Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D Engine Problems (Mazda 3, Mazda CX-3)

Ever since we published our article on Mazda 2.5 SkyActiv engine problems, we’ve been getting bombarded to cover more of Mazda’s engine. The most common request was Mazda’s 1.5 SkyActiv-D diesel engine. So, upon your request, here we are covering the Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D engine problems.

Having yourself properly informed before you decide to purchase a car with a certain engine should be your top priority. You just don’t want to end up with a money pit full of problems that will drain your nerves and also your wallet. And that’s why we are here to pinpoint these issues for you.

First, we are going to cover the specs of this 1.5 engine, and then we will elaborate on the common Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D problems to see what troubles this engine the most and whether it is reliable or not. Lastly, we are going to answer some frequently asked questions. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the article.

Basic Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D Specs

The Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D is a diesel engine that has been produced by Mazda since 2015. This engine, even though small, has proven quite a lot through the long years of use.

What is worth noting about the 1.5 is that this is a Mazda engine that is offered globally but not in the US.

This is the case because the market in the US is somewhat different compared to the global market. Namely, customers in the US prefer gas-powered engines like the SkyActiv-G engines, and also emissions are much stricter there when it comes to diesel-powered cars.

So, the whole world got this engine, except for the US. This is really unfortunate since this small engine is very efficient since it uses a new technology. Namely, a variable geometry turbocharger that reduces turbo lag to a minimum.

Also, this torque is available relatively low at the RPM band. Specifically, at 1,600 RPM. This allows this engine to pull pretty well compared to gas-powered alternatives.

In addition to this, some versions of the engine are using the i-ELOOP, also known as intelligent loop. This system regenerates some kinetic braking energy and gives you the ability to use this energy while driving. This also further reduces engine emissions.

The 1.5 SkyActiv-D comes with the following specs:

  • Year Of Introduction: 2015
  • Configuration: inline-4
  • Displacement: 1.5L
  • Cylinder Bore: 76 mm
  • Piston Stroke: 82.5 mm
  • Block And Head Material: Aluminum
  • Head Design: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Fuel Injection: Common Rail
  • Turbocharger: Variable Geometry Turbo
  • Compression Ratio: 14.0:1
  • Horsepower: 103 hp
  • Torque Output: 162 – 199 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm

Common Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D Problems

Common Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D engine problems include:

  • Sensitive Turbocharger
  • High Oil Levels
  • Carbon Deposits
  • Fuel Injector Failures
  • EGR Valve Clogs Up
  • DPF Clogs Up
  • High Fuel Consumption
  • Loss of Power

We covered the common problems with this engine, we can now start elaborating all of these issues in detail and see when and how these problems appear.

Knowing these details is hugely important for you as a current or future owner because you will be able to know how to avoid them or be prepared if they start to develop. So, let’s dive into it.

Sensitive Turbocharger

The first problem with this engine is not really a problem but a topic of concern. This is the case because this engine uses a variable geometry turbo.

Variable geometry turbochargers are complex turbochargers that can change their geometry in order to reduce turbo lag.

This is a good thing and also a bad thing. Since this complexity makes them much more susceptible to problems.

Especially problems that develop from poor maintenance. This engine requires frequent oil changes and also the exact viscosity for this engine. Which is 0w-30.

Only by properly maintaining the engine, the turbo will last. If not, the turbo can fail and you will end up with an expensive problem.

Also, there is a position sensor on this turbo that can also go bad and cost you a good penny to fix.

High Oil Levels

High oil levels were noted on this engine as well. So, what can cause abnormal oil levels all of a sudden?

The simple answer is oil dilution. This is the situation when the engine oil is getting mixed with the diesel.

Small amounts of unburnt diesel fall down into the cylinders and dilute the engine oil. And this occurs when the DPF is regenerating.

During this procedure, the engine injects a lot more fuel than normal. If this procedure gets interrupted, the engine might get flooded with diesel fuel, which seaps into the oil sump. So, some of this diesel can end up in the oil pan and cause oil dilution.

It is important to track the oil levels and deal with this issues as soon as possible. Diluted engine oil does not provide the necessary lubrication to the moving internal parts of the engine which can lead to serious engine damage and even complete engine failure.

Carbon Deposits

Carbon deposits are another in the list of Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D problems. And for a diesel with direct fuel injection, this is pretty normal.

But in some cases, these carbon deposits can ruin the intake manifold. They start to collect on the intake and can ruin the intake on these diesel engines.

This is why preventive cleaning in most cases is important because if you leave it like that, the carbon will create a big mess in your engine and you will eventually have to replace the whole intake manifold.

On these engines, a big collection of carbon deposits on the intake ports of the cylinder head is also common. So, beware of these issues. Make sure you read our guide on how to drive and maintain diesel engines to avoid issues.

Fuel Injector Failures

Fuel injector failures are also common on these common rail diesel engines. These engines are using direct injection and very complex injectors.

What can happen is that in some cases, these injectors can leak fuel or end up clogged up. This will create a situation where you have either rich or lean air to fuel mixture. There will also be check engine light, black smoke from the exhaust, poor fuel economy, and poor performance overall.

The solution to this problem is to either replace or refurbish the damaged injectors. Both routes are good. But also very expensive. This is why we strongly advise that you check the injectors before you purchase the car and see if they work well.

EGR Valve Clogs Up

EGR valves on these engines also tend to clog up and cause problems. So, what is an EGR valve, and what does it do?

The EGR is the exhaust gas recirculation valve, this valve recirculates some of the exhaust gas and redirects it into the intake.

This valve can clog up completely with carbon and simply stop working. Whenever it fails, it will start to create problems like the check engine light, loss of power, and limp mode.

DPF Clogs Up

The DPF is another area of concern, this is the diesel particulate filter that is used in modern diesel engines.

This is the case because a lot of owners are unaware that this DPF has to do a process known as regeneration.

This is the process where more fuel is injected as we noted previously and this DPF heats up and burns off the soot that is collected.

If this regeneration process is not performed by the owner, the DPF will clog up. The solution to this problem will be to manually clean the DPF or replace it. Both these options are pretty expensive.

That’s why regeneration is needed if you drive a lot through the city. In order to regenerate the DPF, just drive the car at 3,000 rpm for 30 minutes on the highway and it should be regenerated.

High Fuel Consumption

After talking to a handful of owners, many of them also noted high fuel consumption. This is the case because the engine features a rather low displacement and is used in heavier applications.

This will cause the fuel consumption to rise. Especially if you have other problems than the ones that we previously mentioned.

Feeling Underpowered

And the last on our list of Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D problems is the situation when the engine feels underpowered.

And actually, this is the case in some of the applications where you can find this engine. Even though the engine is turbocharged, it just lacks that torque that is needed in order to feel like you drive a proper quick car.

Which Models Have The Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D?

Now let’s learn which models have the 1.5 SkyActiv-D engine.

  • 2014 – 2017 Mazda3/Demio
  • 2014 – 2018 Mazda3/Axela
  • 2015 – 2018 Mazda CX-3


What Are The Common Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D Problems?

Common problems with this engine include oil dilution, turbocharger problems if not maintained well, injector failures, carbon deposits on the intake manifold, carbon deposits on the EGR, and Clogged DPF. Pretty normal issues for a diesel engine.

Is The Mazda 1.5 SkyActiv-D Reliable?

Yes, the engine is pretty reliable if you maintain it well. If not maintained well, it will be a big headache to replace some of the components that can fail like the turbocharger. 

So, make sure that you give this engine proper maintenance to see the most out of it, otherwise, the engine does not have any reliability concerns. It is a pretty good engine, one downside is that it feels a bit underpowered, especially in the bigger Mazda CX-3.

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