Mazda RX-8 years to avoid — most common problems
Find out about the crucial years to avoid when considering a Mazda RX-8.
After the stellar success of the RX-7, Mazda waited for quite some time to release another sporty car with its innovative rotary engine. The drought was finally over when the RX-8 was released in 2003, and the concept version of the car already received impressive ratings from the general public.
The RX-8 is a fairly unique car due to its rotary powertrain, coupe design with four doors, and sharp design that still hasn’t aged much. The RX-8 also makes a great base for further tuning and customizing the car, but there are also some Mazda RX-8 years to avoid. That’s why our team wanted to give you an overview of the frequent RX-8 problems and the model years you’ll want to skip.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
Most common Mazda RX-8 problems
The RX-8 came after the RX-7 and while it doesn’t compete with the performance and reputation of its predecessor, they share a few issues. The most notable one is the Mazda 1.3-liter rotary engine which had a fair share of problems that we’ll discuss in further detail down the road.
Besides engine problems, there are also some issues with the fuel delivery system, airbags, and suspension issues. Because of all these, it gets quite difficult to decide on the reliability of this car. Some drivers consider it a revolutionary ride, while others tend to steer away due to the listed problems.
Because of that, we’ll dig deeper and try to help you figure out if the RX-8 is worth buying these days. One thing that might make the choice easier for you is the convenient price of a used RX-8 on the current used car market.
Rotary engine problems
While the rotary engine is the main highlight of this car, it’s also a weak point when it comes to life expectancy and servicing issues. One of the most widely reported issues is excessive engine oil consumption which made some drivers top up their oil level every 5,000 miles or even less.
While increased oil consumption can be a problem, it’s not that uncommon with high-performance engines. However, the remaining engine problems are not so common and these include leaking seals, ignition troubles, and reduced engine performance.
It’s also common for drivers to experience the symptoms of a bad ignition coil and that’s not where the problems end. The thing is – rotary engines aren’t like the traditional internal combustion engines with the pistons moving directly up and down. It means you have to get a trusted Mazda mechanic that’s familiar with the rotary engine to work on it in case any maintenance needs to be done.
Fuel delivery system issues
Besides the expressed engine troubles of the RX-8, there are also some issues with the fuel delivery system. To be precise, it’s the faulty fuel pump that was the culprit of poor fuel delivery into the combustion chambers and that led to reduced engine performance or even stalling.
However, the fuel pump didn’t necessarily fail on its own. There was a recall in 2016 and it mostly revolved around the 2004-2008 RX-8 models. It turned out that fuel pump sealing rings were prone to cracking and deteriorating as an effect of heat exposure. Because of this, the fuel would leak from the seals, and that even led to a fire hazard risk, having in mind the exposure to the heat generated by the engine.
After discussing the issues that affected the engine performance of the car, it’s time to get into the safety-related issues. One of the main problems of this type is the airbag situation which pretty much remained an issue throughout the production of the RX-8.
This problem was mostly centered around the problematic airbag inflator module which was prone to cracks due to exposure to heat and moisture or a long time of being unused. This led to glowing SRS light and problems like the metal fragments caused by the crack flying around the car and putting the driver and passengers at risk. There were several recalls issued by Mazda to deal with the issue, and the final one was in 2019, so we recommend you check the airbag system or at least see if the vehicle was recalled based on the VIN number.
While suspension issues won’t affect the engine operation, they can be severe enough to reduce the control you have over the vehicle. The RX-8 is known as prone to a few suspension-related issues including issues with a lower ball joint.
Cracks within the lower ball joint socket could lead to a cracked control arm, and if the control arm cracks, you could lose the steering control of the car.
Which Mazda RX-8 years to avoid?
Well, now you know a bit more about the most common issues that affected the RX-8 models over the yeras, but what about the exact model years you should avoid? Well, that can be a bit tricky one since all the cars were equipped with the same engine and there were just slight updates concerning the suspension and fuel delivery system over the years.
Still, we’ll take the driver complaints and NHTSA reports into consideration, so let’s see which models you should steer away from at all costs.
First-generation Mazda RX-8 (2004-2005 and 2007 model years)
This may not strike you as a surprise, but the first model year of the RX-8’s production was the worst one. This is common for other models as well, but the rotary engine issues were mostly expressed with the 2004 RX-8 model.
It was also the worst-rated RX-8 model based on the reliability reports and the 2005 model was no better. However, we’ve seen some improvements for the 2006 model year, and things started to get south once again with the 2007 model.
The biggest issues of the 2004-2005 and the 2007 Mazda RX-8 include premature rotary engine stalling, problems with cracked heat insulators, and airbag issues. Poor engine performance was also sometimes caused by a lean condition within the combustion chambers caused by lowered fuel delivery.
Best Mazda RX-8 years
The thing with the RX-8 is it’s a fascinating car with a unique design and a truly special engine, so it’s a tricky car to buy in terms of reliability. You can never know what to expect, and we suggest you find a trusted Mazda mechanic in case you decide to go for this car. However, it’s by no means a bad or unreliable car, and the sound of the rotary engine makes the ride even more special.
To support our claim even further, here’s a list of the best Mazda RX-8 years:
- 2006 Mazda RX-8
- 2008 Mazda RX-8
- 2010 Mazda RX-8
- 2011 Mazda RX-8
If you decide to go with this model, we recommend the 2010 model which received the least complaints. By the time the production of the RX-8 was nearly over, a lot of the issues that came with the previous models were sorted out.
This includes the suspension-related issue and fuel leaks, and the airbag recalls were mostly concerning the earlier models. Of course, that leaves us with potential engine trouble, but as long as you can find a decent low-mileage model, that should do the trick. It comes in handy to also have a mechanic that knows how to work on rotary engines, but at least you’ll be safer with a 2006, 2010, or 2011 model.
Is the Mazda RX-8 worth buying?
In the end, we come to the crucial question of whether the RX-8 is worth your time and money. Well, it’s a unique model and you’ll certainly have a few customization options to make it a pretty rare sight on the streets. Because of the revolutionary engine and design, our team deems this car as a worthy one as long as you avoid those few problematic model years we mentioned before.
Just make sure that you have a convenient and fair-priced way to service the car, since Mazda dealerships may recommend a few more expensive options. Overall, with frequent oil changes and running diagnostics every now and then, you should be fine by getting a used RX-8.
What year of RX-8 is most reliable?
The 2010 RX-8 is the most reliable model out there and it’s the safest option to buy as a used car.
What to look out for when buying an RX-8?
You should look out for suspension issues and the condition of the engine when buying an RX-8.
How long will an RX-8 engine last?
The RX-8 engine should last from 100,000 to 120,000 miles, but you should have in mind that there are numerous reports about the engine starting to have problems after the 60,000 miles mark.