Most Common Problems of a Mazda CX-5 A Reliability Review

Most Common Problems of a Mazda CX-5: A Reliability Review

When it comes to compact crossover SUVs from Japan, a lot of prospective car buyers include the Mazda CX-5 on their wishlist.

However, like any other SUV out there, the Mazda CX-5 is far from perfect and has its own set of reliability problems.

Thus, if you plan on purchasing a Mazda CX-5 yourself, be sure to read this reliability review all the way through so that you can be aware of the possible issues that it can have.

What are the common problems of the Mazda CX-5?

Some common problems of the Mazda CX-5 are the accessories not turning off completely, a faulty infotainment system, faulty DRLs, the windshield cracking easily, a faulty windshield defroster, and the sunroof suddenly exploding.

We’ll be further explaining the previously mentioned issues one by one below. Make sure to take note of the symptoms they show and report them to an authorized mechanic.

Accessories Don’t Turn Off Completely (Accessory Power)

Accessories Don’t Turn Off Completely (Accessory Power)

One of the most known problems of the Mazda CX-5 is that the numerous interior accessories do not turn off completely despite turning off the engine.

Such accessories can include the lights on the various dashboard dials (e.g. tachometer, speedometer), the radio, and the built-in clock.

In this situation, since the ignition system or electrical system is unable to turn the battery off, the battery can get drained and cause the engine to not start the next time around.

This particular problem has been mostly reported in the 2013 and 2014 model years of the Mazda CX-5, and it actually has something to do with a faulty sensor in the transmission’s shift switch.

One quick and temporary fix for this is to move the shifter left and right repeatedly then turn the ignition key on and off, as the video below demonstrates.

Of course, the better and more permanent solution to this problem would be to open up the center console where the shifter is and replace the shifter switch itself.

Accessories Don’t Turn Off Completely (Accessory Power)

The part number for the shifter switch is “KDY046040” for the 2013 to 2014 Mazda CX-5 models.

However, do take note that some Mazda dealerships may not sell just the switch alone. Instead, they will sell the entire shifter assembly with the switch included, which will cost you a total of about $300.

Thus, another way around this would be to order the shifter switch separately on Amazon, which will cost a little over $50 for an OEM replacement part.

Malfunctioning Infotainment System (Ghost Touch)

Malfunctioning Infotainment System (Ghost Touch)

Another common problem of the Mazda CX-5 that seemed to have bewildered (and even creeped out) some owners is the infotainment system malfunctioning.

This has caused the issue to be also referred to as the “ghost touch”, as the infotainment system seems to operate random functions on its own as if there’s some sort of paranormal activity happening.

The malfunctioning infotainment system problem has been commonly reported in 2017 to 2021 Mazda CX-5 models, and it may show any of the following symptoms below.

Mazda CX-5 Malfunctioning Infotainment System Symptoms:

  • Radio stations change on their own
  • Functions randomly switch over
  • System often restarts and hangs
  • Random buttons are pressed
  • Dials random phone numbers
  • Navigation screen suddenly closes
  • Randomly switches to night mode display
  • Beeping sounds

Some possible reasons for this problem can be associated with aging or exposure to heat, which can damage the actual touchscreen and cause the ghost touch symptoms to start showing.

Unfortunately, since Mazda has no official recall regarding the “ghost touch” problem and doesn’t fix the issue if you’re outside of warranty, you’re left with only two options.

The first and rather expensive option is you can go straight to the Mazda dealership and have the entire infotainment display replaced for about $1,200.

The second option, should you choose to keep the $1,200 for yourself, is to simply disable the touchscreen function of the infotainment system.

Disabling the touchscreen function will limit you to manually controlling the infotainment system via the commander knob in the center console only.

How to Disable the Touchscreen on the Mazda CX-5

If you opt to do the latter, here’s how to go about it: 

  1. Using a trim removal tool, remove the lower dash trim from the right corner and pull it apart slowly.
  2. Unplug the cable at the left corner of the dash trim and proceed to remove the upper half of the dash as well.
  3. Use a 10mm socket to remove the two bolts holding the touchscreen display.
  4. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the other two screws at the bottom of the display. Set them aside somewhere where you won’t lose them for now.
  5. Carefully pull out the radio and disconnect every wire and clip at the back of the unit.
  6. Look for a flat yellow cable at the back of the radio unit. You can either directly cut through the plastic and cut the cable to disable the touchscreen or follow the next alternative steps if you don’t want to damage it.
  7. (Alternative) Remove the 4 screws connecting the screen to the radio unit.
  8. (Alternative) Remove the 2 screws holding the plastic cover at the back of the screen to gain proper access to the yellow cable.
  9. (Alternative) Disconnect the flat yellow cable and put everything back together.

Faulty Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)

Faulty Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)

The Mazda CX-5, most commonly the 2016 model, is known to have DRLs (daytime running lights) that are prone to failure.

Daytime running lights are low-voltage LED lights that just add a little bit more visibility to the car during the day, which is helpful in letting pedestrians and other motorists know that there is an active vehicle nearby without turning on the main headlights.

The root cause of the problem is that the affected units had LED DRLs with improper material specifications used for the gasket that protects and seals the lights from the outside elements.

As a result of this, the gasket can release sulfur that can corrode the LED’s circuit and lead to the lights flickering or failing completely.

As for the solution, the sealing gaskets of the affected LED DRLs will have to be replaced with new ones. Furthermore, better material needs to be applied to the headlights to avoid the issue from happening again.

Fortunately, since Mazda has recognized this as a safety issue, the manufacturer has recalled 36,761 Mazda CX-5 units belonging to the 2016 model year for their faulty daytime running lights (Recall Campaign 4320A).

This means that the Mazda dealerships will inspect the vehicle and replace the necessary parts free of charge.

In the event that Mazda CX-5 owners have already spent money to repair the DRLs themselves, they should contact Mazda’s customer service at 800-222-5500 (Option 4) for a reimbursement to cover their expenses.

Windshield Cracks Easily

Windshield Cracks Easily

Another commonly reported problem of some Mazda CX-5 models is that their windshield is prone to cracking, which can be a safety hazard if it happens while you’re driving.

This issue has been reported to occur most frequently in the 2014 to 2017 model years of the CX-5, and owners have been confused as to why it happens even though nothing has hit or caused damage to the windshield.

While there is no official statement or recall from Mazda regarding this problem, a lot of owners believe that the CX-5’s windshield is just weaker or defective because of cheaper quality material.

The only real solution to this problem is to get the windshield replaced, preferably by warranty or your insurance.

Without the warranty or insurance, you can expect to spend $500 to $1,000 to replace the windshield. The exact price will depend on the shop and whether you choose to go for an OEM or an aftermarket part.

Faulty Windshield Defroster

Faulty Windshield Defroster

One more windshield-related problem that the Mazda CX-5 is prone to having is that the windshield defroster becomes faulty.

While it’s not as common as the other CX-5 problems, there’s still a good amount of owners that report faulty windshield defrosters on their 2016 to 2021 models.

CX-5 owners’ description of the issue is that the defroster only works at the middle part of the windshield. 

This leaves the sides of the windshield quite foggy, and visibility during cold weather conditions has been severely affected as a result of this.

Thus if you live in an area that gets considerably cold during the winter (below 25F or -3.9C), you may need to take this issue of the Mazda CX-5 into consideration before buying one.

Unfortunately, since Mazda has neither issued a recall nor has a fix for this issue in the 2016 to 2021 CX-5, we suggest keeping an ice scraper (for the outside ice) and a towel (for the inside condensation) in your car to clear the sides of the windshield.

Sunroof Suddenly Shatters/Explodes

Sunroof Suddenly ShattersExplodes

Other than problems concerning the windshield, another window-related problem of the Mazda CX-5 that’s rather dangerous is the sunroof suddenly exploding or shattering for no apparent reason.

Owners have reported that the sunroof glass randomly shatters even though it has not been hit by anything from the outside.

According to other anecdotal reports, different CX-5 owners seem to be experiencing this at different mileage points. 

However, the majority of these reports happen in 2016 to 2022 models, specifically during sunny days when the temperature is hotter outside.

As a result, some owners guess that the glass material used for the sunroof does not have good heat expansion and can only withstand rapid fluctuations in temperature up to a certain point before breaking.

If ever this happens to you, make sure to report this to your local Mazda dealership, as some owners have had luck getting Mazda to cover their insurance deductibles.

Which Mazda CX-5 model years have the most problems? (Years to Avoid)

The 2014 Mazda CX-5 has the most problems out of any CX-5 model year, with a “problems reported per thousand vehicles per year” (PPMY) index of 0.57.

This is followed by the 2013 and 2016 CX-5 model years with 0.56 PPMY and 0.33 PPMY, respectively.

Mazda CX-5 Model YearTotal Problems Reported (P)Total Sales (S)Vehicle Age (Y)Problems Reported Per Thousand Vehicles Per Year (PPMY)

As you can see in the table above, while the 2016 model year had the most problems reported, we still need to take into consideration that it had more units sold compared to the other two model years.

This basically gives us insight into how the PPMY index works and explains why the 2014 model year is first on the list despite having slightly fewer problems reported.

The formula for the PPMY Index is “PPMY = P/S/Y * 1000. 

P is the total problems reported for that model year, S is the total number of units sold, and Y is the years ever since that model year debuted (vehicle age).

Using the results of the PPMY index as the basis, we can also conclude that the 2014 Mazda CX-5 is the worst model year of the vehicle, followed by the 2013 and 2016 model years.

Sunroof Suddenly ShattersExplodes

Which Mazda CX-5 model years have the least problems? (Best Years)

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 has the least problems out of any CX-5 model year, with a “problems reported per thousand vehicles per year” (PPMY) index of only 0.11.

This is followed by the 2019 and 2017 CX-5 model years with 0.15 PPMY and 0.18 PPMY, respectively.

Mazda CX-5 Model YearTotal Problems Reported (P)Total Sales (S)Vehicle Age (Y)Problems Reported Per Thousand Vehicles Per Year (PPMY)

Once again, we use the same PPMY index formula of P/S/Y*1000 to figure out which Mazda CX-5 model year has the least problems. Of course, the lower the better.

Based on the table above, we can see that 2020, 2019, and 2017 CX-5 model years have the lowest PPMY indices. Thus, we can say that these three model years are the best years of the CX-5 reliability-wise.

Which Mazda CX-5 model years have the least problems (Best Years)

How reliable is the Mazda CX-5 compared to similar vehicles?

The Mazda CX-5 ranks 7th in a list of 39 similar vehicles in terms of reliability with a score of 80, according to data based on the latest three model years for each vehicle by Consumer Reports.

Vehicle Make and ModelReliability Score (Consumer Reports)
Buick Envision90
Cadillac XT589
Ford Bronco Sport88
Hyundai Tucson87
Toyota RAV4 Prime82
Honda CR-V80
Mazda CX-580
Subaru Forester80
Lexus NX78
Ford Mustang Mach-E71
Audi Q564
Mercedes GLC Class63
Porsche Macan61
Volvo XC6061
Chevrolet Equinox58
GMC Terrain58
Infiniti QX5049
Kia Sportage48
BMW X347
Hyundai Ioniq 545
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross45
Toyota RAV444
Acura RDX43
Mercedes GLB Class34
Genesis GV7030
Jeep Cherokee30
Mitsubishi Outlander30
Nissan Rogue30
Jeep Compass26
Ford Escape25
Jaguar F-Pace25
Land Rover Discovery Sport25
Land Rover Ranger Rover Evoque25
Land Rover Range Rover Velar25
Volkswagen ID421
Lincoln Corsair 20
Alfa Romeo Stelvio18
Tesla Model Y18
Volkswagen Tiguan17

What are the pros and cons of the Mazda CX-5?

What are the pros and cons of the Mazda CX-5


  • Great and sporty design based on the “KODO” design philosophy
  • Powerful 250hp turbocharged engine for the top trim
  • Tons of luxurious features even with a cheaper price tag
  • Smooth and refined handling for an SUV 
  • Comfortable and relaxing interior materials


  • More limited cargo space compared to competitors
  • Lower engine trim options feel a bit sluggish
  • Has a low towing capacity of only 2,000 lbs (907 kg)
  • Fuel economy is just average at best (31/25 mpg for highway and city)

Likes and Dislikes of Mazda CX-5 Owners

Likes and Dislikes of Mazda CX-5 Owners

All of the bulleted entries provided below are based on Kelley Blue Book ( reviews of the Mazda CX-5 from several owners.

What Owners Like About the Mazda CX-5

  • Fast for an SUV (turbo option)
  • Nice leather seats
  • Fun driving experience
  • Nicely placed interior features
  • Great exterior looks
  • All-wheel drive is included
  • Feels like a premium SUV
  • Offers competitive pricing

What Owners Dislike About the Mazda CX-5

  • Fuel economy is not that good in the turbo trim
  • Noticeable body roll during cornering
  • Falls short of cargo space compared to competitors
  • Non-turbo trims feel slow to accelerate from a stop
  • Some amount of cabin noise

What is the value of a used Mazda CX-5?

The exact value of a used Mazda CX-5 depends on how old it is, how many miles it has, and how much it has depreciated.

Used Mazda CX-5 models that are currently listed for sale on have an average price of about $23,871 with all model years considered.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)