2010 Mazda 3 Problems – A Good Purchase Or A Bad Idea?

by Conner Mckay

Are you on the market for a used Mazda 3 and you are looking to learn more about the 2010 Mazda 3 problems? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a ton of useful information to cover when it comes to this model and the problems it has.

Performing the proper research before you purchase a car, especially a used car with a ton of miles should be your top priority. Why I’m saying this? Well, I’m saying this because it is true, you don’t want to get an unreliable car. You want to get a reliable beater that will take you anywhere you want to.

And if you purchase an unreliable vehicle, you will spend more time at the mechanic’s shop than spending time driving the car. And that is something that nobody really wants to happen to them. So, before you go out there and throw your money on a car, you need to understand what problems it has. And some cars have a ton of them. But is this the case with the Mazda 3? Well, in this article, we are going to find out.

First, we are going to learn more about Mazda as a brand and learn why they are popular here in the States. Then we will focus on the 2010 Mazda 3. We will learn its specs, engines and transmissions, fuel economy, etc. Everything you need to know. Then we will cover the 2010 Mazda 3 problems. We will discuss every possible issue that this model has and we will learn if this is a good and reliable car or not, and what are the alternatives. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.


Now before we dive into the 2010 Mazda 3 problems, let’s cover an important topic first. And that is who is Mazda in general and learn a bit more about its history in the US market and why they are one of the most popular brands out there when it comes to imports.

Mazda Motor Corporation is a Japanese automaker which is located in Hiroshima, Japan. They were founded in 1920 and produced a variety of products, namely cork, weapons, and other products that weren’t cars.

It was up until 1960 that they introduced a car on the market. And this was the Mazda R360. This was a tiny Kei car.

In 1974 they created a partnership with Ford which lasted up until 2015. And this partnership has made Mazda one of the go-to carmakers here in the US.

They created a lot of legendary models together. Namely, the RX-7 and RX-8 are true legends in the car community even after all this time.

But what really Mazda is known for, is its Wankel rotary engine. The Wankel engine was invented by a German inventor known as Felix Wankel in the 50s. But it was Mazda that put this type of internal combustion engine into serial production.

Many thought that this would be the way to go in the future. But things didn’t work well and the Wankel fell out of favor because of its high fuel consumption and longevity. Nevertheless, these engines have put Mazda on the world map and people got to know their cars a lot better. But what are the 2010 Mazda 3 problems? More on this in a bit. After we learn the specs.

2010 Mazda 3

Now before we dive into the 2010 Mazda 3 problems, let’s first learn more about the specs in which this Mazda model was offered. Knowing the specs will help you out determine what engine and trim level are more suitable for you.

What is the most important about the Mazda 3 is to know that this 2010 model belongs to the second generation of the Mazda 3. This generation was produced from 2008 to 2013.

What is worth noting is that this model was not assembled in the US but produced elsewhere. More precisely, the US models were produced in Japan and were imported over here.

This model was based on the Ford C1 platform which was shared with Mazda and Volvo. This is because they had a long-lasting partnership and the exchange of parts and technologies between these two companies was a common thing up until 2015 when they split.

There were a few trim levels available with this model. Namely, the iSport, Sport, iSV, iTouring, and Grand Touring.

What is worth noting is that there was a high-performance version of the Mazda 3 that was known as Mazdaspeed3. This model was the one that was the way to go if you wanted to get something really sporty and quick off the line.

In 2013 this generation of the Mazda 3 was discontinued and replaced with the new generation that was released as a 2014 model. But what about the 2010 Mazda 3 problems? We will get to that in a bit after we cover the engines and transmissions that were used in the Mazda 3.

1. Engines & Transmissions

When it comes to engines and transmissions, it is worth noting that this model came with two different engines. There was a 2.0L inline-4 engine which produced about 148hp and 135lb-ft of torque. This engine implemented 16 valves with an overhead camshaft design and variable valve timing.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems

The second engine was the 2.5L inline-4 engine which was a bit peppier. This engine produced about 167hp and 168lb-ft of torque. It also implemented 16 valves an overhead camshaft design and variable valve timing as the smaller engine.

In terms of transmissions, there were three of them in total. 5-speed and 6-speed manuals and a 5-speed automatic transmission. But what about the 2010 Mazda 3 problems? We will get there in a bit after we learn more about the fuel economy and the safety aspect.

2. Fuel Economy

So, what fuel economy can you expect from the Mazda 3? Well, the 2.0L engine will easily deliver good fuel economy. More precisely, about 25 MPG In the city, 33 MPG on the highway, and 28 MPG combined.

The 2.5L has slightly worse fuel economy. This engine will get 22 MPG in the city, 29 MPG on open roads, and 25 MPG combined. Which is also good. But if you are asking me when it comes to the power difference it is not worth it since this engine has about 18 hp more than the 2.0L and in terms of fuel efficiency is a bit lacking behind.

3. Safety

When it comes to the safety aspect, it is worth covering that this is a 12-year-old car. So, you should expect to perform as such. This model was crash-tested by the IIHS and performed well, it got good scores on most of the tests.

But you should note that safety standards have changed throughout the years and cars have evolved. They became bulkier and now implement a ton more safety equipment than they did back in the day. So, in this aspect, you need to be prepared not to expect a lot.

But you have the basics, which include airbags, ABS, traction control, and other essentials. You might only be missing option items such as blind-spot monitoring, rear-view cameras, lane keep assist, and other goodies that come with modern cars.

Overall, that is all when it comes to the safety aspect. But what about the 2010 Mazda 3 problems? We will cover the problems that this model has in the following chapters.

2010 Mazda 3 Common Problems

Now let’s dive into the 2010 Mazda 3 common problems. What are the most common issues that this model has? Well, in the following chapters, we are going to cover precisely that, we will first cover the engine problems, the transmission problems, and also the other problems that you will highly likely come across if you own this model. So, follow along.

2010 Mazda 3 Engine Problems

Now let’s cover the most common engine problems with the 2.0L MZR engine which is one of the most common ones used on the Mazda 3. And the chances are rather big that you will come by one of these engines.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #1. Increased Oil Consumption Above 100,000 Miles

The first common in our list of 2010 Mazda 3 problems is an engine problem. More precisely the problem with increased oil consumption.

These engines are really known for their thirstiness. They love to drink oil more than other engines in their class. Especially when they are nearing the 100,000-mile mark or have surpassed this mark. But why is this the case? Why is this happening to these engines?

Well, there are mainly two reasons for this increase in oil consumption. The first is fixable to a good extent. What happens is that the valve stem seals can fail and this will allow oil to sip in from the valve stems and leak into the cylinders and burn.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems

In this case, you can fix this problem by simply replacing these valve stem seals on your car. A capable mechanic can replace them in a few hours and readjust the valves. This will hopefully solve the oil-burning problem.

But if the problem is caused by the connecting rod bearings or piston rings, this could be really expensive to fix. In order to replace these components, you will have to refurbish the whole engine and this could easily cost you thousands of dollars.

And if you notice that the owner has a jug of oil in the trunk when you look at the car, you better stay away from it.

Because in extreme cases these engines could drink more than a quart every 1,000 miles. And you don’t want that. Now let’s move on to the next 2010 Mazda 3 problems.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #2. Engine Thermostat Fails At 60,000 Miles

The second in our list of 2010 Mazda 3 problems is the issue with the engine thermostat. As you probably are aware, engine thermostats are the components that open and close.

This thermostat reacts to temperature and the spring opens once the engine reaches the proper working temperature.

So, what can happen is that this thermostat can get stuck in a fully open or closed position. And when this happens, it could create a ton of problems. If it stays open it will not allow the engine to reach operating temperature. Or if it stays closed, it will cause the engine to overheat.

And trust me, these engines can overheat because of this issue. What is unfortunate is that the thermostat on this engine fails at about 60,000 miles on average. A quality thermostat should easily last for more than 100,000 miles.

So, replacing this unit if you purchase a used Mazda 3 might be a good idea if you want to avoid ending up with an overheated engine.

Also, check the coolant and oil and see if they are mixed together. If they mix, it means that the engine has overheated and you want to stay away from this engine. Now let’s move to the next 2010 Mazda 3 problems.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #3. Variable Intake Manifold Failure

The next in our list of 2010 Mazda 3 problems is the variable intake manifold failure. If you didn’t know, Mazda is using these variable intake manifolds.

This is basically racing technology. This technology achieves that supercharging effect and allows the car to have individual throttle bodies controlled by the computer.

For each of the cylinders, there is a flap and sometimes these flaps can fail and end up stuck and causing problems that will prevent the engine from running properly. So, what happens is that the valve or flap inside will not open and allow air to enter the intake.

These intake manifolds easily end up being polluted by carbon deposits from the EVAP and PCV systems. So, the variable intake manifold will fail and not open when needed. The only solution would be to clean it if possible or replace it altogether. Now let’s move to the next set of 2010 Mazda 3 problems.

2010 Mazda 3 Transmission Problems

The next set of 2010 Mazda 3 problems that we would like to cover is the transmission issues that this model has. And we can say that luckily for you, there are no big problems with the transmission of this model. But still, there are some issues worth covering.

The biggest problem was associated with the 5-speed manual transmission. More precisely, the transmission on the manual model had a weak clutch.

As you probably know, the clutch is the component that has friction material. This material basically engages and disengages the transmission from the engine. And what often happened in these cars was the clutch failure.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems

A big cloud of smoke appeared from the center console and this caused a ton of complaints. About 65 reported failures. The only way to sort this problem out is to replace the clutch. And this can cost anywhere from $1,00 to $1,200. Very expensive repair, to be honest.

The second problem was associated with the automatic transmissions. More precisely the TCM or transmission control unit is the computer basically which controls the transmission. It tends to fail on these models and cause trouble. Overall, these are the 2010 Mazda 3 transmission problems.

2010 Mazda 3 Electrical Problems

Diving further into the intricacies of the 2010 Mazda 3, let’s discuss some commonly reported electrical issues that affected this model.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #4. Malfunctioning Headlights

A frequent concern among users was related to the headlights. Some drivers reported intermittent functioning of headlights, while others experienced total failure. This can be dangerous, especially when driving at night. The root causes can range from a simple fuse malfunction to faulty wiring. When checking a used Mazda 3, always give the headlights a thorough test in all settings.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #5. Faulty Brake Light Switch

An essential safety feature, the brake lights, occasionally gave owners a headache. Some experienced issues where the brake lights wouldn’t illuminate when pressing the pedal. Often, this was due to a faulty brake light switch. If you notice erratic behavior in the brake lights, it’s essential to address this issue immediately to ensure safety on the road.

2010 Mazda 3 Suspension and Chassis Problems

A car’s driving dynamics are vital for its overall appeal, especially in the compact segment. Regrettably, there were certain concerns related to Mazda 3’s suspension and chassis components.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #6. Clunky Strut Mounts

Over time, many owners reported a clunky or knocking noise, especially during low-speed turns or when driving over bumps. This was often traced back to worn-out front strut mounts. Replacing these mounts generally resolves the noise, but it’s a factor to consider when checking out a used Mazda 3.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #7. Premature Tire Wear

Aligned with suspension concerns, another reported problem was premature tire wear. This can be caused by various factors such as alignment issues, worn-out suspension components, or even driving habits. Regularly inspecting the tires for uneven wear patterns can provide insight into potential alignment or suspension problems.

2010 Mazda 3 Interior Concerns

Moving inside, some issues, though less critical, can still be annoying for daily driving.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #8. Fading Buttons and Controls

With frequent use, some Mazda 3 owners noticed that the icons on the steering wheel controls and center console started to fade or peel off. While this doesn’t affect the car’s functionality, it does reduce the aesthetic appeal of the interior. Replacement parts are available but can add up in terms of costs.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #9. Sticky Door Lock Actuators

Several owners pinpointed issues with door lock actuators getting stuck or not working consistently. This can be both a security and convenience concern. If you encounter difficulties with doors not locking or unlocking smoothly, the actuator might be the culprit.

2010 Mazda 3 Exterior Concerns

Last but not least, let’s touch upon some exterior challenges Mazda 3 owners faced.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems #10. Fading Paint and Clear Coat Peeling

A more cosmetic concern, but still worth noting, is the reported fading paint and clear coat peeling on some Mazda 3 models. Especially in areas with intense sun exposure, this can lead to the car losing its luster prematurely. If cosmetics are essential for you, consider a professional inspection and possibly a paint job.

In conclusion, while the 2010 Mazda 3 had its set of challenges, being informed about these potential pitfalls can help you make an educated decision if considering a purchase. It’s always a smart move to have any used vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before finalizing the deal. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to enjoy all the positive aspects of the 2010 Mazda 3 while minimizing potential headaches.

2010 Mazda 3 Other Problems

We have covered a lot of 2010 Mazda 3 problems. Now let’s cover other problems that this car has and these problems are not associated with the engine, nor with the transmission.

People have reported a different set of problems. More precisely 2010 Mazda 3 oxygen sensor problems where the oxygen sensor has completely failed and is causing the car to run rich on fuel.

Then there were the 2010 Mazda 3 alternator problems. These problems were associated with the failure of the alternator on the Mazda 3 models from this year. Even though it is not a common issue.

Other problems were associated with the 2010 Mazda 3 power steering problems. The power steering pump on this model also tends to fail quite often.

And another issue was the 2010 Mazda 3 radio problems. The radio of this vehicle was somewhat problematic as well.

Another issue is associated with the front seat bracket. It would break down and you would basically end up with a seat that moves forward and backward freely. Not an ideal situation. The repair is also expensive, about $740.

And the last issue that we are going to cover is the issue with the dashboard. Mazda has used some cheap plastic on this model. And there were reports on the car complaints website concerning this problem. Many people reported how their dash started to melt under the hot sun. So, this is one of the issues that you need to be aware of.

2010 Mazda 3 Reliability Score

When it comes to the reliability of this model, we can easily give it a solid 8/10. Not the best car in the world. But a good beater car that you can drive over 200,000 miles, the engine and transmissions are solid.

What is bad though, is that it tends to drink oil a little bit. And you need to be aware of this before purchasing. And also carry a jug of oil to top it off whenever needed, and watch out for the thermostat and avoid overheating the engine.

Mazda 3 Years To Avoid

When it comes to years to avoid, it is rather difficult to say which year you should avoid. I’m saying this because reports online can be really confusing to some extent.

For example, 2010 has the most complaints of all years. But when you see what these complaints are made of, you will notice that the vast number are focused on the melting dashboard, seat bracket failures, and the manual transmission. More precisely the clutch failures.

So, if you are asking me, these are no big issues. The clutch is an item that you will have to replace sooner or later if you buy an old manual. While the dash can be refurbished, or if you don’t mind the looks, you can live with it.

That’s our 2 cents on the years to avoid. Still, you can avoid 2010 just in case you don’t want to deal with any of these 2010 Mazda 3 problems.

2009 Mazda 3

The 2009 Mazda3 faced numerous challenges, particularly concerning the engine. Owners lamented a premature engine failure which, to their dismay, often occurred just outside warranty. Moreover, many highlighted the persistent problem of engine stalling, especially during low speeds. This unpredictable behavior not only frustrated drivers but also posed a risk on the road. Another complaint frequently cited was the oil leak from the timing chain cover.

2011 Mazda 3

The 2011 Mazda3 seemed to have taken a hit when it came to its suspension. Owners commonly reported that the rear shock absorbers failed prematurely. This issue often led to uneven tire wear, thus prompting multiple replacements and repairs. Additionally, drivers faced issues with the front struts, further compounding the model’s suspension woes.

2014 Mazda 3

Stepping into the tech realm, the 2014 Mazda3 unfortunately suffered from infotainment system glitches. The central display screen would randomly go black, forcing drivers to restart the system continually. Furthermore, the Bluetooth connectivity in this model was notoriously inconsistent, causing annoyance to those dependent on it for calls and music.

2015 Mazda 3

While not as problematic as some of its predecessors, the 2015 Mazda3 had its share of issues, especially regarding the transmission. Specifically, drivers recounted instances of abrupt shifting, indicating potential transmission problems. Some also mentioned a mysterious jerking sensation when attempting to accelerate.

2016 Mazda 3

Safety is paramount, and unfortunately, the 2016 Mazda3 had its fair share of braking problems. An unnerving trend emerged where the brakes would wear out exceptionally quickly. While no accidents were directly attributed to this issue, the rapid wear led to frequent replacements and higher maintenance costs for owners.

2017 Mazda 3

In the 2017 model, the Mazda3 had issues related to the electronic systems. Many drivers voiced concerns over the keyless entry system, which occasionally malfunctioned and locked them out of their cars. Additionally, the model exhibited problems with its battery. Numerous instances were reported where the car wouldn’t start, even with a fully charged battery.

2018 Mazda 3

Comfort is crucial, especially during those hot summer months. Regrettably, the 2018 Mazda3 fell short in the air conditioning department. A prevalent complaint was the AC’s inability to blow cold air, often necessitating expensive repairs. Furthermore, some drivers faced problems with the condenser, which in several instances, developed leaks.

2020 Mazda 3

While newer, the 2020 Mazda3 hasn’t been without its hiccups. Notably, users complained about its radar cruise control system, which occasionally malfunctioned and failed to maintain set speeds. Another qualm was the rearview camera system, which on occasion would display a blank screen, compromising safety during reversals.

In wrapping up, while Mazda cars, including the Mazda3, have been lauded for their design and driveability, like all models, they come with their unique set of challenges. For potential buyers, being aware of these problem-prone years can save significant time, money, and frustration.

Mazda 3 Alternatives

When it comes to alternatives to this model, it is worth noting that there are plenty of them. Namely, the Honda Civic, Ford Fiesta, Audi A1, Toyota Corolla, VW Golf, Hyundai Elantra, and others.

Facts about the 2010 Mazda3:

  1. The 2010 Mazda3 is an affordable compact car with serious clutch and anti-lock brake system issues.
  2. The hatchback has plenty of cargo space, high-quality materials, and luxurious seats for its price range.
  3. The suspension is firm, and there is less passenger room than in other compact cars in this year.
  4. The overall rating for the 2010 Mazda3 is 6/10, with poor owner reviews for excessive noise, frequent breakdowns, and lack of traction.
  5. Common problems include clutch failures, melting dashboards, and ABS system issues, which are more severe than other compact cars from 2010, and costly to repair.
  6. The 2010 Mazda3 has a well-earned reputation for poor reliability, with a rating of 5/10, and is not a good value for buyers.
  7. There are six versions of the Mazda3 offered for the 2010 model year, with varying features, and high-performance options.
  8. The base engine is an average 2.0L-4-cylinder, and the flagship engine is a very powerful 2.3L 4-cylinder turbo, with excellent performance.
  9. The 2010 Mazda3 is a comfortable compact car with high-quality seats and soft cushions, but less legroom in the back seats.
  10. The Toyota Corolla is a recommended competitor, with better reliability ratings, and fewer mechanical issues, while the Honda Civic has better technology features.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems: In Conclusion…

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the 2010 Mazda 3 problems. First, we learned more about Mazda as a brand and what they are known for.

Then we focused on the specs for the 2010 model of the Mazda 3. Then we learned about the common 2010 Mazda 3 problems and learned what is the most problematic with this car. Lastly, we gave our opinion on it.

2010 Mazda 3 Problems: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

Are Mazdas Good Cars

Overall, Mazda cars are really good cars. There are still some models plagued with problems like some of their SUVs. But their sedan series of cars is really good if you are asking me. Still, before you decide to purchase, make sure that you study all of the problems that this specific model has.

Is The Mazda 3 A Good Car

The Mazda 3 is a fairly good car. It performs really well when it comes to the reliability aspect and you should definitely check it out. Still, beware of the 2010 model, this model has some issues with the clutch on the manual transmission, as well as some problems with the seat brackets, and the melting dashboard.

How Long Do Mazdas Last

Mazda engines could easily last up to 200,000 miles. Their engines are one of the best when it comes to endurance. But they require maintenance and regular oil changes in order to prevent wear and tear on the bearings, and also if the engine drinks oil, you need to check the valve stem seals and replace them if necessary.

Why Mazda Is Not Popular

Their popularity has dropped through the years here in the US. This is mainly because of their lack of offering and dealerships across the country. So, people have gone elsewhere. Even though there are still a ton of people who love this brand and would be happy to purchase one of their cars.

Are Mazdas Expensive To Fix

They are not more expensive to fix than your regular Honda or Toyota. So, maintenance costs, should not worry you. Just focus on the problems and look for a car model that does not have any major flaws.

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