The 3 Most Common Mazda Skyactiv-G 2.0 Engine Problems
Zach is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He’s been repairing, upgrading, tuning, and writing about cars & engines for over a decade. Zach has written over 400 automotive articles and continues to be a lead writer for TuningPro. His passion, experience, and deep technical knowledge make him a go-to resource for readers looking to take their car to the next level.
Mazda first released the 2.0 Skyactiv-G engine in the 2012 Mazda3. It remains in a handful of popular Mazda models to this day – notably the Mazda MX5 Miata. As a small NA engine it doesn’t have much power to offer. However, it still offers solid performance for many of the small, light-weight Mazda vehicles. 2.0 Skyactiv-G engines are also highly efficient and proving to be very reliable. That said, no engine is flawless and that holds true for the Mazda 2.0L engine. In this article, we discuss a few common issues with the Mazda 2.0 Skyactiv engine as well as overall reliability.
What Cars Use the Mazda 2.0L Engine?
The Mazda 2.0L Skyactiv-G is in the following models:
- 2012-present Mazda3
- 2013-present Mazda6
- 2013-present Mazda CX-5
- 2013-2018 Mazda Biante
- 2013-2015 Mazda5
- 2015-present Mazda CX-3
- 2016-present Mazda MX5 Miata
Engines in the US produce 155hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Later MX-5 Miata models receive an updated engine that offers 181 horsepower with a higher 7,500 RPM redline. These variants of the Mazda 2.0L engine use a larger intake manifold, higher pressure injection, and a performance exhaust.
Power might not seem impressive by modern standards. However, many models that use the 2.0 Skyactiv-G clock in under 3,200 pounds.
2.0 Skyactiv-G engines offer 30+mpg in the city and 40+mpg on the highway. Even those with heavier feet tend to see excellent fuel economy from the Mazda 2.0. Some with lighter feet may notice even better fuel economy. They’re definitely impressive numbers making the Skyactiv engine a great choice to save on gas and emissions.
3 Common 2.0 Skyactiv Engine Problems
A few of the most common issues on the Mazda 2.0 Skyactiv-G engine are:
- Low oil pressure
- Carbon build-up
We’ll discuss the above topics through the rest of this article. However, it’s a good time to add a few quick notes. The Mazda 2.0L engine appears to be highly reliable thus far. We’re calling these the MOST common problems for a reason. It doesn’t mean they’re truly common and affect a large number of 2.0 Skyactiv engines. Rather, when the rare problems occur these are a few common areas.
*We’ve never really run into this situation before, but there just aren’t many problems to discuss when it comes to the Mazda 2.0. As such, in the 3rd section we’ll just chat about some general concepts regarding reliability. Anyways, the Skyactiv 2.0 engine definitely appears among the most reliable engines we’ve ever written about.
1) Mazda 2.0 Skyactiv Low Oil Pressure
Low oil pressure might be the single most common problem on the Mazda 2.0L engine. Even then, low oil pressure issues likely only affect a small number of Skyactiv engines. It also primarily affects earlier 2012-2014 Skyactiv-G 2.0 engines. It’s usually the oil pump that’s to blame for low oil pressure. Specifically, some sort of object or debris stuck on the oil pump pressure relief valve. Mazda issued a TSB to address this problem.
In most cases it seems to be a pretty minor issue as it only causes a small deviation from normal oil pressures. When this occurs it’s unlikely to cause any concerns for long-term reliability. However, it could be cause for concern if too much pressure is lost or the problem isn’t addressed in a timely manner. Running with poor oil pressure for long periods may cause premature wear.
Main bearings and rod bearings typically take a lot of abuse if the 2.0 Skyactiv loses too much oil pressure. It’s unlikely any problems develop in the short-term. However, bearing wear could lead to premature engine failure. This isn’t meant to scare anyone since oil pressure issues aren’t too common, and severe loss of pressure is even less common.
Skyactiv-G Low Oil Pressure Symptoms
Symptoms that indicate the Mazda 2.0L engine has low oil pressure include:
- Check engine light (MIL)
- Codes P0015 and/or P0524
Unfortunately, the Skyactiv-G engine does not have an oil pressure light on the dash. However, the computer will trigger a check engine light if oil pressure drops to low. Mazda refers to the check engine light as MIL (malfunction indicator lamp). This will be accompanied by DTC P0015 and/or P0524.
Mazda 2.0L Oil Pump Replacement
When the low oil pressure problems occur on the 2.0 Skyactiv engine, Mazda recommends replacing the oil pump. They also suggest replacing the oil strainer and cleaning the oil pan. This hopefully helps eliminate the chance of any issues happening again as any debris should be removed.
Depending on the specific model labor comes in around 1.5 to 4 hours. The 2014 Mazda3 models are on the longer end of labor while 2012 and 2013 Mazda3’s are quicker. The cost of parts will add up to an extra couple hundred dollars, too. As such, expect 2.0 Skyactiv-G oil pressure problems to cost about $400-800 to fix at a repair shop.
2) 2.0L Skyactiv-G Carbon Build-Up Problems
Alright – we’re already moving onto something we don’t consider a true problem. However, direct injection (DI) engines like the 2.0 Skyactiv-G are prone to carbon build-up on the intake valves. All engines have some degree of oil blow-by that makes its way into the intake ports.
With port injection fuel is sprayed into the intake ports and that helps wipe away any deposits. However, DI sprays fuel directly into the Mazda 2.0 cylinders so there’s nothing wiping off the ports or valves. Over time, oil can stick and form chunks of carbon deposits. Direct injection has tons of benefits, but this is one small drawback to the technology.
Fortunately, modern engines have great PCV systems to help reduce oil blow-by. This doesn’t completely eliminate carbon build-up, but it does help slow the problem. Expect excess carbon build-up to potentially cause trouble in the 80,000 to 120,000 mile ballpark.
It’s not an urgent issue, though. Some 2.0L Skyactiv engines will go their whole lives without any intake valve cleaning. However, in some cases, carbon deposits can cause a handful of symptoms and drivability problems for the Mazda 2.0 Skyactiv engine.
Mazda 2.0 Carbon Build-up Symptoms
A few symptoms that may indicate the 2.0L engine has excess carbon build-up include:
- Rough idle
- Power loss
As carbon deposits form they begin to restrict air-flow into the cylinders. That can cause symptoms like engine misfires, rough idle, hesitation, etc. Carbon build-up will also cause the 2.0 Skyactiv engine to lose power. Although, it’s likely hard to notice since it occurs over a period of years rather than a sudden loss of power.
Skyactiv Engine Carbon Build-up Fix
Walnut blasting remains one of the most effective way to clean the intake valves and ports. It involves a heavy duty shop vac and walnut media shells. Of course, the 2.0L Skyactiv intake manifold must be removed to access the ports. Once in there the actual cleaning process can take an hour or two depending how bad the valves are.
Anyways, the job is mostly labor and most shops will charge somewhere around $300-600 for Mazda 2.0 walnut blasting. Some opt to install an oil catch can and use certain chemicals in the intake to help prevent deposits from forming. Though, once excess carbon build-up is there walnut blasting is the most effective method to truly clean the valves.
3) Mazda 2.0 Skyactiv-G General Considerations
Well, there really isn’t much else to discuss in terms of known issues or design flaws on the 2.0 liter engines. Many modern engines rely on turbochargers for power, or simply get as much out of a naturally aspirated design as possible. Mazda 2.0 Skyactiv-G engines use plenty of modern tech, but output per liter is fairly low.
That’s not a bad thing, though. It’s a big reason the 2.0L Skyactiv is able to deliver excellent reliability and fuel economy. Low oil pressure is really the only true problem we brought up in this article. It’s still a fairly uncommon problem, but Mazda did issue a Service Bulletin regarding low oil pressure issues. Otherwise, carbon build-up is a small price to pay for direct injection which is otherwise awesome tech.
We could have come up with a 3rd problem for the Mazda 2.0 engines, but we haven’t seen large numbers of owners run into the same problems. That said, cars and engines use thousands of different parts from varying manufacturers. Defects happen from time to time and it’s rare a car sees 10-15+ years and 150,000+ miles without at least a minor problem or two along the way.
Point is – the 2.0 Skyactiv engine isn’t bulletproof and 100% flawless. It is an amazing engine all around, though. Regardless, as early models continue aging it’s likely more problems come to light due to natural wear and tear.
Mazda 2.0 Skyactiv Engine Reliability
Is the Mazda 2.0L engine reliable? Well, we certainly haven’t made it a secret how we feel about this engine so far. We definitely believe the 2.0 Skyactiv engine earns well above average remarks for reliability. Some of this may be a little repetitive to finish up, so bear with us.
There isn’t a totally perfect mass production engine in the world, but the Mazda 2.0 is definitely up there with some of the best. It doesn’t suffer from any serious design flaws or countless common problems. As a small NA engine maintenance is also easy on the 2.0 Skyactiv-G engine.
Some Mazda 2.0L Skyactiv engine reliability simply comes down to the luck of the draw. However, maintenance is one key component owners have control over. Maintain the 2.0 Skyactive well – use quality oils, change fluids on time, and fix problems if and when they occur. Do this and most will have a rewarding and reliable experience from the Mazda 2.0 engine.
What’s your experience with the Skyactiv-G engines? Are you considering one?
Drop a comment and let us know!
Hi! Thanks a lot for the helpful information. I calibrate engines for a living and I am considering a 2017 Mazda 3 with the 2.0 Skyactiv-G engine. Just amazed at how Mazda have taken their own way with the ‘good’ displacement, naturally aspirated approach towards meeting Euro 6 standards.
I love my 2015 Mazda 3 2.0G with the 6 speed manual tranny, amazing gas mileage with the Bridgestone eco tires, fun to drive, 51,000 miles and still feels new, zoom zoom!
An amazingly good engine. 204k and still smooth. Have just noticed some wetness on the oil pan that seems to be coming from a couple of rust blisters. Will probably replace the pan soon along with the oil pump while it’s opened up.
2012 Mazda3 (skyactiv) 109K. No engine problems. Use Blizzak WS90 in the winter and Continental Extreme Contact Sport in the summer. Might be overkill but I love cornering grip. Only problems have been the seatbelt retractor and driver’s side door failure to open from inside.