Tag Archives: NC1

Mazda MX-5: JDM “Roadster” badge

My JDM Mazda “Roadster” badge has arrived from Japan.

A few weeks ago I was contemplating whether to get a JDM Roadster badge for the rear decklid of my car, see this post: To “Roadster” or Not to “Roadster”? As much as I couldn’t justify spending close to $30 bux for a plastic badge, almost double what I paid for a Mazda badge I got earlier to stick on the inside of the car (check out this post: Personal touches to my Miata) I went ahead and ordered it. The price was only a few cents different to buy from an American seller in California and getting the real deal from Japan. I chose the Japanese option, a company called Amayama which billed my PayPal account through their Singapore HQ apparently.

But anyway, fast forward to today, I went and picked up the giant EMS shipping envelope. Had to go to the post office because I wasn’t home when the box arrived last week. It was meticulously packed and nothing was damaged, so it was well worth the $13 in shipping.

roadster 1

roadster 1a

roadster 2a

To mount the badge I had to wash the few inches of dust off the car from the Watkins Glen Road trip. And then the “MAZDA” debadging begun. There was some residue that was left when I peeled the original badge off. But with some serious rubbing using an Alcohol swab and Windex, it came off nicely.

I couldn’t initially decide where to mount the badge.

roadster 6

On the right where it appears in Japan instead of the MX-5 badge.

roadster 7

In the center like some folks on Miata.net have done.

roadster 5

Or on the left instead of the Mazda badge which looks a bit odd.

roadster 2

And that’s what I ended up doing. The Mazda badge looks a bit out of place where it is. So much so that later NC2 and NC3 miatas came without it on the trunk lid. Only the MX-5 badge appears. So I was happy to remove it.

The final result looks awesome, in my view:

roadster 3

roadster 4

roadster 4a

roadster 4b

The car is further personalized to my tastes, and I like it very much!

roadster 4c

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.

miata oil change mx5

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?

mobil 1 price mistake

$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.

miata wheels

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.

del val miata club meet freehold nj

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 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!