Tag Archives: Mazda Miata

Mazda MX-5: Miata Shopping in Canada: Montréal, Québec

I failed once again to meet any local Miata owners in Québec on my visit to Canada for the Formula E events on the streets of Montréal. Can’t say I was surprised. After all I had failed to meet any Miata owners on my previous trips to Mosport, Ontario as well. Just like on the last trip to Bowmanville I also failed to see a Canadian-spec Miata at the local dealership in Montreal as well.

However, I was very much impressed with the Amount of Mazda dealers in the greater Montreal metropolitan area and there surely are plenty of Mazda’s on the streets of the city… they just aren’t the little Roadsters. So here are some pix from my experience.

The closest dealer with easy public transport system access was Mazda Gabriel St-Jacques… I took the Metro, walked over to where it should have been, didn’t see it and walked around the block lost between a highway and a hospital. But on the second pass I found it! Lots of construction on the streets of Montreal, the orange flowers (orange cones) are in full bloom this summer!

At first… no Miata’s to be seen on the lot!

Oh putain…

But that’s no different from the Mazda dealer I visited in Ontario. So I went in to have a chat with the staff and see if I can get a Canadian-spec Miata brochure at least… surprise! they didn’t have any. The receptionist managed to find a 2016 spec sheet, and sent me on my way. I also visited their parts department to inquire about the Canadian-spec window washer fluid bottle, which is a different design, and much bigger than the American-spec. They didn’t have any in stock… no surprise there. But they could order one for $137 bux… YIKES! However, a stripped down version without a motor (which could be transferred over from the original on the car) was only $66 CAD… phew!

The staff were super helpful it’s just a shame there wasn’t any Miata’s on the lot I could sit in and look around.

I remember reading a Miata.net post that complained: Do they want to sell cars or not? It appears if you want to buy a Miata in Canada it’s a long term process with possible multiple visits to the dealership, ordering and waiting for the car to arrive.

I was so focused on looking for a new ND on the lot that somehow I missed this colorful combination of used-Mazda’s a yellow RX-8 which is probably my favorite color for this rotary car and a red NB… How do you miss something so bright? Glad I spotted them on the way out of the dealership.

Initially I didn’t even see any Miata’s on the streets of Montreal… but then I was proven wrong Thursday night where I spotted half-a-dozen, mostly NB’s in all different colors roaming around downtown Montreal… I suspect they drove in from the suburbs to get a front row view of the fireworks that were scheduled to start after dark on that night. The next day I saw a beautiful NC3 PRHT in white with the top down that came up behind me and left too quick for me to snap a shot of it. Here’s a few Miata’s I did spot on the streets of Old Montreal:

Ironically there were far more Porsche’s on the streets of Montreal than Miata’s.

I even spotted a right-hand-drive Nissan Figaro… twice!

Anyway… while the Miata community of Quebec is very hard to spot, other Mazda’s are all over the place. Tons of CX-5’s and Mazda3’s roaming around. Even used for official city business:

The older Mazda’s make it seem obvious why people hide their precious Roadsters… the rust isn’t kind in this part of the world:

I suspect the salt use in the winter eats right through the metal.

Anyway, I had such a blast in Montreal for the Formula E event even though I completely failed to make any contact with the local Miata community… and I even researched several Quebec MX-5 Clubs and sent them facebook messages asking for help.

Maybe I’ll get more lucky in the future…

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

I have tried and once again failed with another attempt to fix the metal to metal clanking sound coming from the rear of the car. It has appeared out of the blue once we swapped my OEM shocks to a set of Bilsteins from a newer Miata. Since then I have greased the rear sway bar bushings. Replaced the rear sway bar end links. Replaced the bushings on the rear sway bar that I had greased before with OEM parts and still the noise persists. So after much research it was suggested that the exhaust hangers may be faulty. They are rubber and after 10 years of use I’m sure they would have lost some of their rigidity.

So I researched the ones to buy. OEM ones on eBay are nearly $20 bux apiece. There are two different kind and a total of five of them in use on our system. One on the pipe under the car, and four holding the exhaust manifold in place. Part # LF46-40-061 of which you use three of, goes under the car and on the back of the muffler closest to the rear of the car (tail pipes). Part # N3H2-40-061A are nearly twice the width of the other hangers and go on the front of the muffler closest to the differential.

But I was not going to spend $100+ bux on OEM hangers, they’re just cheap rubber, I don’t get why they cost so much. Even online part stores like Quirk or Tasca wanted over $10 apiece and something like $13 for the fat ones. No thanks!

The aftermarket hangers from Flyin’ Miata were $8-$9 apiece. The same ones on eBay could be had even cheaper from Kartboy and COBB with various offers for around $40 for a set of 5 with free shipping. But it still seemed excessive for what they really are.

So I started doing more research and found Advance Auto Parts sells Walker Insulators Part # 35119 for just $3 bux and with their generous 20%-30% discounts, it was just $11.55 with tax for the five I bought initially and $5.28 for two more that I bought to double up one of the muffler hangers to replicate the fat design of the OEM.

Everything looked so great, but after a test drive the noise is still there… Fuck me!

Here’s some pix:

A set of five from Advance Auto cost less than one OEM hanger!

The fat OEM hanger on the front of the muffler closest to the diff.

I used a lot of soapy water in a spray bottle to loosen the rubber, for whatever reason the 12mm holes on the OEM hangers were so loose that most of them just popped out with little effort.

new one on the right and old one on the left

the new hangers are 10mm so it took effort to put them on.

but with soapy water sprayed on both rubber and hangers it worked.

and then I had an idea to double up the rubber on the back hanger, it fit just right and introduced more rigidity I believe.

Although the brand name on Advance Auto web site and what I picked up in the store didn’t match, these seem to be good quality product, Made in India.

While inspecting the bottom of the car I noticed my X-brace was bent upwards in a place closest to where the exhaust pipe goes. So I took it off and straightened it out in a vice grip.

Oh how I wished this would have solved my clunky problem… it would have been so awesome especially how cheap the parts were compared to the new OEM end links and even OEM bushings. But fuck it didn’t work… the problem persists and it’s going to drive me crazy until I find the culprit!

Sunday Fun Day Cruising Skyline Drive in Ringwood, New Jersey to High Point State Park and Warwick, New York

Today was a fantastic day to go for a cruise… the weather was perfect! Not too hot, not too sunny… not too much traffic on the roads. So my friend Bill and I headed up Skyline Drive in Ringwood, New Jersey towards Wanaque Reservoir, up Greenwood Lake Tpk to Warwick Tpk to Clinton Road in West Milford, down to Route 23 and then up to the High Point State Park. From there we came back down to Route 94 in Hamburg, New Jersey and headed up to Orange County New York where we turned off on Route 17A and down Route 17 back into New Jersey.

Unlike the many trips to Bear Mountain New York this trip was far more laid back, slower speed and through much more residential areas. Bill and I joked we would do a Foodie Tour visiting the many Ice Cream parlors along the way. But the joke turned into a much tastier reality. Because instead of ice cream parlors we actually visited the source for the ice cream at the various Farms which featured proper Ice Cream Shacks and Barns where the fresh ice cream was Oh Sooo Creamy! We stopped for a root beer float in Orange County New York and then again in Sussex New Jersey for some Frozen Blueberry Yogurt. It was so amazing.

And of course I took a million pix:

Lots of cool cars out on the road today like this fat ass Porsche Cayman… obviously a ton of bikes too!

and some good looking British Midgets…

This ’69 was fully restored by the owner who was proud to point out he’s done a cross country road trip in it all the way to Reno, Nevada wow!

The 2007 Copper Red twins

At High Point State Park at the Northwestern tip of New Jersey

tractor man

The ice cream in this place was amazing. I got a blueberry frozen yogurt and it was finger lickin’ good!

Welcome to New York… again

Welcome back to New Jersey!

Mazda MX-5 Miata Maintenance Day

Big day  working on my friend Bill’s Miata today.

We were planning on changing his spark plugs to NGK Laser Iridium plugs as well as put in his new rear end links and replace the license plate light bulbs to the new LED ones I ordered online from Taiwan. The day started early for Bill with a trip to Ramsey Mazda to help diagnose an air conditioning leak… which they spent many hours looking for but couldn’t find.

It was a very wet start to the day. I had to run some errands before meeting Bill at the dealership (to also pick up my rear sway bar bushings) and it was tough to get around with multiple highways flooded. But we managed to meet up, went to have delicious Korean BBQ for lunch and the day suddenly cleared up and became sunny!

So here we go…

I first vacuumed and then blasted the top of the engine with compressed air to clear any debris from the area we were going to work on…

and there was some debris, especially from the underside of the engine cover that left a fine sand-like crap over the wiring

I’ve done the spark plugs on my car at around 50k miles so it was interesting to tackle Bill’s car which has over 100k miles on his and presumably these were his original spark plugs…

Getting to them was easy, instead of unplugging the coil packs I just moved them upwards and out of the way

Most of the holes were clean except for the one next to last, which had a visible amount of oil in it

Shiny new plugs… while undoing the old ones we quickly were faced with them being stubborn and not turning as freely as you’d want them to… so Bill went ahead and sprayed them with PB Blaster… and while they soaked we moved on to doing some other repairs

So we proceeded to changing Bill’s rear end links. I had him using my old take offs as a temporary solution to see if there would be any issue. The shop that did his suspension install used some cheapo aftermarket ones and we quickly discovered that one of the end links had it’s ball ripped out of the housing. So it was nice to see that the OEM pieces held up and we replaced them with new ones.

After this we took another crack at turning the spark plugs and all were loose except for the very first one closest to the front of the car, so we blasted it again and moved on to installing rear sway bar bushings on my car hoping that would stop the clunking… spoiler alert… it didn’t! But now I have new bushings in the back. Oh well!

My old bushings looked fine. We lubed them up with Mobil 1 grease not that long ago. But I was hoping against hope that they were the culprit of my clunking noises. Now I’m not sure what it is. We put on new end links, new bushings…  what could it be? Bad shocks? But bad shocks would surely show wear. I am stumped!

Back to finish the spark plug change:

With enough lube all came out effortlessly. In fact they came out with much less effort that I did on my car doing the dry swap.

The hole that had oil in it was showing clear debris left when the spark plug was removed, so I cleaned it out nicely before installing the new one

All done! Started up no problem. No engine noise. No vibrations. Perfect!

After a short test drive we proceeded to the last job of the day… changing the pesky license plate bulbs on the trunk lid… one of Bill’s burned out and that was the reason I ordered a bunch of them from Taiwan to replace mine as well

I already knew how to approach this change. Pulled out a bunch of fish line and started working my way along the backing of the light unit. The rubber piece that touches the metal trunk lid was very much stuck to it. So the reason for using the fishing line was to break it loose and then the light unit slides to the left and pops out by pulling on the right side of it. And so that’s exactly what I did.

All the plastic tips in tact, nothing snapped or broken. Nothing brittle

Interesting observation the soft top Mazdaspeed spoiler has a little area cut out for the Mazda logo… who would have thunk?

I asked Bill to bring his new ramps so we could change the rear end links, and they fit very nicely into his trunk. Taking up all the space!

The LED’s look perfect!

What a difference a couple of hours make. It was a perfectly sunny day for Bill’s drive home… I had an awesome time working on this car looking forward to another excuse to do something else in the near future. Thanks Bill!

Wish List: Do a Bondurant Fiat Trackside Experience in an Abarth Fiata Spider

It’s been a few years since I discovered I have no future as a race car driver… that feeling came about behind a wheel of an SRT Charger as I was screeching tires making a turn into one of the high speed corners of Road America in Wisconsin. Since that time though I did three more SRT Track Experiences around the country… but instead of pursuing that sort of “racing” hobby I figured it would be much cheaper to volunteer as a marshal (even though that is expensive as hell in itself). BUT… boy was it fun!

The SRT Track Experiences were run by Richard Petty Racing School. It was one of few subcontractors SRT and other performance brands like AMG relied on to help teach their customers how to drive their cars without actually using their cars… Chrysler for example provided more than a dozen cars, everything from a Crossfire to the Viper… and I as a guest of the Track Experience got to drive every single one of them, multiple times. And at the end of the day I simply walked away… no need to buy new tires, or fix any issues that the car could have developed after being flogged by amateurs around the track. Arrive and drive events in someone else’s vehicles are awesome, certainly better than messing with your own car.

And that’s where the Bondurant Racing School comes in. I remember Bondurant when they ran orange SVT Mustang Cobra’s… I remember that because someone at the company sent me a list of cars for sale when they decided to ditch the blue oval and move on to GM (remember those yellow Corvette’s and black Cadillac’s?) and now they do Chryslers… in particular the Dodge SRT line that I got to experience several times with Richard Petty… luckily FCA, the parent of Dodge also has non-HEMI powered machinery for which Bondurant has a whole separate web site, calling it Fiat Trackside  https://fiattrackside.com/ which seems like a perfect way to experience the Abarth line-up and in particular the Abarth Fiata: Fiat 124 Spiders… and I intend to one day take advantage of their offerings to experience this Italian (Japanese) creation…

If anyone has a hook-up, my birthday is coming up in September feel free to get me some time behind the wheel of the Bondurant Fiata… I’ll take care of the flight to Arizona but the rest I’m too broke to afford.

FIAT brand’s Abarth models, including the all-new 124 Spider Abarth, join the lineup at the legendary Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.
image credit: Bondurant.com
image credit: Bondurant.com

 

Bondurant Racing School also offers a Teen driving program, which is probably more up my alley than an actual high performance Abarth experience, but I wouldn’t turn either of them down if presented with an opportunity.

image credit: Bondurant.com

I’m not sure how these track experiences operate, and if they carry any similarity to the SRT track experiences which I’ve done several of in Wisconsin, Colorado, California and Florida… I’m sure there are some good folks on the Fiata forums that would spare their VIN# for me to experience these cars on track at the Bondurant facility.

This is definitely high on my wish list!

Mazda Car Wash Day and Detail Clinic

This weekend Chris hosted a car wash & detail clinic day.

I joked that I was preparing for this day by not washing my car for at least two weeks… and several road trips on some rainy days for Motorsport events like the visits to Lime Rock. But in reality every time I do wash my car it seems to rain the next day messing things up. All the pollen in the air, the dust, and it’s a pain in the ass to keep the car clean. I don’t think I’ve ever actually detailed my car, until this weekend!

Chris has a collection of various detailing products that were put to a good use. One of my favorites was the one that turned my headlights that have started to get cloudy to bright and clear again.

Some pix:

This yellow RX-8 was my favorite Mazda at the event… I love the color. I think my next MX-5 will be some shade of yellow!

Yea, please don’t suck Mazda!

Good to see Bill show up with his 2007 GT soft top… I think in the past I’ve assumed it was the first model year NC but I was wrong.

Isn’t that yellow gorgeous?

My turn…

Tackling the headlights…

This is what they looked like before, very cloudy on top…

and this is what they look like after:

as compared to Bill’s car:

and compared to Chris’s car:

and even without washing or detailing Chris’s car looked the best:

To end the day we had the bright idea of attempting to adjust Bill’s new Tokico’s… and then Chris dropped one of the brace nuts into the engine bay… that was the last time we saw it. Even though a lot of time was spent looking for it, it was never found. Luckily the Advance Auto nearby stocked just the right size bright and shiny new ones which I went to pick up to finish the job.

It was a great and very educational day…

Thanks Chris!

Fathers Day Weekend SCCA Club Racing at Lime Rock

To be honest I’ve given up on Club Racing this season… But since I still hold a valid SCCA license and my friend Jamie offered to let me work on the Starter stand with him, I jumped on the opportunity!

Boy am I glad I did.

I came for the Miata’s, but stayed for all the variety that was there.

The various Spec Miata fields were huge… I liked the battles going on from my vantage point. And since there were four of us on the Start stand I got to rotate into every position available for a few sessions at a time… so I got to Start and Chequer races. I got to work as a backup. I got to do lap charts. And finally, got to do comms. It was neat to say the least and much needed practice I wanted to have as I did make mistakes a few weeks ago at Lime Rock working the PWC race as a backup starter.

But anyway. For the NA and NB Miata fans there was a lot to love. I only spotted one NC there. Briefly thinking a few Honda S2000’s were Miata’s as they were under car covers… Ooops! They sure do have similar dimensions and it’s especially hard to tell when you can only see wheels, and both Mazda and Honda tend to use the same Enkei wheels.

Anyway, here’s some pix of my favorite cars this weekend:

This fella raced one of the SAC NC Miata Cup Cars during PWC.

Love the paint job on this Formula Vee…

Surprised how flashy some cars looked wearing sponsors on their liveries…

Woo Hoo… NC Miata!

Not a Miata!

But it’s wearing a +5HP sticker…

This thing kicked ass in the rain, winning one race.

Stock vs. Non-Stock S2000’s… probably my favorite looking race car at the track… wonder why they created a class that eliminates the windshield of a car…?

This thing too had a very dramatic last lap, front straight, chequered flag finish… dash to the win!

Several young female racers, which is awesome to see on such grassroots level of Motorsport.

I’ll be back for more tomorrow… Saturday = Race Day!

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner Woodcliff Lake New Jersey June 2017

Sunday Fun Day! A heatwave is hitting Northern New Jersey, and a ton of people came out for this month’s Cars & Coffee event at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ

I overslept… didn’t wash my car but wanted to hang out with a few people at the event. So I rushed over… and as soon as I pulled in around 10am everyone else started leaving… all the McLaren P1’s, the Porsche 911’s, the Lamborghinis and Ferrari’s of very recent vintage, but the few cars that remained still caught my eye. So I wanted to share some pix of them…. I realize a lot of the cars are classic and vintage, which you’re likely to see at your neighborhood’s weekly cruise night. But I don’t care. It was a great mix of new and old and for me these oldies stood out….

especially the Figaro:

It’s also important to remember that this area of Jersey is still very European… there’s BMW North American headquarters just across the street. There’s lots of Italians still living here. The real Mafialand… you know where Soprano’s are from. So it’s nice to see all these Alfa Romeo’s, Lancia’s and Fiat’s around. The classic type, the ones that you don’t normally see here. That was nice to see!

Oh and I also really loved the Geländewagen:

Haven’t seen these in a while… but I have seen them before… in Europe, Asia and Australia/New Zealand. It was nice to see them again!

How is this car a “Historic”?

It is registered as one… look at the Trianglular inspection sticker.

Seeing the Mercedes-Benz 300SL in both convertible and gullwing was awesome… seen both of them before but they sure stood out.

Oh look… a nice Ford

C’est fini….  until next time!

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change Deal Castrol EDGE + K&N Wrench-Off Filter $22.99

Memorial Day oil change deal alert at your local Advance Auto Parts store… while I’m not due for an oil change and I still have a perfectly good jug of Castrol EDGE 5W20 from a previous purchase, along with a bunch K&N HP-1002 and PS-1002 filters for my Miata, at this price I decided to stock up on a few more.

The deal is $22.99+ tax for a 5QT Jug or 5x 1QT bottles of Castrol EDGE full synthetic oil plus a K&N Wrench-Off high performance oil filter… which at Advance Auto typically sells for $36.99 just the oil and $16.99 just the filter. Of course I like to shop around and have purchased oil and filters cheaper individually but in this case the combination of the two work really well, I’ll explain why.

Advance Auto is currently running a promo through American Express also, where you get $10 rebate on your AMEX card for a $50 purchase. Similarly, Advance Auto SpeedPerks rewards program allows you to earn $5 (coupon you can apply to a future $20 purcahse) for each $30 you spend. Naturally the $22.99 deal is after rebate, so the $32.99 you shell out upfront qualifies for this deal.

The Castrol EDGE Extended Performance oil is also on sale, a 5QT jug of that is $24.99 after rebate with the K&N filter included. So what I did was purchase both, sending my total with tax to $70… I quickly got an e-mail confirming my AMEX rebate. I’m hoping SpeedPerks comes through for at least $5 maybe even $10 since I spent over $60 (2x – $30) and in the end it will be a fantastic deal.

Almost as good as those end of fiscal year clearance sales where Advance Auto or AutoZone clear out their oil supply and sell 5QT Jugs of various oils for like $5 bux. But alas those deals are hit or miss and sometimes only apply for specific oils. For example two years ago I managed to buy Mobil 1 for $5 a jug, except it was only the 0W20 weight. I read about Pennzoil Platinum going on sale for a similar price but out of the three oils I have used in the Miata, the Castrol EDGE goes on sale least. And I found out it’s the oil that performs best in my car, yielding the best gas mileage!

So I’ll stick with it for a while.

Cars & Coffee at Tice’s Corner Woodcliff Lake New Jersey May 2017

No better way to spend Memorial Day weekend than at my local Cars & Coffee. This meetup at Tice’s Corner in Woodcliff Lake, NJ is always a treat, check out the pix:

I arrived a bit late, after 10am which meant may cool cars were either leaving or had already left… like the Enzo Ferrari and McLaren P1… but the Miata’s were still there, and after parking lot clearing a bit we decided to get them together for a photo op:

At this point it was around noon and everyone was hungry so we headed down to Hackensack to my favorite BBQ joint… Cubby’s!

This place is so awesome… there’s nothing “bad” on the menu, everything is “great!”

Looking forward to the next one!