Clutch Problems and Warranty Headaches

Mazda has been known to dodge warranty claims on an allegedly defective clutch system that owners say has to be replaced early and often. So much for that 'bumper-to-bumper' guarantee.

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Seriously Mazda, what the clutch?

Go ahead and ask a Mazda owner what they think of their clutch. Just be prepared to duck as they hurl their 3rd broken flywheel at your head.

According to owners – especially those with a 2nd or 3rd generation Mazda3 – Mazda has designed an error-prone clutch system. But while the defects make them mad, it’s the automaker’s lack of support that has them fuming.

Common Problems with Mazda Clutch Systems

According to many, Mazda’s clutch systems contain defective release levers (clutch forks), bearings and pins. These defects result in early wear on clutch disks, pressure plates, and flywheels and, eventually, clutch failure.

And the failure is many times catastrophic. Take the 2010 Mazda3 for example. Owners experience their first clutch failure at 37,627 miles (on average) and then again before 70,000 miles. And when they do, it’s not just worn down components.

I decided to have my car towed to a mechanic I dearly trust. The service technician, after pulling everything apart, said he has NEVER seen a clutch fail like this particularly with so few miles. The clutch was destroyed.” – 2010 Mazda3 owner

A destroyed clutch can leave a driver stranded (at best) or in a very uncomfortable situation (depending on when it fails).

Mazda’s Response? Sucks To Be You

Based on the sheer number of complaints and warranty claims, it’s hard to imagine that Mazda isn’t aware of the problem. Mazda allegedly redesigned the clutch assembly several times including around 2014, but clutch replacements and failures continue.

Despite all the cries for help, owners find they are being blamed for the premature failures more often than not. Even lifelong stick drivers are being accused of straining the clutch.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Second clutch replacement in this car, between 40 and 70k miles. Driving a clutch my entire driving life, and never had a problem until now.” - 2010 Mazda3 owner

Additionally, Mazda refuses to tell prospective or current customers about the alleged clutch defects. Opting instead to conceal the problems by offering an express “bumper-to-bumper” warranty. But when owners go to use that warranty, they’re being told the clutch pressure plate and flywheel aren’t covered while being handed a hefty repair bill.

What is the most unfortunate part of this matter is that there seems to be a lack of ownership for this problem on the behalf of Mazda. I sure love this car, but as a professional/consumer/someone who is mindful of my personal well-being, I doubt I will own one again.” – 2010 Mazda3 owner

Mazda Clutch Failure Lawsuit Filed in California

Tired of being blamed for premature clutch failure, a clutch lawsuit was filed in California in April 2016. The lawsuit targets the 2010–2015 Mazda3 with either a 5-speed or 6-speed transmission.

The lawsuit says clutch failures happen early and without warning. Once the system is fried, Mazda then refuses to repair the clutch pressure plate and flywheel, even though those parts are explicitly covered by Mazda’s 3-year/36,000 mile warranty, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and 7-year/70,000 mile certified pre-owned powertrain warranty.

The plaintiffs also state that Mazda knows about the problem, refuses to acknowledge it, and replaces failed clutches with other defective systems.

Mazda’s Motion to Dismiss Partially Denied

Mazda’s motion to dismiss the case was partially denied in March 2017. Here’s what Mazda wanted and what the judge agreed to.

  1. Mazda said that clutch failures can be the result of numerous things, and the plaintiffs weren’t able to prove a unified defect. The judge agreed, but will allow the plaintiffs to amend their claims.
  2. Mazda wanted claims they violated certain consumer protection and warranty laws thrown out. The judge ruled in favor, however he once again left the door open for the plaintiffs to amend their claims.
  3. Mazda wanted non-California plaintiffs dismissed for this California-based lawsuit. The judge agreed and ruled non-CA residents can not file claims based on California protections.
  4. Mazda wanted claims of violating California’s Consumer Legal Remedied Act and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act dismissed. The judge denied this part of Mazda’s motion.

The plaintiffs in this case are being represented by http://www.caffertyclobes.com/ and McCuneWright. While it is now a California-only case, it could lay the groundwork for future cases.

On the Record

“At approximately 44,000 started to hear clatter sounds when starting motor and starting in first gear. took to my mechanic for inspection. He told me the clutch was worn out. Had my mechanic repair it after my Mazda dealership informed me it was my fault for premature clutch wear and not covered. Quoted me an estimate for repair of $2100? My mechanic bill was $1600.”

2010 Mazda3 Owner in Oregon

“This is the third clutch to go out on this car. The first two clutches went out at 6,598 miles and, subsequently, at 9,793 miles. Mazda covered the full cost on the first clutch, and only cover parts on the second clutch--despite the car being under full warranty--claiming driver error. This car, or this model, has a problem and owners are being force to pay the price.”

2010 Mazda3 owner in Colorado

“I think it is too early to have to replace the clutch. I expected Mazda to be a better quality car than a major repair at 52K miles @ $1300, 3 days car-less. Mazda knows it, corrected the clutch, but will not pay for it or recall it. Maybe I can get reimbursed later, but for now I need my car and will have to pay to replace the clutch.”

2010 Mazda3 owner in Florida

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

Below are a handful of steps you can take to make sure this problem gets the attention it needs.

  1. File Your Complaint at CarComplaints.com

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint

  2. Notify the Center for Auto Safety

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify the CAS

  3. Report a Safety Concern to NHTSA

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

  4. Spread the Word

    Social media is all the rage these days. And for good reason – it can help spread a message quickly. So get out there and start spreading this page.