Before you can remove the handle, you will need to remove the actuation rod from the handle pivot. Simply twist the clip clockwise until it pops free. At this point, the door handle should slide out. If you’re lucky, the pivot arm didn’t come out of the handle and the tension spring will stay in place. If you’re unlucky (like we were), the pivot will come out, the spring will sproing, and then disappear in the depths of the door.
With the handle out, you can see exactly what failed. The fulcrum here is made of plastic, and due to the way it’s loaded, the under-designed plastic failed and allowed the pivot itself to break free and jam.
You can get a better idea of why this part failed when we put the borked handle back together. When you pull the handle, it rotates the metal rocker arm downward. This presses on the long actuation rod inside the door that connects the handle to the latch itself. Not pictured, is the tension spring that wraps around the axle of the rocker to keep the handle in the closed position. It presses on the L-shaped cutout just below the broken fulcrum. On top of that, the rod itself puts a heavy vertical load on the fulcrum due to the way it transmits force. Combine the moment force of the spring with the upward force of the rod, and it’s clear as day the plastic fulcrum is going to shatter at some point. This is the only plastic part of the handle assembly and it is one of the most awkwardly loaded. If Mazda had bothered to mold in a metal support for this fulcrum it would have been fine, but they decided to save a few cents (or worse yet, no engineer bothered to do a simple Free Body Diagram on this pivot and missed this obvious failure point). This is also why I claim this will be a 100% failure rate over time: with a cheap material and poor loading, there is no way these handles won’t all break eventually.
Further proof that these will all fail is in our replacement handle. We picked up this handle from an eBay junkyard for $25 and the same exact part of the fulcrum was already cracking in exactly the same way. To prevent it from failing completely, we used a glob of CA glue to reinforce the plastic. No, this really isn’t adequate in supporting the plastic properly, but we’ll get to that in a minute.