2021 Mazda CX-5 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, service brakes, and structure issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 gives off the appearance of being a sleek, well-built model, with the automaker claiming it provides “a difference you can feel.” However, customers have come to find something completely different. The faulty electrical system, malfunctioning service brakes and shoddy structure are causing some major headaches.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2019   2020   2022

Most Common Problems

There are numerous complaints about 20221 Mazda CX-5. These range from engine and powertrain issues to problems with exterior lighting and windscreen wipers.

Let’s have a look at the broader range of complaints made to the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

At least nine components, systems, and/or faults were named in complaints to NHTSA about the 2021 Mazda CX-5:

  1. Engine
  2. Powertrain
  3. Electrical system
  4. Fuel system
  5. Service brakes
  6. Structure
  7. Lane departure
  8. Visibility and wipers
  9. Structure

2021 Mazda CX-5 Complaint Summary

Complaint Category Number of Complaints
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Service Brakes
Electrical System
Fuel/propulsion System
Vehicle Speed Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Lane Departure: Blind Spot Detection


Paint Finish

The first complaint was in January 2021 and referred to the Soul Red Crystal finish on their vehicle chipping badly after only 3 months. This was already known to be a problem with previous models. Reports state that this red finish, introduced in 2017, is so soft and thin it cannot absorb the harsh rays of the sun.

Another owner, with only 12 miles on the clock, reports a similar paint-chipping issue with Soul Red Crystal Metallic, a premium color that cost an extra $595.

Fuel System

A complaint lodged in November 2021 describes an incident that followed a dealer reprogramming the transmission control unit after the fuel gauge malfunctioned. The problem recurred, with additional malfunctions of warning lights, windshield wipers, and the cruise control that wouldn’t deactivate.

Because the cruise control didn’t deactivate and the brakes didn’t engage immediately the car ran over a metal pole. A police report was filed but the report states the manufacturer wasn’t notified of the failure. A second dealer said the fuel level-sending unit must be replaced.

Windshield & Visibility

The most recent complaint was in late January 2022. This states that the windshield defrost only works for the middle part of the windshield, which severely impairs visibility when it rains or snows, making driving dangerous. A similar complaint maintains that visibility is degraded by 80% because of this poor design.

Another visibility problem reported relates to the glass of a sunroof exploding outward for no apparent reason.

Engine & Powertrain

Issues in complaints vary quite widely, including those that relate to battery voltage, oil levels, and failure to accelerate.

Reported reactions from dealers to these problems show why anyone who buys a lemon needs to consult with a consumer law firm that will take up your case.

For example, one complainant states that Mazda and the selling/servicing dealer refused to acknowledge an issue relating to low engine oil level problems thought to be caused by “oil burning.” Another complainant with low oil problems was told nothing could be done until Mazda came up with a solution.

Another complaint involving lane departure, and safety issues, had a similar lack of result. Although the complainant had video evidence of the lane departure fault, the dealer said there was no problem.

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Problems with the Electrical System

Everyone wants to remain connected and entertained while driving, but the Mazda CX-5 electrical systems make that difficult.

Read this Edmunds review. “There is no way to easily switch through my favorited XM stations without taking my eyes off the road and going through multiple actions on the console control system. Oddly enough, there is a way to semi-easily flip through the 100+ other stations that I don’t listen to. Both the Mazda3 and the CX-30 have functionality on the volume knob that allows for switching through your favorites by pressing left or right, but when you pay more money for the CX-5, this isn’t included.”

This isn’t the only electrical system issue occurring with the Mazda vehicle. Service Bulletin #MT-003-20 also talks about an inoperative power liftgate, caused by the wrong amount of battery voltage. On the bright side, the company didn’t lie about the tagline. There is a difference that can be felt – coming from attempting to open the defective tailgate.

Service Brake Problems

With how long brakes have been installed in vehicles, there’s no reason that this system should be defective. Yet, that’s what we see with this Mazda.

Read this NHTSA complaint. “We bought the car new off the Mazda dealership lot yesterday with 5 miles on the ODO. As my husband pulled off the lot, he smelled a burning small and the brakes felt like they’d seized up a bit. He pulled over and thought about turning back onto the lot, but then thought it may be just because they’re new brakes and continued on and drove home. This morning we remotely started the vehicle and the Mazda App sent us an alert that there is a critical vehicle malfunction having to do with the antilock brake system. The dealers are closed, so I don’t have any more info yet. I just signed back on to the app and there’s a second malfunction alert now with the emergency lane keeping. There are now currently 65 miles on the ODO. We have only driven the vehicle from the dealership home and parked it outside overnight.”

While the manufacturer hasn’t issued any statement about these types of problems, there are other bulletins about the brakes. Service Bulletin #04-005-20-3687a talks about a squeaking noise when the rear brakes are applied. It may even get louder when driving at slower speeds. The noise comes from poor contact made between the mounting support and guide plate. Again, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to build an effective and reliable braking system. It’s not as if brakes are a new concept. Mazda needs to hire some engineers that understand the basics.

Problems with the Structure

Despite exceptional customer reviews back in the day, Mazda quality seems to have gone downhill recently. This is clearly seen when examining the defects in the structure.

Here’s another NHTSA complaint worth reading. “Red Soul on the CX5 having excessive paint chipping. Less than 5k miles on the car and have only had for 3 months and there’s already 9 to 10 chips on the hood and driver door.”

Another complaint states, “The paint on this car is notoriously poor and Mazda is aware. We purchased this vehicle on 16 February 2021, drove it home and left it in the driveway due to snow/ice. On Thursday, 18 February instead of brushing or scraping off the ice we left it to melt. Unfortunately, the ice melt left huge scratches on the hood. There is no reason for ice/snow to cause this much damage. We reviewed a number of websites and it appears that Mazda is aware of this inferior paint and has done nothing to rectify the problem. But they do charge $595 more for it. I have not received any call backs from Mazda corporation. Brown’s Chantilly did attempt to repair the damage but all that did was mask it slightly. The damage is still very visible. This car has 12 miles on it and most of those are from the dealer. I am unable to upload more than one photo. The photo shows the largest scratch but there are many more on the car.”

The paint issues go even deeper. Service Bulletin #09-004-21-3772 discusses how stains can appear on the vehicle, especially the trunk, roof and hood, after cold weather. This is caused by moisture that gets trapped between the RAPGARD and paint. The advanced fix is to heat it up with a heat gun or infrared drier. This communication is very clearly showing the level of quality that Mazda offers these days. However, it seems to have been going on for longer than people realize. Just recently, there was a class action lawsuit about some CX-5 models because the daytime running lights were defective and burning out prematurely. It looks like the newer models are going to have some issues worthy of lawsuits as well. In this regard, there’s no difference, as promised by the automaker. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Mazda pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Peggy M

    Can the car be hyjacked by a person with the other set of keys? Her husband is following her with gps. My friend swears her drivers side mirror was moving back and forth, that her speed was going up and down without her input. She also claims the steering was moving in odd ways. Is anybody else having these types of problems with the 2021 Mazda, CX five, sky, active G?

  • Barry k

    Having to control the screen by the buttons on the bottom of the console no touch screen very dangerous

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