) DO NOT use synthetic oil until the engine is at the very least 10,000km (6200miles) old.
    2) after 10,000km, stick with the SAME oil for the life of the car (whether it's Castrol Syntec, Quaker State, or Mazda's own oil, etc.
    **The reason is certain additives may not mix or behave very well with additives from other oils. It depends on what's being mixed. This is why Amsoil, for example, tells people not to mix their XL-7500 series oils with other oils. (Amsoil says for their other oils, one can mix and match)
    3) If you change oil brands, do a flush first (to stop different oil brand additives from mixing)

    The same advice goes for the tranny fluid. Mazda's tranny fluid is compatible with any "Type 3" tranny fluid, but one should NOT just add a bottle of synthetic tranny fluid to "top up" levels. Replace the old tranny fluid completely, using a good flush first, IF you are changing brands. That seems to be the general rule. Toyota has given similar advice to their mechanics when using synthetics.
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    How often do you guys wash your cars in winter?

    I have to resort to street parking, and for various reasons, can't wash it by my house.

    So I have to go to the touchless car wash (either do-it-yourself or gas station one).

    When I had a black honda accord coupe, I was doing it 2-3 times a week...but with a silver car, just once a week...although the road salt here cakes on..

    Any prefs as to how often? Also anyone waxed theirs yet?
  • x_typer_pilotx_typer_pilot Member Posts: 82
    We've been washing our silver hatch about every week or so - at most every other week. I try to have it washed if there is no impending snowfall. If it's going to be clean, it would be nice to keep it reasonably so for a day or two.

    I figure at least twice a month is good enough to keep the salt rinsed off. Just my opinion though.
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    This is why I love the silver colour. It just hides the "incidental" salt a lot better...i.e. streaks of salt that are ugly on a very dark car but that warrant a full wash.

    I'm telling you, when I had a black Honda Accord coupe, in winter I was washing every 2-3 days at times. Even though, I loved that car, I really learned my lesson.

    For places like New York/Toronto...I'll now only purchase a silver or gold vehicle...if I lived in Florida or LA or a place without salt, I'd go for a darker color...but then you have to fight the dust in summer...
  • x_typer_pilotx_typer_pilot Member Posts: 82
    I know exactly what you mean. I used to wash my black crx si every other day, but damn it looked great when it was clean!

    We have a black envoy that looks really cool when it's clean, but absolutely terrible when it's dirty.

    Black cars, black cars...look better when they're clean! lol

    Luckily I enjoy cleaning my cars...otherwise I'd never buy another black one. I will probably steer clear of black for my next 2 or 3 cars, but you never know after that...?

    For now, I have a silver GTI, silver Mz3, and will probably be buying a silver Volvo V70R to replace the Envoy in a year or two. Hmmmmm, a whole fleet of silver cars... lol
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    The other downside to black was the swirlmarks. They'd develop no matter how careful I was with my waxing/drying cloths. One article I read even said swirl-marks can develop just by going through a strong wind?!?

    So to hide them, I'd have to buy a glaze, and that added to the paint maintenance process. A lot of work.

    One thing I have noticed just from drying my of the quarterpanels up front is prone to "buckling". If I lean against it, I hear it buckling in, and then when I step back, it buckles back out. No dent left or anything, but it's something to be wary of in the future.
  • x_typer_pilotx_typer_pilot Member Posts: 82
    I had that on all my japanese cars...

    type r

    My crx and integra both developed a residual 'dent' (not really a dent, but the light reflected funny) from bouncing in and out repeatedly. This happened on the front fender of both cars actually, on the driver's side. Be careful...

    The sheet metal they use for their stampings seems to be significantly thinner than european and us manufacturers. This would be from comparing the above noted cars to...

    pontiac sunbird
    eagle vision
    volvo v70t
    gmc envoy

    Yeah, the swirls... Our black Envoy had them after 3 weeks - My wife the brain surgeon took our new truck through a 'soft-cloth' car wash, and voila! Oh, well...
  • edpaffjredpaffjr Member Posts: 2
    I had a 90 Mazda MX6 that I drove for 260000 miles...
  • psymnpsymn Member Posts: 5
    I just took my mazda3 in because the rear wheels showed much more brake dust than the front. Since this was opposite from the way it should be, I was concerned. The dealer said that there was a bulletin (whatever that is) related to this problem. However, when they went to install this part they found that the rear rotors and pads were worn and had to be replaced. They did all of this work under warranty, but first tried to say that we had driven the car with the handbrake on. I responded that the handbrake had never been used as the car is automatic. Then they said that they were going to fix it all under warranty anyway. I just wanted to know if anyone else had noticed this problem(with the brakes, not the service dept)?
  • bluong1bluong1 Member Posts: 1,927
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    You rear pads & rotors were worn already?!? How many miles have you racked up your Mazda3? Whatever it is, it sounds way too soon for that.
  • mazdafunmazdafun Member Posts: 2,329
    Only some with rear disc brakes though. None of the earlier Proteges with rear drums had an issue with the parking brake cables sticking.

    I think some moisture may get in there and freeze (literally) the parking brake cables. I'm not sure of the situation with the 3, but on the Protege/P5, the end of the cable points upwards. There are rubber boots covering them, but I'm sure some dirt and moisture gets in there, which may cause the cables or mechanisms to stick.
  • bluong1bluong1 Member Posts: 1,927
    I have heard many Mazda3 owners observing more brake dust on the rear than front. Though none of them reports the pad worn out.

    There is a believable speculation that this is tie to the ABS. Hence my question above.
  • wongpreswongpres Member Posts: 422
    The N. American-spec Mazda3 issues have been (in order of prevalency):

    - airbag light
    - CEL light
    - extreme pitting on brake rotors

    My dealer just called me on Monday, my Mazda3 factory order was submitted last week, so I'm looking at a Jan or Feb build. It'll be interesting to see if these issues have been fixed at the factory yet.
  • z71billz71bill Member Posts: 1,986
    I will do the first oil change at 3,000 miles then will change every 4-5 months which for me should be about 3,500 miles. Since I do alot of short trips, in hot weather, stop and go Houston traffic I will go more by time than by miles.

    I have always said - I would never buy a 4 door car, never buy a car with 4 cylinder engine and would never buy a black car.

    Since I just bought a black Mazda 3 4 door sedan I guess I will need to rethink my position.

    We started off wanting white, then silver then blue then gray and finally went with black. So much for trying to get my wife and daughter involved in the selection! The way I look at it - compared to my full size X-cab pick up and Tahoe the Mazda 3 will be easy to wash - I can even reach the top of the car without using the step stool!
  • mazdafunmazdafun Member Posts: 2,329
    I know brake rotors all rust (supposed to), but I wonder what threshold Mazda is using as a measure.
  • psymnpsymn Member Posts: 5
    To answer a few questions posted

    Yeas my car as ABS, it also has 17 inch wheels. When I took the car in to the dealer it had 750 miles on it.

    If the hand brake cable is getting stuck or frozen I don't know how. Honestly the only time that it has been used was when the dealer parked it and gave me the keys. I did drive about 3 feet and then took the brake off.

    That being said, I don't know how much the weather in atlanta could have effected the cable. I has only been below freezing 3 days since we bought the car. And I'm pretty certain that the ABS has never engaged, I would have noticed it in the pedal vibration and noise, right?
  • bluong1bluong1 Member Posts: 1,927
    One of the speculation is that the ABS-equipped cars has EBD (Electronic for distribution), and the EBD might put more brake-force on the rear, even during normal braking in order to minimize nose diving.
  • psymnpsymn Member Posts: 5
    It is possible that EBD could redistribute the braking to the rear wheels, but I am still not convinced. I think that the dealer would have listed this on the sticker as a feature, and maybe even an option(more money).

    Also, the front wheels are clean, and I mean shiny. I'll try to post phots of the difference later. Even if EBD activated the rears more, wouldn't the wheels show about equal amounts of dust, since normal brakes have more front than rear?

    I did a check on the GA lemon law today. One major repair on the brakes or two minor repairs in 12,000 miles and I get a replacement or refund. Maybe that will be motivation for mazda to fix this problem. I have checked a couple of other owner forums and I don't think that I am the only persono with this problem.
  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    "I have always said - I would never buy a 4 door car, never buy a car with 4 cylinder engine and would never buy a black car. Since I just bought a black Mazda 3 4 door sedan I guess I will need to rethink my position. "

    Hahaha. Sometimes your positions can change in that showroom, eh? Especially when the whole family is involved.

    Well, you picked a good one to "break" the rules on. And Houston doesn't salt its road very much either, so you should be fine with black
  • mazda3ncmazda3nc Member Posts: 3
    I just got my mazda 3 last week. I noticed the brake dust last night which is why I am researching today. I went out to the car just now after reading your post to check the rotors. The right rear brake rotor already has grooves in it and is NOT supposed to. Also the right left rotor has slight indents in it also. I have just under 500 miles on it. I'll be taking it in next week.
  • z71billz71bill Member Posts: 1,986
    Anyone notice that the front and rear rotors are designed differently?

    The front is like two discs that have been welded together - they have a space between them. This is what I consider normal - it is the way all three of my other vehicles brakes (front and rear) are designed.

    The back is just one solid disc - no spacers. This may be normal - but I have never seen this design before. IMO - it would not handle heat as well as the front design - but in a normal situations I would think that more heat is generated in the front.

    I only have 180 miles on my car - so it may be to soon to see any problem.

    Brake dust on the wheels is normal - although it usually shows up more on the front than the rear. You will see more dust when the pads are new - but as the pads wear the dust must go somewhere.

    The rear brakes do make more noise - kind of a "scrubbing" sound - when I stop - but I expect that will go away once the pads and rotor get broken in.
  • mazda3hatchmazda3hatch Member Posts: 13
    The difference is that the front discs are vented, the rears are not. The "vents" are the airspaces in the fronts. This is a pretty popular configuration, but nevertheless, could explain why the rears are wearing so fast, if the EBD is applying too much force there.
  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
    Very few cars have ventilated discs in the rear, most are solid.
  • mazda3ncmazda3nc Member Posts: 3
    I am pretty sure they should not have grooves in the rotor surface brake dust or no brake dust.. That is not a good sign at all with under 500 miles on it.
  • jc106jc106 Member Posts: 8
    My wife and I picked up our Mazda 3, five door on wednesday night. This morning when she started the car the Tire Pressure warning light came on. After a visual inspection revealed no gross problems she drove to work (2 miles). As she arrived at work the light went off spontaneously.

    I have a feeling this system may be a service department money maker, but beyond that, any ideas why this would happen in a car with 50 miles on it? Also, it was cold overnight (0 degrees F).

  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
    Brake rotors with grooves after only a few hundred miles on a new car is very abnormal. I would take it to the dealer and ask for new rotors and pads. If they refuse, I would contact Mazda Customer Support.
  • mazdafunmazdafun Member Posts: 2,329
    Looks to me like the rotor material is a bit too soft. What I've read indicates mfrs choose softer rotor material to 1) reduce cost as softer steel is cheaper than harder steel and 2) reduce the amount of noise (mostly squealing) from disc brakes. Used to be rotors would last practically the life of the car. Now many mfrs recommend changing the rotors with every other (or even with each) set of pads since they've been using softer steel.

    Looks like those rotors are too soft for the pads (composite materials, like semi-metallics, have harder bits surrounded by a softer binder). It could explain the premature pitting and grooving.
  • mazda3hatchmazda3hatch Member Posts: 13
    The cold weather could have contibuted to the low tire pressure. Which might also explain why the light went off after they warmed up. Keep in mind that a visual inspection is never sufficent to judge tire pressure. If it was, you wouldn't need a TPMS ;)
  • sftonysftony Member Posts: 7
    I've been driving my Mazda3 for over a month now, nearing 3000 miles. I'm a bit concerned about the brake issue, but I'm not sure what to look for when I look closely at the rotors. Can someone tell me what I should and should not be seeing?

    Early on, I noticed the the rear brakes would squeal when was executing a slow turn, particularly when in reverse. I assumed it was just the new brakes settling in. They still do it occasionally, and this might explain why.
  • mazda6smazda6s Member Posts: 1,901
    At 3000 miles you should see some wear on the rotors, but no significant grooves.
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    Brake rotors on most production cars are machined cast iron, not steel. They do come in quite a range of hardness grades, and finish quality. Some aftermarket replacement rotors are quite good, others are junk. The same is true of OEM rotors. The Brembo replacement rotors I installed on my vehicle still look like new after 5K miles - just faint wear lines that can't be felt with a fingernail. I think Mazda and other manufacturers look for all kinds of ways to squeeze pennies out of their production costs, and perhaps cheap rotors is one way they keep costs down. FWIW, my old Focus went through its original rotors in less than 7K miles - they were noticeably warped. Lots of folks on the WRX forum have gripes about OEM Subaru brake rotors too... it isn't unique to Mazda.
  • jc106jc106 Member Posts: 8
    I spoke to the service rep who says that they have seen the warning light activate with the combination of moisture and cold (both of which we saw last night). He said this is based mostly on their RX-8 experience which has a similiar/same system. We'll see....
  • z71billz71bill Member Posts: 1,986
    All of my GM vehicles have vented disc brakes - both front and rear - 99 Silverado, 01 Tahoe and even my 81 T/A. Even if the rear is not vented I still think they are better than drums.
  • nne3jxcnne3jxc Member Posts: 134
    Anyone else getting crappy gas mileage?

    I've got a 4-door "S" with an Automatic. I've had it about a month and have put roughly 800 miles on it. I know that the initial break-in period may not deliver optimal gas mileage, but I seem to be only getting about 240-280 miles per tank. (approx 12 gallons at fill up.)
    That works out to 20-23 mpg. Most of my driving is on secondary roads with occasional highway, but very little city stop-and-go. I drive it sportingly, but I haven't been thrashing it because it's still under 1000 miles.

    I'm very dissapointed since my last car was a 4500lb full size land yacht with a V8 and it got 18mpg with the same commute.
  • guskimguskim Member Posts: 112
    I was getting 29mpg one month ago. Temperatures were warmer then 50F (10C)...but then they dropped to -4F (-20C), and fuel economy went to 21mpg..then when snow fell, it went to 19mpg.

    So some questions are:
    1) How cold has it been where you live, and what are the road conditions like (i.e. muddy, snowy)?

    Temperature is very crucial to fuel economy. So is snow/mud because it increases rolling resistance.

    2) Are you using your wipers, defrost, windshield fluid a lot;

    These all endup making your engine work harder (esp.defrost) and thus, use up gas.

    3) What is driving "sportingly"...hammer it to 55mph, but then don't exceed that...or continuous 65mph the whole way? Just trying to get an idea about your rpms.

    A difference of 800 rpm can mean 33% increase in gas consumption, depending on the car.

    Also, bottom line is I don't you think are going to get optimum fuel economy until at least 8000 miles or so. That's the case for most new 4 bangers. I would wait until the spring before getting worried. If your fuel economy hasn't improved significantly by then, then have the dealer check it out at the first oil change.
  • mazda3hatchmazda3hatch Member Posts: 13
    I think Guskim's numbers 1 and 3 above, combined with an engine that's not broken in are the likely culprits. Wipers and the defroster are going to have a pretty negligible impact on mileage. And the washer?? You gotta be kidding; maybe you should turn off your radio and drive at night with no headlights too ;)
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