New Mazda6 brakes: The miniseries.

The third generation Mazda6, introduced in 2014, is a great car. It doesn’t sell well at all here in the U.S., but it’s something of a best-kept secret in the (rapidly shrinking) family sedan market.

Peruse the owner clubs and forums, though, and you’ll find something the car doesn’t exactly excel at: brakes. Longevity is non-existent, with many owners replacing their entire setups (rotors and pads) before 40,000 miles.

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I was no exception. We bought my 2016 Mazda6 i Touring when it was brand new with 6 miles (ha) in October 2015. By January 2019, it had only covered 35,000 miles. However, the car’s brake pads AND rotors were done for. The rotors had deep grooves in them, and the pads were worn away to the wear indicators (commonly known as “squeakers”).

The rotors “warped” (started shaking/shuddering) at just 16,000 miles. My favorite local tire/brake shop did the best they could with straightening out that situation, but it was already the beginning of the end for the OEM brakes.

So, with Christmastime bonus money, I ordered Centric rotors and pads and my mechanic and I installed them in January of this year.

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All seemed well and good. The shaking and groaning/grinding/squeaking sounds were gone. Braking performance was back to being quite impressive, like it was when the car was new. Until my wife, son, and I drove the car six hours to the Smoky Mountains in June 2019. We drove to the highest point in the Smokies as well as the Tennessee/North Carolina border.

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The car performed great. Held lower gears on the way up. Used every bit of torque the “SkyActiv” 2.5 had. Averaged 18 MPG. On the way back down the mountain, I used engine braking as best I could. But, the 2008-ish Honda Civic and newer Toyota 4Runner in front of me were brake-happy the entire way down. It was either rear-end the Civic or use my brakes a lot. I chose brakes.

They started squeaking halfway down, and were obviously overheated by the time we re-entered the city of Gatlinburg. I figured they had just glazed and would need that fixed, so I tried not to worry.

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However, even with removing the crazy amount of glaze (once I got the car back home), the squealing and squeaking remained. And, some slight shuddering started. Again. The pads were already halfway worn, so I threw in the proverbial towel and ordered ANOTHER set of brakes.

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This time, I went with Raybestos “high performance” brakes. Coated rotors and “premium” pads. So far, so good. All quiet on the western front. No shaking, either.

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Praying that this fixes my brake debacle once and for all.

And, before you blame the excess wear on me: As stated earlier, the forums and groups on Facebook with regards to this car are FULL of brake longevity complaints. I have a close friend in Indiana that bought a 2018 Mazda6 Signature (the turbo model), and his rotors were warped at 8,000 miles.

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The pads themselves, along with the rotors, just seem a bit too small for the car. I think they get overworked in everyday driving. And, I’m sure the stability control uses the brakes as well - at least to a certain extent.

Either way, I still love my car. It’s quick enough (don’t believe the internet hype that says it’s “slow” and doesn’t have enough power), roomy, efficient (I’ve hit 40 MPG quite a few times), has amazing A/C (important for a fat guy in summertime Kentucky), and it has great safety ratings. Not to mention, she’s quite the looker.

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Just don’t ask about the brakes.

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