Discover the Best and Worst Mazda Miata Years to Avoid

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Investing in a Mazda Miata can be an exciting experience, especially if you’re a fan of sporty roadsters.

However, knowing which Miata to avoid is essential so your ownership journey remains problem-free.

In this article, we’ll dive into some of the less desirable models to steer clear of and the best Miata year models.

Navigating many options can be challenging, but armed with the correct information, you’ll make the perfect choice for your needs.

So, let’s explore the Mazda Miata model years to avoid and ensure you select the best MX-5 for your driving pleasure.

Mazda Miata avoid

What Year Miata To Avoid?

First Generation Issues

During the first generation of Mazda Miatas, one of the worst years was 1996. This year was notorious for its transition to the OBD-II diagnostic system, which led to some issues with emission control.

Some things you may experience with this model year are difficulty passing emissions testing and occasional check engine lights.

Second Generation Issues

The second-generation Miata had a few notable years to avoid, specifically the 1999 and 2000 models. These two years had a concerning number of complaints with:

  • Engine Issues: They could suffer from cold start problems and excessive oil consumption.
  • Electrical Issues: Some owners reported problems with the power windows, door lock actuators, and the audio head unit.

Third Generation Issues

The third-generation Miata carried its problems, particularly in the 2006 and 2007 models. If you come across these years, take note of:

  • Water Leaking: These Miatas could face water leaks, causing damage to the interior, especially around the soft top and the seals.
  • Engine Issues: Some 2006 models experienced excessive oil consumption and occasional stalling.

Fourth Generation Issues

While many say that the fourth-generation Miata is a more reliable car, the 2016 model still has a few problems:

  • Transmission Issues: The 2016 Mazda Miata could suffer from manual transmission issues. There was an official recall for this problem in the US market.
  • Electrical Issues: Some complaints were made about minor electrical hiccups, like the infotainment system glitches or the intermittent operation of the keyless entry system.

As you look for a Mazda Miata to purchase, being aware of these common problems in various generations and years will help you make an informed decision and protect your investment in this beloved roadster.

Considerations for Buying a Used Miata

Evaluating Miata Reliability

When purchasing a used Miata, it’s vital to assess its reliability. Check for common issues, such as clutch problems or electrical system errors.

The Mazda Miata has been one of Mazda’s best-selling models, known for its lightweight design and sharp handling.

Verifying Safety Features

Before finalizing your purchase, verify the Miata’s safety features. Earlier models, such as the 1990 Miata, ensure the pop-up headlights function correctly.

Inspect seatbelts, airbags, and braking systems for optimal performance.

Inspecting Rust and Maintenance History

Rust is a crucial factor to consider when buying a used Miata. Inspect the car for any signs of rust, especially around the windows and retractable hardtop.

Obtain the vehicle’s maintenance history and verify that all necessary services have been completed.

Comparing Different Model Years

When choosing a Miata, compare the benefits and drawbacks of various model years. Consider comfort, cabin space, interior accessories, and transmission options.

The best years for the Mazda Miata include 2005, 2010, and 2018. Avoid the less-reliable years, such as 1999 and 2006.

Remember, performing thorough research and inspections before purchasing a used Miata is crucial, ensuring you drive away in a reliable and safe roadster.

What Are The Best Miata Year Models?

In no particular order, the best Mazda Miata year cars are 1992, 2000, 2006, and 2016.


The 1992 Mazda Miata stands out as one of the best in the series because it receives a lot of praise for being problem-free.

With its highly reliable Japanese engineering, the 1992 Miata offers a pure driving experience that enthusiasts love.


Your next option, the 2000 Mazda Miata, has a great design and continues to provide a fantastic roadster experience. This model offers a reliable engine and superb driving dynamics that cater to your needs as a driving purist and is one of the best years for Mazda Miata to own.


Considering the 2006 Mazda Miata, you’ll appreciate it for its myriad of improvements over previous generations. This year, it has ushered in the NC generation, featuring a new body design, updated interior, and enhanced performance.


Lastly, the 2016 Mazda Miata is a top choice for its contemporary appeal and functionality. This model signifies the introduction of the ND generation, incorporating modern technology and lightweight design principles, making for an enjoyable and up-to-date driving experience.

These fantastic years offer a great mix of classic design, reliability, and performance that you can appreciate and enjoy on the road as a Mazda Miata fan.

best Miata MX5 models

Competitors and Alternatives


If you’re considering a Mazda Miata but want to explore other options, the BMW Z4 is a prime contender.

This attractive roadster delivers a mix of performance, luxury, and style that’s hard to resist. Compared to older BMW roadsters like the BMW Z3, the Z4 offers improved handling, technology, and a more refined driving experience.

Subaru BRZ

For a sporty alternative without a convertible top, check out the Subaru BRZ. Offering a perfectly balanced rear-wheel drive chassis, the BRZ is renowned for its agility and fun-to-drive nature.

While the Miata is a fierce competitor in this segment, the BRZ’s fixed-roof structure accommodates those who want to avoid drop-top driving.

As you search for a used model, remember there are the worst Subaru BRZ models with reliability and performance problems!

Toyota Supra

Another option is the Toyota Supra, which shares some underpinnings with the BMW Z4.

As a performance coupe, the Supra offers distinctive styling and more power than the Miata. While the Supra doesn’t come as a convertible, its unique charm makes it worth a look, but avoid these Toyota Supra problems models.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

If you’re after a convertible with American muscle, look no further than the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible.

The Camaro muscle is heavier, more extensive, heavier, and more powerful than the Miata, making it a popular choice for those who seek a traditional muscle car experience.

This alternative lacks the agile handling of the Miata but offers adrenaline-pumping acceleration and a striking presence on the road.

Used SUVs under $10,000

  • 2010 Honda CR-V
  • 2008 Toyota RAV4
  • 2011 Mazda CX-5

If you’re on a budget, consider used SUVs under $10,000. These vehicles offer greater practicality and cargo capacity compared to the Miata.

While they may not fulfill your sports car desires, these affordable options provide a reliable mode of transportation with more room for passengers and gear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there specific years with low reliability?

Yes, there are a few Mazda Miata years that experienced more issues compared to others. For instance, first-generation Miatas had engine oil leaks reported after 120,000 miles.

However, it’s important to note that these problems were likely prevalent in older models but have since been addressed in newer models._

Are there Miata years with known transmission problems?

While specific years aren’t mentioned to have widespread transmission problems, it’s always a good idea to research a specific model you’re considering buying. Consult forums, reviews, and Miata enthusiasts to gather accurate information to make an informed decision.

Do any Miata years have excessive rust issues?

Generally, Mazda Miatas are not prone to excessive rust issues. However, if the car is exposed to harsh weather conditions or is maintained poorly, it can develop rust.

Inspect the body and undercarriage yourself, or have an experienced mechanic review the car before purchasing.

Should I avoid the 2016 Miata?

It’s okay to avoid the 2016 Mazda Miata. It is considered one of the better years for the model. Inspect the car thoroughly, and consult reviews and testimonials to ensure you get a reliable vehicle.

How long will a Miata engine last?

Miata engines are known for their reliability and longevity, with some even surpassing 200,000 miles.

The actual lifespan of your Miata engine depends on several factors, such as maintenance, driving habits, and usage. Regularly scheduled maintenance and care will significantly prolong the life of your Mazda Miata engine.


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