2023 Mazda 3 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Powertrain, automatic emergency brake, and other safety issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Sergei Lemberg

The updated 2023 Mazda Mazda3 is a compact car available as a sedan or hatchback. The automaker has introduced various “enhancements” including increased fuel efficiency and engine power. They also promise “engaging driving dynamics and a sophisticated design.” But owners who have experienced a faulty automatic emergency braking system, vehicle failure, transmission problems, and other safety issues don’t recognize sophistication that makes a difference to the drive.

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Most Common Problems with the 2023 Mazda3

There weren’t a large volume of complaints made to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the first half of 2023. But they implicate multiple components and systems including the powertrain, brakes, exterior lighting, forward collision avoidance, and the electrical system. They also highlight several serious safety issues.

While there were 62 manufacturer communications from Mazda to dealerships during this same period of time, none relates to the problems referred to in NHTSA complaints.

2023 Mazda 3 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Unknown Or Other
Air Bags
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Service Brakes

Brake Problems

A complaint that focuses on brake problems is also regarded by the owner as an electrical system and forward collision avoidance issue. Lodged in May 2023, it describes a crash that resulted when the automatic emergency brakes suddenly engaged while driving on the highway.

“The car decelerated abruptly to a complete stop, causing the driver behind to rear-end me. There were no vehicles or obstacles in front of the car when the brakes engaged. The closest car was at least 100 feet in front of me. This collision was clearly the result of a faulty automatic emergency braking system. I do not feel safe driving the car knowing this malfunction could happen again, especially at highway speeds. Sudden unexplained braking presents a huge safety hazard to all drivers, increasing the likelihood for collisions and injuries.”

The complaint states that there were no symptoms or warning messages before the brake system activated. But after the brakes had activated, there were “warning beeps” and a message telling the driver to brake appeared.

The car had collision damage and the owner filed a police report. Fortunately no-one was injured in the crash.

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Powertrain Problems

The transmission is a key component of the powertrain that creates power from the engine. If it fails, the consequences can be dire, as a complaint issued to the NHTSA in March 2023 illustrates.

It states that on three occasions when the driver started the vehicle and placed it in Drive, “the transmission slipped terribly.” The engine RPMs would race when he pressed the accelerator and the vehicle would move at no more than a few mph. The problem was reportedly intermittent, but had happened on public roads, and when stopped at a light or stop sign, “and I was unable to move forward again after stopping.”

The complaint also states that there were several vehicle malfunction warnings displayed on the dash 10 to 15 minutes after the vehicle failed to move under its own power. The owner bought an OBDII code reader after the first failure and says he “was able to read transmission error codes on subsequent failures.”

The dealer was able to reproduce the problem and kept the Mazda3 for 29 days while attempting to repair it. They “returned it to me one day before my state’s lemon law would have been triggered.”

Another powertrain problem highlighted in an NHTSA complaint focuses on what happens when shifting the gears. It states that the car “lurches/jerks at low speeds when shifting 1-2 gears and sometimes (the) RPM bounces up and down when downshifting.”

Other Safety Issues

Other problems that impact safety include LED exterior lights that don’t produce enough heat to melt snow and an infotainment system that doesn’t work as described in the manual.

LED Lights Not Safe in Rain or Snow

In March 2023, an owner noticed that the LED lights of his Mazda3 didn’t produce sufficient heat to melt the snow that covered the lights during a snowstorm. The NHTSA complaint states that the lip above and the ledge below trap the snow. And the way the headlights are set up, “the snow sticks on the lights, which affects visibility creating a safety issue.” The same thing happens in the rain.

“I have been to a parts store and a mechanic shop. Both shops said this is a poor design. The lip and lower ledge trap the snow and (the) LED lights will not melt the snow. This vehicle would be unsafe to drive in a snowstorm because of poor vision.”

Problems Changing Infotainment Channels

Apologizing that the complaint is about the infotainment system, another Mazda3 owner states that the instructions in the manual for changing channels don’t work. “Please, hear me out. The manual states that one is able to change channels by using the controls on the steering wheel. That is not the case.” Instead, the driver has to take a hand off the wheel and “fidget with a selector and look at a screen,” hoping they have the right menu selection.

“This is not how most cars with this capability act. This is something that even the manual doesn’t describe. It is a hazard, albeit not spontaneous because it leads to distracted driving. I’ve been to the dealership twice about the issue. I’ve contacted Mazda corporate. There are anecdotes of others having the same complaint and how this is a hazard.”

The complaint states that two local dealerships had observed the issue. Both “were puzzled as to why it says one thing in the manual about the feature and the system acts a different way.” But the automaker’s response was “an ‘Oh well, it is what it is and we can’t help you,’ sort of reply.”

What to do if your 2023 Mazda3 is a lemon?

If you believe you’ve bought a lemon, Lemberg Law will assess your problems and advise you. Generally, problems should recur and impact the safety of passengers as well as the value of the vehicle.

Lemberg Law specializes in lemon law and we know what to look for. Options we negotiate include cash settlements, replacement cars, buybacks, and trade-ins. Call our Helpline or fill out a contact form so that we can investigate. It’s not going to cost you anything because the law states Mazda must pay the legal fees for lemon law cases.

Sergei Lemberg

About the Author:

Sergei Lemberg is an attorney focusing on consumer law, class actions related to automotive issues, and personal injury litigation. With nearly two decades of experience, his areas of practice include Lemon Law (vehicle defects), Debt Collection Harassment, TCPA (illegal robocalls and texts), Fair Credit Reporting Act, Overtime claims, Personal Injury cases, and Class Actions. He has consistently been recognized as the nation's "most active consumer attorney." In 2020, Mr. Lemberg represented Noah Duguid before the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case Duguid v. Facebook. He is also the author of "Defanging Debt Collectors," a guide that empowers consumers to fight back against debt collectors and prevail, as well as "Lemon Law 101: The Laws That Lemon Dealers Don't Want You to Know."

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