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Considering buying a Mazda 3 with a "low battery"

I know nothing about cars but I was planning to purchase a certified pre-owned 2012 Mazda 3 (one owner, no apparent accidents) with about 45K miles on the car. We took it to an independent mechanic today and he said while the car is in immaculate condition, it has a low battery. We’ve just come off ownership of two consecutive cars with problems after problems and I’m trying to find a car that isn’t a money pit.

Is it just a question of replacing the battery and everything will be fine or is the battery condition an indication that there may be other issues with the car?

Would this be an issue that would cause you to hesitate on purchasing?

Should I walk away?

Did your indy shop test the entire system ?
Is the battery low due to the alternator or age ?
It almost sounds like you shoud have the battery included in the deal or discounted and throw one in yourself.

Does he mean “low” as needing a charge? In that case, you need to get the charging system checked out. It could be that the car was sitting around for weeks unused.

Or, does he mean “low” as in old and won’t hold a charge? In that case the battery needs replacement.

Sounds like you need to talk more to that mechanic and get more details. Or find another mechanic.

The battery could need replacing, that should be done before the sale, then get the battery and charging system tested before purchase. That should be part of the CPO process.

This is probably the original battery. It is not uncommon to need a new battery after 4 years. On a CPO vehicle, the dealer absolutely must provide a new battery. You are paying more for a car that has been checked to make sure it is in excellent condition. Just missing this issue might be reason to question the entire inspection process at this dealership.

Is this car for sale at a Mazda dealer? If not, don’t buy the CPO label. If it is a Mazda dealer, is the extended warranty backed by Mazda? If not, it is not a true CPO car and you should pass on it.

Someone above (texases) suggested getting the battery replaced and then getting the battery and charging system tested before purchase. Do you trust the dealership to do that? Or should I request another independent mechanic assessment? We’re definitely going to ask for a new battery. I just spoke with the independent mechanic we used to test it and he said he didn’t not think it was necessary for him to review again… He did not see anything wrong with the charger. He just thought the car was sitting around and not being used.

Regarding the questions about where it was bought. It’s a Mazda dealership.

This is what it says on the website:

100k MILE MAZDA WARRANTY & MOONROOF included!! One owner and fully loaded. You will love the reliability of the Mazda3 plus great gas mileage. Consumers best buy. Loaded with all the options. Automatic, factory moonroof, Bose audio system, alloy wheels, hands free Bluetooth, power windows, locks, cruise, CD player and much more…NEW TIRES. Included at no extra charge is the peace of mind Mazda Certified Pre-Owned vehicle warranty, a 12month/12,000 mile vehicle limited warranty. 7 year/ 100K mile powertrain limited warranty from in-service date. Balance of mfg original warranty. 24 hour roadside assistance, Zero deductible, 150 point detailed inspection and free Experian AutoCheck report.

This is the third or fourth post about CPO vehicles that reminds me that someone on this forum said that all CPO means that it is certified to be a used car.
If the OP is frustrated by car problems I suggest finding a new vehicle you can afford and by the time the warranty is up you will have some idea if you want to keep it.

If you really want the car, get the dealer to replace the battery and buy it. While you are there, you might ask them how a weak battery can pass their 150 point detailed inspection. If you got a CarFax for the car, it should tell you when they got the car and then you know how long it was on the lot. Unless it was a trade, there should be a short trail of previous owners. If there is more than one dealer involved, total the time at each dealership to determine how long it sat around. As I mentioned above, it is not uncommon for batteries to last for 3 or 4 years. I replace the batteries in my cars about every 3 years and I wait until they fail.

Just looked it up, Consumer Reports seems to like the Mazda 3 2012 model year as a used car. Engine, transmission, all systems check out with excellent reliability. The only issue appears to be body integrity, which is rated “average”.

Given that, if the price is right I’d accept the battery as it is. New batteries are pretty reasonable, especially if you purchase them at Costco.

There’s a slight chance it isn’t the battery, instead either the alternator or a phantom current drain. I wouldn’t worry about it. There’s always a little risk you got to take on when purchasing a used car. Very good idea that you took it to your own mechanic first. Good for you.

I had to replace the battery on our 2012 a couple months ago. It was so dead I had to call a tow truck for a jump start. So it is entirely possible that the battery is shot. If the rest checks out, a new battery is a little over $100.

One of the experts here – @db4690 I think – has said he doesn’t particularly like the ride quality of the Mazda 3. I presume OP has already done the test-drive thing and finds the ride is acceptable.

My middle child owns a Mazda 3. The ride quality is no where near the quality of my wifes Lexus or even my Highlander…but it’s very good for a small vehicle. Very reliable vehicle.

Half the cars on the lot have a low state of charge on the battery, it is normal after going through the detail department and moved around the lot 20 times and parked for 30 days. The battery is probably fine but if you ask for a new battery in the deal they will likely replace it.

I wouldn’t suspect a charging system failure on a car this new. You wouldn’t be able to drive it for more than 30 minutes with a failing alternator and it has been inspected.

On most of the CPO cars I have bought, I have done my own inspection and given the dealer the list of things that need fixing. The shortest list was on my recent purchase (tire low pressure light was on, they put air in and the light went off and did not come on). The longest list was on a Camry I bought. Battery, tires, rear speaker covers (I knew these rot on this model, so I poked one and the thing fell apart), Air filter, hubcaps. I was also getting a decent discount on the car.

The Mazda 3 has a pretty stiff ride, IMO

If you are looking to “feel” the road and have fun, I suppose the Mazda 3 is the car for you

If you’re looking for a relaxing and comfortable ride, this is not the car for you

If you are looking to "feel" the road and have fun, I suppose the Mazda 3 is the car for you

If you’re looking for a relaxing and comfortable ride, this is not the car for you

Show me the small vehicle that’s going to give you the ride quality you’re describing.

There is a way to make a Mazda3 have a relaxing ride. Before driving the Mazda3 take a ride in a,1950 Chevrolet one ton pickup truck. I could make my 1950 Chevrolet one ton pickup ride smoothly by mowing the field with a Farmall F-12 tractor with a sickle bar. Ride is relative. I would take the fun to drive quality of the Mazda3 over my Toyota Sienna_which has a relaxing ride, but isn’t really fun to drive. I would personally prefer a Mazda Miata, but it doesn’t fit my needs. The minister in the church I attend commutes 50 miles each way every day in a Mazda3. She is in her late 60s and likes to drive. Her Mazda3 is a manual transmission.

A car battery will loose some charge just sitting on the car lot. Most batteries in a 4 year old car should be OK, but if a battery sits uncharged for a prolonged time the battery can go bad. Sitting uncharged causes the battery’s internals to sluff lead off the plates and that can kill the battery pre-maturely.

I suspect your battery is OK and if you use the car daily or a few days every week you won’t have any problems. I would try for a new battery from the dealership selling the car and then you know you are good to go.

Show me the small vehicle that's going to give you the ride quality you're describing.

My Insight and prior Civics have a relaxing and comfortable ride.

Relaxing and comfortable are very subjective. I have driven the Civic, Mazda 3 and the Ford Focus, all the same size category and when I get back to my Camry, it is a very serene and quiet world. Can I put up with a smaller sedan, sure, but I also appreciate the difference.

It would all come down to budget and amount of time spent in the car. I am driving for around 90-120 minutes each day now. When I had a Corolla, it was only one hour per week.