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The look and feel of classic 1960s British sports cars and Japanese quality and reliability converge in this nimble, fun-to-drive roadster. Though it leans in corners a bit more than did earlier Miatas, the latest version rides marginally better. The engine is willing and responsive, if not overly powerful, and the stubby manual shifter is a joy to use. The manually operated convertible top has a glass rear window.
Alerts
There is 1 recall on this vehicle. Learn More.

Reliability

Reliability indicates how models have performed in the past, providing the basis for predicting how the vehicles will hold up in the year ahead. These charts provide the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how used vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system.

Overall Reliability
Most Common Trouble Spots
Common Trouble Spot
Common Trouble Spot
The 2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata has been recalled 1 time by NHTSA. View Recalls
Research Years *Redesign year
Worse Better
00
01
02
03
04
05
06*
07
08
09
10
11
12
13
14
15
16*
17
18
Overall Reliability Verdict
NA
NA
NA
Potential Trouble Spots
Engine Major
NA
NA
NA
Engine Minor
NA
NA
NA
Engine Cooling
NA
NA
NA
Transmission Major
NA
NA
NA
Transmission Minor
NA
NA
NA
Drive System
NA
NA
NA
Fuel System
NA
NA
NA
Electric System
NA
NA
NA
Climate System
NA
NA
NA
Suspension
NA
NA
NA
Brakes
NA
NA
NA
Exhaust
NA
NA
NA
Paint/Trim
NA
NA
NA
Body Integrity
NA
NA
NA
Body Hardware
NA
NA
NA
Power Equipment
NA
NA
NA
In-car Electronics
NA
NA
NA
Reliability indicates how models have performed in the past, providing the basis for predicting how the vehicles will hold up in the year ahead. These charts provide the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey for about 500,000 vehicles, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how 2000 through 2018 vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system. NA indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.

Learn more about car Reliability.

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

“car has two o2 sensors which are unreliable . They are prone to failure”

Anonymous, PR (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Base 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“Leak cannot be detected but the check engine light comes on after about 400 miles after being turned off”

Jean R., GA (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata LS 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“I replaced this sensor myself for $75 part cost”

Gary B., NC (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata SE 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“Replaced. Check engine lights appear few months afterwards.Changed fuel cap. Problem disappears for a couple of months and then reappears again. A continuous nuisance”

Anonymous, PR (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Base 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Coil

“Coil failure”

Jim D., MI (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata LS 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“The car is still being tested for this problem -- engine check light indicates a cylinder problem”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Spark plugs or wires failure

“Infrequent missing, replaced plugs, coils and wires”

Anonymous, NC (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Base 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

CD player

“It never worked”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“CD player would no eject the 6 CD's that were stored in the unit. It would not play them either”

David K., FL (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

“It ceased working. Therefore, it was replaced”

Anonymous, MS (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata SE 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Refrigerant leaks

“Mechanic unable to locate leak. Have had refrigerant added 3 times, & needs another refill now”

Susie K., LA (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Loose/rattling heat shield

“Rear pipe/muffler shield has loosened several times”

Anonymous, CT (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata SE 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“It started with an unusual sound and it was discovered the heat shield (gas tank) had rusted loose”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Interior lights

“control panel in front of driver has some burned out lights”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata LS 1.8-L 4 Cyl)
Headlights

“I seem to be burning out the Left side headlight much more than the right side. Simple to change the bulb though!”

Joe L., CA (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata LS 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Calipers

“Pesistent failure of left caliper, freezing take led to uneven breaking. Two calipers failed”

Anonymous, CT (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata SE 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“At 50,000 miles brakes needed new pads”

Anonymous, FL (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

“Persistent leaks even after repair. Did not have an effect on the engine or the ability to drive”

Mark G., FL (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata LS 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

“Oil pan gasket leak”

Anonymous, NC (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Base 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Hydraulics (clutch master or slave cylinder)

“Hydraulic fluid line leaked”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Base 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

“Occasional leak at junction of driver side window weather stripping and convertible top”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Power steering leaks

“second time thre's some kind of power steering pump failure”

Anonymous, PR (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Base 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

“leaking radiator”

Anonymous, SC (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata LS 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

“Car has rust on both rear quarter panels before wheels due to winter driving and salted roads”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Mazda MX-5 Miata Unsure 1.8-L 4 Cyl)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Compare 2003 Models

No Data Available
Recalls
PROVIDED BY
EXTERIOR LIGHTING:FOG LIGHTS
Jun 05 2003
SHOULD THIS OCCUR, THE BULB SOCKET AND THE HARNESS CAN DROP INSIDE THE BUMPER AND POSSIBLY BUT RARELY, THE HEAT GENERATED BY THE BULB CAN CAUSE THE BUMPER TO BURN.
Summary:
ON CERTAIN MINI VANS AND PASSENGER VEHICLES, THE SOCKET HOLDER IN THE FOG LIGHTS IS INSTALLED IN THE LAMP CASING USING PRESSURE. DURING OPERATION OF THE FOG LIGHT, THE HEAT FROM THE BULB CAN EXPAND THE SOCKET HOLDER. THE EXPANSION CAN FORCE THE SOCKET HOLDER REARWARD. AFTER REPEATEDLY BEING SUBJECT TO THIS EXPANSION, IF THE FOG LIGHT IS ALSO SUBJECTED TO VIBRATION DURING VEHICLE OPERATION, THE SOCKET HOLDER WITH THE BULB HOLDER AND THE WIRING HARNESS MAY SEPARATE FROM THE FOG LIGHT CASING.
What should you do:
DEALERS WILL INSTALL A SPRING TO PREVENT THE SOCKET HOLDER FROM SEPARATING FROM THE LAMP CASE. OWNER NOTIFICATION BEGAN ON JULY 14, 2003. OWNERS WHO TAKE THEIR VEHICLES TO AN AUTHORIZED DEALER ON AN AGREED UPON SERVICE DATE AND DO NOT RECEIVE THE FREE REMEDY WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME SHOULD CONTACT MAZDA AT 1-800-222-5500.
For more information:
MAZDA RECALL NO. 1103F.CUSTOMERS CAN ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S AUTO SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 03V206000
Potential Number of Units Affected: 64000
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