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USED GUIDE: 2014-18 Mazda3 usually a solid, reliable choice


The 2014 Mazda3
The 2014 Mazda3. Both models come in sedan and hatchback body styles. The hatchbacks are labelled as the Sport model. - Mazda

The latest generation Mazda3 recently hit Canadian roads for model-year 2019 — meaning that the previous-generation car has now moved fully into used-car territory.

Initially launched in 2013 for the 2014 model year, the last-generation of Mazda’s popular compact was well-regarded by owners and authorities alike on many aspects relating to design, styling, safety, value, and overall satisfaction.

The Mazda3 was available in both sedan and hatchback body styles. The Mazda3 hatchback was called the Mazda3 Sport.

All models were powered by one of two four-cylinder engines, equipped with Mazda’s SkyActiv technology. Both two-litre and 2.5-litre units were available, with 155 or 184 horsepower respectively.

Transmission choices included a six-speed manual, or six-speed automatic. All Mazda3 models from this generation were front-wheel drive.

Up-level feature content may include a BOSE audio system, adaptive lighting, a touch-screen central command interface, heated leather seating, push-button engine start, automatic climate control, automatic wipers, a backup camera, and more.

MIND MAINTENANCE

In Canada, it never hurts to look for a Mazda3 that’s been held to the “severe use” maintenance service schedule. Shown here is a 2015 Mazda3. - Michael Clark
In Canada, it never hurts to look for a Mazda3 that’s been held to the “severe use” maintenance service schedule. Shown here is a 2015 Mazda3. - Michael Clark

The SkyActiv engines which power the Mazda3 are specialized powerplants with numerous add-on features designed to help save fuel. Closely and precisely following all factory-scheduled maintenance is vital to the longevity of any engine, and perhaps more so, a specialized engine like this one. Take steps to ensure the former owner(s) continually and consistently cared for the vehicle, examining service records to prove no maintenance or inspections have been skipped or stretched. Use of non-factory parts or fluids in the maintenance of this vehicle is not advised.

CHECK FLUID CHANGE SCHEDULE

Some of the Mazda3’s fluids, in some situations, are what’s referred to as ‘lifetime fill’. This means that certain fluids, like engine coolant and transmission fluid never ‘need’ to be changed, for the life of the vehicle, provided the vehicle is not operated in what may be constituted as a ‘severe use’ situation.

Check the owner’s manual maintenance section for the scoop, noting that most vehicles operated in a typical Canadian climate should follow the “severe use” service schedule. Note, further, that many owners choose to change lifetime fluids every few years, for added peace of mind.

DIAGNOSTICS

If the Mazda3 you’re considering is equipped with available camera and radar-driven safety tech, having a diagnostic test performed by a Mazda technician before your purchase is strongly advised. This may be part of a complete pre-purchase inspection (PPI) of the vehicle, which can reveal numerous problems that may not otherwise be apparent. As issues with the advanced safety equipment can be frustrating and expensive, a small investment in a professional assessment before you buy is a great idea. This is especially true if any warning lights or error messages are present in the instrument cluster.

MIND UNDERBODY

 The 2014 Mazda3 can come with a variety of options packages. - Mazda
The 2014 Mazda3 can come with a variety of options packages. - Mazda

Some owners have reported earlier-than-expected formation of rust beneath the Mazda3 relating to specific components, such as the exhaust system, shock absorbers, and suspension upper control arms. Some owners report having rusted components replaced under warranty, with premature rust issues linked to several batches of parts that may not have been properly treated for corrosion by suppliers.

Note that this issue doesn’t affect all models, and that excessive rust is easy to spot, by a technician, during a PPI. For best results, seek out a model that’s been regularly oil-sprayed against rust, and continue to treat the vehicle on an annual basis.

ONE COMMONLY REPORTED PROBLEM

It’s somewhat reassuring that the most common owner-reported issue with this generation Mazda3 seems to be the presence of sporadic clicking, buzzing, or tapping sounds, likely caused by slightly mis-fit panels in or on the dashboard or surrounding areas. Owners say these noises may come and go, possibly with changes to temperature or the road surface beneath the vehicle. If you hear annoying sounds a mentioned above, a dealer may be able to fix them, under warranty, providing the vehicle is still within its warranty period. Some owners have fixed many a rattle with the creative placement of some foam or felt padding.

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