Mazda North America says that some 2010-13 Mazda3 models with 2-liter engines may have difficulty starting when the ambient temperature is at or below freezing. Furthermore, no trouble codes are likely to log when the starting difficulties occur. According to the Japanese car maker, the problem is limited to vehicles built before Dec. 17, 2012, and is due to poor control logic in the powertrain-control module (PCM).
Reprogramming the module with updated software is the only remedy.
Before having the PCM flashed, however, try to start the vehicle by putting the fuel system into clear flood mode (Mazda calls it de-choke mode). To do it, press the accelerator to the floor and crank the engine for four to five seconds. Now turn the ignition off, release the throttle and crank the engine over once again.
If the engine still won't start or there are trouble codes logged, this information doesn't apply; continue troubleshooting until the cause of the no-start is found.
If the engine roars to life, that verifies that a logic problem exists and the PCM needs some updated software. Check with a dealer for the application specifics.
"Factory Fixes" is written by Jim DePalma, a 30-year veteran of the auto repair business who has served stints as a service manager, parts manager and ASE-certified technician. His column provides vehicle manufacturers' authentic factory technical service bulletins (TSBs) that have been condensed for easier reading. Mr. DePalma advises that techs always check with a dealer or repair information system for the latest revisions before starting to work on a vehicle. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].