MX5 reliability - poor

I realise this may be controversial - although I am fond of my mx5, it has been a very unreliable car - in spite of the perception that many people have of it (including Jeremy Clarkson’s “bullet proof reliability”). Mine is mk 3, 11 years old, only 93k miles. It has had the following faults (some of which may be ‘standard’ for an mx5):

  • both front callipers seized
  • broken interior light switch
  • broken coil spring
  • drivers seat worn such that the foam is spilling out
  • seat belts don’t retract
  • exhaust sensor failed
  • electrical fault (either alternator or parasitic drain, still to be diagnosed)
  • blocked drain holes (I know this happens to everyone) - it has caused corrosion
  • widespread (but so far manageable) corrosion underneath
  • noisy water pump
  • paintwork easily scratched.

In my lifetime I’ve owned a rover metro, seat cordoba, ford sierra, peugeot 807, kia rio, citroen C4 and kept them all for 100k - 130k miles and had virtually no trouble worth mentioning with any of them except a snapped cambelt in the rio.

I am now contemplating either keeping the mx5 for ever and being prepared to spend whatever on it every year, or scrapping it for an EV.

Perhaps I’ve got the wrong idea, I should treat it as a labour of love.

Am I past the worst or will it be perpetual trouble ?

shrug. you get lucky or you don’t with all cars. Mine is 117k 13 yo and fantastic. Now my golf estate two years newer had to have new injectors which are £500 a pop…

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I think most of the things listed are due to lack of use. Rust and soft paint are typical of Japanese cars.
I’d still personally prefer an MX5 to a modern car full of electrical gremlins.

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Look upon it as a mistress much younger than you.
Classy chassis, nice body, decent headlamps, nice bum, pouts when it needs attention but rewards in other departments if…erm…cough…suitably rewarded.
Ignore showing appreciation through “maintainance” and she will soon let you know… :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Err…past the worst,? That’d be in some parallel universe where cars get more reliable the older they are and the more miles they do ? Your car is over a decade old and was a budget sports car when new , most cars are worn out, and /or uneconomic to repair by the time they’re 10- 12 years old . An improvement on when I started to drive , when most cars except Mercs , VW and some Japanese cars were in terminal decline before they were three years old .


A wonderful description :rofl:

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I have little knowledge about cars in general, I do the basics, ie service it when necessary and take it to the garage when something goes wrong, assuming I can afford it, and wax it regularly and just hope it keeps going.
But the one thing that often crops up is rust, and I hear owners say its because Mazda dont under seal or coat this or that part, why? do all manufacturers leave the underside of their cars unprotected ? and if not, why do Mazda ? particularly as this seems to be a common problem, I’ve owned many an old ish car over the years but I’ve never had to worry about rust as I do with my 5 ( MK3, 2006 @ 66,000 miles ) particularly as its due for an MOT in August , my first one since ownership, which I’m a bit worried about.

Dunno about a young Mistress with classy chassis and nice body etc, coz if mine don’t pass the MOT , apart from a tirade of expletives, she’s gonna become Nora batty with baggy stockings ,drooping headlights and loose rear end, and knocking big end bearings , and not to mention, grease nipples that need lubricating.



tx for the entertainment lads

Hi Nozza

I think you have been almost infeasibly lucky with your previous cars - metro :rofl:
The problems with your MK3 are unremarkable to be honest but I would say that the MK3 is a more modern and complicated MX5 and more things to go wrong over time.
I hope you have enjoyed ownership a little more than those other vehicles and the issues that have occured over a longish period of time have been sufficiently spaced out to allow you a breather.

Best wishes


I think you have been almost infeasibly lucky with your previous cars - metro

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Reads like a lack of care/maintenance, some common foibles easily taken care of (back to lack of care) and other common faults you could level at any car. Nowhere do I read that it has been actually unreliable…ie Broken down and left you standing at the side of a road.

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people who have the pleasure of a very early model, ie early 1990s, how much do people spend per year, how many miles per year, and what mileage have they achieved ?

my finger is poised on booking it in for dinitrol undersealing….

Over 3 models and 10 years ownership all that has failed on them, Mk1 full suspension replacement, it was knackered before I owned it and a new rear brake slide pin. Mk3 a failed door lock actuator and a failed window switch. The Mk3 has been owned for 6 years. The MK2 I owned I don’t think anything actually failed on that.

Now if your talking money spent on them because I wanted to, I’ll have to reach for the calculator :grimacing:
Good maintenance is the key though with these or any car really, I’m a bit OTT in that department.


1996 Eunos Roadster, 90k kms when brought in 2005, 270k kms now. Not driven much now.

3 hoods
shocks and springs changed twice, but present set have been on since ~2008
Engine changed at 200k kms; burning circus level of oil
Both sides welded
Cambelt & pump twice
3x slave cylinders, 1x clutch master
4 calipers, numerous discs and pads
2 SS exhausts, technically not wear
2x Panasonic batteries
Aircon died years ago.

Yeah, thousands spent, I’ve convinced myself that annual running costs are effectively zero now I am well past the banger value (paid £4k for it in 2005, probably getting there in 2020)

For most of that time, its never felt particularly unreliable, though these days, its seems more fragile, and I’m not sure how much it has left in it.

To all those on here bashing the mighty metro, stop it. Stop it now!

My first car was a metro 1.3L and despite an occasional 7500rpm and a ham fisted 17 year old me working on it, it managed to do 125,000 before it was written off in an accident. I replaced it with another 1.0clubman that managed 95000 before being written off in another accident. Both were my fault despite me not driving them at the time as I let my Mrs drive em.

I replaced that with another (rover) metro 1.1 that managed 130,000 before the tin rot got at it.

Despite all the abuse they were pretty reliable. As long as you kept them in new HT leads, suspension gas and regular oil changes they were great fun little cars.

In a race down a back lane with me in my mk3 2 litre vs 18 year old me in that 1.3 metro, i’d barely know which way he went as he disappeared into the distance with Snap at full volume on the Goodmans stereo.


Remember being dreadfully excited about buying a 5 year old MG Midget back in 1985 - within a year it was completely unusable. Terminal rust, swollen doors to the extent you couldn’t open them, knackered soft-top held shut with bits of tape, buggered gearbox and smokey engine. Sold for scrap. Ah, those were the days.

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My NC is now 8 years old and has fairly low (38k) mileage and all I’ve had to replace is a battery, a set of new tyres and two rear shocks. It has never failed an MOT and still looks and runs great. I don’t worry too much about anything going wrong as it’s fairly simple and shouldn’t cost too much to put right. My other cars, an Audi and a Merc, however, although fairly new and still in warranty will be got rid of well before they get too old. With Turbos (2 in the Merc) DSG and auto gearboxes, automatic handbrakes, LED lighting etc ,etc, etc, they are far too complicated and after a few years will have many excuses to breakdown and will be expensive to put right. I am pretty sure that my ownership of the mx-5 will out last the other two.


I’ve had to have done chassis rails, side sills, replacement diff, power steering pipe, brake pipe, battery tray. MOT failures rather than breakdowns.

I believe Japanese cars rust easier because of the climate in Japan. Their cars last longer there than in the UK. (If I’ve understood that incorrectly please someone let me know!)

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