Tag Archives: MX5.net

Mazda MX-5: Jacksonville Miata Mini-Meet on my Florida Road Trip

I’ve been trying to organize a Florida Miata get-together ever since I bought my car and nothing seemed to pan out, until now! I finally managed to meet up with a local MX-5 owner in Jacksonville on my way to Daytona Beach, Florida… yay!

I’ve been communicating with the owner on Miata.net for a little while now, following on mods he’s been doing to his car and sharing information on my little projects. This opportunity to meet up and share ideas over dinner was great. I especially liked checking out the stuff he’s done in person… like the $38 eBay trunk lip spoiler which I’ve been considering doing myself. Or the larger windshield washer tank that is only available in Canada and not the US. Or his most recent mod: the hood struts which standard Miatas don’t come with. Or the custom steering wheel that is almost double the girth of the original. It was pretty neat!

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If the car looks a lot like my Miata, it basically is… both are 2007 GT PRHT models… same exterior in Copper Red and same interior in Camel Brown or Orange or whatever the hell it is. But this car has a Manual Transmission while mine is an Automatic. It also has a cone K&N filter while mine is stock…. and the few things I mentioned above that I wanted to see to decide whether I should get them too.

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I do really like the idea of the hood struts, that makes things easier.

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And the finish looks like it came from the factory like that.

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Come winter time I’ll probably wish I had this larger Canadian washer bottle.

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As much as I like the idea of a fat steering wheel, the fact it cost over $400 to ship and install, I can say it is nowhere near the top of my wish list.

I’m really grateful for the opportunity and for my new friend shouting a tasty seafood dinner… not something I was expecting but hopefully I could repay the favor in the future.

Mazda MX-5: Philadelphia Miata Meet & Cruise, Philly Cheesesteaks and Twisties

How to scrub brand new tires? Take the car on a little road trip… today’s excuse for a drive was a “local” Philly Miatas meet and cruise… I called it cheesesteaks and twisties… 2 hours each way and a total of just under 300 miles on new tires which are nicely broken into now and ready for  daily use.

Big thanks to the guys that organized the event today!

We had a total of 6 cars… 4 or 5 of them at a time. There were 2 NA’s, 3 NB’s and my NC. Only two of the guys were from Pennsylvania while three of us were from across the river in New Jersey. The other two Jersey guys were from South Jersey living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

One car broke down shortly after we started the cruise, which was a bit sad. It was a Supercharged NB that kept on blowing a fuse which we kind of thought was a result of hitting a pot hole large enough to cause a short in one of the wires. We left the fella behind on the side of the road waiting for AAA… and while we were eating our cheesesteaks before heading off for some spirited driving around PA’s twisties, he showed up with his second NB… How cool!?!

After giving the new tires a bit of a workout driving in suburban Philadelphia along the banks of the river, I broke off from the group and went to visit my buddy Brian whose wedding I attended in Bangkok, it was a great opportunity to catch up although way too brief.

Fantastic spring day spend driving the Miata with the top down with a new group of friends in Philadelphia… looking forward to more of these in the near future!

Some pix:

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Turns out there are two styles of Philly Cheesesteaks: sliced and diced. The sliced type is like the famous Pat’s or Geno’s… or better yet like Tony Luke’s which I had for breakfast on my way to the meet. During the cruise we stopped at Dalessandro’s which serves diced steaks and the line for food was way out the door! You know it’s good when you look across the street at Chubby’s hoggies and steaks and there’s no line out the door there. Delicious stuff!

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Mazda MX-5: 3,000+ Mile Spring Break Road Trip South in a Miata, from New Jersey to Florida

Question: “Is Mazda MX-5 Miata a good Road Trip car?”

Answer: Yes, absolutely!

I have found first hand how good my little red sports car was for the little Spring Break Road Trip down the Eastern seaboard from NJ to Florida. My goal was to marshal the Grand Prix of St. Pete and Sebring 12 hour, but what I ended up doing was much more than that. I got to visit several more circuits including Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL and Roebling Road in Savannah, Georgia. And I got to enjoy a ton of foodie experiences along the way, which is probably the best way to make a long trip in a Miata really comfortable. The trick is making sufficient stops along the way to not get tired or bored of the drive.

I also kept a little game going trying to play with my fuel mileage and finding most reasonable fuel prices along the way. I relied on an app called Gas Buddy which helped a lot considering the spread for fuel prices for 91-93 octane Premium fuel was vast, from $1.90 in the Northern States to $3,00/gallon in Southern states. I’ve found out that even from the same brand gas station, not all fuels were performing comparatively. I got better gas mileage sometimes from Speedway gas stations than I did from BP, Exxon or Sunoco.

Although not very scientific I created this spreadsheet of all 15 of my fill ups, including price paid, amount of fuel used, and MPG #’s:

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida fuel strategy and gas mileage

But enough about strategy the key attraction for me was sightseeing

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south central florida region scca at sebring

mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida sebring international raceway

Sebring was the farthest point South I’ve driven my MX-5 Miata yet, I always wanted to get a shot of the car with the track. Daytona International Speedway was another, I’m happy to accomplish both!

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On the drive back I had some time to kill since my plan was to spend the night in South Carolina at a fellow marshal’s home (who wouldn’t get out of work until about 5’ish which gave me plenty of time to be a tourist while driving up). So I visited Roebling Road in Savannah, GA on the drive up.

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And that was as far as racetracks went on the trip. I did drive right past Darlington Motor Speedway (and Raceway, and Dragway) but that was around 5 o’clock in the morning and way too dark to take pictures anyway.

The rest of the trip was devoted to general sightseeing. Every time I’m in that part of Georgia I love visiting Savannah and Tybee Island.

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And believe it or not, I have yet to take a single picture of me in my car until now, I offered to take a photo for some tourists at the sign and they returned the favor for me to take this shot :

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Of course the main reason to visit Tybee Island is for it’s incredible seafood at The Crab Shack, which is exactly what I did.

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The food wasn’t particularly cheap, and the portions were kind of small, but you couldn’t beat the experience of freshness. Worth it!

Food therefore was a major theme on my Road Trip, and an integral part of keeping me entertained and enthusiastic about the drive (read: not bored!).

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On our very first night in Sebring, Nancy Digh organized a nice marshal welcoming party at the Cowpokes Watering Hole in Sebring. I had a fantastic Brisket Bacon Burger there.

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But my favorite meal at Sebring (besides what the spectators fed us at turn 13) was at the Palm Diner trying their seafood belly buster:

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My most favorite meal in Florida thought was in Lake Worth while Couchsurfing. My host took me to a little hole-in-a-wall place called Cherry Pocket Steak & Seafood where I had an awesome meal.

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The appetizer was really my favorite. We had gator bites while sitting on a patio looking over a lake looking directly at a small alligator sunning itself out of the water. The salad that came with it had the most awesome strawberry flavored sauce, finger licking good!

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mazda mx-5 spring break road trip south to florida airboats and seaplanes

Only in Florida where you can arrive at the restaurant by car, seaplane or air boat.

Driving further north my buddy Ben took me to Redbone Alley  serving an amazing dish of Grits and Catfish… very southern!

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Even chain food in North Carolina was delicious, Bojangle’s famous biscuit and gravy, cajun chicken and sweet tea were sooooo good!

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Virginia and Pennsylvania welcomed me with an even faster fast-food option right at the gas station: Sheetz and their delicious sliderz and chicken strips tossed in Dr.Pepper BBQ sauce… Yum!

Long story short, the Road Trip in a Miata becomes not just bearable but extremely enjoyable when you take your time and enjoy the sites, try the local foods and enjoy yourself when you can.

After making it home I went ahead and swapped my Winter BFG’s that now have about 4.5k miles on them for Summer BFG’s with 0 miles on them and am looking forward to taking another Road Trip soon…. stay tuned!

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Mazda MX-5: To “Roadster” or Not To Roadster?

UPDATE: The “Roadster” badge has been purchased/installed. Click here for the latest post: JDM “Roadster” badge.

 

I’m debating whether to add or replace the stock badge with a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) “Roadster” badge on the trunk of my MX-5 Miata.

Should I?

The badge would either replace or be added above the standard “MX-5” badge on the right side of the trunk or replace the “Mazda” badge on the left side of the trunk. Like so:

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Photo credit: http://forum.miata.net/vb/archive/index.php/t-284504.html

or like so:

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The badge is available for sale from a few places. Password:JDM sells it for $21.50 plus $5.50 shipping. eBay has a US seller listing it at $39 + $6 shipping, and a Japanese seller listed $30 + $17 shipping. Someone on Miata.net pointed out a Japanese company that lists it at a more realistic $13.45 + whatever shipping may cost.

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Photo credit: http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?p=7580209

I’m tempted to order it to further personalize my car. After these little touches there will be other more performance oriented mods/repairs. But at this point I think I’ll stick to the aesthetics.

 

Read about this post from December about the initial personal touches to my Mazda: Personal touchest to my Miata.

Lightning Miata Casualty of the Nordschleife

Ever since I bought my MX-5 last December I’ve been a little Miata crazy. Joined the forums, went to car meets and cruises, etc. Before leaving on the trip to Europe I posted on the Miata.net forum to see if any European MX-5 owners wanted to meet up in Belgium or Germany… one person responded but it never materialized. Didn’t see any MX-5’s on the road on my day trip to Helsinki, Finland or the few days in Brussels downtown, but that changed once we crossed into Germany driving to Nurburgring with Pol, there were Miata’s everywhere! I counted at least 4 or 5 NC PRHT’s just like mine, and a bunch more NB’s driving around. One guy parked his yellow NB in such a spot that I saw it for the duration of the 24h race right from my post, it’s the only car that was visible through the tree tops down at the road below the bridge where I marshaled.

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Saw this Miata getting a wash on our walk to the Supermarket in Adenau by our station.

But this post is about a Miata race car, and one became a casualty of the Nordschleife on the first day of practice: the Lightning Miata:

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It was so freaking sad to see this car in this condition. Especially since I was trying to take a better shot of the car racing, because the first few shots I took were a little blurry and smudged. I deleted them off my phone and got myself ready for a better picture, the next thing I hear was this car grinding down the pavement as a marshal tow vehicle was dragging it to our post. Booo!

I hope they come back for the 24h of N-ring next year, and maybe I’ll get to meet up with the team during our paddock walk.

To check out pictures and videos of this car the way it is supposed to look like check out their YouTube and Facebook social media pages:

www.facebook.com/LightningMiata/

PS. So what happened to this car to cause such damage? Hard to say since it did not happen in front of us, but based on all the markings on the car I would guestimate that it hit something hard enough that the left front wheel ripped off, sending the car on it’s roof, because of severe road rash on top of the hood and the removable hard top (RHT). I’m quite impressed how well the car held up, the RHT came up about an inch on it’s rear hinges but stayed in tact, none of the windows broke or even cracked, which is amazing.

Mazda MX-5: Miata Meet & Cruise Cheesequake to Jersey Shore, Sandy Hook

What a great day for a car show! What a great day for a cruise… Started bright and early this morning, setting my alarm clock to 7am to wash the car from all the damn pollen in the air.

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And then hit the road for the Jersey Shore. The New Jersey Miata’s facebook club organized a nice little get together at the Cheesequake Service Area on the Garden State Parkway where I saw more MX-5’s then I have ever seen in my life. Mostly NA’s and NB’s but there were certainly plenty of NC’s too that eventually went back on the road bound for Sandy Hook.

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The funny bit on the cruise we blew past the exit that leads to the Highlands. The leader of the pack that we were following had some spirited driving in mind along the twisty roads of Central Jersey, but I don’t think he expected so many cars to follow him. But it was nice to see a convoy of Miata’s snaking along the neighborhood.

We made a scenic stop at the Navesink Twin Lights which was great because on a clear day like today NYC and the rest of Long Island was clearly visible in the distance. And then proceeded down to Fort Hancock at the tip of Sandy Hook for a few photos.

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The good thing was there were Miata’s everywhere. Everybody was driving at their own leisure, people were coming and going. The crowd was acting smart and mature and there weren’t anybody getting in trouble for doing silly things…

From Sandy Hook we went down route 36 to Long Branch for lunch, convoying with the Delaware Valley Miata Club to Max’s Hot Dogs. On the way I hear a bit of a ticking sound bouncing off the curbing, and sure enough as we parked our cars I noticed a screw sticking out of my left front tire… great! Luckily it wasn’t deep enough to actually puncture the tire so I got to drive home for the next hour and a half without too much of an issue. (There was traffic, that wasn’t cool) I’m really thankful for the good folks at Del Val Miata Club for being quick to offer a helping hand, including pliers and a tire repair kit ready to fix it as there were probably no gas stations able to do this job on a Sunday afternoon. The car wasn’t pulling in any direction, and when I checked the pressure upon arrival it was normal, so luckily I didn’t get a flat! Phew….

Special thanks to TF$ Motorsports for organizing the event and providing all the attendees with these cool stickers:

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A blow dryer… how appropriate!

Of all the photos I saw from the event posted on facebook, this is the only shot that actually has my car in it, and a nice panoramic view:

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photo courtesy of: Joel Naftelberg

Moss Miata donated some giveaways for which the organizers of the meet held a raffle. My buddy with the silver NC PRHT won a set of Roadster rubber pedal covers. Nice touch, thanks Moss Miata!

All in all excellent event, that I’m really glad I took the time off work to come out and have some fun. IT was the first time I had the convertible out on the highway with the top down… and there were three other cars just like mine (PRHT) with the top down doing a convoy… everybody passing us by was checking the cars out, and quite a few were taking pictures or videos of the cars. Glad to see that, for sure.

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change, Wheel Swap, Miata Meet

Today was a good day to work on the car. So for the first time in my life I went ahead and changed the oil in a car: my Miata. As with anything else that I’ve done to this car so far,  it took unnecessarily long. What seemed like hours. But everything was done right.

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I followed the recommendations from Miata.net and acquired some Mobil 1 0W-20 fully synthetic oil… yes the oil cap on the engine says 5W-20 and no – that’s not what I went with. I got what most people agree is the best option for the car. And I used a Mobil 1 M1-102 oil filter too, because… why not?

The funny story behind the oil is that I got it dirt cheap from a local parts store. How cheap?

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$5 dollar cheap… that’s a hefty discount considering Wal Mart sells the jug for $36 dollars. I randomly stumbled upon this deal and couldn’t believe my eyes. Was totally convinced it was a price mistake, asked the clerk if they would honor an obvious price mistake, but the item scanned at $5 bux. So I bought two jugs. Now I know it says 0W-30 and posting this picture on the forums resulted in comments that people would gladly use it for that price. But after about a month from the purchase I went back to the store and they happily exchanged my two jugs for the correct oil. So all was good. I bought the oil filters on Amazon for $10 bux each, or double what I paid for the oil, how ironic?

I took the opportunity while doing the oil change to thoroughly clean everything under the car including the oil pan protection plate which was covered in grime. I also noticed that a few plastic clips were missing in the shroud that surrounds the front wheels so I popped some new ones in place. Car fired up and purred like a kitten after the oil change. Drove nicely. Although when sitting at a red light the engine RPM’s drop a lot and I wonder if it’s normal.

I also took the opportunity to try out my newly purchased 16″ OEM wheels. I noticed that on the road trip I scuffed the front 17″ OEM wheels up a little so it was time to try something softer and smoother for our pot-hole infested roads. And boy did they make a difference. Granted the feeling is identical with larger pot holes, but the general crap you encounter on the main highways like the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway is manageable. And the difference is obvious. I am liking the softer ride. I really don’t think I understand how people lower their cars and get fancy big wheels with low profile tires. It must be solely for the looks. They must not drive their car much. Or they must really like doing wheel alignment from hitting pot holes so hard their teeth chatter with a stiff suspension.

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I am a big fan of the 5 spoke wheels, though the 10 spoke ones will go back on the car in the summer time when roads are better.

The fella I purchased the wheels from invited me to a Miata Meet his club was organizing. So as soon as I finished tinkering with the car and took a quick shower, I hit the road for Central Jersey. This month the Delaware Valley Miata Club was meeting in Freehold, NJ at Jersey Freeze burger and ice cream shop. They do this sort of thing monthly, and the mid-week afternoon event totally works for me since I can’t get off from work on the weekends. There were about twelve (12) Miatas present of which 1 NA, 3 NB’s, 4 NC1’s, 3 NC2’s and 1 NC3. It was very cool to see other Miata owners from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, especially the guy with another Copper Red Mica. I was eager to compare the rear bumpers to see if the shades are off like they are on mine. But by the time I noticed his car it was too dark outside for a good comparison. Still a nice feeling to see another similar Miata so close.

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Great crowd and very good food too.

miata meet with delaware valley mazda club

So all in all what  a beautiful day! I got to change my own oil. Change the wheels. See how the car feels with the new oil and the new wheels on a 140 mile road trip. And meet a dozen other Mazda Miata owners in New Jersey over a delicious dinner. Looking forward to more of this in the summer time!

Note to self: oil change done at 32,295 miles… when should the next one be? 5,000 miles? 10,000 miles?

Mazda MX-5: First 500+ Mile Road Trip

Since I bought the car in December I’ve only put 1,000 miles on the odometer… until my Road Trip to Watkins Glen, NY where I did 500+ miles in a just one weekend.

I was thoroughly impressed with the car. It was very comfortable at highway speeds and during a trip that lasted about five hours because I made a few stops along the way that I normally do, one of them to pick up some sliders for lunch at a Scranton Sheetz gas station (yep, gas station food!)

Before doing the thermostat replacement I was averaging about 23 mpg sometimes less, hardly ever more. But on this trip I got a solid 33 mpg with 95% highway driving, but a good 5% driving in first gear from the RSI campground to the WGI conference building along pit lane. Mainly because the road was really muddy, and I coated the whole bottom of the car with it. It was the first time I’ve been to a race track where I went to a car wash first before heading back home. And I’m glad I did, because on my way to the self-serve car wash I stopped by the International Motor Racing Research Center in downtown Watkins Glen, and took some pictures there. My favorite was the little red sports cars atop the street sign posts that act as the numeric street signs:

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I didn’t realize how little my little red sports car was compared to the street sign post, which is topped with a little sports car and a 15 encircled on the door, signifying 15th Street
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maybe next time I will actually pay them a visit, the International Motor Racing Research Center in downtown Watkins Glen, NY about a mile from beautiful Seneca Lake

 

But back to the track. I’m happy the car didn’t get stuck in the mud anywhere or bottom out on any of the pot holes. I took it nice and slow and it served it’s purpose well.

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I should have turned the nose into the other direction to light up the side of the car, but didn’t really think of it while taking this picture

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The only complaint, if I should call it that, was the massive pot holes along the 250 mile stretch between my home in New Jersey and the track Upstate New York. Especially Upstate and most of Pennsylvania had these big craters where the asphalt meets the concrete of the overpass, or along the joints of two otherwise perfectly smooth lanes, there just had to be these stupid pot holes. I’m going to speculate because I’m not entirely sure this is the case, but I have a feeling that I got some new curb rash from hitting some pot holes I couldn’t avoid especially along the lip of the front rims. And let me tell you, this was the most attentive I have ever been driving this route going the speed limit and trying to dodge the bigger pot holes in my path at all costs. A few times I didn’t realize just how big the pot hole was until I was on top of it…. Ugh!

All in all I am very happy with this first big Road Trip in the Miata. I had a great time and will definitely do it again, especially going back to Watkins Glen to work one of their events, IMSA and/or NASCAR. The RSI hospitality was really warm and welcoming, as usual. I genuinely felt I was wanted there, which is a good feeling. Best of all the heater worked really well in Lynne & Tate’s guest camper… so even though the car outside was covered in frost, I was nice and toasty at night. Thank you Lynne & Tate, Patrick and the rest of the RSI for being awesome!

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PS. on the way home I stopped to refuel across the street from a peculiar site, a mobile BBQ truck… of course I had to have a sample:

upstate new york bbq pit

Mazda MX-5 Upgrade: Winter Wheels

I have always envied people that know what they want in life. The story of my life has been full of uncertainty and indecision… until I started looking for a Miata. I knew exactly what I wanted!

The dealer that showed me the first Miata I went to see in flesh and actually test drive, told me good luck finding a red hard top for the price I was willing to pay. He said it so sarcastically… and then I proved him wrong. I got exactly what I was looking for, a Copper Mica Red with a PRHT for not that much more than what the dealer was asking, except it was from a private owner who only put 1/3rd of the miles on the car compared to the one the dealer was selling.

During that search I was really unsure about the wheels. I really liked the five spoke OEM 16 inch that came stock on some base models. But I knew that IF I bought a car with them, I would also get an OEM 17 inch ten spoke set to have as a spare. And I am proud to say that after a few months of searching, I got a fantastic deal on a set of the five spoke wheels.

Based on my research on Miata.net it was recommended by one of the reps from Tire Rack who is the forum’s sponsor, to use smaller wheels with slimmer tires for the winter. Instead of the low profile 17’s, they recommended 16’s using a 195 tire. And I’m so glad I got myself a set of 16’s, now the deal-hunting begins for some winter tires, hopefully they’ll be on sale now that the winter is finally over (its early April and we still had snow a week ago) we’re only about 8 months away from next winter anyway. I plan to keep the car for a long time, so having a spare set of wheels is a must.

I bought the wheels through eBay. After a few months of random searching on the forums and Craigslist, I knew it would cost me upwards of $300 to $400 for a reasonable set. The other night I logged into eBay, typed in “Mazda Miata Wheels” and the first search result that popped up showed a set of pristine 16’s with a current bid of $100 with local pick up only, listed in a New Jersey town that’s only 25 minutes drive form where I live. The listing was like a God sent. I didn’t have to drive for hours to some neighboring state. I didn’t have to pay a ton for shipping from across the country. They were right here! So there I am, sitting in the car at a shopping center parking lot, glued to my phone with only a few minutes left to auction’s end, submitting my bid. And I won! Not only that, I won the auction for significantly less than I was prepared to pay, which makes me really happy. I quickly contacted the seller to see if I could pick up the wheels that night because I had my Road Trip to Watkins Glen planned for early the next day, and the guy agreed.

I was seriously concerned that the wheels might be stolen since they sold for such a low price. But once I arrived at the seller’s home all my worries went away. Not only that he’s also a current owner of a beautiful 2007 Miata in True Red which is far brighter than my Copper Red. And he’s actively involved with a Miata club called Del Valley, which is awesome because now I have someone locally whom I could cruise with and meet other Miata owners. I’m really excited!

mx5 wheels

mx5 wheels 17s

mx5 wheels 16s 17s

mx5 wheels 16s

mx5 wheels summer winter

mx5 wheel

Good deal all around. The 16’s came with center caps, so that’s a big plus. And still have some tires mounted on them which I guess is a bonus. Though I’ll be shopping for new winter tires soon. Will I have any issues using the smaller wheels? Like will the speedo be off? Not according to this (or at least I’ll be going half a mile faster at 65mph)

205.50.R16 to 205.45.R17 tire comparison

Mazda MX-5 Repair: Lazy Thermostat

People say that the Mazda Miata is a cheap car to own and maintain. It is not. Ford Crown Victoria was a cheap car to own and maintain. I should know, I’ve had ten of them. In fact I have replaced a thermostat on a Crown Vic, a few times. I even went for the cooler 195 degree option. Between going to the store to pick up the $7 part, removing the two bolts on top / front part of the engine, and dropping the new one in. It would take no more than 20 minutes for the whole process, including the drive to the local parts store.

With the Miata this process is slightly longer.

mazda-roadster-eunos-mx-5-miata

I bought the car in December, just days before my trip to Portugal to marshal the Maxi Endurance 32 hour race at the Algarve Circuit. Before I could even make it home in my newly purchased car from central Long Island I got the Check Engine light illuminated. So I rerouted to the nearest AutoZone store to see what was going on. Code P0126: low coolant level. Hmm!

So I quickly researched the solution to this code on Miata.net and based on the recommendations of people there, rushed out to the nearest Advance Auto Parts store to pick up a new Stant 48728 thermostat. This one listed for about $31 plus tax. Hmm! I used one of the deep discounts Advance always offers, picked up a pair of Mechanix orange gloves with my order, and the box sat on my desk at home for several months, as the Check Engine light went on and off with about five or six cycles of the engine start/use of the car. Admittedly I didn’t use the car too frequently because of the snow/ice situation this winter, so it didn’t get too many miles put on it with the lazy thermostat. But the jist of the problem is the fact that the thermostat gets stuck open, and it takes a while for it to close, at which point the system checks out when you turn the ignition key and the CEL goes off.

With further research from Miata.net it was deemed that replacing the thermostat is not your 20 minute job like with a Crown Vic. This was more a two or three hour affair requiring the removal of a bunch of parts and trying to thread your tools through a variety of tubing just to get to the thermostat on the lower part of the engine, under the throttle body. People recommended to clean the throttle body in this process, why not? It’s already off. Might as well replace the air filter with all that access. People were also recommending to replace the overflow coolant reservoir, because unlike the thermostat which triggers the check engine light, coolant tanks experience catastrophic failure without any warning…. other than an explosion under the hood with the smell and steam from spraying antifreeze. So I ordered the overflow tank, for another $50 + $8 shipping from TASCA Parts a Mazda dealership in Rhode Island. Someone mentioned that their local dealership matched the online pricing of their competitors, but with three dealership within 20 mile radius of my house, none would price match. None of them had the part in stock either. It would have to be special ordered, at a full $70+ list fee, plus $14 shipping for expedited delivery. So I swore off the local dealerships and ordered online. Thanks but no thanks: Mazda of Lodi, Ramsey Mazda and Wayne Mazda!

The dealers did have something in stock that I almost bought, FL22 antifreeze/coolant. But at $26 per gallon I thought that was ridiculously expensive compared to $12 or $13 for Crown Vic antifreeze. So I researched a cheaper alternative and Zerex Asian Vehicle Coolant only carried by NAPA Auto Parts came highly recommended, and at $14 a gallon, a lot more reasonable than Mazda OEM FL22 coolant. Zerex is a Valvoline product.

Anyway, fast forward to this morning and before the mail man delivered the coolant reservoir from TASCA, I rushed out the door to pick up some distilled water to do the coolant flush, and realizing that the radiator/engine capacity for coolant is higher than just one Gallon, I bought another bottle of Zerex Asian coolant.

coolant
engine compartment still very dusty, this is how it was when I bought it… part of the reason I like buying cars from private owners, dealers do a great job of cleaning the engine masking any potential problems in the process.

Got home, dad helped me to jack up the car, and provide all the mismatched tools in his collection to get the job done. I wasn’t trying to rush things instead focusing on doing it right the first time. Everything went like clockwork. I noticed that I didn’t actually have to remove the throttle body and could just lift it to the side to get to the thermostat, neither did I have to undo the brace that sits on top of the shock tower. Didn’t drop any bolts into the abyss while removing the thermostat, and before you know it everything was back in place. Remarkably uneventful install. While the car was still jacked up we filled a bit more than a gallon of distilled water, ran the engine for twenty minutes, then flushed that water out and put in the Zetex. Lowered the car, ran the engine at about 2,500 RPM until the heater started blowing hot air out of the vents. And then went for a drive to fill up the car and see how it goes. It goes perfectly! For a brief while the heater started blocking cold again, which was weird, but then it became hot and even extra hot with a little more driving.

Tomorrow I will top off the coolant to the appropriate level, and the car will be ready for my first big Road Trip to Watkins Glen for NASCAR training next weekend.

thermostat

Voilà, c’est fini!