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I'm in the market for a new car and it seems like the mazda is everything I'm looking for but I'm worried about reliability. I've heard horror stories about 2004 models and I was wondering if it was fixed for 2005 and if not what should I look for when I'm looking at cars, also what can I do to make that 3.0 last as long as possible
 

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2005 is basically identical to 2004 in every regard. Reliability is a total crapshoot after 150k miles unfortunately. There's a bunch of people who have gone well over that on here (including one guy who recently hit 400k), but being perfectly honest with you the V6 is prone to oil problems, and a lot of people have had to rebuild or swap them out because of catalytic converter issues. Basically, the cats break down and particles get sucked back into the engine, causing it to eat itself alive. Swapping out, gutting, or removing the cats all together helps avoid this problem but if previous owners didn't know this, it's possible the damage has already been done.

If the V6 you're looking at was well taken care of, you'll be fine as long as you do the same. What's difficult is that you can't find an oil leak by only test driving it a couple times. My 2004 used to eat about a quart every thousand miles when it was nearing it's end of life. Thoroughly check for indications of past oil leaks in/around the engine bay and under the car. See if you smell anything when you put your foot down a little.

Swapping out a V6 isn't the worst thing in the world since you can source a Ford Fusion engine of the same year/size and it's basically identical but far easier to find. Maybe $800 for the engine.
 

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There's nothing special about the 2004 reliability wise. All of the years are the same for reliability. On top of the things Byakuya said I'd add front suspension bushings. The front lowers are a real problem area and the upper control arm bushings to a lesser degree.

My 2004 is @ 195k. Doesn't burn any oil but leaks it all over the place.
 

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The main issue, engine wise, with the 1st Gen 3.0L is that it burns rich from the factory. Over time, due to the rich A/F ratio, the "pre-cats" will prematurely soak w/unburnt fuel and wear down and it's internal material can either break apart and/or clog. It's a time consuming effort to replace due to restrictive work space or lack thereof. Plus costs of new converter(s). If you keep an eye on it from time to time and replace it when it need to be, the 3.0L Duratec engine is decent.

The next major issue is the JATCO automatic transmission in earlier models. Avoid everything JATCO. If it wasn't taken cared of by previous owner.. who knows how reliable it will remain. A well taken cared of JATCO auto transmission will give you an average reliability. GO for the manual.

I think they started to change over to AISIN Warner transmission during the 2005 model year. Might have to research a bit to confirm.


Everything else is somewhat consistent w/older vehicle's age and symptoms. Don't get the 2004 model, it has some weird electronic changes that the 2005.5 somewhat fixed.
 

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I'm in the market for a new car and it seems like the mazda is everything I'm looking for but I'm worried about reliability. I've heard horror stories about 2004 models and I was wondering if it was fixed for 2005 and if not what should I look for when I'm looking at cars, also what can I do to make that 3.0 last as long as possible
Howdy. That can be a fun car for pretty cheap.
Here is how I would proceed.
  • Get a OBD2 code scanner and use it, first thing. Look for codes and a [READY] status saying it has not been recently reset.
  • Heat seems to be very hard on the ignition coils and battery in the v6. When the coil-on plug fails or becomes weak the fuel mixture goes rich and that overheats the catalytic converter. Because of the way the exhaust was run on the 2004-2005 v6 it is prone to being sucked into the intake through the emissions. The 2006-2008 changes the exhaust plumbing and that seemed to help a bit with the motor detonation but not the catalyst failure. Make sure there is no misfire This can be puffs out the exhaust at idle or a slight hesitation when under light-moderate load in 2nd-3rd gear (1800-2500rpm especially). he car should pull easily and feel like it gets a noticeable litle extra at around 4K RPM. I would not go past 5K but I would be sure it can spin (exhaust clear and the VVT operated without issue)
  • If this is an automatic, and there is not regular service for the fluid, I would be extra curious. The fluid should be a reddish and under no circumstances should it smell burnt. If it is just replaced I would also be worried, take it on the freeway and let it get warm. Mine takes about 20-30 min in winter in the NW.
  • The transmission may shift hard 2-3 but if the fluid is well used this may be okay.
  • If this is in the rust belt I would take a close look at the sub-frames, they are prone to failure with a saline environment.
  • You may have to replace some engine pullies/bearings, coils and plugs and possibly a gasket and a sensor or two.
  • Everything is pretty cheap, and they are in the salvage yards, second only in number to the stones they are placed on.
  • The suspension bushings on the front go bad and click/creak. They can be purchased for $100 for all 6 and it takes a long afternoon to install, (longer in rust belt)
I have about $6000 invested and currently sit with 180,000 mi and 6.5 yrs ownrship.
I do my own work and use salvage yards for upgrades.
 

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What qualifies as a "good buy"? If it's cheap and not your only car, go for it.
 

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What qualifies as a "good buy"? If it's cheap and not your only car, go for it.
Couldn't agree more. Bought my current 6 with ~210k km as a third vehicle to teach my kids how to drive stick shift. So many years later it is still running strong (about 270k km) and my 16YO "inherited" it, no issues at all.
 

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The next major issue is the JATCO automatic transmission in earlier models. Avoid everything JATCO. If it wasn't taken cared of by previous owner.. who knows how reliable it will remain. A well taken cared of JATCO auto transmission will give you an average reliability. GO for the manual.

I think they started to change over to AISIN Warner transmission during the 2005 model year. Might have to research a bit to confirm.
Yes, the automatic switched to an Aisin 6-speed in 2005. I ran my 6 out to almost 150k miles before I sold it; honestly, I should have kept the car. I picked up a 2006 Mercury Milan a couple years later for a winter vehicle - the Milan is the same platform as the Fusion and 6 and also has the 3.0L Duratec/Aisin 6-speed auto combo. The motor setup is more akin to the 2006-2008 6's (different cat and exhaust arrangement), but at 253k miles she is still going strong.
 
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Thank you so much everyone for the detailed responses! The one that I saw listed for 1400$ already comes with a misfire in cylinder #3 so I guess I won't be looking at that one. The search continues!
 

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Thank you so much everyone for the detailed responses! The one that I saw listed for 1400$ already comes with a misfire in cylinder #3 so I guess I won't be looking at that one. The search continues!
Good luck! Let us know if you've got any other questions.
 

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I bought mine with a cyl #1 misfire for $1700. Figured it was cheap enough I could replace the motor worst case. Turned out to be a dead fuel injector. My car is a manual transmission wagon which is extremely hard to find so the risk was worth it to me. For a sedan I'd probably skip too.
 

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I'm in the market for a new car and it seems like the mazda is everything I'm looking for but I'm worried about reliability. I've heard horror stories about 2004 models and I was wondering if it was fixed for 2005 and if not what should I look for when I'm looking at cars, also what can I do to make that 3.0 last as long as possible
Hey Man, there are a lot of opinions out there. I had a 2004 6s 5 sp manual that had 110K on it when a kid ran a red-light and I hit him doing about 45. It destroyed my car. But my point is that car was excellent. It gave me only two problems. passenger window clicked when the window was raised and the 6 CD changer started to reject CDs. That was 8 years after buying it... I was a Mazda salesman for 7 years before I went to Graduate School. Mazdas are great vehicles. I was also an Assistant Sales manager at a Nissan/Subaru store. All car makers have lemons, But Mazda, Toyota and Subaru are the best for longevity and service in Middle-line cars.

To buy a 150K mile Mazda 6 is your concern. 1st, I read from one of the others replying to you that the Catalytic Converter went bad and caused trash to enter the motor. That is ridiculous in theory let alone reality. The Catalytic Converter is part the exhaust so everything goes away from the motor. It may clog up, but that will not damage the motor. So disregard that idea... If you are looking at a 150K car, then can you find out how many have owned it. How hard was it run? Serviced regularly? Then the big question is how much do they want? Be ready to replace Brake pads, The belts, Flush the transmission fluid if Automatic. If manual, Be expecting to replace the clutch if the present owner has not and change that gear oil. Check the AC, and have it charged if it works. Just be aware that high mileage
means you will or could have a lot to do to the to bring it up to fresh state.

But as far as good service, the 1st generation 6 was a good car. Mine was so great that I bought another one and have it now and it is badass...
241876
 

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I'm in the market for a new car and it seems like the mazda is everything I'm looking for but I'm worried about reliability. I've heard horror stories about 2004 models and I was wondering if it was fixed for 2005 and if not what should I look for when I'm looking at cars, also what can I do to make that 3.0 last as long as possible
Asking questions about a certain car to find out it's issues is smart not matter what brand it is. Fortunately there are good people here willing to help with car problems for those that can't figure things out. I learned the hard way (decades ago) by reading car magazines and diving into car problems but cars were far less complex when I got my hands seriously dirty, last time was probably 30 years ago when I missed a gear shifting my 1985 Mercury Capri HO. I I did all the work myself except press a gear off to get at the damaged synchro's.
It's the nature of old cars, no matter what brand it is, stay away from known money pits, they are not worth it!
My advice is keep a log book for what ever is done to your car, in folder in your phone like One Note or a little spiral notebook in the door pocket, noting the date and mileage when repairs, oil change or tire rotations are done. I got into doing this being a commercial aviation mechanic. Cars are just a hobby since I started driving 60 years ago. Everything done to an airplane, from the smallest prop plane to commercial jets are recorded in a log book, the corrective action done and signed off by a licensed mechanic and then a maintenance release stating to the best of the mechanics knowledge the plane is save to fly again.
 

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There's nothing special about the 2004 reliability wise. All of the years are the same for reliability. On top of the things Byakuya said I'd add front suspension bushings. The front lowers are a real problem area and the upper control arm bushings to a lesser degree.

My 2004 is @ 195k. Doesn't burn any oil but leaks it all over the place.
I am the original owner of a 2003 6s (V6) 5 speed manual with 186k. Admittedly I am snobby with the type and frequency of oil, gas (and car wax) I have always put in my car. I love to drive it hard, especially in the corners. I have had no oil burning or catalytic converter issues. However, I can attest the bushings/Control arm issues, which I have fixed/delayed by spraying some white lithium grease where appropriate. Actually, my issue has been my #1 ignition coil going bad. I have replaced that specific coil 2 times so far.

For me, the cornering, nimbleness and overall fun-to-drive aspects along with the styling and awesome Bose 6-disc can't be beat for this price range and age of the car. I still get compliments on my car at gas stations, from co-workers, etc...You may recall, or be unaware but Mazda was talking some serious smack with BMW back in the day for running similar track times, slalom, etc... for almost half the price (and it turns out way less painful maintenance costs!). The newest iteration of the 6 won the "Sedan Shootout" in one of the car mags several years ago, beating Passat, Accord, Camry, etc... Mazda 6 was/is the best bang for the buck for that time.
 

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I'm in the market for a new car and it seems like the mazda is everything I'm looking for but I'm worried about reliability. I've heard horror stories about 2004 models and I was wondering if it was fixed for 2005 and if not what should I look for when I'm looking at cars, also what can I do to make that 3.0 last as long as possible
I’ve heard good things from them. My Mazda 6 is a 2010 and has 150k miles on it. Nothing has broken knock on wood. Very solid cars I would recommend them
 
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