Tag Archives: Oil Change

Mazda MX-5: Miata Dip Stick Upgrade

It’s the little things that hopefully make a difference between a perfectly functioning motor and a blown one. Lately there has been a flurry of discussion on various social media channels about NC Miata owners blowing up their engines. And while some get all excited about a 2.5L swap to a Ford Fusion engine, I’d rather keep my MZR 2.0L purring like a kitten.

The obvious way to accomplish that is to keep track of the oil and make sure it’s at the correct level. The Ford or Mazda engineers that developed the original bullet design dip stick surely messed up. I don’t understand what dipshit thought that was a good idea but it’s hard as fuck to read the oil level at first glance. A more traditional design is also available and this week I shelled out $15 bux for it on eBay to get a little more peace of mind. (I paid much less after discount but the listing price is indeed $14.89)

Anyway, I like the result of this upgrade… though in these photos the bullet is more clear to see. That obviously isn’t always the case.

Besides the difficulty to read there have been reports of brittle plastic handle breaking (shattering in small pieces sending plastic debris into the engine) so hopefully my upgrade killed two birds with one stone.

BMW Z4 Roadster Maintenance Day

Today was a Bimmer maintenance kind of day… after taking the car out yesterday to get new rear tires installed I had to talk the owner into doing oil and all the filters change… after all it’s been nearly a year since the last oil change I did on this car.

Interestingly enough the Bridgestone Potenza’s the car had fitted only 20k miles ago were bald. So she went with a newer Bridgestone run-flat that seems to be a much softer tire, drives smoother.

…and it was significantly cheaper price wise than the Potentza’s.

Driving the car to the tire place I noticed the TPMS was illuminated on the dash… turns out someone tried to patch the run flat…

I liked the idea of two jacks lifting the whole car up, I went and ordered a second jack for my garage. Lucky for me Sears had one deeply discounted. I picked up a Craftsman low profile 2 1/2 ton jack for $23 dollars out the door!

Driving the Bimmer I also realized that as similar as this car is to my Miata, it’s significantly different also. Besides the obvious 6 cyliner vs. my 4 cylinder, it has a bigger fuel tank too.

old vs. new tires

When I got home I also went shopping for some Air Filters. I had already ordered the oil and oil filter from Walmart previously, by far the best place to buy oil at only $26 bux a jug for 5QT and $8 bux each additional QT… and another $10 for the oil filter. I went with Castrol EDGE 0W40 Euro Formula like last time.

Walmart didn’t have the air filters. So I shopped around and it’s amazing how arbitrary the pricing is. Both online and in store. Advance Auto had it the cheapest, the Wyckoff store had both the Air Filter and the Cabin Air Filter for $23 total. (*$4 off per filter), I had some gift cards I wanted to use up so I went to the store and the price there was not discounted showing up at $33 total. So I stood at the counter and placed the order on the Internet. It showed up in their system 5 minutes later and I walked out with the same product for $10 bux less than what they sell ins tore. I didn’t get a chance to use my gift cards though… Touche!

I did some more research for the identical filters online and Pep Boys had the air filter two bux cheaper, but cabin filter was nearly double the price… and I’m talking the same exact Purolator stuff.


I love this Bimmer. I got to drive it long before I bought my Miata and in many ways this car inspired me to ditch a big four door sedan and start looking for a little red convertible, my very own roadster.

Much like last year the weather was kind of iffy… but the rain held off

I tackled the Air Filter first… as expected there was a lot of debris…

I don’t believe it was changed in a long time… comparison of old vs. new below:

The Cabin Air Filter was next, and it wasn’t much better. A ton of leaves came falling down out of the cabin filter slot:

So I made sure to vacuum everything in there to make it nice & clean

And the final job was to do the actual oil… first time using my new Craftsman jack, fresh after being picked up in store just minutes ago

Using two jacks makes life so much easier!

It’s amazing that this little car uses almost 7 QT’s of oil… it seemed like it was pouring out there forever:

I left the thing unplugged for a good half hour so all the oil dripped out, but when I went to button it up it was still dripping!

While waiting for the oil to drain I did the filter change on top of the engine which is very convenient!

I don’t know how these mechanics do it… it wasn’t particularly hot day, maybe in the upper 70’s F and I was sweating bullets!

Had to go take a shower when the job was done…

Filling up with oil took no time, and unlike last time when I poured 6QTs in and bought another one of which only half was used, I went ahead and poured in 6.9QT like the forums recommended. The car has no dip stick so I relied on the onboard computer for the read out. The level went up when I went for a drive. And I was more comfortable with it being over half on the read out than on the first mark like in the previous time I did the same oil change. Car felt super smooth after the oil change. I’m really pleased with the way everything worked out.

And it’s time to return the car to it’s owner… What a joy it is to drive!

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.

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:




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





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


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



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














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







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.

BMW Z4: Oil Change with Castrol Edge 0W-40 Euro & Mann HU 816 X Oil Filter

Today’s little project was an oil change on my former bosses BMW. This particular Bimmer was my only chance to drive a manual / stick car in the US and I’ve had the privilege of running some errands in it since it was new in 2007. In fact this Bimmer inspired me to buy my Miata, not that the Mazda is in any way better than the BMW, it’s just something that I could afford. And the reason for me doing the oil change and not a local shop that I took this car to yesterday was also cost… I was quoted $124 all in at an oil change joint while the DIY cost me less than $50 bux!

To start I went on the forums to research what oil to use, how the oil change should be done, etc… The forums were a fucking mind fuck! Holly shit… do these people get carried away with their bullshit and without really answering the questions presented to them. So the purpose of this blog post is to share what I’ve done to my friend’s car and hopefully it will help someone in the future with a similar project on their car.

So BMW recommended Castrol in 2007, says so on the oil cap. I searched for the Castrol products. BMW Z4 takes 5W-30 oil weight and boss wanted synthetic. Great… I searched around, WalMart was cheapest at $25 for 5 quarts and another $7.50 for the 6th quart (of which the engine apparently takes between six and seven)… and all was good. Once I picked up the oil at the store and looked on the back, nothing was mentioned about BMW certification. So I searched for the “German Castrol” that everyone recommended on the forums. Luckily WalMart carried Castrol Edge European Formula (Made in Germany as opposed to Made in USA) but only in 0W-40 weight. I searched the forums again to see if it would work. Reached out to a few people I know who own or work on BMW Z4’s and they said that oil will work. The in-store price of the oil was even cheaper at $22.97 a jug! (Whereas Advance Auto Parts or AutoZone sell the same thing for $35+). I did order a Mann Oil filter from Advance using their famous 20% discount coupon to buy the Mann HU 816 X for just $9.99 plus tax.

That was yesterday. Early this morning I went to the office to pick up the Bimmer and bring it home. Figured the engine would warm up nicely while I drive it the 5 miles home… It certainly did. Perhaps even too much as everything in the engine compartment was scalding hot. And then it started raining… so my oil change was in the wet… Just my luck!

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The actual process of an oil change in this car, that for some weird European or maybe German reason doesn’t even come with a dip stick anymore, is fairly straight forward and simple. Only a few steps. I started by undoing the filter which is on the top of the engine. A strap wrench worked fine while many forum posts recommended a “special” tool… old filter was pretty filthy. Popped the new filter in, changed two O-rings, put some oil on them and screwed it back in.

Getting under the car was tricky much like the Miata. But I figured using two jacks would get the job done. I used a 3 ton Sears jack to raise one side. For the other side I used a scissor jack from my Ford Explorer to raise it high enough for my fat belly to fit under the car. Once there I was expecting to find an aluminum door that covers the bottom of the drain pan… it was missing. So I had direct access to the 17mm nut which came off pretty easily. Drained the oil, put a new crush washer on the nut to tighten it back up. Filled the car up with new oil… and voila!

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Next step was to reset the on-board computer so the oil light doesn’t come on. There are two buttons right above the steering wheel closest to the instrument cluster. Held one button down while turning the key one click, held for five seconds and the display changed to something I couldn’t really read. I assume it reset. Took the car for the drive back to the office and selected the “Oil” setting on the dash and the diagnostic said OK… that’s the electronic dipstick at work… but it was showing oil on the first mark, so I’ll buy another quart of oil to top it off to at least mid-point on the dipstick.

bmw z4 oil change castrol edge 0w40 mann filter 14

bmw z4 oil change castrol edge 0w40 mann filter 15

Easy peasy!

I had such a Jeremy Clarkson moment that “I mended something!” I decided to change the oil on my dad’s van too…

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan that now runs Mobil 1 5w-30 synthetic.

dodge grand caravan oil change mobil 1 5w30 synthetic 1

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Mazda MX-5: Oil Change at 7,000 Miles with Pennzoil Platinum 5W20 and K&N Oil Filter HP-1002

Today was a good day to work on my car, so I did my fourth oil change, again going with Pennzoil Platinum 5W20 and K&N oil filter HP-1002. Based on a recommendation from a friend who uses this oil and filter he suggested changing the oil at 8,000 miles. But being I’m going away for a month and the car has been performing a little duller than usual over the past few days I decided to change mine at 7,000 miles.

The oil looked much better than the previous Mobil 1 I changed at only 5,000 miles. It felt more viscous to the touch and not as dark. But it was dark nonetheless so I’m happy I changed it. Car got it’s pep back as I took it for a test drive afterwards.

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I really like the quality of the K&N oil filter (HP-1002) they come individually sealed and looking inside seem to be a sturdy product. When I dumped the old oil out of it into the catch can it was thick and dirty, so the filter did it’s job well.

mazda mx-5 miata oil change pennzoil platinum and k and n filter 2

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One observation about the K&N oil filter though, there seemed to be some seepage from the top of it going down. There was a clear mark of oil around the rim, and some collected on the very bottom. Not particularly sure why this was. The filter was on tight!

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To remove the filter I used a mod someone posted about on Miata.net cutting the top of a bottle and placing it over the filter to remove it off the car. However, my attempt didn’t go so well, the oil was going all around the bottle contraption, so next time I’ll just remove it like I’ve had in the past without using any aides, the results seem to be just as messy.

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Engine nice and clean, next oil change will probably be in the winter.

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change at 5,000 Miles with Pennzoil Platinum 5W-20 and K&N HP-1002 Filter

I’ve been looking forward to replacing my Mobil 1 synthetic with something different. This season I will be trying Pennzoil Platinum to see how it wears in my Miata. I bought two jugs last time there was a good deal on this product, a 5W-20 weight and a 0W-20 weight that I plan on using for the winter season. The deal came with a K&N HP-1002 oil filter that has a few neat features: 1). the top of the filter is nicely sealed in plastic so no crap finds its way in there while it’s in the box and 2). it has a convenient spot on the bottom for a wrench to slide in and tighten or un-tighten it which makes a world of difference in a tight space where the MX-5 has it’s oil filter.

The oil change has been done at 42,459 miles which is 5,162 miles since the last one and just a week since my 3k mile road trip to Florida. I was not terribly surprised to see how dark the Mobil 1 synthetic got after just 5k miles. They advertise extended range performance of 10k and even up to 15k miles, but I wouldn’t use it much longer than my 5k. I noticed after draining the old oil to return it to Advance Auto Parts for disposal, there were a bunch of tiny metal shavings at the bottom of the pan. That’s not very nice to see. And finally, I must be good at draining all the oil out of the engine because when I refill the car with new oil and crank it up I get a little sound of a knock before the oil spreads through the engine properly. I’ve been following my dad’s advice to false start it a few times for the oil pump to spread the oil, but obviously the few false cranks I did weren’t enough. That had me a little nervous about damaging the engine by hearing that noise which happened for a fraction of a second, but long enough for me to hear it.

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Hopefully the next oil change will be around October time at the end of the year so I can put the Pennzoil 0W-20 for winter use and not keep this oil much longer than I’ve had it already.

Mazda MX-5: Oil Change Deal! Pennzoil Platinum + K&N Filter $22.99

This post may be useful to a very small subset of readers, geographically located near an Advance Auto Parts store in the US with a requirement to purchase Pennzoil Platinum 0W-20 or 5W-20 fully synthetic engine oil and a K&N HP-1002 oil filter for cheap.


Less than 100 miles since my last oil change I came across this nice deal from Pennzoil and Advance Auto Parts. While Walmart generally sells the same Pennzoil Platinum oil for $22.99 every day of the week, with this deal you get a $9.99-$13.99 K&N filter for free… of course you pay $32.99 upfront and get a $10 Pennzoil rebate in the mail. Walmart isn’t participating in the rebate or this deal would have been even sweeter. The regular price for this oil is $36.99 at Advance Auto and other auto stores like AutoZone or PepBoys. I’m looking forward to giving it a try sometime next year. This combo came highly recommended by Jason who says he changes Stevie’s oil every 8,000 miles. Sounds good to me! Certainly better than the 5,000 miles I got out of Mobil 1 fully synthetic and the M1-102 Mobil 1 oil filter.

hello stevie 8 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 10 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 11 mx-5 miata

PS. I got two sets of the oil and filters. One set Pennzoil Platinum 0W-20 which is the same weight that I currently use with Mobil 1, and one set Pennzoil Platinum 5W-20 which is what is listed on the oil cap of the car (this was changed to 0W-20 in newer model NC’s). I want to see if there’s any difference in using one oil over the other. All in due time of course.