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There’s a lot to love about the Mazda Miata. Both new and older model years have something great to offer, from advanced safety features and superb fuel efficiency to great steering and excellent engine performance. Even its resale value is good, only depreciating by 37% in five years, according to CarEdge.com.

Are Mazda Miatas Reliable?

The Mazda Miata enjoys above-average reliability, with some of its model years scoring better than others. RepairPal gave it a rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, ranking it 8th out of the 21 subcompact cars in its category. Meanwhile, J.D. Power rated the 2019 Mazda Miata a 73/100.

US News & World Report ranked the 2021 Mazda Miata second out of eight vehicles in the sports car market. It also gave the model second place out of four vehicles in the convertibles category. With these figures, it’s apparent that with careful handling and regular maintenance, the Mazda Miata can easily enjoy a long service life.

Top Mazda Miata Problems

Although the Mazda Miata is one dependable roadster sports car, it still has its fair share of problems. Here are the most commonly reported issues for different model years:

A/C Compressor Failure

According to many owners of the 2012 Mazda Miata, A/C compressor issues are typical for some units of this model year. Because of its location, the part is often exposed to the elements, which increases the risk of premature wear.

Some owners also complained that their air conditioner stopped working when their Miatas have barely racked up four miles. Most of them had to replace their A/C compressor to fix the problem. Unfortunately, as of this writing, no recalls were issued to resolve this problem.

Convertible Top Problems

Convertible top issues remain a common problem for some owners of the 2008 Mazda Miata. Most of them complained that the vinyl top of their Miata fell apart even though they rarely or never use it.

2006-2008 Mazda MX 5 also known as Mazda Miata in North America - Wikimedia
Convertible top issues remain a common problem for some owners of the 2008 Mazda Miata. Image source: Wikimedia.

Other widely reported issues include the frame over-stressing the vinyl and causing it to crack and the driver’s side seam tearing apart because of these stresses.

Unfortunately, most of these complaints happened outside of the sports car’s warranty period. So many owners had to pay for their replacement convertible tops out-of-pocket. As of this writing, Mazda has not issued any recalls to address these problems.

Fuel Filler Pipe Issues

Fuel filler piper issues are among the most frequently reported 2007 Mazda Miata problems. Many owners have complained that their fuel filler cap loosens on its own, prompting the check engine light to turn on.

Some owners noticed that the check engine light usually turned on because of a loose fuel filler cap after refueling. However, the check engine light stayed lit even after the cap was tightened.

A closer look revealed that the problem was caused by the fuel filler pipe having improperly manufactured threads. Most owners were able to resolve this issue by replacing the fuel filler pipe. Mazda issued a recall for the Mazda Miata to address this issue, but not all model years were included.

Clutch Slave Cylinder Leak

According to some owners of the 2001 Mazda Miata, problems with the clutch slave cylinder are common for this model year. In most cases, there was no lead-up to the problem. The Miata just suddenly refused to go into gear. There was also no pressure in the clutch pedal itself. 

Many drivers have also reported that the master cylinder reservoir would become empty even though it had no noticeable leaks. Upon closer inspection, the clutch slave cylinder of the affected cars developed a hydraulic leak, resulting in no clutch pedal pressure and the inability to shift gears.

Most owners had to replace their slave cylinder to fix this problem. Despite the number of complaints regarding this error, Mazda has yet to issue a recall to resolve it.

Clear Coat Delamination

Many owners of the 2000 Mazda Miata have complained that their cars exhibited clear coat delamination. Clear coat delamination is the formation of bubbles and white spots on the exterior paint job of your vehicle.

1999-2000 Mazda MX 5 Miata also known as Mazda Miata in North America
Some owners of the 2000 Mazda Miata have complained that their cars exhibited clear coat delamination. Image source: Wikimedia.

This issue is common in older models and is usually caused by extreme changes in temperature and using incompatible paint products on a vehicle’s clear coat surface.

Applying another coat of paint doesn’t fix clear coat delamination.

Most owners of the affected units had to strip their car bare to resolve the issue.

Restricted EGR System

According to some owners of the 1999 Mazda Miata, problems with its exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system are common for this model year. In most cases, their car’s check engine light turned on due to a clogged or restricted EGR system. Most owners were able to resolve this problem by inspecting the EGR valve and clearing its passages.

If you’re in the market for a Mazda Miata, be prepared to embrace the good and the potential bad. But don’t worry. As long as you know the potential issues with the specific model year you’re planning to get, buying this sports car should come with little risk. Look up the most common problems that affect the model you’re eyeing, and make sure the seller has cleared everything before taking your new or used Mazda Miata home.

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