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2005 Mazda Mazda3 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Owner Pros and Cons by liamlunchtray

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Reviewed: 2005 Mazda Mazda3

4dr Hatch 160-horsepower 2.3L I4 5-speed manual FWD

Why the 2005 Mazda Mazda3?

Handling

When everything is working right, the handling of this car is fantastic. Great trough corners, very little body roll. Just a blast.

Exterior styling

It's a good looking hatch. Handsome and refined.

Controls and instruments

Ergonomics are great, and the optional leather seats in mine are very comfortable. They have also worn extremely well.

Why Not the 2005 Mazda Mazda3?

Reliability & durability

I've owned many great Mazdas in the past and they have always been exceptional cars, but this 3 has been awful. Everything was OK until around 70k miles and from there on out it has been nonstop issues.

  • Brakes - Plan on replacing rotors every time you do pads
  • Tie Rod - Broke clean in half at 80k miles. The car was never in a collision or anything that could have explained it. If I was on the highway I could have seriously crashed the car
  • Belt Tensioner - Only available OEM (and pricey)
  • Control arms, bushings (front and rear), constant clunks and thuds from the suspension.
  • Broken shock mounts
  • Heater Core at 90k miles
  • Wheel bearings - In 127k miles I have done all 4 twice. My mechanic says that this is common on all of the 3's he services.
  • Front End shimmy - It has had a shimmy of varying degrees constantly since about 50k miles on. I will get a bunch of front end work done, replace rotors, or balance tires, and it will be better, but never gone
  • All sorts of electrical weirdness (Sometimes the "you forgot your key in the ignition" chime wont go off until you turn the car back on/off)
  • Headlights - You will replace them so often that you can do it in your sleep. We also have a Mazda 5 and it is the same way. I have even had to replace the weird socket adapters they use. Currently I am getting no power at all to the passengers side. Also, those clear lenses haze like crazy.
  • Horn - even the slightest puddle drowns it. Mine seemed to have been shorted out as the relay trips but now I dont even get power to the horn itself
  • The condensate drain for the AC clogs constantly. If you dont notice it, it will slowly start to seep into the carpet and cause a wonderful mildew funk. Its easy to fix with a chopstick or pencil, but I have never had a car where this is an issue before.
  • Cruise Control now toggles off/on/off/on creating a wonderful seasick sensation
I would like to mention that I'm not some boy racer constantly hooning around. My car is completely stock, I'm a 38 year old dad, and 90% of the miles on it are highway back and forth to work. This is my daily commuter.

Ride smoothness

It's harsh. Really harsh. I think it might be fine in SoCal, but this is not a car for New England roads.

Rear seat room & comfort

There is none. Its rediculous how little rear leg room there is given the size of the car. My much smaller Mazda Protege that this replaced had substantially more. And don't even think about getting a rear facing car seat back there.

Other Features of the 2005 Mazda Mazda3

Driving position & visibility

Visibility is mediocre. Not awful, but it could be better. This is definitely a tradeoff for looks. The seats are great (if you like firm), but I think a tall person would have a problem. I'm only 5'9" and I drive with the seat all the way back, which seems weird to me.

Controls and instruments

The clutch has is easy to use, but requires an awful lot of exertion. If you have any back or hip type issues (as my wife does) this could be a real problem. The steering feel is fantastic, but it is very weak on center.

Quietness

Quieter than a lot of econoboxes, but it could be much much better. I would pay for an option of extra soundproofing if it was available.

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