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Discussion Starter #1
So our current car is a gen3, 2015 3i Touring hatch, but we've decided we need a second car, and I ran across a fresh trade 2008 3i over the weekend. I have not even driven it yet because it was traded last Saturday and the dealer has not finished reconditioning, detailing, etc. But it was traded to a new Honda dealer (not sure for what, could be anything including some other used), and the dealer has deemed it safe and in good enough shape to keep in their own budget inventory. The interior and exterior do look decently kept, like it may have been one owner (don't know yet), but I do know it has 141,000 miles on it.

My question is what should I be looking for in this 2008 with so many miles? Do any of you have a 2.0 with more miles than this, and what are the likely problems that would come up? Transmission I suspect will be a drawback, not just that it's automatic but that it's 4-speed and with this many miles that could be a failure point coming up.

What else should I be on the lookout for or be prepared to repair in the next few years or next 30,000 miles or so? I'm not expecting it to last forever, but if I buy it as a second car I would like to get around 3 years and/or 30k out of it at least without having multiple big repairs. Would this be a reasonable expectation? What about rust issues on these?

Thanks for any thoughts! Haven't had chance to search through this section yet to see if there are already tips on this posted. I'm expecting to drive the car in 2 days so hoping to be prepared by then.
 

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Demon Spawn
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758 Posts
struts and shocks would be a big one, bet they are original and shot. fluid conditions especially the always overlooked auto tranny fluid. then just the other typical used car stuff. my 03 protege 5 had 176k when i got hit and the insurance company totaled it. still ran like a champ even drove it to the shop with a cv axle half busted from the wreck. miss that car. my 08 3 hatch definitely fills that void well though. check the rear tires for any inside wear or diagonal wear patterns that would indicate lack of tire rotations every 6-10k miles (a must do on most mazdas especially 04-09 3's) as they have built in negative nonadjustable rear camber and it can wear the rear tires faster and at an odd pattern if a stringent rotation schedule is not followed. see if they have service records and look to see if the coolant was ever changed as mazda put fl 22 "longer life" coolant in these cars and its a "10 year" coolant yeah.... if no records of a flush thermostat change or something get that coolant out and put fresh in. universal yellowish green works so does the longer life stuff it just costs 2.5x-4x more. spark plugs if they were not done at 75k will be shot, id do them anyways as its cheap insurance. and 150k would be the next change interval for them anyway. ngk laser iridiums (dont cheap out) it will hurt your mpg and performance. thats about all i got, give er a good look over for anything thats been neglected and haggle em down, see how she drives
 

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Get a PPI done by a good, reputable shop. Take it over to a Mazda dealer if you can, because there's a good chance they'll know a bit more about common issues on the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Belated thanks for your replies!

After waiting for the dealer to finish some things, driving the car a total of 3 times with some additional dealer work in between, and a knockdown dragout near-purchase last Saturday, I finalized the purchase of this 2008 3i sedan on Monday. It's in the Copper Red Mica color which I found very appealing compared to anything else I was looking at in this price range, and I found that it drove very well despite the 4-speed auto. It was one owner and it has the all black interior in really good condition. The exterior is slightly less good, complete with some beginning of the rear wheel well rust on the front portions (behind the rear doors), but overall the good outweighed the bad. Would have liked to have paid a little less for it, but I also didn't want to start over again with a car search.

Still going over things post-purchase as far as what I might want to do right away vs what I'll just let go for now. It was not a purchase where I expected everything to be pristine. It's treated as a budget car, but being a new car dealer with a reputation, they make sure there are no immediate mechanical or safety concerns. They don't fix all the cosmetic issues. It did pass a fresh PA safety and emissions inspection, so there shouldn't be anything too seriously wrong. I think it could use at least the passenger motor mount, but I kind of expected that after some reading. Transmission shifts nice and smooth.

There is record of a couple of transmission fluid changes in its life, with the last about 30k ago, and a coolant change at that time as well. And it appears they changed out the brake fluid at least once at 90k. Evidence of good maintenance in general throughout its life and was owned locally. There is no documented record of shocks being changed (although I haven't had a good look underneath yet), but having had my own car that that 150k shocks, and then another 90k on aftermarket shocks, it doesn't ride like it has worn out shocks to me. Certainly the 17" 50 series tires transmit more bumps than the tall 60 series 16" that came standard on my 2015 3i, but I'm not hearing or feeling what to me seems worn out shocks. There is evidence of the bolts on the front top strut mounts being removed at some point, because most of the bolts seem new-looking, with one having an older slightly rusty appearance.

Anyway, before about a week ago I never really expected to end up with 2 Mazdas, especially not two Mazda 3, but here I am.
 
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