Tag Archives: maintenance

Mazda MX-5: Fixing the Door Beltline Molding with NE51-50-640G from Avondale Mazda

UPDATE May 7th: After three days of light/moderate/heavy rain with the new beltline on the passenger door, I’m still having the same issue of water retention. Not a damn thing has changed, except of course I’m out $50 bux…. not thrilled about this! Maybe it’s part of the design to open the door so the water flushes out but it doesn’t sound too reassuring. Certainly wouldn’t want it to start rusting if the car sits around for extended periods of time in all types of weather. Argh!


Ever since I bought my Miata there was a peculiar phenomena happening. After heavy rain or even just washing the car, a bunch of water would pool in the passenger side door that would gush out when the door was opened (otherwise didn’t drain on it’s own).

I shared this video in April of 2015 showing the issue after it rained:

The solution was quite simple, but pricey!

I bought the new beltline molding from Avondale Mazda in Arizona through eBay using one of their $15 off $75 purchase coupons. The part was listed for $65+ and I added another $14 item that I was missing, a battery brace to help secure my DieHard battery (some schmuck that installed the battery for the previous owner didn’t put the brace back on)…. and now the battery is held on only by cables.

Anyway, it wasn’t easy to find instructions on how to remove the old beltline molding. The instructional videos from NA Miata, and the Miata.net how-to for the NB Miata are different. Luckily I had an NC Miata maintenance manual that showed a graphic how to do it. And in the process of attempting to release one of the plastic clips, I promptly broke it. I assume the plastic was brittle and didn’t take much effort to break.

Removal was easy. Re-install was a bit of a pain in the ass because of alignment. But eventually everything fell back in place. And I’m happy that there’s no more gap between the molding and the window. This week it will rain a lot so I’m going to test how the new molding is working out. But I think I’m happy with it!

As usual I took a million pix:

Old molding…

The new and the old molding… clearly the old one at 10 years of age is very much worn and lots of dust around it including some rust on the triangle part of the window to the front of the car.

Lots of cleaning was required.

Voila!

part#: NE51-50-640G for the Right Side.

part #: NE51-50-650G for the Left Side.

How a Squirrel Made me Nuts Over the Past Few Days. Power Steering Fix

What a week thanks to a fucking squirrel!

I had such an awesome drive to Texas, in someone else’s car, I guess my Miata felt all neglected back home. It sat unused for about a week… I popped the hood to check the oil level before using it and saw a pile of shit on the battery! Yep… actual pile of shit surrounded by various shells and half eaten nuts. Fucking squirrel! I never had this happen before, in the decade I lived at my current home, this never happened with any of my cars. Even in the three years of my Miata ownership it never happened.

How do I know it was a squirrel and not rats, mice or other rodents? Because the fucker came back to the scene of the crime the next day, and I saw him jumping around next to where the Miata is parked. Oh, the balls on that thing!

I quickly cleaned the battery and the area surrounding it including the overflow tank and the air box. I also inspected the area for any chewed wires or damage to the plumbing, everything looked fine.

But being paranoid as I am sometimes, and having experienced hesitant starts in wet weather a few times. I decided to take the battery out and have it tested at AutoZone to make sure I don’t need a new one. Also started shopping around for a new one and found several deals from Sears that seemed really reasonable so I was ready to buy one.

Took it out of the car. Drove down to AutoZone who tested it. And they determined there’s 89% life left in it. Basically brand new. 12.55 volts, everything checked out. So I plopped it back in and went for a drive.

Didn’t get very far because soon after I left the driveway the steering was a bit harder to turn and it started vibrating, with some vibration noise coming out from under the hood. When I went to check it out the power steering fluid was hissing from under the cap and basically spilled all around the reservoir!

Fucking squirrel!

Of course the squirrel had nothing to do with this issue, I don’t think. Instead I must have leaned on the suction pipe that goes from the reservoir into the side of the power steering pump on the top of the engine. The design is such that one single bolt holds the pipe in place at the bottom. So any pressure applied at the top pushes the pipe down, and considering the O-ring there is 10 years old and plenty worn it starts sucking air in which creates bubbles in the system, making the fluid foam and overflow from the cap of the reservoir. Basically making a fucking mess.

I researched the solution to this problem. Called several places including two of the three Mazda dealers in my area. One was super rude (Mazda of Lodi, I don’t understand why they always have to be such Dick’s??!!) and Ramsey Mazda who were much nicer. And reached out to Mazmart in Atlanta, Georgia area to get a price from them. Despite people on the forums suggesting the new O-ring shouldn’t cost more than $1.50 Mazda quoted me $40’ish plus they don’t stock it so the rebuild seal kit has to be ordered. Mazmart said they could get it in one day and with their discount it would cost me $30’ish. Which seems like a lot. People on the forums suggested checking out local parts stores like NAPA Auto, etc. Which is what I did and picked up Dorman universal o-ring kit for like $3 bux. But alas none of the new o-rings looked identical to the OEM piece. The recommendation was to match one as close as possible and check for leaks… great!

In order to get to the suction pipe and the O-ring, you need to take the Throttle Body off. So I thought it would be a great opportunity to clean mine and see what effect if any the K&N air filter. To my surprise it looked exceptionally clean, the only carbon build up was around the rim which is perfectly normal. I used CRC Throttle Body Cleaner and it did a great job removing the carbon without even using cloth. I spend a while getting it as clean as I could. None of my local stores had CRC MAF cleaner in stock, so I left that part of the project till later.

Bolted everything back up. Jacked the car up to get the air out of the power steering system. And all was good and dry on my test drive.

But fucking squirrel!

I was so confident in my car for this upcoming 2k mile road trip south based on it’s performance on the two Florida trips earlier in the year, now the damn power steering O-ring is making me nervous. Hate to see the car spew fluid out with something that I potentially caused by being careless.

Used paper towels to try to stop the messy fluid from spreading.

This is the culprit of the air getting into the system.

No way to get to it except by taking the throttle body off.

I didn’t realize how dusty my engine has gotten from these road trips

Pretty straight forward removal of the Throttle Body, 4 bolts out.

Not as dirty as I expected it to be, frankly.

Although the grime on the gasket looked pretty awful.

The reason it’s so easy to mess up the O-ring is because of this single bolt holding the suction pipe in place. Lean on top and it bends.

As the O-ring started seeping air in, the fluid level rose in the reservoir going an inch above MAX and staying there!

Throttle body cleaner aspect, probably the easiest part of the job.

Again, not nearly as bad as I expected it to be based on all the horror stories people say about the oiled K&N air filter use.

Sucked the old fluid out of the reservoir.

Took out the old O-ring and brought it with me to NAPA to match.

$2.91 for a whole box of them, thought none were exact match.

This is the closest I got. The one on the left didn’t fit into the power steering pump. The one on the right took some effort but fit.

And voila!

While at Ramsey Mazda I was greeted with a whole assortment of new ND Miata’s on the lot including a beautiful RF model.

Only time will tell if this solution holds up. Fingers crossed for the Road Trip next week.

…Fucking Squirrel!

Mazda MX-5: Oil Filter Options for NC Miata

If you’ve come for a scientific comparison for the “best” oil filter to use on your next Miata oil change… you’ve come to the wrong place.

The goal of this post is to illustrate, side-by-side comparison between some of the oil filters I’ve already used on my car and some I intend to try. I have used the Mobil 1 M1-102 filter with my Mobil 1 oil changes when I first got the car in 2015. In 2016 I switched to a K&N HP-1002 filter that features a 1 inch nut on the bottom of it for easy removal. And in 2017 I purchased a cheaper version of the K&N called PS-1002 that doesn’t feature a nut on it, and is apparently of lower quality (also Made in China, not in USA like the Mobil 1 or K&N HP-1002). That said the K&N HP-1002 filters I sourced from Walmart recently must be old stock. I used a K&N filter last year sourced from Advance Auto that was made in South Korea, I believe. So these filter options are always evolving.

Here’s some side-by-side shots:

K&N PS-1002 (Pro Series)

K&N HP-1002 (High Performance)

Mobil 1 M1-102

Notice it doesn’t come with the plastic wrap to keep the dust off.

The M1-102 and HP-1002 are very alike, directly comparable, while the PS-1002 is clearly of cheaper quality. The can has a flimsier feel to it though it still has a plastic cover to prevent dust getting into the filter while its in a box.

Price wise I have purchased the Mobil 1 for around $10 from Amazon. My latest K&N HP-1002 I sourced from Walmart for under $10 apiece. I bought 4 of them to get FREE shipping. Before that I purchased the HP-1002 from Advance Auto as part of the oil deal, they were included free in the purchase of a 5QT jug of Pennzoil Platinum 5W20 oil and a rebate from the store. The PS-1002 I just bought from AutoZone who had a $3 OFF promo, the filter came out to $3.50 apiece with FREE shipping. The boxes arrived directly from K&N manufacturer in Riverside, California even though I ordered on the AutoZone web site.

As part of the same AutoZone $3 off deal, I ordered a longer K&N PS-2009 filter. I had researched on forums that the PS-1002 and PS-2009 are identical except for the volume of oil they contain. Presumably higher volume filter does more of the filtering, while flowing the oil better through the system. Or some-such…  There’s a longer oil filter option for the NA & NB Miata’s but not so for the NC. People claim that the longer filter will not fit into the tight space on my Miata. At $3.50 a pop I was willing to buy one to try it for myself. Though I have to admit that I believe the people claiming it won’t fit because my 2007 Miata has been around for ten years already, the NC was made from late 2005 to 2015, so I’m sure if they fit someone would have tried it and would have been offering them for sale to make money on this “better” option product. But again, I’ll find out for myself during my next oil change in about 5k miles.

Here’s the pix for comparison:

K&N PS-2009

And more side-by-side:

So far I have no complaints using Mobil1 M1-102 or K&N HP-1002.

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change at Almost 5,000 Miles with Castrol EDGE 5W20 and K&N HP-1002 Filter

Finally! Took advantage of a 59F winter day to do some oil changes in the household. First the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan which just hit 3,500 miles since the last oil change in August and the Mobil 1 synthetic I put into it looked awfully black. Happy I didn’t wait longer to say 5,000 miles because it would have been unnecessarily dark. The van is only used for short trips and the start/stop engine wear probably contributed to the condition of the oil (as opposed to say higher highway mileage). The Miata too got an oil change earlier than what I planned. It was about 724 miles short of the 5,000 mile interval I have determined to be ideal for my Mazda. Like the van the oil was dark. I used Pennzoil Platinum 0W20 on the last oil change so I’m going to speculate that my car doesn’t  like this oil. It doesn’t burn it as in oil disappearing between oil changes, I never had to top off oil. But it certainly burns to change color from brown to very dark brown. It wasn’t all that black, but it was terribly dark.

Anyway, I’m excited about this oil change because finally I am using Castrol EDGE synthetic motor oil. I mentioned this oil several years ago when I first tried Mobil 1 and prior the time I started using Pennzoil Platinum in order to make an apples to apples comparison between the top readily available oils for my Miata. Sure there are other oils out there that some may consider “better” like Red Line or Royal Purple, but the premium trio: Mobil 1 / Pennzoil Platinum / Castrol EDGE are the most readily available and affordable options on the market here in New Jersey. So finally… Castrol EDGE is in!

My opinion about this oil will realistically be made about 5,000 miles from now when it’s time to replace the oil I just put in, but first impressions are good. There’s no difference in engine sound or feel since changing from Pennzoil Platinum to Castrol EDGE, so I’d say so far so good.

Here’s some pix:

It’s worth noting that I followed Chris’s advice and only hand tightened the K&N HP-1002 filter. Unlike in the past when I turned the 1 inch wrench to tighten it and noticed oil seepage on the top of the filter where it bolts up to the engine, there was none of that this time where Chris did the last oil change for me. So I looked at the way the filter say after he did it, and tried to match the same with my oil change. Looking up at the filter you see just the white side, none of the K&N stickers are visible. That seems to work best. It’s nice and tight by hand-tightening, and that seems to work well.

I also took the time to adjust my front license plate Cravenspeed mount. Lately after driving on the highway it seems the wind was moving the plate out of position (it was askew) so I lowered it about half an inch down to also match the way Chris has it on his car. I think it does look great. Hopefully it sits in place as it should.

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change at 5,000 miles with Pennzoil Platinum 0W20 and K&N Filter HP-1002

Update: (Feb 2017) I wasn’t sure what was causing the car to act weird after this maintenance session at Chris’s house. Now that some time and mileage have passed I think I figured it out. And the result is a few issues. 1). part of the problem was the fact we overfilled the transmission fluid during the flush. There was an issue we found with proper checking of the level (which required running the car to get it warm, and then opening the check valve). 2). my car doesn’t seem to like 0W20 weight oil. I posted a few times that I don’t like Mobil 1 and now I can add Pennzoil Platinum 0W20 to the list. Both Mobil 1 and Pennzoil Platinum 0W20 turned real dark at just about 5k miles which shouldn’t happen. This makes me believe I should totally stick to 5W20 from now on. I’ve changed out the Pennzoil from this post with Castrol EDGE 5W20 and car feels absolutely perfect!


I don’t think I’ve ever had an oil change party with friends until this weekend, where my buddy Chris with a 2008 Silver NC1 GT PRHT offered to help me flush most of the fluids on my car while performing the same service on a bunch of cars in his household.

The plan was to flush the power steering fluid and fill it fresh with Mobil 1 ATF. Flush the Automatic transmission fluid with Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage ATF, and finally change my oil with Pennzoil Platinum 0W20 that I’ve had sitting at my home since about this time last year when I got the crazy deal from Advance Auto on two sets of oils (one 5W20 which I used up during spring, followed by two more Pennzoil Platinum 5W20 changes that I bought during the summer and now for the winter decided to go with thinner 0W20).

I’ll make separate posts for each maintenance item, so click on whatever interests you most:

I must admit that after doing all these fluid changes the car feels a bit weird and I can’t really pin point what the issue is. I’m sure it is fluid related because there’s a faint drone coming from either the engine or the transmission. Note to self: next time do one fluid flush at a time so if there is an issue like this it is easier to narrow down.

But back to the oil change party at Chris’s house.

The day started with a trip to the Subaru dealership to pick up an oil filter for his XV… then Chris changed his ’08 NC’s oil using Castrol Edge 5W20 Extended which I’d like to try in my car at some point in the future once Pennzoil stops being so cheap with all of their promos. While Chris’s brother Eric did an oil change on his Mazda RX-8 Rotary with Castrol Edge 10W30.

My car was last and oil was basically the last thing we did to it, but since it was the easiest job I’ll write about it first.

I was curious to see how Chris does his oil changes and for someone so meticulous as he is, he does it very differently than I do. He jacks the front, keeps the oil cap on, undoes the drain plug, the filter, and re-installs the drain plug with a new bolt that I picked up at a local Mazda dealer for $7.99 accompanied with a $1.65 crush washer. In all the oil changes I’ve done to my car to date I never changed the nut and the washer, but since Chris was doing my car for me, I had him do the same thing he does to his car, so mine also received the new bolt and crush washer. I typically jack the car up and put it on jack stands and when the fluid drains, I lower the passenger side so more of the dirty oil comes out. Chris doesn’t do that himself, which I found to be pretty interesting. Chris was surprised that his car took more Castrol Edge oil than it normally does using Mobil 1 oil which he has used in the past. Mine took the standard amount of Pennzoil that I typically use, which is just above 4.5 QT.

Some pix from the day:

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My supplies, Pennzoil Platinum 0W20, new Mazda bolts and washers and a K&N HP-1002 filter.


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Chris’s supplies Castrol Edge 5W20 Extended Performance oil with Mobil 1 M1-102 filter.


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Eric’s choice: Castrol Edge 10W30 Extended Performance oil.

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Seeing the RX-8 up close and personal made me appreciate that car a bit more, it’s surprising how massive it is compared to the Miata

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Also pretty incredible how tiny yet thirsty the Rotary engine is.

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It felt good to finish up the day with the easiest job of the evening, the oil change… (which happened around midnight… Yikes!)

Now if only I could figure out why is my engine running louder on 0W20 compared to 5W20 and why there’s this faint shimmy going on that I could feel at highway speed which seems to come from the front of the car, around the engine area. (or possible the trans).

Click here to read about the tranny fluid flush or here for power steering fluid flush.

Mazda MX-5: Miata Power Steering Fluid Flush at 55,000 miles with Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF

The power steering fluid flush job was so easy that Chris let me do it myself after showing me the process using a turkey baster and a bunch of fresh Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF. The idea was to suck out as much of the dirty fluid as possible, and then pour in fresh fluid. Start the car, turn the steering wheel full lock left and right several times. Turn the car off, and suck out the mixed fluid. Repeat the process until the new fluid in the power steering container looks nice and pink. That’s it! This process was exactly the same as what we did with the actual transmission fluid in my car, except instead of 10 QT only one 1 QT was sufficient.

Easy Peasy!

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The original power steering fluid looked pretty dark and filthy. the neck of the ps bottle was also covered in grime which suggests that at some point it must have foamed over the top of thru the cap.

Happy to see it nice and clean again. Though to be honest there’s not really much of a noticeable difference in the steering feel before and after. Though I’m happy to say that unlike the oil change / trans fluid flush there’s no negative feel afterwards. Which is great. I’m pretty sure this was the first PS fluid flush in this car’s lifetime, which happens to have happened at almost 55k miles.

Read more about our last oil change here, or the automatic transmission fluid flush here.

Miata Fiata Talk Episode 2: Modifications and Maintenance Discussion

Join Chris, Sakshik, Russ and Dan for our second episode of Miata Fiata Talk discussing mods and maintenance to our cars. The subjects of exhaust, tires, brakes, suspension and oils are covered along with a bunch of other stories as we got sidetracked a million times. Check it out:

As usual suggestions and comments are most welcome!

Stay tuned for more Miata Fiata Talk episodes.

#MiataFiata

#FiataMiata

#MiataFiataTalk

@MiataFiataTalk

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Mazda MX-5: First Diff Fluid Change with Mobil 1 75W-90 Synthetic

Another maintenance project that I completed on my own, this time it was changing the rear differential fluid in the Miata. I actually practiced the fluid change on my Ford Explorer which badly needed this fluid changed, but this post is really about the MX-5. Now I won’t have to worry about this piece of maintenance for another 30,000 miles which should take me a couple of years to accumulate.

This project, like many others, started when I was reading Miata.net forums and saw what people were doing to their cars. Someone posted about doing the rear diff fluid change and how easy and quick it was and I decided to do it myself. At practically the same moment I was thinking that, a $5 off $10 purchase coupon arrived in my e-mail from Advance Auto Parts, so I went on their web site and ordered Mobil 1 75W-90 (listed for $10.99) which the Miata guys on the forums recommended. (Ironic because I’m not the biggest fan of the Mobil 1 0W-20 engine oil having used it for the past two oil changes, but whatever). The coupon from Advance came because I just spend over $60 buying Pennzoil Platinum oil & K&N filters. Had I known I’d get $5 off for every $30 spent, I would have split my Pennzoil order in half. Anyway, after I ordered the Mobil 1 for the Miata, I realized I might as well practice on the Ford Explorer but instead of buying the good stuff, I decided to buy cheaper Valvoline gear oil for the truck. Buying it from Advance didn’t make much sense because their version is marked up to $15+ while Pep Boys down the street had it listed for $12+ and offered a 20% coupon. Fast forward to today, when I went to pick up the oils from two of the stores, the job took no time in the Explorer. Miata was next.

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The most difficult part of doing anything with the Miata, especially when it comes to the bottom of the car, is getting it elevated high enough so I could squeeze in under there. I recently purchased two more jack stands from Sears for a nice $21 bux out the door after a bunch of discounts, so this was a great excuse to use them.

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Once the car was reasonably high in the air it was just matter of minutes of undoing two bolts and letting the oil drain. I left it sitting for a good 20 minutes so all the fluid dripped out, and then siphoned new fluid in via a small hose. Was pretty surprised that it took almost the entire Quart bottle, but eventually oil started seeping from the fill hole. And I was done!

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The bottom of the car still looks pretty good. No rust from the last winter which saw a lot of salt on the roads. And now my car is ready for another 30k interval. Easy peasy! Even dad came over to have a look at the progress…

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So hopefully this Mobil 1 product looks better with age then their engine oil does (I wasn’t too happy with how dark it got at only 5,000 miles especially since they advertise it could go 15,000).