Tag Archives: mx5 maintenance

Mazda MX-5: Miata Spring Maintenance

Been a while since I did any work on my car. For most of the winter I didn’t even drive it. But after starting anew job it’s once again my daily.

So at almost exactly 5k miles I got to do my first oil change of 2018.

Car feels great with fresh fluids. Over the last 5,025 miles no oil was burned by the engine, it was still fairly brown and viscous which is great. I’ll be putting about 100 miles a week on it now going to work, so I’m assuming next oil change will be end of the year.

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!

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!

Mazda MX-5: Grease your Miata Sway Bar Bushings! Car Feels Like New Again

Public Service Announcement: grease your sway bar bushings Miata owners… I remember Miata.net forums light up when most of the US was experiencing freezing temps including Southern states like Georgia, the Carolina’s and Texas where owners started complaining about loud squeaking and creaking noises coming from their suspension even on basically brand new / late model NC MX-5’s of the 2015 vintage. I had experienced those noises every winter time including when I first bought my car. I was convinced that was the result of the bump stops being worn out like I saw on the forums. But boy was I wrong. I discovered I was wrong when we replaced my stock suspension with a set of Bilsteins from a newer Miata GT PRHT. I figured it was not possible for the bump stops to get work out on such a low mileage car. But it turns out the bump stops have nothing to do with this squeak.

The problem was much simpler and much easier to fix. The front and back bushings on the sway bars get squeaky with wear and age. And it only takes a little bit of synthetic grease to lubricate them to make the car sound like new again. If you don’t think my claim is reasonable, consider the fact that the PRHT top squeaks and creaks when the two pins that go into the area above the windshield isn’t lubricated. When you experience the squeaks even a brand new car feels like a worn out horse buggy. And with just a little lubrication it feels like a different car, a brand new car!

Special thanks to my buddy Chris for doing the work for me in his garage. It is greatly appreciated! Some pix:

Thanks to Stephen from Ohio for sending me his used RX-8 sway bar end link to help me diagnose a possible issue with clicking which appeared after we did the Bilstein install. Unfortunately this wasn’t the problem, but I’m glad we eliminated that possibility.

There are only four bolts, two on each side, front and rear to loosen the sway bar. It helps to remove one of the bolts on the sway bar end links to release the tension on the bar. I also took the opportunity to swap out one of the end links for a used unit one of the fellow owners from Miata.net sent me from Ohio to help me diagnose a clicking problem that appeared after the Bilsteins install. His was an RX-8 sway bar end link that is identical (part number the same) to the MX-5 model. Unfortunately the end link didn’t seem to be the problem to my clicking noise. But I’m happy with this replacement.