Rust Issues with 2011-2014 Mazda2?

Hi all,

I'm thinking of buying a Mazda2 for my mother in law and I live in a heavier snow/salt area. I know certain Mazdas in the early and mid-2000s had rust issues. How is the 2011-2014 Mazda2 for rust? I was under the impression Mazda improved their brand-wide rust issues by around 2010. I looked at a 2011 today which had some rust on the rocker panels and pinch welds. I've searched a bunch online and I'm not sure of the answer. My mother in law currently has a 20 year old car and I'd like her next one to last a similar amount of time. I'm a big believer in oil spray, but we can't prevent rust which had already begun.

Thanks for your input.
2011 Mazda2 Touring 5spd
I live in the rust belt, Syracuse NY area. Most cars usually develop a good amount of rust within 5 years. We use oil spray undercoatings on all of our cars. It definitely slows down existing rust a lot when applied annually. It gets expensive though when you have more than 1 car.

I just purchased a 2011 that spent it's entire life in this area. I was shocked by how little rust there is on it, although people from the south would probably look at it and be shocked by the amount of rust there is on it. I doubt the previous 2 owners took good care of it. The last owner certainly did not. The interior was disgusting (mouse infestation, there were actually mouse traps in the car and I found food behind some interior panels) so I have to assume very little care was taken with the exterior. The rockers are still rock solid. There is a slight amount of surface rust on the pinch welds. I have 2 small rust holes in the bottom rear section of the rear wheel openings. Very slight surface rust on the bottom of the door panels up front. One small surface rust spot on the hatch at the seam where the metal is folded over. Mainly surface rust here and there. I plan to sand it all down and spray rust converting primer then try to get some decent matching spray cans made up at my local NAPA. I will leave all the hinges alone and hit them annually with Fluid Film. I have not looked at the brake lines closely yet, but I'm assuming they are a little crusty in areas.

I think the worst rust I found was under the rear seat. Most notably the fuel pump access door area. Most of the edge of the cut out has a good amount of rust. I'll sand it down and use the rust converting primer and paint. I'll also use this access panel to get some good coverage of Fluid Film in the areas above the fuel tank.

I think part of the reason the car held up so well is that the previous owner lived in Parish NY, quite a bit north of the city of Syracuse. I do believe they use less salt up there. I believe they use more sand and/or a salt/sand mixture. They do use salt though. There's an enormous amount of sand/dirt packed in the nooks of this car.

I think anything 5 to 8 years old in the rust belt will certainly be showing signs of damage by now. It all comes down to how much you are willing to accept. I was willing to accept quite a bit to get my hands on a manual transmission vehicle. I originally planned to find a vehicle down south and drive it back but the logistics of that were a big deterrent and of course there is the risk of a break down during the journey. So this fairly non-rusty car came around locally and I purchased it. Good luck.
Thanks for your feedback. I think we experience similar weather, I'm about 300 miles west. I'm having trouble picturing your description of "2 small rust holes in the bottom rear section of the rear wheel openings." Do you mean the bottom of the rear fender (ie. outside), or somewhere inside the wheel well, or the frame?

My mother in law's current 20 year old honda has a bit of rust, but honestly, the body could probably go another 6 years before it would be "bad". My concern in seeing this Mazda 2 was it seemed to be only a few years behind in rust development. It looked like in ~2 years it would have a full on hole in the rocker panel in front of the rear fender. Car's often have drains in this area, I'm not sure if this is the case with the Mazda 2.

This time last year I had a 2006 Mazda RX-8. I had it from 3 years old on and it required rust repairs every couple of years, even with annual oil spray. It would have looked pretty rough at 20 years old and I don't want to put in that level of effort to make it last.

POR-15 is an awesome product. If you remove rust down to the bare metal and a bit further, it will keep the rust from restarting for a good 5 years, or more.
2011 Mazda2 Touring 5spd
I snapped a few pics. The oil pan seems pretty bad to me. I figure if I keep up with the undercoating spray I should get at least 5 years out of it. At that point my cost of ownership per year should be pretty low and it can go to the scrap yard if it is really bad.

I also have a 2004 Honda Accord that was passed down to me but spent most of its life in Florida. The sheet metal on the Honda is definitely thicker. I had the back seat out of the Mazda for cleaning and noticed how much give there was in the floor pan. I've had the seat out of the Honda as well and the rigidity was way better. However, they are very different cars. The 2 seems like it was designed as a disposable car. I also test drove a Honda Fit that lived its life in Rochester NY. Same deal as the Mazda but quite a bit more rust. They both seem to be designed as disposable cars. Small, light weight and efficient. I did notice that my 2 has a black coating on the sheet metal behind the sub frame and before the rear axle. I don't know if they all came like that or if mine was undercoated with that black non oily coating.



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Thanks for taking those pictures, you rock!

I agree, that's an unusual amount of rust for an oil pan. Rock auto sells a replacement oil pan for $68, so even if it gets much worse in the future, it's not the end of the world for a DIY kind of person.

Most of your underbody looks really solid, impressively so. The rust on the bottom of the fender/rocker/pinch weld section of the car concerns me a bit in terms of what I am trying to evaluate. The 2011 I looked at was trending in that direction, but better in that section, worse moving towards the front of the car. You and I might be okay with it, but my mother in law probably would not be happy. :) I'm not sure if I just need to find one that has been well taken care of, or if I should look elsewhere.

Interesting to hear your feedback on the Fit. The Mazda 2 weighs 100-300lbs less than a Honda fit, which is a sizable amount in a small car. Mazda did a lot of good stuff. I recently picked up a Fiesta ST for myself which has the same platform but few shared parts. It's shocking how well the car's chassis/suspension work. When I was looking at them I looked at a 2015 which had some rust in a similar area to yours, albeit less severe. In that case I think the cause was dirt being allowed to accumulate in the fender and it never being cleaned out.
2011 Mazda2 Touring 5spd
My first choice was a Honda Fit. But I wanted a 2007/2008 so availability was poor. Having driven both cars in the same week I would say the Fit was a little more fun to drive. I feel it had better acceleration and was just a little smoother at higher revs. I'm not into taking corners fast so I can't speak to that part of performance. And it provided a lot more utility for hauling stuff. The rear seats folding flat was nice. I felt that the Fit was a little on the ugly side though whereas the 2 is cute. At 6'3" I think the Fit was a little more comfortable for me. But, this particular 2 checked off more boxes in the end and I'm happy with my decision.

I am a DIY'er, the reason I didn't run away from this fixer upper of a 2. I have a fair amount of work ahead of me but I'm kind of looking forward to it. This little car seems like it will be a pleasure to work on compared to what I'm used to. We'll see how I feel after I snap the head off that first rusty bolt. :)
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2011 Mazda2 Touring 5spd
Well, there you have it. First rusty bolt snapped last night. I was trying to remove the bolts from the rear seat. Specifically the center bolts. The one toward the rear of the car. I snapped the nut welded to the under-body free. Not the worst case scenario. I'll be able to secure the nut and work the bolt free. It seems that the worst rust is in the areas I could not easily see during a pre-purchase inspection. That's pretty typical.
I agree, that's the best case broken nut/bolt scenario (depending on the access to the nut). Don't remove bolts unless you must? I'm a big believer in penetrating oil sprays, but there's not always good access, etc.