The Mazda 6 is a classy family sedan that made its US debut for the 2003 model year.
And despite biting the dust in 2022, you can still find plenty of these sophisticated sedans on the used market.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive and uncover the Mazda 6’s most common problems.
1. Airbag Problems
According to Car Problem Zoo, a site dedicated to owner feedback, the most commonly reported Mazda 6 complaint is due to its airbags.
These complaints are mostly linked to the infamous Takata recalls which affected tens of millions of vehicles, not just the 6.
The Japanese-made airbags weren’t fit for purpose to put it mildly – when exposed to humidity and high heat the airbags were known to explode due to propellant degradation, firing off sharp metal fragments causing serious injury and in some cases death.
In 2019, Mazda finally issued a recall, and this affected certain Mazda 6 and MazdaSpeed 6 vehicles from 2003 – 2012.
To make matters worse, many owners were left waiting for an unreasonable amount of time for parts to arrive at their dealership and for the problem to be resolved.
And in some instances owners failed to be notified by Mazda of the recall.
Whether you’re the owner of an Mazda 6 or in the market for a used one – always run the VIN on using either Mazda’s lookup tool on their website or on the NHTSA website to see if the vehicle has been subject to a recall.
Due to the severity of this problem, it is imperative that you leave this to the dealership to fix, and if your car has been recalled they will carry out the repairs free of charge.
2. Cracking & Sticky Dashboard
You’ll find no shortage of unhappy Mazda 6 owners who suffered from the well-known melting dashboard problem.
This problem is mostly linked to models from around the 2010 era, and was a common problem on other Mazda models too.
The problem is caused by the type of glue and materials used and the problem is exacerbated by hot and humid climates.
Some owners even complained that the sticky and melted materials caused the sunlight to shine in their eyes – not ideal when driving.
The melted dashboard also attracts dirt, dog hair and bits of food.
Here’s what one owner had to say:
“Passenger side dash started melting about a year ago and has gotten so bad the dash is almost liquid. I was in an accident because I couldn’t see due to light reflecting off melted dash. Dash is so sticky that you cannot touch or it will stick to your hands / clothing. I have ruined multiple items of clothing due to this mess.”
If the car is outside the warranty period you’ll have to pay for the dashboard to be replaced out of your own pocket.
4. Shattered Sunroof
A large number of Mazda 6 owners have reported that the sunroof / moonroof glass suddenly exploded for no apparent reason. To clarify, this is not caused by falling objects or impacts from above, the glass simply breaks on its own.
This problem has been reported on various other Mazda models too.
This has startled unsuspecting drivers as the glass breaking is often accompanied by a loud BANG, and has even caused some to be left with scratches on their face – and there are some reports from owners who were lucky not to scratch their eye.
Here’s one owner’s testimony:
“I was driving, and all of a sudden, I hear a loud pop above my head. I slow down to investigate and notice the sound of the wind coming from above me. I slide back my sunroof door and the entire glass is shattered. This could’ve been a very dangerous situation as I was driving on the highway and the loud sudden pop without warning could’ve affected me to lose control of my vehicle.”
This issue has been reported on Mazda 6 models from 2012 – 2021 and reports suggest this happens mostly on hot, sunny days.
As this usually occurs on sunny days when the weather is hot, some have speculated that it is caused by a design defect that hasn’t allowed for heat expansion.
The manufacturer will need to adjust clearances to prevent this from happening.
If your sunroof shatters there’s no legal requirement to have it replaced however it is advised to do so, and you should contact your insurance if the dealership won’t replace it under warranty.
Some owners have reported that Mazda reimbursed their insurance deductible.
5. Excessive Paint Chipping
Throughout its years, the Mazda 6 has received a number of complaints from owners about excessive paint chipping. In some instances, Mazda has had to repaint sections to address the issue.
This is a known problem for the Mazda 6 and there are numerous threads about this issue on the popular online forum mazda6club.com.
One member had this to say:
“Generally Mazda’s are built to a price; paint is one area where we can see that it is not a BMW.”
The issue however, does seem to be far, far more prevalent on models with red paint – owners of black and blue 6’s generally have no complaints.
Prevention is always better than cure, so if you are looking for a Mazda 6 and you’re worried about excessive paint chipping, we’d advise avoiding the red models at all costs.
However, if you have got your heart set on a red 6, then it may be worth investing in a ceramic coating or a have clear protective vinyl applied.
Ceramic coating is a chemical polymer solution that is applied to the exterior of a vehicle to protect it from paint damage. Its usually applied by hand and blends with the paint of your car to create an additional water-repelling layer of protection.
At the very least regular waxing will help reduce the problem.
6. Hesitation On Acceleration
A common problem that some Mazda 6 owners face is hesitation on acceleration.
One owner has described how when they come to a complete stop and try to accelerate the car, it will hesitate momentarily before jolting forward.
Then after reaching speeds of 30-40 mph the car will no longer accelerate and will just rev, until they apply the brake and accelerate very slowly.
The problem doesn’t affect the car in reverse and is only noticeable in drive.
More commonly owners simply describe that when they step on the gas, the car will take a full second to accelerate.
This problem is mostly reported on models pre-2017.
In many instances owners have been able to rectify this problem by performing the following process:
- Cleaning the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor with the CRC brand cleaner, these can be picked up in any auto store.
- Then once the sensor is clean, reset the ECU by disconnecting the battery cables, it will then relearn with the clean MAF.
- Invest in a blitz throttle controller, which is exclusively designed for specific vehicles to improve the response of the electronic throttle.
Other owners have had similar success by using seafoam and cleaning the throttle body, MAF and replacing the spark plugs.
If this has worked the hesitation should stop and you should also notice better throttle response and a smoother ride.
7. Cooling Fan Not Operational
The most commonly reported Mazda 6 complaint on car website Repair Pal is an overheating engine due to a failed cooling fan control module.
As the name suggests, a cooling fan module is a component that controls the temperatures in the engine by regulating (modulating) the speeds at which the fan motor rotates. This creates a cooling effect in the engine, preventing it from overheating.
Owners have reported the following symptoms:
- Car overheats when idle
- AC won’t blow cool
- Engine overheats
- Leaking coolant
In most instances, this problem has been rectified by replacing the fan control module.
8. Ticking Noise
A common problem with the Mazda 6 is a ticking noise coming from the engine which is often caused by sticking valve lifters.
The basic function of a valve lifter is relatively simple – It sits on the camshaft and transfers the motions of the cam lobe up through the pushrods and rockers to open and close the valves.
The loud ticking noise (hydraulic valve lifter noise) is most noticeable when the engine is still cold.
This ticking noise is often caused by a problem with the oil, and can often be prevented by regular oil changes.
It is also possible that the valve lifters themselves are worn, in which case these will need to be replaced.
Ticking noises will be even more noticeable if you have aftermarket intake installed.
Mazda 6 Model Years With the Most Problems
To get a better idea of which Mazda 6 has the most problems the fairest way is to compare models based on the number of vehicles sold in relation to the number of reported problems.
We’re using Car Complaints PPMY index which means problems reported per thousand vehicles per Year.
For example, newer cars will have fewer complaints simply because they’ve been around for less time.
Based on this index, the most problematic years are:
- 2009 – 0.89 PPMY
- 2010 – 0.52 PPMY
- 2011 – 0.47 PPMY
And the least problematic years are:
- 2020 – 0.03 PPMY
- 2017 – 0.09 PPMY
- 2019 – 0.10 PPMY
|Problems||Sales||Vehicle Age||PPMY Index|
Source: Car Problem Zoo
Mazda 6 Pros and Cons
If you’re considering a Mazda 6 as your next car you might be wondering what its strengths and weaknesses are…
- More upscale than many of its rivals
- Sophisticated presence
- Great fun to drive
- Agile handling
- Upscale cabin
- Good all-round family car
- Average turbo engine
- Luxury options are only available on the top trims
- Overly complicated folding rear seats
- Not many options for engine or powertrain choice
Mazda 6 Reliability Compared to Similar Cars
RepairPal ranks the Mazda 6 in 6th place out of 24 midsize cars.
|1||Honda Accord||4.5 / 5.0|
|2||Mitsubishi Galant||4.5 / 5.0|
|3||Toyota Camry||4.0 / 5.0|
|4||Toyota Prius V||4.0 / 5.0|
|5||Hyundai Sonata||4.0 / 5.0|
|6||Mazda 6||4.0 / 5.0|
|7||Chevrolet Malibu Limited||4.0 / 5.0|
|8||Kia Optima||4.0 / 5.0|
|9||Chevrolet Malibu||4.0 / 5.0|
|10||Toyota Prius||4.0 / 5.0|
|11||Nissan Altima||4.0 / 5.0|
|12||Chrysler 200||4.0 / 5.0|
|13||Buick Regal||4.0 / 5.0|
|14||Honda Crosstour||4.0 / 5.0|
|15||Buick LaCrosse||4.0 / 5.0|
|16||Subaru Legacy||4.0 / 5.0|
|17||Volkswagen Passat||4.0 / 5.0|
|18||Ford Fusion||4.0 / 5.0|
|19||Dodge Challenger||3.5 / 5.0|
|20||Ford Mustang||3.5 / 5.0|
|21||Chevrolet Camaro||3.5 / 5.0|
|22||Honda Accord Crosstour||3.5 / 5.0|
|23||Chevrolet Corvette||3.0 / 5.0|
|24||Volkswagen CC||2.5 / 5.0|
|Avg. Midsize Car||4.0|
Source: Consumer Reports
Mazda 6 Used Value
We’ve taken a look on Car Gurus to gauge the resale value of a Mazda 6, below are typical asking prices for each model year.
According to Car Edge, a Mazda 6 will depreciate 27% after 5 years and have a 5 year resale value of $19,963.
Note: Used model prices will vary depending on trim level.
|Model Year||Mileage (miles)||Resale Price|
Source: Car Gurus
What Do Owners Like and Dislike About the Mazda 6?
Based on owner feedback from the Kelley Blue Book site here are what real-life owners love and hate about the Mazda 6.
- Fuel mileage
- Fun to drive
- Smooth drive
- Tire wear
- Tire pressure is fickle
- Clunky shifting
- Expensive battery
“This car is very pretty. It’s just as nice or even better compared to a very pricey car. The interior also looks as nice. The cloth sets can clean very well. I know, I’m a mother lol It drives smooth and braking is also smooth.”
Source: Kelley Blue Book
“This has been my favorite car I have ever owned or even driven. When you press the gas the acceleration is out of this world and the handling is very comfortable. My only complaint is the suspension on this car you will feel any bump you hit to the point where I thought I had a flat a few times other than that though the car is amazing and I love the way it looks.”
Source: Kelley Blue Book
“It looks and drives like a luxury car – good power, comfortable ride, great handling, nicely appointed interior, and gorgeous looking.”
How Reliable Are Mazda Cars?
According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, Mazda are ranked the 2nd most reliable car manufacturer out of 28 brands, with a score of 75/100.
Source: Consumer Reports
Related: Where Are Mazda 6 Made?