This will be a long list. The car is my wife's, but I maintain and repair it. The car was given to her by her parent's and it came with her. I would love to get rid of it, but we can't afford new, nor is our credit great. Although personally I am a passionate American car owner, and dislike foreign cars from any country, especially asian imports.
Working on the thing, and repairing the things I have repaired, I don't understand why people say Japanese cars are better than American. Nor do I understand why they say Japanese cars are designed better than American. I work on the thing, and every time I do I say things like, "I could do a better job designing this thing". As I compare it to Chevy's (what I have always drove and worked on), Chevy's are built better.
All though I will say the car has going on 190,000, which is surprising me, and that in its older age, a lot of the small little things aren't going wrong on it like they did when it was younger. Go figure. Probably that has a lot to do with that I had bought a scanner for it to read the trouble codes from the computer, because I got sick and tired of paying a mechanic to plug a little device in to the diagnostic port, and tell me what's wrong with it. Now that I bought the scanner, I have not needed nor used it.
From day one I was told, ever since about 50,000 miles, the "Check Engine" light spent more time illuminated, than not. And all stupid stuff. One time at 51,000 telling me it needed a tune up. Come on, 50 ish thousand is recommended time for tune up, yes it was 1,000 miles over, but come on, you don't trigger the "Check Engine" light for 1,000 miles over a tune up. I have put on 140,000 total, between two different Chevy's and never have seen that light.
It needed the right axle replaced at 70,000. Cost $200.05.
An axle boot was replaced at 81,000.
An alternator at 103,000 costed $180.00. It's on its third timing belt. There's another Japanese dump design; use a chain instead of a belt. My chain on my Chevy has lasted 167,000.
A valve cover gasket needed to be replaced at 103,000, and this one is starting to seep now.
The rear main seal has been leaking since 120,000.
EGR valve at 63,000.
Headlight switch was causing the dash lights not to illuminate, had to be replaced at 98,000.
Check Engine light came on at 83,000; it turned out the TPS Sensor (Throttle position sensor) needed to be adjusted, cost me $150.00.
Left axle seal went out and needed replacing at 81,000. And the A/C condensor went out at 130,000, costing over $800.00. and now every time I re-charge the cooling system, it holds refrigerant for maybe 2 weeks, but only blows 60 degrees just after a refill.
The headlights on it don't illuminate the road well, like they are too low. Even maxed out on the high adjustment. I've had to re-wire the harness because it melted on both sides. The way Mazda designed it, you need Japanese hands to change the bulbs, or be prepared to use every swear word in the book 5 times over. They don't give you much room to work, you end up breaking things because you can't maneuver your arms and hands in tight areas. You can't read the parts on it because it's written in Japanese.
When you decelerate the thing shakes like a paint mixer, and when you're coasting to a stop like it wants to stall out, but it never does. Surprisingly. Been doing that since 130,000.
It burns through brakes every 30,000; you will have a hard time trying to figure out how they designed their little stupid clips on the linings/calipers for it to work right. I never did totally figure it out.
Now under a hot stop, the lining coasts and the metal part on the lining scrapes on the hub of the rotor. I never have these problems on my Chevy.
The transmission when cold outside doesn't want to shift into third gear from second until it almost red lines, and until the trans gets hot, then it's fine. You have to jam it in park in order for it to go into park, otherwise you won't get the ignition switch to turn next time you want to start it.
Water pump was replaced at 160,000; not bad for a water pump, but with everything else, the car nickel and dimes.
The thing needs a new exhaust once a year, no kidding. On my Chevy the exhaust system is 9 years old. The car doesn't get hot enough to burn the condensation from the exhaust. And it just sits there and rots it away. The exhaust manifold is going bad, has a crack in it, I refuse to go through the abuse of replacing it, nor will I pay a mechanic to do it.
As far as room in the engine compartment to work on it, forget it. With my Chevy I can sit in the engine compartment while I change the plugs. This thing I can barely get a hand in there.