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CyberEric Reader
8/9/16 2:06 p.m.

In reply to SilverFleet:

Gotcha. I was just curious because I didn't see that much inner tire wear on my old M3 with -2.5 camber and 0 toe on Dunlop Star Specs (a pretty soft tire). It made me wonder how much neg camber the 3 has from the factory. I can't imagine it's more than -2.0. Anyway, thanks for detailing all of this!

SilverFleet UberDork
8/19/16 8:43 a.m.

Took some glamour shots of the 3 over the weekend at Thompson Speedway in CT after the Lemons event:

This car continues to amaze me even nearly 5 years in. I was able to fit my mountain bike in the car for the event, along with all my other gear.

CyberEric Reader
8/19/16 11:23 a.m.

I think that's the best looking second-gen 3 I've seen. It's great in white!

SilverFleet UberDork
8/19/16 11:28 a.m.

In reply to CyberEric:

Thanks! That's the reason I ordered a white one. It's called Crystal White Mica, and it was an extra cost option. I saw the color on a 2011 sedan in the showroom when my wife bought her dark gray 2010 3, and fell in love. Japanese sporty cars always look good in white.

SilverFleet UberDork
9/30/16 3:39 p.m.

Wow, tomorrow will be 5 years since I took delivery of my 2012 Mazda 3. In those 5 years, I've covered just over 120,000 miles and performed the following maintenance:

-Replaced brakes twice

-Replaced tires twice

-Performed 16 oil changes

-Replaced one transmission mount

-Replaced one set of plugs

-Replaced a couple air filters and cabin air filters

-Fixed a bad weld in the driver's seat

-Changed the transmission fluid once

-Replaced the rear sway bar end links

And that's it. It's officially the vehicle I've put the most miles on that I've ever had, and it's easily been the best car I've ever had. It has also been the easiest car to wrench on that I've ever had. I would recommend one to anybody.

It's due for a few things soon, including plugs, transmission oil, another oil change, and a belt. I wouldn't hesitate to hop in it and drive it to California and back.

I bought it a gift this week too: a HID conversion kit. It's something I wanted when I ordered the car, but it only came with the expensive Technology Package. I tossed them in a few days back, and so far, so good. Even though it has halogen projectors, it doesn't produce as much glare as I thought it might, so other drivers aren't getting blinded. I plan on finding a set of the factory HID housings at some point, but for now, these will do.

Since it's paid off now , I'm playing the "let's see how long I can make it last" game. I've thought of replacing it with something newer and faster, like a Challenger or ATS Performance sedan, but I can't bear the thought of ditching the car. It's still fun to drive, and it's been a trusted 4-wheeled friend when I needed it most.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/31/17 12:31 p.m.

I had some time over the long weekend to catch up on some long overdue maintenance items on the Mazda. It's clocking in at just over 137k miles now and still going strong. I did the following:

-Oil change

-Transmission fluid

-Cabin air filter

-Serpentine belt

-Polished headlights

The oil change was due, so I decided it was a good time to do the transmission fluid. I think the last time I did it was at 60k, and the transmission had been getting a bit clunky when shifting, so it was long overdue. I ended up going with Redline MTL 75w80 this time. No more chunky gear changes!

The other stuff was all standard procedure maintenance. The belt was LONG overdue, and was cracked to oblivion. And the cabin air filter:

Yeah, I nearly puked. There was a pile of assorted grossness in there as well that I did not take a picture of.

Then, there were the headlights. My wife's 2010 Mazda 3 had severely yellowed lenses, so I picked up this kit from Meguiar's:

In the kit, there are 1000 grit and 3000 grit sandpaper discs, a velcro-equipped "handle" for the pads, small bottles of Plast-X and Headlight Protectant, a microfiber cloth, and a buffing drill bit (not pictured). Basically, you wet sand the lenses with both discs, polish them with the drill bit and Plast-X, and then apply the protectant, which I'm pretty sure is just carnauba wax. The kit is $25, but you could likely replicate it for less.

But hey, it works! They look as good now as the day I bought it.

Here's her car, which was WAY worse:



Also checked my $151 drilled and slotted brakes. They now have 37K on them. No cracks in the drilled holes, and a surprising amount of pad left. I might get 50k out of these or more, and they still stop well.

Still love this car.

Bibs New Reader
5/31/17 5:40 p.m.

On the gen-1 cars, the rear trailing arm bushings separate, causing noise and wrecking your tires. Not sure if that issue followed into the gen-2 3s, but take a look. I did my bushings, and it quieted down the car, stopped a few rattles and improved the ride. It's funny how you don't notice these things as they slowly get worse.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
6/1/17 1:11 p.m.
Bibs wrote: On the gen-1 cars, the rear trailing arm bushings separate, causing noise and wrecking your tires. Not sure if that issue followed into the gen-2 3s, but take a look. I did my bushings, and it quieted down the car, stopped a few rattles and improved the ride. It's funny how you don't notice these things as they slowly get worse.

I haven't seen any issues with the rear trailing arms, but the rear endlinks did get clunky a while ago and were swapped out.

One thing that has amazed me so far is that the stock suspension (save for the rear end links) is still fine. The shocks and struts are still good, and the front end is still tight at just over 137k miles. How is that even possible, especially considering that I drive on the aggro crag MA roads year round?

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
10/25/17 8:31 a.m.

Wow, I completely forgot that I hit 6 years with my Mazda 3 back on 10/1/17!

It just hit 148,000 miles yesterday, and as a reward for that, the check engine light came on. frown 

It actually came on about a week ago, and gave me the P0442 "Small evap leak" code. I figured it was a loose gas cap, so I turned it off, tightened it, and went on my merry way. Then, it gave me a P0456 code, again, a small evap leak. I turned it off and drove for about 500-600 miles, and it came on with a P0442 again yesterday. Ugh. 

Trying to do research for this car on common issues is like trying to get blood from a stone. There's not much info out there, and what's out there is usually crap. 

It could be anything: a bad purge solenoid valve, a bad filler neck, cracked lines somewhere, or something else. I'm dreading bringing it to the dealer for diagnosis, because that's going to cost an arm and a leg. I've had friends actually trade in cars due to not being able to find an emissions leak, and I'd hate to do that because this thing is paid off and still runs and drives great.

Anyone know of common problems with these when they pop these codes? 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
10/25/17 8:33 a.m.

I forgot to mention two things: Lately, when getting gas, the pump sometimes shuts off in the middle of fueling like it's full, but it's not. Also, there's a strong fuel odor at the gas cap. 

4Msfam Reader
10/25/17 12:17 p.m.

Sounds to me like the purge valve. I replaced mine twice, probably due for mine again. Do you also occasionally have a bad idle?  It wasn't too hard to change, and not too expensive of a part. The dealer wanted something like $500'to change the $45 dollar part, so I did it myself. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
10/26/17 8:08 a.m.

Hopefully it is the purge solenoid valve, because I just ordered one. For $36, I'll give it a shot. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
11/6/17 9:36 a.m.

Update on my CEL situation, and it's not great. sad

I replaced the purge valve solenoid, and the CEL went from an active fault to a "historic" fault on my reader, so after about 100 miles of driving, I cleared it. The light has been off since, but today I scanned it again to see if it was really off for good. 

Now, I'm getting "pending faults" for PO442 and PO456. Both of those have come up before, but not together. Also, the light is still off, for now. 

Info on these cars is few and far between online. I feel sometimes that I'm the only owner that actually works on theirs. From what I'm seeing, aside from a "loose gas cap", the other causes are bad vacuum hoses, a cracked charcoal canister, a bad filler neck flapper valve or a tank pressure check valve, if one even exists. 

One thing the car has been doing for the past couple years that is annoying (and possibly related) is that when I go to get gas, the pump will shut off prematurely before the tank is full. It usually gets to about 65-75% full and then I have to remove the nozzle and put it back in over and over until it is really full. This to me indicates that there's some sort of weird fuel system pressure going on, and whatever was causing it finally broke. If it's the neck valve flapper, that's a tank-out situation and I'm not sure they even sell that part separately from the filler neck. 

I'm really dreading bringing it to a dealer, because I have a feeling that the cost will be in the neighborhood of a down payment on something else. Hopefully I can fix it soon. 

Sonic UltraDork
11/6/17 10:57 a.m.

I had a similar issue on one of the 2007 Mazda3s we had, it ended up being the evap pump thing that is tucked into the rear suspension, had to drop the subframe a bit to be able to get to that one. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
11/6/17 11:35 a.m.

In reply to Sonic :

I thought of that too. I know that the 2003-09 cars have a completely different evap system than the 2010-13 cars, and as far as I can tell, there's no pump like yours had on mine. The 2.0L cars might have it, but my 2.5L seems completely different.

EDIT: The plot thickens. I was on a Mazda OEM parts site and noticed that there is another purge valve that's located on or near the charcoal canister. Looks sorta like this:

That one is around $70. Not sure if there's a way to test it before throwing money at the problem, but it's at least another place to look. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
12/11/17 3:17 p.m.

DING DING DING!!! I was 100% correct in my above post! laugh

I got frustrated with self-diagnosis and throwing money at it, so I took it to the dealer. It had an open recall anyway, so I asked them to do a smoke test to see what the issue was while it was there. Turns out it WAS the Canister Purge Valve; it failed and was leaking. $400 later, it was fixed. This was the 1st time in 151k miles that it ever had to go to the dealer for anything. 

Now, why did I have them do it? Because...

1.) I don't have a lot of free time because of the holidays

2.) You have to remove the rear suspension to access it, making it a giant PITA

While it was there, I complained about it prematurely shutting off the gas pump when getting gas. I feared it would be a gummed up flapper valve in the filler neck, as I've read this happens sometimes. Turns out that the vent lines on these get clogged up with spider webs, which cause the problem. This was actually something that halted assembly lines for Mazdas built in Mexico and led to some recalls, but mine was built in Japan so it was left out. They cleared them out and it seems to work better now. They also checked the condition of the charcoal canister, since I had been pumping extra gas in the car to make sure it was actually full. They said it looked perfect inside, so that's good. 

So yeah, total list of faults from day one for the car is as follows:

-1 bad transmission mount, $75 (they all do this)

-2 rear endlinks, $20 each (again, they all do this)

-Driver seat spot weld broke, $FREE (friend welded it back together, and yet again, they all do this)

-Emissions system refresh, $440 (includes Purge Valve, Canister Valve, Gas Cap, and dealer labor)

-Hatch Struts, $FREE (safety recall)

So I have around $550 in unscheduled repairs in 6 years and 151k miles. One trip to the dealer in that time. I'd chalk that up as a win. Of course, this doesn't include general maintenance items like brakes, tires, and oil changes. 

I also bolted the winter wheels on after I got it home, just in time for some snow. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
2/15/18 4:25 p.m.

The car just hit 156k a couple days ago, and the CEL has been off since getting it fixed. Now, a new issue is starting to pop up. 

When I'm driving, and I lift off the gas and the car is decelerating, I can hear a weird warbling, whiny noise from the front driver's side. At first, I thought it might be the throwout bearing, but it is independent of whether the clutch is in or out. So, that leaves a few things to check:

-Struts and strut tops: The suspension on this car is all original, save for the rear end links. I've heard loose parts make weird noises on other cars before, but not on decel. 

-Wheel bearing: Last time I checked things out up there, the wheel bearings seemed fine. 

-Transmission mount: I replaced this around 100k with an aftermarket mount. It's entirely possible that this mount is also worn, because for some reason, the 2nd gen 3's with manual transmissions eat transmission mounts. 

-The transmission itself: I've noticed that the noise is louder in lower (numeric) gears, but for some reason, the lower gears put more stress on mounts/suspension than the others. This was something I noticed when troubleshooting the bad mount last time around. I changed the fluid to the correct Redline stuff around 20k ago., but it could be some sort of axle/differential bearing starting to go. I'm thinking (and hoping) this isn't it. That would be the end of the car for me. 

-The winter wheels: I have noticed in the past that when I bolt on the winter wheels and tires, the car makes all sorts of strange driveline noises it doesn't make on the regular wheels and tires. Whether it's the aggressive snow tread or the added heft of the steelies over the factory alloys, I don't know. 

Whatever it is, it doesn't really affect drivability, so I just keep piling on the miles. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
2/21/18 10:27 a.m.

Took a look at the car over the long weekend.

-I checked the front suspension first, and somehow, even with 156k on it all, it's tight. I don't get it. 

-Pulled the wheel off and checked the brakes, and they should squeak by for another 5k or so, but they aren't making that noise. (Side note: these brakes were the $151 brake kit I bought a while ago, and they have gone for nearly 60k with no problems at all. Color me impressed!) 

-Pulled the battery box out again to take a look at the mount, and it had rubber dust everywhere. I lubed mounting points, got out the prybar to try and make it make noise (it didn't) and put it all back together. 

After doing that, I put the car on the ground and started driving.  The noise got A LOT worse. Now, it clunks on startup, grinds on decel, and even during acceleration. I think the lubing and prying did in the transmission mount. Again. 

A new one with a revised design is on order. Hopefully I can get more than 60-70k out of this one. At least I wrote myself a tutorial on how to change the mount! laugh

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
2/23/18 7:58 p.m.

And now to add insult to injury, the P0456 code for the Evap leak is back on. angry

I've replaced everything that has to do with the Evap system except the canister and hoses, which the dealer tested and were fine. Guess its going to have to go back there for more testing.

I've officially entered the "nickel and dime to death" phase of ownership. And my patience is wearing thin.


Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
2/26/18 9:06 a.m.

I replaced the transmission mount over the weekend. Again. 


Here's the old one:

That's with roughly 57k miles on it of everyday, mostly highway driving. That crack was worse than the original mount!

Here's the new one:

As you can see, the area where the other one cracked is a lot beefier and is actually made of a different material entirely. Hopefully it lasts longer. 

As for the CEL, it's off after removing the battery to replace the mount. I also noticed the gas cap (an aftermarket replacement one) seemed loose, so I put the OEM one back on the car. Hopefully it stays off before it has another potentially expensive stay at the dealer. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/13/18 4:14 p.m.

So, this week was eventful...

Last weekend, I needed to do an oil change to my car, as it was about to hit 160,000 miles. Still doesn't leak or burn any oil, or anything else for that matter; color me impressed. I also swapped on the non-winter wheels, and promptly remembered how worn the tires were. Ordered a set of Cooper RS3-G1's on super sale at Discount Tire Direct:

They are going to be $165 after rebates, which is insane. Also checked the brakes, which are the ones I did earlier in the thread with the black e-coating, and while the rotors show no cracks or anything, the pads are spent. I ordered another set of the same rotors from MaxBrakes.com and a set of their new "carbon metallic" pads to try out. I've had ceramic pads the past few times, and I don't like the lack of bite when they are cold, so we'll see how these do. 

I also worked on my wife's 2010 Mazda 3 to the point of frustration. It has an intermittent starting issue that's caused by the neutral safety switch/shift interlock switch, so I bought another one. The new one didn't work at all! I cleaned the old switch and tossed it back on, but noticed that the selector shaft coming out of the transmission (it's an automatic) was loose. That scared me. I did belts and rotated the tires, and then noticed that the AC compressor was on its way out (bearings) and the engine mounts were all crap and needed to be replaced. Also, it developed an expensive exhaust leak in one of the cat pipes. Ugh. 

Then, this happened yesterday: 

I still cannot believe this hit 160k! It doesn't look, feel, or drive like it has that many miles. With the new tires, brakes, and some new struts/shocks, it will feel new again.  I can't wait. 

But the wife's 3... not so much. As the week went on, it got worse. Car was having more trouble starting and everything else I mentioned kept going further south. We threw in the towel and traded it in last night on this:

It's a 2018 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD. It is really nice and has basically everything we could ask for but a sunroof, which we're fine living without. It has heated seats, radar cruise, lane departure, and a ton more. Now we have all white cars with the exception of my Trans Am (Change name to White Fleet?). laugh 

Now, I'll have more time to wrench on other projects! 

Sonic UltraDork
4/13/18 7:39 p.m.

My mother picked up a 2017 CX5 grand touring last year, also in white, at my recommendation.  It really is a fantastic car for “normal” people. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/25/18 10:51 a.m.
SilverFleet said:

As mentioned in the old thread, I was having some trouble with the brakes. I replaced my stock brakes with Centric rotors and Stop Tech Street Performance pads at around 65K miles, and shortly after, I developed a wheel shake and a brake pulsation. I chalked it up to bad motor mounts, unbalanced tires, and other things, but it was definitely the brakes. At about 100k, I had enough. I started looking into replacement brakes, and kept seeing those cheap slotted/drilled kits on Amazon. After doing some research, I decided to give it a shot. Ended up ordering a kit through MaxBrakes.com for $151 shipped. They came e-coated and have ceramic pads. Here's some pics:

This is one of the Centric rotors. It's kind of tough to see, but that thing is warped!

See that line on the rotor surface? It looks like pad deposits, but it's not. It's actually missing material, or a defect in the rotor. Total crap.

I wasn't expecting anything great from $151 rotors and pads, but I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the boxes up. The rotors were machined nicely, and definitely better than any cheap rotors I've bought in the past.

This is my dog Holly. She was helping me do my brakes. Holly thinks I am totally lame.

Holly would much rather derp it up in the yard than do brakes, and I don't blame her one bit.

Rotors have that e-coating on the surface, but that wears off as soon as you hit the brakes.

After having them on the car for 9K miles, I'm pretty happy with them. They stop really well, and the e-coating has held up on the hubs and the outer edges. I'd probably buy them again. No cracking on the slots or holes, either. Only gripe is that they are a little noisy when cold, but that doesn't bother me one bit. They are ceramic pads, and they barely dust at all.

Remember those "BLACK BRAKES????" Well, 60k later, they were due for replacement, so I bought them again. This time, the company that sells them (MaxBrakes.com) offers a new carbon metallic compound at an additional cost over the ceramic pads that usually come in the kit. Having fond memories of the Performance Friction Carbon Metallic pads I used to run in everything, I gave these a shot. While I liked the old pads, I'm not a big ceramic fan. The cold bite leaves a lot to be desired. 

Yep, the rotors are still black. 

So, how did the old ones hold up?

Shockingly well. I inspected all four rotors, looking for cracks and imperfections, which is what you usually get with these cheap slotted/drilled rotors, and found none. In fact, if there was an easy way to have them resurfaced, I would have just done that. The black e-coating even held up pretty well where it needed to, which is a miracle up here in the Northeast. And yes, that e-coating on the rotor face disappears during break-in. See?

So, how are they? The carbon metallic pads are A LOT better when it comes to cold bite, and they get even better with some heat. These are the best brakes I've had on anything in a while. For $160 shipped, I'm floored. 

Next up will be tires. The ones on the car are smoked, and I have a new set sitting in the garage waiting to be mounted. The cycle continues... 

slowride Dork
5/25/18 9:54 a.m.

Have you replaced the rear brake pads? Mine have been making an occasional grinding noise but I'm only at 70,000 miles and that seems really early for them to be worn out.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
5/25/18 9:57 a.m.

In reply to slowride :

I've done brakes on this car 3 times now, so yes. And I typically get about 60-70k out of my brakes, both front and rear. I'd say yours are due. 

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