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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello again everybody,

I put out a lengthy post a few months ago about my poor automatic transmission performance. I've more-or-less learned to accept it, for the car is otherwise quite good. The consensus among fellow owners was that Mazda's most recent transmission software compromises performance and drivability far too much, in the interest of fuel economy. "So be it," I said, and tried to look past the rough shifts, grinding sensation, lugging, jerking and near-stalling from cold. Figured I was overly sensitive to these issues since my last car (a Volt) was completely linear with its stepless electric drive system (which I highly recommend).

And yet the Mazda finds new ways to worry me -- in heavy stop-and-go traffic today, it felt as if the transmission were about to fail -- and my passenger took notice. Every time I apply or release the accelerator, the car shunts backwards and forth. It jerks and clunks in and out of first and second gear every time, and it sometimes grinds or lugs, as if caught between two cogs. Worst of all, if I have to apply more accelerator pressure to FORCE a much-needed downshift, then let off (as not to shoot forward and rear-end somebody), there's not only a jerk, but a shift flare. (The revs will rise normally, spike, then drop to the next gear.) If anybody is interested, I can try to replicate this behavior on film.

The car is brand-new, Japan-built, mechanically sound and with just hit 8,000 miles. Not trying to sound whiny -- I'm more curious about these issues than anything. Should it bother me as much as it does?
 

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2021 Mazda3 Turbo Sedan
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I would take it to Mazda, none of that is normal behavior for the Skyactiv Drive family. Based on the symptoms you are describing you may be having a torque converter that is failing or a valve body issue that is not locking/unlocking the converter when it should. Is the noise a grind or more of a squawk sound?
 

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Hello again everybody,

I put out a lengthy post a few months ago about my poor automatic transmission performance. I've more-or-less learned to accept it, for the car is otherwise quite good. The consensus among fellow owners was that Mazda's most recent transmission software compromises performance and drivability far too much, in the interest of fuel economy. "So be it," I said, and tried to look past the rough shifts, grinding sensation, lugging, jerking and near-stalling from cold. Figured I was overly sensitive to these issues since my last car (a Volt) was completely linear with its stepless electric drive system (which I highly recommend).

And yet the Mazda finds new ways to worry me -- in heavy stop-and-go traffic today, it felt as if the transmission were about to fail -- and my passenger took notice. Every time I apply or release the accelerator, the car shunts backwards and forth. It jerks and clunks in and out of first and second gear every time, and it sometimes grinds or lugs, as if caught between two cogs. Worst of all, if I have to apply more accelerator pressure to FORCE a much-needed downshift, then let off (as not to shoot forward and rear-end somebody), there's not only a jerk, but a shift flare. (The revs will rise normally, spike, then drop to the next gear.) If anybody is interested, I can try to replicate this behavior on film.

The car is brand-new, Japan-built, mechanically sound and with just hit 8,000 miles. Not trying to sound whiny -- I'm more curious about these issues than anything. Should it bother me as much as it does?
You are NOT imagining things... That is totally unacceptable. Figure out under what conditions this occurs, and replicate for the service mgr or better, the shop foreman or lead tech. Also, having it on video would be useful. This must be rectified...

If it were me, I would not care how comparatively good value the car is; unsmooth is unsmooth and it would not be acceptable to me under any condition.
 

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2018 Mazda 3 GT
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Yeah.. I had a 2016 3 2.5L with an AT and it didn't do that at all. It would get caught between gears sometimes in traffic but it wasn't super noticeable unless you were watching the RPMs closely.
CK
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would take it to Mazda, none of that is normal behavior for the Skyactiv Drive family. Based on the symptoms you are describing you may be having a torque converter that is failing or a valve body issue that is not locking/unlocking the converter when it should. Is the noise a grind or more of a squawk sound?
With windows down I get a loud whistle on the 1-2 change. Feels almost like I splurged for the turbo ;)

The 'grinding' sensation I describe isn't a noise, but a 1-2 second moment where it feels like gears in a manual-transmission car being ground (grinded?), or like a very low RPM diesel truck chugging up a very steep hill. The grinding is far more rare -- it's possible that this symptom is related to high AT temps, such as today (104 degrees going through the Big Dig in Boston).

The 'clunk' is audible sometimes in heavy traffic when the transmission cycles through N-1-2-3-N-2-1-2-3-2-N etc etc. And I've found no way to prevent the 'neutral drop', which is very aggressive.
 
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With windows down I get a loud whistle on the 1-2 change. Feels almost like I splurged for the turbo ;)

The 'grinding' sensation I describe isn't a noise, but a 1-2 second moment where it feels like gears in a manual-transmission car being ground (grinded?), or like a very low RPM diesel truck chugging up a very steep hill. The grinding is far more rare -- it's possible that this symptom is related to high AT temps, such as today (104 degrees going through the Big Dig in Boston).

The 'clunk' is audible sometimes in heavy traffic when the transmission cycles through N-1-2-3-N-2-1-2-3-2-N etc etc. And I've found no way to prevent the 'neutral drop', which is very aggressive.
Do you have AWD? The coupler can make a "grinding" type vibration when engaging in a turn. I've never got that feeling from my transmission though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do you have AWD? The coupler can make a "grinding" type vibration when engaging in a turn. I've never got that feeling from my transmission though.
Nope, and I was very remiss to mention that the car is a 2WD. My apologies. FWD 2.5 Skyactiv-G
 

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2021 Mazda 3 Hatchback
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Hello again everybody,

I put out a lengthy post a few months ago about my poor automatic transmission performance. I've more-or-less learned to accept it, for the car is otherwise quite good. The consensus among fellow owners was that Mazda's most recent transmission software compromises performance and drivability far too much, in the interest of fuel economy. "So be it," I said, and tried to look past the rough shifts, grinding sensation, lugging, jerking and near-stalling from cold. Figured I was overly sensitive to these issues since my last car (a Volt) was completely linear with its stepless electric drive system (which I highly recommend).

And yet the Mazda finds new ways to worry me -- in heavy stop-and-go traffic today, it felt as if the transmission were about to fail -- and my passenger took notice. Every time I apply or release the accelerator, the car shunts backwards and forth. It jerks and clunks in and out of first and second gear every time, and it sometimes grinds or lugs, as if caught between two cogs. Worst of all, if I have to apply more accelerator pressure to FORCE a much-needed downshift, then let off (as not to shoot forward and rear-end somebody), there's not only a jerk, but a shift flare. (The revs will rise normally, spike, then drop to the next gear.) If anybody is interested, I can try to replicate this behavior on film.

The car is brand-new, Japan-built, mechanically sound and with just hit 8,000 miles. Not trying to sound whiny -- I'm more curious about these issues than anything. Should it bother me as much as it does?
Sounds like a bunch of bullshit! That isn't right bro. No way. They need to check it out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
First of all, I say thanks to everybody who has responded to and read this post. Your input continues to be a big help.

I did get a video, but it's not very good at showcasing the issues. It was gentle neighborhood driving from cold, which is not usually when I get a lot of transmission tantrums. I should have taken a video while driving through Boston the other day when it felt like every gear-change was the car's last. I'm hesitant to even use this video I took as evidence, because it doesn't seem bad at all.

The other thing that's funny about the problems I have is that they're somewhat intermittent. There are no days when I really feel as if the transmission is SMOOTH, but depending on load, temperature, distance, and driving conditions, the jerking, confusion, and hesitation, are either mild or more intermittent. Today, for example, the car has been OKAY. Not great, but not as awful as it was on the highway the other day. So I sort of gaslight myself into thinking it's really just fine.
 

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If you have an early 2019 and you installed a short ram/cold air intake, this could cause such a problem. However you would get warnings such as safety systems disabled, engine malfunction, stability control system failure, etc. I had the same issue. They recommended I flash the computer but I was too scared to do that. Fix was to go back to stock intake.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If you have an early 2019 and you installed a short ram/cold air intake, this could cause such a problem. However you would get warnings such as safety systems disabled, engine malfunction, stability control system failure, etc. I had the same issue. They recommended I flash the computer but I was too scared to do that. Fix was to go back to stock intake.
Unfortunately that is not my case, but I appreciate the input. Good to know about the intakes!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Have you gotten the car looked at yet? I was looking at a 22, but am kinda of hesitant right now.
I haven't had the time yet, and until something really bad happens, I probably don't have much of a case. It's hard to document and the issues seem to come & go.

My advice is to find THE Mazda 3 that you'd purchase, and take it for a 30+ minute test drive. Try it in traffic, especially. My guess is that the issues are only on some cars with this transmission.
 

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Oddly enough, sounds like the fluid is incorrect. Even on a hot day it shouldn't do any of that. However, it can do a bit of a jump if you are slowly cruising in high gear and then press hard on accelerator, it can rev up enough to punch into gear. But if you are getting a whine sound into second that sounds like the fluid is massively burnt and causing a blockage into the tq converter which is starving for fluid which would cause your issues especially at temps. This typically is something caused by abuse of the fluid in general, but with only 8k I would lean towards a manufacturing defect. But Get it into the dealer and diagnosed/repaired right away because the longer you let it go the more they will point towards you abusing it. The first treatment will likely be changing out the fluid.
 
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