How reliable is the Mazda MX-5 Miata? Explained

In July of 2020, I purchased my first ever Mazda MX-5 Miata. It was a second-generation (NB) with brilliant blue paint and a factory-issued hardtop.

I was impressed with the car from the get-go. You point it in a direction and it goes there. There’s no complicated infotainment system, no seat warming technology. It does exactly what you want it to do, and it does it well.

The Miata is not only one of the most beloved sports cars out there, but it’s also one of the most reliable. In fact, Mazda has won several awards over the years for the car’s reliability.

Today, we’ll explore my personal experience with the MX-5 Miata, and why the automotive industry praises it as one of the most reliable vehicles on the planet. Let’s go!

Is the Mazda MX-5 Miata reliable?

All generations of the Mazda MX-5 Miata are considered to be reliable vehicles. In a 2021 survey by Which?, the 2020 MX-5 Miata came out top in reliability with just 3% of owners experiencing a fault with their car in the previous year.

Japanese cars like the MX-5 Miata have a reputation for being reliable. High manufacturing standards and strict quality control procedures are two big reasons for this.

Kaizen’ is a Japanese business term that means ‘continuous improvement’. The Kaizen philosophy is popular in Japanese car manufacturing, where each and every employee has a duty to improve processes and technology on a daily basis.

Plus, when things do go wrong, Japanese cars tend to be cheaper to repair. This is down to their mechanical simplicity and the mass-production of replacement parts that become available to consumers.

Mazda currently runs three production plants in Japan – the Hiroshima plant, the Miyoshi plant and the Hofu plant. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is built and assembled in the Hiroshima plant and shipped across the world for drivers to enjoy.

To summarize, Mazda knows what they’re doing when it comes to reliability and longevity with their vehicles.

Do Mazda MX-5 Miatas last long?

Image Credit: Mazda Europe

On average, Mazda MX-5 Miatas will reach 200,000 miles with proper care and maintenance, like regular servicing. The main issue with older generations of the MX-5 Miata is rust, which results in thousands of them being scrapped every year.

Despite this, the fourth-generation model (ND) is not susceptible to rust. Rust mainly affects the NA, NB and NC models.

Mazda engines are notorious for their reliability and simplicity. As a result of this, it’s not uncommon to see an MX-5 Miata engine pass the 200,000-mile mark. With the right care and maintenance, your MX-5 Miata can go even further than that.

Of course, there are a few different factors to consider when it comes to a Miata’s reliability:

  • Driving conditions and climate (too warm, too cold)
  • Type of driving (freeway or city)
  • How well you drive (e.g avoiding harsh acceleration)
  • Servicing and maintenance schedule
  • Good old-fashioned luck!

Some of these factors are completely out of your control. You might just get unlucky with your MX-5 Miata. However, this is rare. Mazda’s impressive quality control processes have further refined the popular roadster over the years. It’s pretty bulletproof.

But how do you protect your MX-5 Miata for the long term? Our research indicates that regular servicing is the most effective way to protect your engine for the future.

Put it this way – the cost of servicing will be much lower than the cost to repair your MX-5 Miata if something goes seriously wrong.

Is the MX-5 Miata a good daily driver?

Yes, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is a good daily driver. It’s reliable, sporty and easy on gas consumption. It’s also kitted out with all of the necessary safety and entertainment features. Bring some excitement back into your daily driving with the MX-5 Miata!

The MX-5 Miata is also one of the least stolen models of car in the US and across the world.

I have personally been daily driving my MX-5 Miata for a couple of years now. Being a second-generation model (NB) from 2005, there are a few modern creature comforts that are noticeably absent.

For example, there is no air-conditioning in my car. It’s also quite loud in the cabin as a result of the soft-top. I got used to this pretty quickly.

But nothing comes close to contaminating the excitement I feel driving my MX-5 Miata on a daily basis. It keeps you involved, and it turns heads when you drive down the street. I love to feel involved when driving – I don’t want to be bored, or feel like the car is driving itself!

As a result of my personal experience, here’s a list of pros & cons of daily driving the Mazda MX-5 Miata:

Pros ✔️

  • Reliable
  • Fun & exciting
  • Great gas mileage
  • Involves you in the driving experience
  • Turns heads

Cons ❌

  • Not so comfortable
  • Nonpractical
  • Loud

On the whole, the MX-5 Miata is the perfect daily driver for motoring enthusiasts and casual drivers alike. If you need a reliable, headache-free sports car that you can still turn heads with, I would fully recommend opting for a Mazda MX-5 Miata.

What common problems do MX-5 Miatas have?

For the first, second and third generations of the MX-5 Miata, rust is the most common problem. For the current fourth-generation model (ND), manufactured from 2015 onwards, there are no widely reported problems.

For a complete resource on MX-5 Miata rust issues for every generation, check out our ultimate guide to MX-5 Miata rust.

Mechanically, MX-5 Miatas have a strong reputation among the car community for being bulletproof. This is why they are so popular as track cars. There’s not much you can do to break these engines!

Image Credit: Mazda Europe

Likewise, the suspension components are not considered a problem area in any generation of Miata. With the car being so lightweight, the suspension components don’t experience much stress. In any case, it’s always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for replacing parts.

As mentioned, though, rust is a real issue with the NA, NB and NC Miatas. When kept and driven in colder climates, especially where it snows and where there is salt on the roads, older MX-5 Miatas will be susceptible to rust.

Final thoughts

The Mazda MX-5 Miata has earned its reputation as being one of the most reliable and safe sports cars on the market today.

Mazda’s strong roots in Japanese manufacturing ensure that each Mazda car carries a seal of approval. Consumers across the globe have come to love Japanese car brands for their trustworthiness and affordability.

For drivers, the MX-5 Miata offers great handling and optimal performance at an attractive price point. The older generations were also popular with budding car enthusiasts as they were incredibly easy to work on.

What more do you need? Go and buy a Mazda MX-5 Miata for years of trouble-free motoring!

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