2012 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test - Maintenance

2012 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Mazda 3: 15,000 Miles In

September 10, 2012

Our Mazda 3 cleared 15,000 miles last Friday. We've been reporting on the car since December of 2011, so we should be on track to hit 20,000 miles by the end of the year.

It's been a reliable and affordable 15K so far. We've done two scheduled services (here and here). The only issue I'm aware of is the slightly loose driver seat (not fixed at that last service).

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 15,097 miles

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2012 Mazda 3: Second Oil Change, First Attempt at Fixing Loose Driver Seat

August 10, 2012


The maintenance indicator was on in our long-term 2012 Mazda 3, and as I'm planning a road trip to Monterey next week, I wanted to get it addressed this week. So on Thursday, I called Long Beach Mazda and made an appointment for yesterday (Friday) at 9 a.m.

I pulled into the service drive 10 minutes late yesterday morning, but it wasn't that busy, and no one cared. Within 2 minutes, a service advisor was helping me. I told him I wanted an oil change and tire rotation, and he quoted me $69.95. Way cheaper than the prices I'm used to in Santa Monica, and I remembered that this was in the ballpark with what Josh paid for the Mazda's first service, so I OK'd it.

I also asked the advisor if someone could take a look at the driver seat, which rocks back and forth under acceleration and braking. He said a tech would do the oil service and tire rotation first, and then, they'd road-test the car and he'd report back with their findings.

"OK if we wash the car today?"

"Definitely," I said.

Well, he followed through, as about two hours later, I got a call from him that the maintenance was complete and they were headed out on a drive.

After lunch, he called again and said, yep, the tech detected a "slight movement in the driver seat" but hadn't found any problem with how the seat attaches to the track. So they had a call into Mazda's tech line to see how they should proceed.

Later, he called and paraphrased the following (which is also printed on the final service receipt):

"Customer states that the driver seat rocks and forth during acceleration and braking."

"Technician verified that there is a very slight movement in the driver seat on acceleration and deceleration of the vehicle. Checked seat track; OK at this time. Contacted Mazda; Mazda stated there are a few reports of vehicles with the same concern. Mazda is currently working on a solution to rectify this concern. Once they determine a solution, they will contact the dealer who will then contact the customer."

Then, he said I could come pick up our Mazda 3. I arrived about 10 minutes before closing, and the car was waiting in the driveway, in the shade, and the interior was pleasantly cool -- nice on a warm summer day.

The final bill, with tax, was $73.58. Parts amounted to $41.50; labor was $28.45.

Upon scrutinizing the service receipt later, though, I noticed that the dealer put "5W20 synthetic" in the car... Technically OK, per the owner's manual, but not the 3's preferred 0W20 synthetic drink. :grumble:

And I guess I can't be too surprised... this dealer also services Lincolns and Mercurys under the same roof, and Motorcraft 5W20 is the preferred drink of latter-day Lincoln-Mercury models, so it appears management has decided to economize by also putting it in all the newer Mazdas that come through. If we come back here, I guess we'll have to bring our own oil. I supposed that's what I'd do if this was my car. Another option, of course, would be run down to the dealer today and demand that they swap out the Motorcraft oil for the correct stuff, but based on my reading, 5W20 should be close enough that having it in there for the next 6,000-7,000 miles won't lunch the engine. A casual search online suggests it worked just fine in the older MZR engines.


While I was poking around under the hood, I noticed that the dealer put a sticker there apparently to indicate that our car would be part of whatever TSB is released for the seat concern. -- Instead, the sticker evidently refers to a recall campaign that isn't yet in the NHTSA database. Logically, given the location of the sticker, it lets future techs know that our tech performed a PCM reflash on the car. It's emissions related, apparently, as docs posted on a Canadian Mazda 3 forums site suggest (//www.torontomazda3.ca/forum/showthread.php?63187-2012-Variable-Valve-Timing-System-Emission-Recall-Campaign), and on affected cars, the factory calibration can reportedly trip up the Skyactiv engine's variable valve timing. 

Also, when I got up this morning, I gave the dealer a call to inquire about the apparent use of 5W20 instead of 0W20. I left a detailed voicemail for our service advisor. Didn't hear back but the service department closes at 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Perhaps I'll get a call back from him on Monday.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,106 miles

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2012 Mazda 3: Wiping Off the Wiper Blades

July 17, 2012

windshield_mazda_1600.jpg It's been raining a little here in Southern California lately, and I had a rare chance to test the Mazda 3's wiper blades.

Not good. There were multiple streaks across both sides of the windshield. I couldn't believe that the summer sun had already baked out the blades--our Mazda 3 is only 12,000 miles old, and spends most of its days inside a temperature-controlled garage.

Turns out, the Mazda has also spent some recent time beneath a tree at some staffer's house. The blade well was holding enough leaves and needles to seriously dirty-up the blades, causing the poor performance.

After a good cleaning, the road became clear ahead. Wish I could say the same thing about the weather.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 12,222 miles

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2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv: It's not what it looks like

July 02, 2012

Eating in the car? Okay. Spilling a cup of melted, frozen yogurt? Not so much. Imagine my surprise when, after about two hours of "Eye Spy with My Little Eye... something that is brown" turned into this. It turns out going dead straight with said cup of brown liquid balancing on the armrest is fine. It's that first exit ramp when things go sploosh! So, let's hear it for pleather. A bowl of soapy water and a handful of paper towels and all was forgiven.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 11,453 miles

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2012 Mazda 3: Rocking Seat

June 13, 2012

seat_loose_mazda3.jpg Seems our longterm 2012 Mazda 3 has a screw (okay, a bolt) loose. The bottom part of the driver's seat will pop up and down a couple of mm if you lean into the seatback, and the associated play is somewhere between the seat bottom and the seat slider/track.

Seems earlier Mazda 3s and other models exhibit this tendency, according to this TSB. Ours is a 2012 model but it's possible it employs the same seat and track design as those models. Should be an easy fix. Therefore I'll let someone else do it. Say, the dealer at the next service.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 10,617 miles.

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2012 Mazda 3: Service Report

April 18, 2012

Mazda 3 at dealer.JPG

Yesterday I took the Mazda 3 in for its first serivce at Ford and Mazda of Orange in Orange, Calif. Yes, we could have saved money doing it ourselves. No, we don't do that very often. Reporting on the dealer experience is part of what we do here. And our experience at Mazda of Orange was a good one.

I called service writer Joel Angulo yesterday morning and asked if he could turn the car around by 4:00 if I brought it in right then. He said yes. The he turned it around more rapidly than we expected. 

I arrived later in the day to pick it up and Joel remembered my name, had the car washed (even though it only had a few spots on after being washed the day before) and clearly explained the bill.

In addition to the oil and filter change, they had rotated the tires, checked their pressure, checked the brake pads and tested the battery performance. Here's the cost breakdown:

Oil filter:                              $5.95

Labor:                                $20.25

5 Quarts 0W-20 synthetic:   $36.20

Tax:                                     $3.27

Total:                                  $65.67

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor @ 8,064 miles

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2012 Mazda 3: First Service In Record Time

April 17, 2012

This happened so quick I didn't even get a chance to photograph it. Well, OK, my camera is having focus problems at the moment, but here's how it went down:

I dropped our Mazda 3 off at Mazda of Orange this morning about 9:00. This is its 7,500-mile service, which is essentially an oil change. At 10:20 our service writer, Joel, called me to say the car was ready to be picked up.

That's rapid service. More info (and a photo) after I pick the car up later.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor @ about 8,000 miles

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