Mazda 3 Transmission Problems & Overview

Launched in 2004, the Mazda 3 was designed to inject some “Zoom Zoom” into the somewhat boring compact segment. Starting in 2012, the 2nd generation Mazda3 could be ordered with the new SkyActiv-G 2.0L engine, paired with either the SkyActiv-Drive 6-speed automatic or SkyActiv-MT 6-speed manual transmission. This revolutionary drivetrain used direct injection and a simple low-friction design to increase fuel economy, without adding complicated components like turbos or a hybrid system.

Does something seem wrong with your 3? Let’s look at some of the most common transmission problems, and see what you can do to get your car back on the road.

Mazda 3 Recalls

2010 Mazda3 – 09V126000 / 5409d


Mazda recalled 25,400 copies of the 2010 Mazda3, equipped with the automatic transmission. It seems that the clearance between the engine harness and the housing of starter motor may be insufficient. Because of this, the covering of the harness may be damaged through vibration during vehicle operation, possibly causing a short-circuit between certain harness wires and the starter housing. A short-circuit can result in engine control malfunction and/or poor transmission shift quality.


The main fuse may blow out causing the engine to stall and inability of restart, increasing the risk of a crash.


This recall began on May 6, 2009, and dealers were instructed to inspect the engine harness  and add a protector clip on the affected section of the harness. If necessary, the harness will be repaired as well. Owners can contact Mazda at 1-800-222-5500, referring to Mazda recall number: 5409d. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236

Mazda 3 Technical Service Bulletins (TSB)

2004-2008 Mazda3 – TSB 05-12/08


On some vehicles, the shift position lamp in the instrument cluster does not come on in the “P” position, and the engine does not start. However, the engine can be started in the “N” position. This is due to rust on the connect- ing point of the shift cable and lock cable lever causing the select lever not to move to the location where it is recognized as “P” range. There is no issue about the transmission reaching Park. This is only an issue about the confirming “P” indicator in the instrument cluster. A slit on the mud guard has been removed to prevent salt water from getting to the location where rust would occur.


If rust is present on the connecting point of the shift cable and lock cable lever, then the lock cable lever will have to be replaced with modified one (part # B2YE-46-310). Also, it’s strongly recommended to replace the nut and washer as well.

2004-2005 Mazda3 – TSB 05-010/05


Some automatic equipped versions of the Mazda may exhibit intermittent shift shock during 1-2 upshift. This issue is caused by improper PCM calibration.


The Powertrain Control Module (PCM) will have to be reprogrammed with the updated calibrations.

Need Your Transmission Repaired? A good repair shop can be hard to find – especially on short notice. We’ll have the Cost Guide Certified shop in your area give you a call with a free estimate.

What Transmission Does a Mazda 3 Have?

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8 thoughts on “Mazda 3 Transmission Problems & Overview

  1. I live in Cyprus and I have a mazda 323 BH 1.5L 1995 with automatic transmission (4 gears). The car has 380 000 Km. After driving for 10-15 minutes the hold lamp is flashing and the transmission shifts until 3 gear normaly but not to 4 gear. The mechanic changed the transmission oil and the filter but the problem remains. He tried to check with the diagnosis box but there was no fault signal. What is your opinion?
    Looking forward for your comments

  2. I live in Papua New Guinea, and have a 2004 Mazda 3 sedan with automatic transmission(4 gears). The transmission only shifts to 1 and 2 gears, but can not shift to 3rd, 4th and reverse gears. The AT and engine light still on when driving. The mechanic changed the transmission oil and the filter but the problem remains. He tried to check with the diagnosis box but there was no fault signal. What is your opinion?
    Looking forward for your comments

  3. 2007 Mazda3s, 152k miles, transmission failed. Took it to the dealer in “limp mode,” transmission replacement needed. Standard Mazda dealer new transmission cost, parts and labor. Relevant codes: P0739, P0766, P0841. Damage found inside transmission. More than 2/3 of the miles on the vehicle are in-city driving, the remainder split between numerous three-hour drives each way, and about a dozen seven-hour each way trips. While it’s been a great car, I was disappointed the transmission only lasted 150,000 miles. It’s about to be handed down, so I’m hoping for another 150,000.

  4. I have an automatic 2004 Mazda 3. The AT light and the Check Engine lights are both on. The shifting very hard into reverse only. It had a new transmission and two new turbine sensors. And the lights are still on. Is there a fix to this problem? No one, even the Mazda dealership can figure out the problem.

  5. 2007 Mazda 3 sp23 156 000km, Auto.

    Engine light came on, AT light came on, limped it to the mechanic, getting to 3rd gear than nothing. New transmission needed. It seems that Mechanics are told there is no need to service the transmission due to it being a “sealed unit” Not the case.

    When opened it was full of burnt oil and broken bits.

    Advised that once it has been replaced and modified, so that the issue does not happen again, that the trans will need a service once every 20-30k kms to keep it happy.

    Dalton you may need someone to look at the TCM (transmission control module) apparently this can keep showing the AT lights and cause a few issues.

  6. 14 Mazda 3 87070 miles. Grinding on deceleration, tranny shifts perfect no problems. Brought to dealer after diagnosis, bad bearing in transmission dealer wants to replace transmission at a cost of 4581.00 dollars. I don’t know if I’m more stunned at the price or the fact that the tranny only lasted 87 thousand miles of which 70k are all highway and the car has been well taken care of. Needles to say, as much as I love the car its the last Mazda I will ever buy. My sons Corolla has 268 thousand miles on it with the original transmission in it! Driving that to work until I locate and install a used one and quickly dump this Mazda for a older more reliable Toyota.

  7. My girlfriends 2012 Mazda 3 has the same issue as the previous person. Grinding while driving, worse on deceleration. Shifts fine. Took to 2 mechanics. Found a bad bearing in the trans. They said the entire trans has to be rebuilt at a cost of 4,000 dollars US. The car only has 56,000 miles. It’s disgraceful that Mazda isn’t fixing this issue as it seems that others are having the same problem. Just over the warranty time frame too, but under on mileage.

  8. We just found out that our 2011 Mazda 3 needs to have the automatic transmission replaced at only 49,000 miles. An $8 seal leaked–apparently only when driving, so no drips or leaks on the driveway–causing enough damage that it blew up 2 days after the repair and transmission fluid flush. Powertrain warranty is only 5yr/60k…which is pretty weak by industry standards. Dealership is at least offering credit on what we spent for the earlier repair, but the warranty on the rebuilt is only 12k. This is the last Mazda we will ever buy!

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