2018 Mazda CX-5 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, brake, powertrain and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

This article was written by Brian Jones, trusted ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Expert Automotive Contributor

The market is overflowing with compact SUV models, but the 2018 Mazda CX-5 is one that continues to stand out. It features a unique style and lots of upgraded technology. Even the automaker claims that the latest model provides a “new level of refinement.” Research shows that the CX-5 provides a lot of things, but mainly defects. From the electrical system to the engine and powertrain, this SUV can’t seem to get its act together.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019

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Problems with the Electrical System

With a highly-calibrated electrical system in place, the ride can be enjoyable and even entertaining. On the other hand, a car with a defective electrical system creates headaches that no one wants to deal with. That’s exactly what is found with the 2018 Mazda CX-5.

One Edmunds review states, “I own the 2.5L Turbo version Grand Touring Signature and NOTHING on this car works properly like you would expect. The technology in this car is like throwback Thursdays 4 years ago. I had almost 3 crashes because the radar cruise failed and i had to punch the brakes and nearly missed the car in front. The rain sensors in the windshield sometimes work, sometimes they don’t. Automatic High beams, sometimes work, mostly they don’t. I have videos of all my complaints and my Mazda service technician says stuff like. These things never work right.And i also learned and that’s important that Mazda will not like other car companies send out engineers to dealerships once a quarter. Mazda doesn’t. You are on your own. Heat doesn’t work as expected, heated steering wheel is heated only half, android integration is not working properly. If you plug in 2 phones in the front jack you loose on board navigation. HUD vanishes with sunglasses, Engine when cold sounds like a diesel engine. So if you are looking for a car which will bring you from A to be with decent mileage but with NO frills it’s an okay car.if you looking for a comfy ride with a nice tech package which works, this is not it. Its infuriating. I rented a RAV4 last weekend to go on a trip and it was much better even though it was 10K less. Engine not as nice but everything worked.”

The company seems to be drowning in electrical complaints. Among all of the manufacturer communications, nearly 60 of them are related to the components in this system. Each one expresses something else that seems to go wrong with the CX-5. While they might seem like small nuisances, it starts to add up when nothing seems to work right. Take Service Bulletin #SA-031-19 for example. It expresses that the clock time might be incorrect because of a GPS Sync setting. This has to be annoying when the owner simply wants to know what time it is. Having the correct clock time goes beyond refinement, it’s a basic requirement that was perfected many decades ago. Why is it then that Mazda can’t seem to figure it out.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Electrical Problems

ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS IN THE LAST MONTH, DURING KEY ON/STARTUP/INITIALIZATION, I WILL GET AN ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL/AEB/LANE KEEPING SYSTEM FAILURE. THIS IS DUE TO A FAULT IN THE CAMERA MODULE. ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL STILL WORKS ABOVE 20 MPH INDICATING THAT THE FAILURE IS IN THE CAMERA MODULE. FAILURE IS LATCHED FOR THE KEY CYCLE AND BUT WILL RECOVER AFTER A LONG KEY CYCLE. 1ST TIME THE FAILURE SET, IT WAS VERY WARM OUT SO I BELIEVED THIS WAS DUE TO AN OVERHEAT. THE SECOND TIME THE FAILURE SET THE TEMPERATURE WAS IN A NORMAL RANGE SO MY HYPOTHESIS IS WRONG. NO UNUSUAL SITUATION IS OCCURRING AT STARTUP EXCEPT THE FAILURE. HAVE NOT TAKEN TO THE DEALER YET.

Problems with the Transmission

When it comes to moving energy from the engine to the wheels, the powertrain is what makes it all happen. The main component of this system is the transmission. When this part isn’t functioning correctly, it becomes difficult to get a vehicle moving the way it should, which is precisely what happens with the CX-5.

An NHTSA complaint states, “The car tries to lunge forward immediately after coming to a complete stop. I always keep my foot on the brake when I come to an intersection or red light so it hasn’t yet caused an accident and the force of the braking action seems to be enough to keep it from lunging for the time being but you can feel it tugging wanting to move forward. An engine light recently came on the dashboard along with a transmission light and traction control light. I took it to local dealer and they replaced a transmission sensor but the car still wants to nudge forward after coming to a stop. The mileage is only 3,500.”

Mazda isn’t oblivious to powertrain issues. There was a massive recall issued, labeled 19V497000. It indicates that more than 250,000 vehicles have a powertrain control module with a software error that causes the engine to stall. The PCM needs to be reprogrammed to fix the problem. Between lunging forward and stalling, this powertrain can’t find a happy medium that allows customers to drive normally. It must look like a bucking bronco on the road.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Transmission Problems

THIS VEHICLE KEEPS HAVING SOME KIND OF WHAT FEELS LIKE A WHEEL RESISTANCE ISSUE. NOT SURE IF IT IS SOMETHING HAPPENING IN THE DRIVE TRAIN OR TRANSMISSION. ALSO NOT SURE IF IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE WAY THE VEHICLE STARTS EVERYDAY – THIS CAR OVER REVS ITSELF WHEN STARTED FIRST THING TICKING VERY LOUDLY, RATTLING , PINGING ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT NOISES. IT IS TICKING SO LOUDLY BECAUSE IT IS OVER REVVING ITSELF AND THERE IS NO OIL THROUGHOUT THE ENGINE YET. EVEN AFTER IT STOPS OVER REVVING AFTER A FEW MINUTES THE CAR CONTINUES TO HAVE EXCESSIVE ENGINE NOISE THE SERVICE ADVISOR AT MARIN MAZDA INSISTS THAT THIS IS NORMAL FOR MAZDA’S TO SOUND LIKE THIS & IS OK. I DON’T BELIEVE HIM. THIS KIND OF START UP EVERYDAY IS GOING TO CAUSE PROBLEMS IN THIS ENGINE QUICKLY AND PREMATURE FAILURE OF THIS CARS ENGINE. MAZDA DEALERS ARE CONCEALING SOME DEFECT THAT IS CAUSING THIS CAR TO START LIKE THIS. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISCLOSED TO THE CUSTOMERS BEFORE THEY SELL THIS CAR. BECAUSE IT DID NOT SOUND LIKE THIS WHEN I TEST DROVE IT. THAT IS BECAUSE THEY TAKE YOU INSIDE WHILE THE CAR IS WARMED UP SO YOU CAN’T HEAR IT. THAT IS CONCEALING THIS MAJOR ISSUE FROM THE CONSUMER. THIS IS MAZDA’S STANDARDS OF DOING BUSINESS. CONCEALING KNOWN DEFECTS OF THEIR VEHICLES THEN WHEN A CUSTOMER BRINGS THE VEHICLE IN FOR REPAIR THEY TELL THEM IT IS OPERATING AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BY THE MANUFACTURE. IF THIS IS CORRECT THEN THESE THINGS SHOULD HAVE BEEN PRINTED ON THE WINDOW STICKER ON THE CAR NOT CONCEALED AND NOT MENTIONED TO THE CUSTOMERS. THIS IS VERY DECEPTIVE FOR MAZDA

Problems with the Brakes

Stopping power is a must-have on any vehicle. Otherwise, the occupants are in danger. This is a system that was designed with the earliest automobiles, so there shouldn’t be any issues, but the CX-5 proves that even the main safety features can malfunction.

Another NHTSA user says, “While driving on a city street and there is a car stopped in front, I will start to brake lightly and then increase braking if needed. Three times the car has stopped itself with Mazda’s ‘Smart City Brake’ feature. I had space to stop in time, but the car’s SCB takes over and violently brakes the car to a stop and increases the chance of a rear end collision from a car following me. This has happened 3 times. Every time I had control and could stop in time and the vehicle’s algorithm says too close and stops the car violently, even if I am applying the brakes already. Unacceptable to have the SCB feature this sensitive, and should not brake more if the driver is already applying the brakes.”

While this complaint is related to the advanced driver system that applies the brakes, Mazda has acknowledged some basic troubles as well. Service Bulletin #04-002-19-3545 illustrates the various complaints faced by CX-5 owners and it outlines what the technician must do to repair each one. Among these complaints, you will see brake noises, judder and dragging. None of these should be occurring at all in the first place, let alone creating a bulletin on how a factory-trained technician should handle it. This just further proves the caliber of people working for Mazda, which helps understand where the breakdown is occurring.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Brake Problems

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 MAZDA CX5. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE BRAKES MALFUNCTIONED AND THE VEHICLE CRASHED INTO ANOTHER PARKED VEHICLE. THE FRONT PASSENGER SIDE OF THE VEHICLE WAS DAMAGED. THE CONTACT WENT TO THE CHIROPRACTOR FOR TREATMENT. A POLICE REPORT WAS FILED. THE VEHICLE WAS TOWED AWAY TO TOWING YARD AWAITING INSPECTION FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY. THE DEALER AND THE MANUFACTURER HAD NOT BEEN CONTACTED YET. THE VEHICLE HAD A NHTSA CAMPAIGN NUMBER: 19V497000 (POWER TRAIN, ENGINE). THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS UNKNOWN

THE SCBS (SMART CITY BRAKE SUPPORT) SYSTEM OVERREACTS TO OTHER VEHICLES AND FORCES MY VEHICLE TO STOP SUDDENLY (NOT SLOW DOWN) WHEN THERE IS SUFFICIENT DISTANCE FOR ME TO STOP OR THE VEHICLE IN FRONT IS TURNING AND NO THREAT. THIS OVERREACTION HAS NEARLY CAUSED FOUR ACCIDENTS IN WHICH THE SCBS FORCED THE CAR TO BRAKE AND THE VEHICLES BEHIND ME NEARLY HITTING MY CAR. RATHER THAN AVOIDING AN ACCIDENT, THE SYSTEM WILL CAUSES THEM IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE QUICK REACTIONS OF THE DRIVERS BEHIND ME.

PERSISTENT ISSUE WITH SMART CITY BREAK SYSTEMS MALFUNCTIONING CAUSING THE VEHICLE TO BREAK WITHOUT WARNING. SO FAR ONLY AT LOW SPEEDS BUT IT TRIGGERS A CHECK ENGINE LIGHT DUE TO ME PUSHING THE GAS WHILE THE CAR IS TRYING TO BREAK. WHEN I CAN GET TO A SPOT TO TURN THE ENGINE OFF, THEN BACK ON, THE WARNINGS GO AWAY. IT’S VERY UNSETTLING WHEN THIS HAPPENS AND FEELS LIKE AN ACCIDENT COULD OCCUR AT ANY MOMENT AS I CAN’T CONTROL THE SPEED OF THE VEHICLE WHEN THIS HAPPENS. SO FAR THIS HAS HAPPENED ON CITY STREETS AND ONCE WHILE DRIVING IN A CURVY COUNTRY ROAD. HAS OCCURRED AT LEAST 5 TIMES IN THE TWO WEEKS I’VE ONLY THE VEHICLE AND THE DEALERSHIP HAS NO IDEA WHAT IS WRONG. THEY REPLACED SOME PARTS BUT IT’S STILL HAPPENING.

Problems with the Engine

Finally, owners want to make sure that the engine in a vehicle isn’t just powerful, but also dependable. If it isn’t going to hold up to daily driving, the vehicle is going to create problems that most people don’t want to deal with.

That’s exactly what is shown in this NHTSA complaint. “Engine makes loud noises after driving and acts like it’s exhausted. This always happens when I park the car and get out of it. There is a slight burning smell (which I was told would wear off after the first couple hundred miles), but it’s still doing this. It’s like the engine over heated (which no indicator) and it needs to cool off. The smell is the most concerning part.”

Certainly, no one wants to deal with a car fire, which is precisely why these smells should be alarming. Among these issues, Mazda also talks about a reduction in power, rough idle and various noises in Service Bulletin #SA-022-19. In some situations, it appears that the problems could be related to a broken rocker arm or camshaft trigger wheel. With quality manufacturing, these concerns wouldn’t be occurring. It’s just one more way that Mazda proves it can’t live up to the level of refinement it boasts about.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Engine Problems

VEHICLE WENT INTO LIMP MODE WHILE PASSING ON TWO LANE ROAD. CAUSE WAS DETERMINED TO BE WRONG LOGIC IN PCM FOR CYLINDER DEACTIVATION. THIS WRONG LOGIC CAUSED LOW OIL PRESSURE IN THE LIFTER DURING DEACTIVATION WHICH IN TURN CAUSED THE ROCKER ARM TO BECOME DISLODGED RENDERING THE ASSOCIATED VALVE INOPERABLE. THERE IS NO INDICATION TO THE DRIVER OF IF OR WHEN THIS HAPPENS. THE DRIVER IS THEN DRIVING THE CAR IN A VERY DANGEROUS STATE. THE PROBLEM ARISES WHEN THE THE RPMS BECOME ELEVATED TO AROUND 5000 RPMS AND ABOVE. AT THIS POINT THE COMPUTER SENSES TROUBLE WITH THAT CYLINDER DUE TO THE AIR FUEL RATIO NOT BEING CORRECT AND THROWS THE ENGINE INTO LIMP MODE. CREATING A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION IF YOU ARE TRYING TO PASS OR AVOID SOMETHING WHERE YOU NEED THE ACCELERATION. EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!! WHEN I TOOK MY VEHICLE INTO MY DEALERSHIP THEY DISCOVERED THE MISFIRE ON CYLINDER #4 AND MAZDA HAD THEM REMOVE THE VALVE COVER AND INSPECT. UPON INSPECTION THEY FOUND A ROCKER ARM HAD FALLEN OFF . ACCORDING TO MAZDA MY CAR WAS THE 19TH THAT THEY HAD SEEN WITH THIS PROBLEM. MY CAR WAS IN THE SHOP IN OCT. OF 2018. BY THE TIME MY CAR WAS OUT OF THE SHOP THAT NUMBER HAD INCREASED TO 26. MAZDA SAID THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM WAS THE WRONG PCM PROGRAMMING. THEY STATED THEY HAVE 2 SUPPLIERS OF PCMS AND ONE OF THEIR SUPPLIERS WAS USING THE WRONG PROGRAM. TO FIX MY CAR THEY REPLACED THE ENGINE AND REFLASHED THE PCM TO THE CORRECT PROGRAM. I ASKED THE DEALERSHIP IF THEY WERE GOING TO REFLASH ALL OF THE VEHICLES ON THEIR LOT THAT HAVE THIS ENGINE AND THEY SAID THEY DID NOT HAVE PERMISSION FROM MAZDA TO DO THIS. I FEEL THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT BECAUSE MAZDA ADMITTEDLY DOES NOT KNOW WHICH CARS HAVE THE WRONG PROGRAM AND A SIMPLE REFLASH OF ALL NEW VEHICLES WOULD FIX THIS SITUATION. THE NUMBER OF THESE BAD VEHICLES IS INCREASING AND MANY PEOPLE COULD BE IN DANGER. MAZDA SHOULD RECALL ASAP

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

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