Page Contents
2006 MX-5 Miata - February 2006
A/C Tune-Up - August 2000
Aggressive Driving - October 2003
Air Horn Installation - March 2000
Air Horn Maintenance - September 2000
Alloy Wheel Refinishing - February 2001
AM-FM-CB Miata Antenna Splitter - October 2008
An Introduction from The Tech Guy -September 2003
Automotive Performance - November 2001
BMC Use of CB Radio & Driving Etiquette - February 2008
Car Care - June 2000
Cat-Back Exhaust Swap - January 2001
CB Hearing Help - August 2007
CB Problem - June 2007
CB Radio over Miata speakers - June 2012
Changing Oil Filter - September 2005
Changing the Timing Belt - September 2005
Cool Breeze Scoop - August 2007
Cooling System Maintenance - June 2013
Detailer Cost Savings Tip - August 2009
Exhaust Hangers - May 2007
Front Strut Tower Brace - May 2001
Front Swaybar Bushings Replacement (originally written for 1990-97 cars) - January 1999
Fuel Pulsation Damper#2 Replacement (NB) - September 2013
Getting Ready For Spring #1 - March 2001
Getting Ready For Spring #2: Start Your Engines - April 2000
Gimme' a Brake - July 2002
Hand Brake Adjustment - September 1999
Headlights Left On Reminder - June 2001
Introduction to Tech Tips - Brief Winter Storage - December 1998
Kar Kare - April 1991
M1 Spare Tire Relocation - March 2007
Miata Engine Computer Self Diagnostics - March 1999
Miata Hibernation - November 1999
Miata Hibernation Update - November 2007
Miata Maintenance Schedule - November 2000
More Cruise Controling - June 2006
Nice Sounds - May 1999
Oxygen Sensor - April 1999
Preventative Maintenance Schedule Discussion - Oct 2006
Preventative Maintenance Schedule List - Oct 2006
Put The Brakes On - July 2000
Replacing Your Miata Top By Yourself - March 2004
RPM vs MPH spreadsheet - September 2015
Shift Turret Boot Replacement - October 1999
Spring Tune Up - June 1999
Synthetic Motor Oil - January 2007
Tires and Wheels - January 2000
Tire Talk #1 - April 2001
Tire Talk #2 - March 2002
Tire Talk #3 - April 2002
Tire Talk #4 - August 2009
Unzip - Protect - Cover - July 1999
Wheel Alignment - May 2000
Would You Choose to Cruise? - September 1991

Calculate your MPH vs RPM for Any Car (by Don McCann)

I developed an Excel spreadsheet to calculate MPH vs RPM or RPM vs MPH for different cars as long as you know gear and final drive ratios. It can also be use for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears.

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NB Fuel Pulsation Damper#2 Replacement (by Craig Hodne)

On the beautiful drive up Hwy 55, Mary complained about the odor of gas, and I initially was quite defensive about it. Then I realized she was talking about a gasoline smell, and I could detect it also. Just a whiff whenever we stopped or slowed way down. It hadn't been noticed before filling up, so did I over-fill the tank? Was the EVAP system flooded with raw fuel? A peek under the hood did not show anything, so we continued with our journey. After a while, we no longer smelled the gasoline.

In mid-week, I fueled up the Miata and went for an afternoon ride exploring Shawano, Waupaca, and Portage counties looking at real estate for sale. The odor of gasoline was present, stronger than before. By the time I arrived home, I reeked of gasoline and was almost not allowed into the house. Something must be leaking - duh!

The scan tool did not show any error codes, so this was to be a visual search. The Miata went up on jack stands, and the splash shield came off to allow inspection from below. With the engine running, I could smell it, but could not see anything. The view from the top side didn't reveal anything, either. Finally, shining a bright light into a little 'tunnel' between the cam cover, the intake plenum, the throttle body, and under a massive bundle of wire - I saw a drip, drip, drip. A drop every 5 seconds, or so. It was coming from a device attached to the front of the fuel rail. With 65psi of fuel pressure, it wasn't much of a leak - but it wasn't getting better!

The part is called a Fuel Pulsation Damper, and is the second of two. The other is located in an easily accessible place on the passenger side of the chassis under the hood. This is the story of how to replace Fuel Pulsation Damper #2.

Some disassembly is required:

  1. 1. Begin by removing the air crossover tube. Simply loosen the hose clamp on each end and slide it off.
  2. 2. Disconnect the numerous electrical connections at the front of the engine, and also the EGR connector at the rear of the intake manifold.
  3. 3. Remove the bolts holding the plenum to the intake manifold. There are six bolts on top, and two at the front under the throttle body. Also remove the several hoses from the connections on the plenum and throttle body. Have a plug to insert into the coolant hose under the throttle body so as not to make a mess.
  4. Lift the plenum up to clear the alignment pins and tilt the plenum clear of the intake manifold. Note the metal gasket - handle very carefully or plan to replace it.
  5. Stuff clean rags into the intake ports to ensure you don't drop any small parts into the intake!
  6. There is the Fuel Pulsation Damper at the end of the fuel rail.
  7. Remove the three bolts holding the fuel rail to the cylinder head.
  8. Carefully pull the fuel rail away from the cylinder head to gain access to the two bolts holding the Fuel Pulsation Damper to the fuel rail. Note: There are three non-magnetic spacers where the three bolts attached the fuel rail to the cylinder head (ask me how I know they are not magnetic). Move these to a safe place until needed for assembly.
  9. Remove the two small bolts holding the Fuel Pulsation Damper to the fuel rail and pull it out. It is sealed inside the fuel rail, by an O-ring.
  10. Insert the new part into the fuel rail and fasten with the two bolts.
  11. Reassemble in reverse order. Be careful putting the fuel rail back into position so as not to damage the seals on the injectors.

    All the fasteners are cadmium plated to avoid iron-aluminum corrosion. Apply an anti-seize compound to the threads before inserting. Use a torque wrench for proper tightening.

    • FPD - 69.5-95.4 inch-lbs
    • Fuel Rail - 14-18 ft-lbs
    • Plenum Chamber - 14-18 ft-lbs
    • Fuel Distributor Bracket (inside/under plenum) - 69.5-95.4 inch-lbs
  12. Reattach all hoses and the air crossover tube.

This article with photos available here.

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2006 to 2013 MX-5/Miata (NC/M3) Engine Coolant Replacement (by Terry Lucas)

Never open the cooling system (cap or loosen the radiator drain plug, etc.) while the engine is running, or when engine or radiator are HOT and/or under pressure. Turn the engine off and wait until it is cool! When you are sure all the pressure is gone, press down on the cap using a thick cloth around it for protection, slowly turn cap counterclockwise to the first stop to relieve any pressure, and then remove it.

Use a Long Life engine antifreeze/coolant with an ethylene-glycol-based at a 50% coolant & water (conditioned - distilled or soft - demineralized) concentration. This provides protection, freeze to -34 F & boiling to 265 F with a Specific Gravity of ~ 1.083 at 60F, right for our upper Midwest climate.

Mazda designates this type, LL coolant as 'FL22' (sold as a 55C/45W concentration at $25/gal), as noted on or near the cooling system cap.

Appling more than 18 psi, pressure or vacuum, to the cooling system may damage the hoses, fittings and other components; and cause leakage.

Replacing Engine Coolant - a DIY procedure from the 2006 Work Shop Manual:

First change is at 120,000 miles or 10 years, then at 60,000 miles or 5 years there after. Coolant System capacity is ~ 8 qts or two gallons - 4 qts LL antifreeze/coolant and 4 qts conditioned water.

  1. 1. Remove the cooling system cap on the coolant reserve tank, following the above Warnings. Perform an optional pressure test of the system using a commercial radiator cap pressure tester as follows:
    1. Install the tester securely to the coolant reserve tank filler port.
    2. Apply pressure using the tester to 14 - 18 psi maximum.
    3. After pressurizing the system verify that it maintains the pressure. Any pressure gauge drop is an indication of leakage.
    4. Identify, repair and/or replace all defective components found to be leaking including cooling system cap (pressure tested per step 7* below). It may be difficult to see all system components due to the layered & cramped engine compartment.
  2. Remove the radiator drain plug (located at the bottom of the radiator under the car on driver's side) and drain the system coolant into a suitable container for quantity determination (see step 4 below) and proper disposal. Coolant reserve tank should now be empty.
  3. Flush the system with conditioned water until it runs clear - all traces of color are gone. Use of a cooling system 'cleaner' type solution during the flush was not indicated in the Manual. If the reserve tank is dirty, remove and clean it at this time.
  4. Let the system drain completely. There is no engine block drain port or plug identified in the Manual. If the system does not drain completely - likely, since the heater core appears to be below the connecting hoses & tubes, inhibiting drainage. Determine how much water is still in the system by subtracting the measured amount of fluid that was drained out at step 2 from the total system capacity of 8 qts. This amount of residual water will reduce the quantity of water needed to be mixed with coolant to achieve a 50C/50W ratio. If this quantity of water is less than 1 qt (~12.5%), use of a 55C/45W coolant ratio could be used directly to get an approximate 50C/50W concentration. This mixture is referred to as 'new coolant'.
  5. Tighten the radiator drain plug and any components found leaky during a pressure test of the system.
  6. Refill the system with 'new coolant' at the coolant reserve tank up to the 'F' mark on the tank.
  7. Install an acceptable* cooling system cap at the coolant reserve tank. * Clean & inspect the installed parts of the cooling system cap. Use a radiator cap tester to pressure test cap sealing at 14 to 18 psi maximum.
  8. Start the engine and warm up the system coolant by idling engine.

Caution: If the coolant temperature gauge rises to high, stop the engine to decrease the coolant temperature and to prevent overheating. Then, identify the cause, and repair troublesome components. If the coolant level in the coolant reserve tank falls below the 'L' mark during this engine coolant 'air bleeding or burping operation', stop the engine, after system cools, and add new coolant to the 'F' mark. Then resume the air bleeding operation.

  1. After the engine warms up properly, perform the following steps of the engine coolant air bleeding operation. Watch the coolant temperature, if to high stop the engine to prevent overheating the system.
    1. Run engine at approx. 2,500 rpm for 5 minutes.
    2. Run engine at approx. 3,000 rpm for 5 seconds, and then idle.
    3. Repeat step (2) 4 to 5 times.
  2. Stop the engine, and inspect the coolant level after the coolant temperature decreases. If coolant is low repeat steps 6 thru 9.
  3. . Finally inspect for engine coolant leakage and verify that the level of engine coolant in the system coolant reserve tank is at normal, between the 'L' and 'F' marks. If coolant is below 'L' mark when cool, add 'new coolant' to the 'F' mark.

Options for replacing engine coolant for non-DIY's:

Use of a 'PowerFlush' vacuum coolant flush & exchange apparatus is an efficient and time saving process, albeit expensive, at $100 to $150. They are reported to 'completely' remove all old coolant by vacuum withdrawal, then replacing with new coolant while releasing the vacuum, without admitting any air. As a result this process doesn't require an engine coolant air bleeding or burping operation.

Another more inexpensive, $50 to $100, replacement procedure to have done is to drain the old engine coolant at the radiator, then replacing it with a like amount of new coolant and burping the system. This method does not remove all of the old coolant, thus diluting the new coolant added by an amount of the residual coolant not removed, estimated to be 1 to 2 qts, or up to 25%. Is this a problem – probably not if the residual is less than 2 qts, but clearly defeats the purpose of replacing all the coolant in the first place. At any rate, doing this procedure yourself costs only 1 gal of antifreeze / coolant, ~ $ 10 to $15, (same as 'Replacing Engine Coolant Procedure' above without the optional inspection and pressure test) time and energy to do - less than the Manual procedure above.

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CB Radio over Miata speakers (by Don Mcann)
The sound quality of your CB radio can be greatly improved if it comes through your Miata speakers. However, your CB radio must have a 3.5 mm jack, and your car radio must have a 3.5 mm MP3 port. You will need two parts: a 3.5mm mono male/stereo female connector, and 6 feet of stereo MP3 cable with a 3.5 mm male plug on both ends. Here is how it works:
  1. Plug the mono male end of the connector into the CB radio jack.
  2. Plug one end of the MP3 stereo cable into the female stereo end of the connector.
  3. Plug the other end of the MP3 stereo cable into your Miata radio auxiliary jack.
  4. Turn on the CB radio with volume set at mid-range (you can increase it later).
  5. Turn on the car radio, select AUX and increase volume until your hear a voice (select a weather channel on your CB radio for test).
  6. The CB radio sound should now be coming through the left and rights speakers on your Miata. Adjust the volume on the CB radio and the Miata for best sound quality.

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Tire Talk #4 (by Terry Lucas)

Tire Talk - Inflation +

In a recent CAR TALK article in my local paper by Tom & Ray Magliozzi, the "Click & Clack" brothers, I found one of the their few informative pieces titled These tires should be full of hot air, but aren't. It dealt with proper tire care and inflation which are problems we all experience and need to deal with. Someone wrote in that the tires on his 2000 van which are on alloy wheels (aluminum rims) loose air on a regular basis. He was questioning his mechanic who said that the tire rims need to be cleaned and sealed about every two years, because alloy wheels collect residue that gets between the tire bead and the rim. Tom & Ray answered that there are lots of alloy rims in use and those tires are holding air. They suggested looking at the tire valve stems and/or oxidation on the inside of the rims which prevents the bead of the tire from sealing against the rims. Valve stems can crack or deteriorate and get porous, thus allowing air to slowly leak out. 30 million Chinese made valve stems were recently recalled for potential leaks because they failed ozone requirements. Other possible causes of leaky tires on alloy wheel are porous castings (the nature of the beautiful beasts), and ozone cracking in the tire side walls or even on the tread!

So with that in mind, other information I have accumulated over the years and recently experienced, I decided to share this knowledge with you. First the experience - last August while driving the '06 home from a short ride in our area another driver told us our RR tire was going flat. I had no indication that this was happening - either by feel or look. I normally check the tire pressure on both our cars at the end of each month, it was OK then. We couldn't find air to pump it up (the on board air pump didn't do the job because I was too late in using it) and of course the M3's don't have a spare, so I tried driving slowly the short distance home. The tire was destroyed by the time we got home requiring replacement since the original Yokohamas had over 30k miles on them, pretty much end of life.

From Joe Menigoz's April 2001 TECH TIPS - Tire Talk he wrote of the importance of proper tire inflation, 28 PSI cold is best for all around driving conditions. Rotating your tires every 5-6K miles helps increase tire life by distributing the wear more evenly. Tires over time, even with good tread on them, will lose grip and handling characteristics because of what the elements (especially the sun's UV rays) do to harden the tire compound resulting in hair-line cracking on the side walls and tread, causing leakage.

Driving on an under inflated tire (-5 to 10 PSI) causes the tire to overheat which can often quickly lead to failure. Under inflation also reduces fuel efficiency and tire tread life; they will wear faster, and can affect the vehicle's handling and stopping ability. Because tire pressure varies directly to temperature the low tire pressure indicator (TPMS), if you have one, may come on unexpectedly. Follow your vehicle's tire inflation guidelines as specified on the tire information label and in the owner's manual. A good practice is to manually check your tire pressure monthly when cold. This means the vehicle has been parked for at least 3 hours out of direct sunlight. Even tires that are in good condition may lose 1 to 2 PSI each month, anything greater found periodically is a sign of other tire problems, like being 'nailed' or 'screwed'. Visually check your tires periodically by examining them for damage, foreign objects, tread (excessive or uneven wear) or side wall bumps, bulges, cuts, splits, and/or cracks - replacing them accordingly, in sets.

Finally, a word about using pure nitrogen gas instead of compressed air in your tires. With nitrogen, your tire pressure will remain constant saving you a small amount in fuel and tire maintenance costs because the smaller nitrogen molecules are less likely to migrate through the rubber than the ~21% oxygen found in air. Air also contains 78% nitrogen and the rest water vapor. So, when using nitrogen, there will be less moisture inside your tires, meaning less corrosion on your wheels. However, not expect to feel any difference in braking, handling, or the ride, just pressure stability at a cost.

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Detailer Cost Savings Tip (by Bruce Gerner)

I know most of you are like me and are continually wiping down your car. One of the nicest products that has come out the last several years is the detailing sprays. Turtle Wax Ice, Armor All Ultra Shine, Meguire's Ultimate Detailer, and Wizards Detailer to name a few. These are all fine products and do a great job between washings. Actually my car seldom gets washed because I just keep it detailed almost every day and I know some of you do the same. Admit it. One of the drawbacks of these products is the cost. Anywhere from $7 to $12 dollars for a bottle that you can get probably 6 or so cleanings out of. Not real bad but if you detail often the price gets up there.

So here is the saving tip. Save the spray bottle that the detailing spray comes in and refill it with some water and liquid wax. I tried this with several brands of liquid wax like Zymol, Turtle Wax, or Wizard's Shine Master. I really don't see why and liquid wax wouldn't work. I took about a shot glass of liquid wax and some hot water and shook it up in the spray bottle. The wax seemed to stay fairly well suspended if you shake occasionally and sprayed on the car the same as the detailing spray for a fraction of the price. Zymol left a very light residue similar to hand waxing but is easily removed with the blue towels that we all own and love. I also use my mixture on the wife's red Mazda 6 and it looks beautiful. You get that waxed shine and slippery/smooth as glass feel. Because it is so inexpensive you don't have to spare the spray, just wipe it off while it is still wet. One bottle of liquid wax will make a lot of detailer and probably last all summer. I did find that you can overdue it and you can add too much wax to the mixture, so less is better than more. Enjoy.

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AM-FM-CB Antenna Splitter sold by Jeff Anderson (from Don McCann)

This Tech Tips article is from Jeff Anderson who makes and sells an antenna splitter for Miata/MX-5 cars.

USA & Canada, only - for use only with a factory Mazda Miata antenna
by Jeff Anderson
Destin, FL 32501

    Splitter last updated 9/08
  • Allows the Miata's AM/FM antenna to also be used for CB
  • Eliminates scratches from a magnetically mounted CB antenna
  • Easy in-trunk installation that can be left in place
  • Special made for high performance with each type Miata antenna
  • Great for club drives and caravans to Miata events
FA90-1 (1990 and 1991)..................... $93.50
FA92-7 (1992 thru 1997)..................... $93.50
FA99 (1999)...................................... $93.50
FA06-0*(2006 thru ----)........................ $93.50
*Requires replacement screw-on antenna mast (not provided) see below.

PA92-5 (1992 thru 1995)..................... $93.50
PA96 (1996)...................................... $93.50
PA97 (1997)...................................... $93.50
PA99-05(1999 thru 2005).................... $93.50
(prices are subject to change)
Plus shipping and insurance (payment method, in US funds):
USA -- $6.50 (Check, Postal or Bank Money Order)
If in Florida, add 6% Sales Tax to Antenna Splitter cost
Canada -- $9.95 Flat Rate Envelope (USPS mailed, not UPS) cost w/o insurance
available (payment: Postal Money Order in USD). Or when requested,
$17.00 Priority Mail International with $63.78 indemnity included.

Payment (in USD) may alternately be by PayPal (non-credit card).
Your PayPal payment transaction must be funded with funds in your PayPal account, or bank account, not by a credit nor debit card.

Payment is not accepted in advance of availability. Email your request and I'll get back to you with notification to send payment. Do not send payment until you've received specific notification.

Once payment is received antenna splitters are customarily mailed from the local post office twice or more per week.

I've been making Miata special antenna splitters for those on the Miata.net for more than ten years. I personally make them using more than 40 years of professional electronics engineering experience in radio communications and antenna designs. I can only make them as I can find time. When I don't have immediate availability I keep a waiting list to notify you when I have one available for your Miata. I attempt to maintain immediate availability, or if not, I can usually get one built for you within 30 days of your confirmed request.

All models are supplied with detailed instructions with drawings. The cable to the CB is approximately 10 feet long with a standard CB screw-in coaxial connector (PL-259). A BNC connector (type used with some CB walkie-talkies) is sometimes available by request, or an adapter can be used, Radio Shack, #278-120.

These Miata antenna splitters are special made and performance optimized for easy plug-in installation in the Miata's trunk. They can be left installed in the car with no noticeable effect on AM/FM radio reception.

They are not suitable for use with another type antenna -- THEY ARE ONLY FOR THE MIATA'S FACTORY ANTENNAS. Because of this they provide high-performance equal to or better than many commonly used types of magnetically mounted CB antennas, and do not noticeably degrade reception of AM or FM. For 2006 and later the Miata's antenna mount must be used with a screw-on replacement antenna mast.

Miata antenna splitters are built for the CB radio's 4-watt legal power limit to provide long life and very dependable operation in one of two nicely constructed boxes. The recently redesigned one is approximately 2 3/8 X 1 3/4 X 1 1/4 inches, and the previous one sometimes still available, is approximately 2 7/8 X 1 11/16 X 13/16 inches. Installation instructions continue to show drawings for the previous antenna splitter. Installation of the new version is the same.

They are made and preset for each specific Miata antenna type (or for 2006 and later, for the Miata's antenna mount with specified replacement antenna mast); however, due to variances in the Miata antenna and antenna mount from one sample to another, they may require resetting to precisely best match the antenna on your specific Miata. Without resetting, the preset user adjustment provides quite effective performance. They can best be set with a SWR meter. Instructions are provided to enable setting the splitter without using a SWR meter by just listening for maximum CB reception. SWR at band edges is less than 3:1 and typically around 1.1:1 at best-set center band CB channel.

For pre-2006's the antenna splitter's cable to the CB radio can be run directly into the car by simply folding the vertical carpet down behind a seat (for 1999 - 2005's temporarily unfastening some of the trunk's interior trim may make running the cable easier). The upper outside corner of the carpet is held in place by Velcro. Once the carpet is pulled down a hole into the trunk is exposed. The area behind the Velcro-held carpet makes a nice pocket for storing the CB cable when it's not being used. For 2006's and later, interior panels must be temporarily removed.

The short antenna on 2006 and later Miatas is too short for capturing enough CB radio wavelengths for effective CB communications range. So, for Miata antenna splitter use you'll need to replace your Miata's short screw-on antenna mast with an aftermarket mast, e.g. Metra AW-RM22 (AW-RM22B for black) 30 11/16" tall. In early 2007 they were found available for $3.99, or $4.99 in black, from O'Reilly Auto Parts. An OEM antenna mast for any 1990-99 Miata, 31 1/2" tall, can be used adequately with the antenna splitter's preset setting, or with the user setting slightly reset to best optimize. Simply rotate the Miata's short antenna mast to unscrew, and then screw on the longer fixed antenna mast. It can be left in place, or the Miata's short antenna mast can be reinstalled when not using CB radio. Running the coaxial cable antenna line from the antenna splitter in the trunk to your CB radio in the car requires temporarily removing and unfastening some trim panels in the trunk and in the car.

To maintain the Miata's power antenna extended for CB radio use while the Miata's radio is turned "off" or while its tape or CD is played:

The power antenna splitter models for pre-97 Miatas include diode-connected clamp-type wire taps that install at the antenna's plug. The antenna extends when the car's key-switch is in its "on" and accessory positions and retracts when not.

The power antenna splitter model for 97 Miatas includes a jumper wire and wire taps that connects a wire at the antenna's plug to one that's behind the trunk's rear trim panel. The antenna extends when the car's key-switch is fully "on" and retracts when "off".

1999 - 2005's
The power antenna splitter model for 99 and later Miatas includes a switch, connecting wires, and wire taps. The switch connects in series with a wire to the power antenna's plug. Once the antenna is extended, switching the switch will maintain the antenna extended until the switch is returned to its normal position and the next up/down signal is sent by the Miata radio. The switch nicely installs, out of normal view, in an easy to access existing through-hole into the trunk that's under the upper corner of the Velcro-held vertical carpet behind the driver's seat.

The splitter can be used with the power antenna without making any wiring changes if when using CB the Miata AM/FM radio is left "on" to keep the power antenna extended; or, by unplugging the antenna's power connector in the trunk while the antenna is in its extended position. For pre-97's a switch can be added to enable selecting the Miata's automatic radio/tape/CD control of the power antenna -- add the switch in series with the diode-connected wire taps (observe wire tap's color coded polarity when connecting) or for 97's, add a switch in series with the jumper wire.

Question: If the AM radio is turned on to keep the antenna extended, how is the CB radio activated? Just turn the CB radio on and the antenna stays extended? Will I still hear the AM radio or what?
Answer: With a Miata antenna splitter as long as the car's antenna is extended your CB radio is activated in its same usual way. Just turn on you CB radio to receive, and push its transmit button to talk. The car's antenna can be extended by simply turning on the OEM Miata's radio set to AM or FM (but not to CD player or cassette tape player) or by optionally installing the antenna control override switch included with Miata antenna splitters for 2003 Miatas. Reception of AM/FM radio may reduce in loudness while actually transmitting CB. The extent of sound reduction depends on the reception strength of the AM/FM radio station's signal. Complete AM/FM radio silence may occur with weak AM/FM radio station signal reception, or no sound level reduction at all for strong AM/FM radio station signal reception.


For club events a loaner CB can be installed in a Miata in just seconds, including the antenna splitter.

Desirable CB Radio Features
When looking for a CB it's best to find one that will remember the last-set channel. Their instruction books don't always tell you if they do, and some that say they don't, actually do -- at least for more than long enough to stop to eat for a while. The CB should have some type of noise reduction feature, either a noise limiter, or noise blanker (blanker is usually better, and having both is better yet). Low cost CB radios do just fine. More expensive ones often have lots of knobs or settings that just aren't needed and can get mis-set to prevent communicating as desired. Essential controls are volume, squelch, and channel selection.

Types of CB Radios
CB's are available with all the controls and small speaker in a hand-held mic. Some of those have a connector box that can be mounted under or behind the seat, under the center console, or in the trunk. The connector box is nice to have because it enables having only one wire going to the mic unit, and most have a socket for plugging in a larger external speaker. Some with the connector box have a pig-tail lead for connection to the mic unit -- with the connector box placed in the trunk forward of the spare tire (pre-99) that pig-tail lead can be extended through the hole into the cab area for connection of the mic. Although that's a nice neat location for installing the CB's connector box, as well as under the center console, those locations prevent being able to conveniently plug-in/unplug an external speaker. So, you may prefer to install the connector box in the rear area of the trunk or for even greater plug-in convenience, in the car.

If you don't have the CD player installed, for pre-99's, there is space behind the dash, under the radio, for most any CB (for larger CB's, may require breaking or cutting a bracket out of the way). Hand-held CB's are another possibility. Many of them come with a cigarette lighter plug that can be simply plugged in. Some may not be loud enough to hear in a Miata at speed, and with so many wires going to the piece you talk into tangled wires can be a problem. In actual use in a Miata the built-in antenna on hand-held CB's have very limited, and typically inadequate, communications range. The low power Family Radio Service (FRS) radios used in Miatas typically have even less range.

CB 12-Volt Power from the Car
It's best to connect CB's to a key-switched power source so the Miata's battery won't run down if you forget to turn the CB off. A source of key-switched power in 92 - 96 Miatas is the blue/black wire at the car's power antenna connector in the trunk (for 97's -- the blue wire at the relay socket for defogger behind the trunk's rear trim panel; for 99's and later there's no key switched power in their trunk). For 90 - 97, there's key-switched power under the center console at the connector for power windows, the blue/white wire (for 99's and later -- brown).

Other sources for 90 - 97 are at the fuse box under the dash from the Cigar fuse, the blue/black wire, and behind the dash at the cigarette lighter, the blue/black wire. For the cigarette lighter in 99's and later, it's a yellow wire. For 99's and later, you may be able to pull the lighter socket's housing out by the edge of the chrome piece that's pressed fit into the surrounding plastic -- pulling with pliers covered by tape or a rag will help protect the chrome piece from being scratched.

Although not as critical because of the antenna splitter's design, it's usually best to keep the CB's grounding power lead short, and run direct to the body of the car.


Note: When I don't have an antenna splitter immediately available for a Miata I can sometimes get one built in a week or so, and most always within a month. First email jeffanderson@miata.net to request information about Miata CB/AM/FM antenna splitters, or let me know you've already read current (9/2008) information about them. I'll confirm your request, and notify you to send payment when I have one built for you.

Alternately, in case you already have a Miata antenna splitter from a previous Miata, I'm now offering to rebuild Miata antenna splitters. If you have one you can send it in and I'll rebuild it for your new Miata. Unless an antenna stay up device is needed too ($10 additional) that's $50, complete with return mailing costs to the USA.

Jeff Anderson
Destin, FL 32541

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BMC Use of CB Radio & Driving Etiquette (by Terry Lucas)

This Tech Tips article is about the use of Citizens Band (CB) radios and driving etiquette during BMC caravanning, driving or touring events. It will be the basis of a Technical Seminar to learn, discuss and reinforce the information presented. This information will, hopefully, provide a greater understanding and knowledge of how CB radio communication and driver etiquette can be used to enhance our driving experience and safety.

CB Radio Service is a private two-way, short-distance voice communication and paging system for personal or business activities that doesn't require a license to use. This service is regulated by the FCC under Subpart D of part 95 of Federal Regulations. The CB radio is designed to operate on 40 channels in the 26.965 (C-1) to 27.404 (C-40) MHz Radio Frequency band. Channel 9 (base or start channel on most units) is used for emergency communications and traveler assistance. Channel 5 (4 selection clicks down from C-9) is the preferred BMC channel. The maximum legal RF output power of CB radios is 4W with high level modulation - the normal for salable systems.

A CB radio system is comprised of a transceiver, which is a combination transmitter/receiver, an antenna and a microphone. All of these components, in one form or other, are part of the CB. Numerous accessories are available to aid and enhance the ease of operation and of course will 'lighten' your wallet.

Terrain plays a big part in attaining a functional operating range. An unobstructed mountain top base station may achieve a 100 mile range while a mobile system obstructed by trees, hills, or tall buildings can only communicate over relatively short distances of 2 to 3 miles. Typically, however, mobile to mobile com-munication, like we use in our miatas, is 3 to 10 miles using a properly 'tuned' antenna.

CB's need a power source and an antenna to function properly. Most are powered from the car, either by direct connection or through the power outlet (old cigarette lighter). Some portable units use a battery pack; however, this necessitates keeping the batteries charged, probably through the same power source. Note: most power outlets lose power when ignition switch is 'off' meaning that the plug in units will lose power, thus the unit reverts back to C-9, which requires resetting the channel for the next use. The antenna is a key component of the CB system. Most BMC miatas have successfully use an antenna with a magnetic base located in the center (or slightly off center to either side) on or forward of the trunk. I use the steel panel ahead of the aluminum trunk (no magnetic mounting there) left of the center brake light on my M3. Caution: The magnetic base needs to be mounted entirely flat on the panel, which on my car has a raised body crease that needs to be avoided. A flat mount is necessary to establish a good electrical ground plain for optimum operation. Importantly, the antenna needs to be tuned to your CB radio. BMC has a SWR meter used to measure and tune antenna field-strength, which I can/will use to check and/or adjust antenna tuning as needed. Also, your antenna should be of sufficient length to get the best range - generally, the longer the better.


  1. Set your units 'volume' & 'squelch' controls to off or minimum - normally full counter-clockwise, and then turn the power on if it's a separate switch. Increase the 'volume' control until some noise or signal is heard in the speaker - adjust to a comfortable level.
  2. Select the desired CB channel.
  3. With no incoming signal present, increase the 'squelch' control to the threshold which blanks or shuts out undesirable noise. The squelch control is used to set the incoming level of the range circuit which turns on the audio output. When the incoming signal strength is below the adjusted level, the range circuit automatically shuts off the audio output, thus 'squelching' out noise . Increase the 'squelch' only far enough to prevent the noise. When the 'squelch' is set properly, the speaker will remain quiet until a signal is received. Increasing it too much will result in blockage of weak signals.
  4. When a signal is present, adjust the 'volume' level to a desirable listening level.
  5. To transmit, hold the radios micro-phone/speaker 2-3 inches from your mouth; depress the press-to-talk (PTT) button/switch, then speak clearly and slowly in a normal (low) tone of voice. Keep your message brief - less than 2 minutes.
  6. To receive, release PTT button to stop transmitting when conversation is complete. Note: Make sure the PTT is completely off, being careful not to inadvertently operating it when not in use, such as pushing or sitting on it, etc! After concluding a conversation, always wait for the channel to clear, before transmitting again. In an emergency, when you can't wait for the channel to clear, politely ask to break into the channel.

Many CBers identify themselves by names called 'handles', such as "Cannonball", "Snow Goose", etc. The use of such handles is legal and acceptable. In BMC space we use "Lead" for the lead or 1st car and "Sweep" for the last car. Other cars should use last names and/or position in the convoy or pod as their 'handles'. Examples: "Lead - turning right onto Hwy 10 after the stop sign", "Sweep - copy" (response), "Lead slow up - Lucas, car 15 (back third of pod) is stopped for traffic light", "Lead - 10-4", "Sweep - on Hwy 10", etc.

CB radio operators have universally adopted the '10' Code for standard question and answers. It enables them to communicate faster, easier and more understandably in noisy surroundings. Below are some of the most common codes used and their description. Use of these codes in BMC conversations is desirable and recommended to promote clear and concise communication during our drives, especially use those in ‘Bold’ and ‘underlined’. Note: When using the code, i.e. '10-1', you would say, "Ten one", not "One zero dash one".

Code   Description
10-1   Receiving poorly.
10-2   Receiving well.
10-3   Stop transmitting.
10-4   OK, message received.
10-5   Relay message.
10-6   Busy, stand by.
10-7   Out of service; leaving the air.
10-8   In service, subject to call.
10-9   Repeat message.
10-10   Transmission completed, standing by.
10-11   Unclear - Talking too fast.
10-12   Visitors present.
10-13   Advise weather/road conditions.
10-16   Make pickup at _____________.
10-17   Urgent business.
10-18   Anything for us?
10-19   Nothing for you; return to base.
10-20   My location is _____________.
10-21   Call by telephone.
10-71   Proceed with transmission in sequence.
10-22   Report in person to _________.
10-23   Stand by.
10-24   Completed last assignment.
10-25   Can you contact?
10-26   Disregard last information.
10-27   I am moving to channel _____.
10-28   Identify your station/position.
10-29   Time is up for contact.
10-30   Does not conform to FCC rules.
10-32   I will give you a radio check.
10-33   Emergency traffic.
10-34   Trouble at this station/position.
10-35   Confidential information.
10-36   Correct time is ________.
10-37   Wrecker needed at _____.
10-38   Ambulance needed at ___.
10-39   Your message delivered.
10-41   Please turn to channel ___.
10-42   Traffic accident at ______.
10-43   Traffic tie-up at ________.
10-44   I have a message for you.
10-45   All units within range report.
10-50   Break channel.
10-60   What is next message number?
10-62   Unable to copy; use phone.
10-63   Network directed to.
10-64   Network clear.
10-65   Awaiting your next message.
10-67   All units comply.
10-70   Fire at ________.
10-77   Negative contact.
10-81   Reserve hotel room at _______.
10-82   Reserve room for ___________.
10-84   My telephone number is ______.
10-85   My address is ______________.
10-91   Talk closer to microphone.
10-93   Check my frequency on this channel.
10-94   Please give me a long count.
10-99   Mission complete; all units secure.
10-200   Police needed at _____________.


  • Keep your parking lights on while driving. Use head lights for signaling problems.

  • Keep car in front you in view at ALL times. Don't tailgate to achieve this! Roads on some of our drives are curvy and hilly. On these 'tricky' roads, turns can be easily missed, where you may get lost if you lose track of the car in front of you. If this happens, use CB to notify group to slow until you can catch-up. Also, refer to the Route Instructions or Maps, as necessary, to find your way back to group, then keep up. Problems - slow/lost cars, break-downs, or emergencies, etc. and any unexpected route changes should be communicated by CB and identified at the breaks to all.
  • CB communication may be difficult on some roads because of the terrain. Identify yourself by name; speak clearly and directly into the microphone using the appropriate codes and/or simple language for your message. Listen for and consider feedback from others - CB or oral, as a means of improvement.
  • If for any reason you need to stop, use the CB, if you have one, or otherwise flash your head or bright lights. If someone behind you flashes their lights, pass that communication (lights and/or CB) up the line for the leader to know and take action - stop, etc.
  • Keeping a schedule is important to an enjoyable event. The later we are, the less time for breaks - food and pit stops. In order to keep the tour moving, on schedule and everyone together, please accelerate briskly and safely from stops. However, keep alert for road gravel or other such debris at stops or intersections. In those cases, please brake safely to avoid losing control and/or start slowly until you clear the intersection before accelerating to reduce kicking up something into the cars behind.
  • Always drive carefully, be safe, stay alert, keep in touch, importantly have an enjoyable time, and remember these are fun rides!

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Miata Hiberation Update (by Terry Lucas)
This article is an expansion of the Tech Tips that Joe Menigoz recommended for preparing your Miata for winter storage. Following these tips will make it easier come spring to get your Miata out and running for the beginning of the driving season. Starting and running your Miata for short periods during winter storage is not recommended for any reason. Doing so will add moisture to the engine - deluding the motor oil, and will cause rusting in the exhaust system.

Here are Joe's items covering preparation for final storage and my expansion for clarity, hopefully:
  • Wash & wax (yearly) the exterior and thoroughly clean the interior.
  • Check antifreeze for cleanliness & strength. If replacing it use a 50/50* mixture, antifreeze & engine coolant and clean tap water, distilled works well.
    * A 50/50 mixture (desirable for our area) of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) reduces the freezing point of water from +32deg F to -34deg F (-43deg F for propylene glycol extra long life antifreeze) and increases the boiling point from 212deg F to about 265deg F, when under 15lb. pressure. However, a concentration of more than 60% antifreeze/water will actually raise the freezing point and affect the boiling. That's because ethylene glycol doesn't carry as much heat from the engine to the radiator as an equivalent amount of water, which can result in overheating. Stan Tadych suggested that I pass this information along to the membership, as this does.
  • Check oil before storage, change oil & filter if necessary/ready (within 1000 miles of normal).
  • Ad STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer* additive to gasoline following directions on bottle, then fill fuel tank.

    * Ron Carlson asked that I evaluate the use of gasohol, common to SE-WI, and the use of STA-BIL for winter storage. He has had some expensive problems with the catalytic converters failure on his '99 Miata which his technical people suggest could be due to his use of gasohol & STA-BIL. My look into the use of these products for our vehicles indicated the following:

    1. STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer, comprised of only petroleum distillates, is not harmful to catalytic converters and safe for fuel injectors. STA-BIL, they say, keeps fuel (gas, gasohol/ethanol, gas/oil mixtures, oxygenated gas w/MTGB, and diesel fuel) fresh for up to 12 months. After opening and re-sealed tight, it has a shelf life of 2yrs.
    2. Mazda says that use of gasohol/ethanol (ethyl alcohol & gasoline) is permissible up to 10% ethyl alcohol (the reformulated gas oxygenator used in SE-WI).
    However, use of methanol in any proportion is not recommended because of potential corrosion damage to the fuel system. From this study I conclude that use of STA-BIL and gasohol (up to 10%) is safe for our vehicles with respect to catalytic converters and injectors. I believe Ron's catalytic converters problems are probably associated with the addition and tuning of the supercharger he installed, not gasohol or STA-BIL.

    Gas mileage is another story. I have compelling data and experience that indicates a 10-15% (about a 3 MPG) decline in fuel economy when using gasohol in my '06 MX-5. However, surprisingly, the break even point is $0.28/gal. This means that I can pay up to that much for local gasohol, which is and has been cheaper than normal (non-alcohol) gas found out of the SE-WI area. So I watch that point when filling up my tank - every little bit saves!

  • Loosen gas cap to release any pressure on the fuel system, then re-tighten cap.
  • Battery storage - Removing the battery for storage of less than 6 mo. to me is not worthwhile because of the extra work involved - it may not be for some. There's no need to disconnect it either. The 'dark' current that Joe had referred to is to my mind not really an issue. Just use an inexpensive (~$10) 12V - 2A charger with a float or maintenance (trickle charge) mode that automatic keeps the battery at full charge during storage. Having said that, if you decide to remove the battery (always disconnect negative first for safety), store it in a cool dry location (basement is good place), and charge it periodically with a 2A max. trickle charger.
  • Inflate tires to maximum listed on tire when not storing on jack stands (preferable). This keeps tires from forming annoying flat spots.
  • To prevent rusting of the brake rotors, remove wheels and wipe both sides of the rotors (back side is difficult) with a cloth or shop rag soaked or sprayed with WD40. This is easier to do when using jack stands!
  • Place steel wool in the tail pipe(s) and put a rag in the air intake snorkel (when accessible) to keep 'critters' out. This practice is optional and to me of questionable value.
  • Loosen the top latches to relieve the strain on the top and roll down side windows an inch or so to remove pressure on the top gasket seals. Do only if stored indoors, with or without cover.
  • Place a container of Irish Spring soap shaving/shred dings inside the cabin. Mice hate it and car will smell great next spring.
  • Cover car with preferably a car cover (inside or outside water proof type - as needed), an old sheet or blanket would do for inside storage.

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Cool Breeze Scoop (by Cat Anderson)

O.K., admit it, you see an article titled Cool Accessory For Your Feet by Cathie Anderson and you immediately assume that this article is all about shoes. Ordinarily you would be right, but not this time! Instead, this article is to alert you to a nifty little exterior accessory for your Miata that keeps your feet feeling as cool as a pair of Manolo Blahnik's look.

The accessory, called the Cool Breeze Scoop, is available for under $40 through Moss Motors (MiataMania.Com) or through Bruce@coolbreezescoop.com (where Tom purchased his). The scoop is an easy on-easy off piece of molded plastic that fits over your car's windshield frame when the top is down and in the glove compartment when your top is up (which I understand happens to nearly everyone except Dale Mosher on occasion). The scoop forces (or scoops?) outside air over the console and into the foot wells - providing a nice breeze for hot feet and sunburned knees. If you have ever held your cupped hand over the visor to force a breeze into your car, you will know exactly what I mean.

Tom bought his scoop at the Moab event back in May and raved about it. I was skeptical. Fourth of July, when it was in the upper 80's in Milwaukee, was the first time I got to try it out. Wow! We drove around for a bit with the air conditioner aimed at our feet, before stopping and installing the scoop (a 10-20 second project, even for the technologically impaired). The difference was immediate. It works better the faster you zoom, but we experienced a nice breeze even crawling through stop and go city traffic. At highway speed our feet were comfortable without the air conditioning on too, which was another surprise. There's a model for 90-05 cars and one for 06-07 models.

So now you too have the 'scoop' on the 'Scoop.

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CB Hearing Help (by Tom Cinealis)

Here is a little trick I did that helps both my wife and I hear the CB conversations 10 fold. The cost is from $12.00 to $20.00. It's an ear piece instead of your stock CB speaker.

The only requirement is that your CB has an external speaker jack. It's very simple. First, I took my wife shopping. (Now don't get scared or start sending me nasty emails just yet.) We went shopping to pick a set of clips to the ear headphones. You know the type, they either clip on to the ear lobe and cover the ear, or another type is the kind that goes over the ear and holds an ear bud in your ear. There is a multitude of styles and brands to pick from in a wide range of prices. Any style will do, just so they don't have a band between them that holds the earpiece on your head. It should have an 1/8" plug as well, if possible, since that's the size plug you find on most CB's.

I took the wife so that she would approve of the choice, she'd use the ones we picked out, and I wouldn't have to go back a get different set. Also she could talk the salesperson in to letting us open the packages to see if they were comfortable or not. I'm partial to the Koss brand, but that's mainly because they make a good product overall and they are a Milwaukee based company.

Next, I bought a Stereo to Mono adapter at Radio shack. Most CBs come with a port for plugging in an external speaker and most of these are the 1/8" size. You will need to match this plug to the port on your CB and to the headphones plug but most of both of these use the 1/8" plug. You want the Male end of the adapter to be mono and the female end to be stereo. (You'll have to talk to your parents about which is which if you're not sure.)

The next thing is to hook it up and try it before you do the last step. Make sure it works you're comfortable with your choice and your wife's happy. If everything is a go, the last thing you have to do is split the cord so that each ear piece has its full length of cord available for each person. Some headsets come with a little rubber band or stop at the point where the two cords come together. Be very careful to not nick the wires when cutting this off. The wires are quite small and have a minimal amount of insulation. The wires can be simply pulled apart to split them down to the plug once this retainer has been removed.

Then all you need is a good group of friend, some good roads and something to talk about. If you have any comments, concerns or upgrades for this idea drop me a line at tomc@multi-fab.com

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CB Problem (by Mike Schweiger)

For the past couple of years, we've been experiencing, on-and-off, a number of frustrating CB-related difficulties. It started in 2003, when our original CB - purchased for a song from Joe Menigoz a long time ago when he got a close-out deal on a bunch of CBs from Radio Shack - on the way to Moab, UT, up & quit. We could hear Tom Anderson & Dale Mosher (our travel partners) - but they couldn't hear us. So, we replaced that GE model with a new COBRA unit, purchased from Radio Shack in Moab. That CB, unfortunately, started acting squirrelly during the 2005 driving season. So last year, we jury-rigged the old GE model back into use; but we knew that was a stop-gap measure at best.

This year, on the advice of Paula & Ron Beckman, we sought out expert assistance to purchase a new CB and antenna. The Beckmans had found, on the advice of a trucker-relative, that the longer the antenna, the better; and the antenna should be 'tuned' to the car as well as to the CB unit. The told us about a communications store just north of Madison, where they, to quote Ron, "really knew they're stuff." And he was right! (As a quick aside, we found out Bruce & Julie Gerner get their CB stuff there as well.)

Just north of Madison, on Hwy 51/Stoughton Rd., just north of I-90/94, is Q5 Communications. Owned by Steve Witte, and ably assisted by Terry Giese, they feature performance proven CB radios & antennas with expert service work done while you wait. As we found out.

After we explained our history, and what we wanted & why, Terry came out to our Miata with a thing-a-ma-jig to see what might work best on the car. Then we went back inside & he pointed us to our new CB and antenna (at very reasonable prices, I might add): a Midland brand handheld and a Tram 46 antenna. After purchase, he brought all of it out to the Miata, hooked it up, and tested & tuned it for us right there. We tried it out on the way home - it seemed to work just fine. But the big test was to come!

We tried out the equipment on the 'Memphis in May' vacation trip last month. OH MY, we were impressed! Good reception - we could hear the front of the pack as well as the back, no matter where we were in line. And good transmission - everybody could hear us as well. The only difficulty we encountered was hearing the receiver with the top down - which can be easily fixed with Tom Cinealis' ear piece trick (see the Sept. 2006 Miata Trails).

We really recommend these guys, for quick fixes as well as new purchases. Terry said he could bring the thing-a-ma-jig out to any car & tune the antenna to the car & CB unit. So if you're having communications difficulties on BMC trips, we HIGHLY recommend you give them a visit.

Q5 Communications
6162 Hwy 51 (at I-90/94 exit 132)
Upstairs above the Pine Cone Restaurant at the Shell Truck Stop
DeForest WI 53532
608-249-7778 or 800-841-6333

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Exhaust Hangers (by Mike Schweiger)

Have you switched out your OEM exhaust system for a Jackson Racing, Racing Beat, Borla, or another nifty-sounding system? Do you REALLY like the new sound reverberating out your back-end? But have you also found that, with the new system, you're experiencing a lot of other 'sounds' when you take a corner real hard or go over rough spots in the street? Or you're just plain driving but your Miata sounds way too loud? And does your passenger not like it either? Well, have I got THE FIX for you!

In 2005, I installed a Racing Beat Power Pulse exhaust system on my 1994 Miata. I did it myself - in my own garage - faithfully followed all the instructions - used new exhaust hangers ordered from Don Miller Mazda - and thought I had a successful experience. But I found during the next club drives and especially the autocrosses I ran that year, that my Miata was just too loud. Nothing was wrong with the exhaust system, but it seemed to rattle or rub loudly against the rear bumper cover during any hard cornering. It also rattled just during regular driving, and especially going over bumps or on a rough street or road. I put up with it for a very short time and then put the old hangers back on with the same result.

Finally, I had had enough - particularly because Mary Jo didn't appreciate riding along in the really loud Miata any more. I found polyurethane exhaust hangers (part number 60-1095) from Goodwin Racing (www.goodwinracing.com), for $7.95 each (for 5 the hangers needed the total delivered price was a little more than $49).

This month I installed the new hangers - and my, oh my, what a difference! Now I know what the power pulse exhaust system is supposed to sound like! Now I know just how loud all those other rattles and rubs were! Now Mary Jo wants to ride along again! I strongly recommend to any BMC member experiencing this problem to get a set and give it a try. Replacement was quite easy - all I needed was a screwdriver to pry off the old hangers, and a little silicon spray to get the new ones on.

And they’re bright yellow!

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M1 Spare Tire Relocation (by Terry Lucas)

This article has colored pictures and is a PDF file. Click to open file: M1 Spare Tire Relocation

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Synthetic Motor Oil (by Terry Lucas)

I have long been interested in the benefits and cost of using synthetic motor oil. Recently I did a research study after having watched the evolution of synthetic oil over the years and being asked whether this oil is worth while to use in our vehicles. My study consisted of gathering, analyzing and evaluating published information, test reports and various testaments, both technical and marketing, to determine the pros and cons of using synthetic oil.

Introduction: Motor oil is the life blood of internal combustion engines. Its primary purpose is to lubricate engine parts there by reducing friction and wear. Modern motor oil is a highly specialized product developed by auto engineers and petroleum chemists to meet stringent requirements, and to perform many essential attributes. They are made from base stocks and chemical additives which together result in the desirable performance characteristics. Motor oil base stocks are produced from refined petroleum, chemically synthesized materials (synthetics) or synthetic blends - a combination of the two. Motor oil does not last forever, it does wear out! It requires filtration to remove the suspended abrasives that cause engine wear, and importantly needs to be changed and replaced when it becomes unfit for service as a result of contamination, additive depletion and chemical breakdown.

Pros: Longevity is the principal benefit of synthetic oil. They are 'proven' to last longer, thus providing cost saving extended drain intervals. Synthetics are better for cold-weather starting, short-trip driving, and high- heat/high-load operation, like hard driving in summer or towing. They are claimed to reduce engine wear, maximize fuel mileage, increase power, and improve emissions. "Full synthetic oil provides the best protection and the highest heat barrier, the temperature at which the oil breaks down." "You get what you pay for."

Cons: Synthetics cost more than conventional motor oils, from about $3/quart ($2.80/qt. for 5 qt. container at Wal-Mart) to $7/qt. on the high end, at auto dealers or oil change places. Petroleum oil of the similar grade and quality costs the least, from $1.50/qt. to about $3/qt. Synthetic blends cost somewhere in between, from $2.50/qt. to $5/qt. Conventional oil changes run about $2 a quart, while full synthetic oil costs around $7/quart. For a 4 - 5 qt. change including an extra $4 - $6 for the recommended synthetic oil filter (AMSOIL). That's an extra $25 to $30 in cost! Also, switching an older, high-mileage vehicle, to a synthetic may cause oil leakage due to the older non-swelling engine seals.

Conclusions: Synthetic oil is superior to conventional oil, but it costs considerably more. I believe synthetic blends are marginally worth while. However, you really don't need to use synthetics products unless the vehicle manufacturer specifies them - today, some do. Or if your vehicle is exposed to extra heavy-duty operation which causes higher wear and tear. Follow the manufactures recommendations for oil/filter (type & grade) and the change intervals delineated in your Owners Manual. This advice is predicated on my belief that engine designers and lubrication engineers have adequately specified and performance tested the oil and determined proper drain interval recommendations. Based on this benefit/cost study, I decided to adjust the oil/filter change intervals on my two vehicles ('06 MX-5 & '99 CR-V) from the 'recommended' 5K miles (twice/year) to 10K miles (once/year) using full synthetic oil and conventional oil filters. The savings here (~$15 annually) is based on using Super Tech products from Wal-Mart which I found to be the best bargain at equivalent quality, and me doing the work.

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Preventative Maintenance Schedule Discussion (by Terry Lucas)

Scheduled maintenance is one of the most important things that Miata owner's need to do to ensure safe and dependable operation. Your Owner's Manual delineates the Scheduled Maintenance recommended by Mazda. The Maintenance Interval Chart for the M3 (06 +), as an example, says "Number of months or miles, whichever comes first" do the following items indicated by the chart symbols: C = "Check"; I = "Inspect, clean, adjust, or repair as necessary"; R = "Replace"; or L = "Lubricate". US cars have two Schedules listed in five categories: Engine, Cooling System, Fuel System, Ignition System, and Chassis & Body. They are based on how you use your car. Follow Schedule 1 when the vehicle is operated mainly where none of the following conditions apply and follow Schedule 2 if any do apply:

  • Driving in dusty conditions with extended use of brakes and in areas where salt or other corrosive materials are being used,
  • Driving on rough or muddy roads and/or for long periods in cold temperatures or extremely humid climates, or
  • Extended periods of idling or low speed operation and/or repeated short-distance driving.

Owner Maintenance: When Refueling - Check engine oil & coolant level; brake, clutch & washer fluid level. Monthly - Check tire inflation pressure (cold). At least twice a year you should check power steering & auto transmission (except M3) fluid levels. Discoloration of transmission and differential oil indicates a brake down (turning acidic) of the lubricants. Brake and clutch fluid turns dark orange or brown in color when there is moisture (water) in the system. Coolant usually turns a dark green (or red as the case may be) color when it deteriorates because of the many different materials used in the cooling system that break down the anti-freeze additives turning them acidic.

A word about oil changes from an article titled "Oil Change? Not So Fast" by Kelly Spors: "Auto-repair garages typically remind customers when to get routine services such as oil changes and tire rotations. But often you can save money by following another guide - your owner's manual. For example, some mechanics encourage oil/filter changes every 3,000 miles by placing reminder stickers on customers' windshield. However, many owners' manuals prescribe oil changes only every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, with the lower figure applying to vehicles subject to harsh weather or use."

Some shops suggest replacing a vehicle's transmission fluid every 15,000 miles, even though many autos need it only every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, says Philip Reed, consumer-advice editor for auto Web site Edmunds.com. While getting these services more often than necessary won't hurt your auto, it may hurt your wallet. Oil changes often cost $20 to $60 while transmission fluid changes can run $80 to $100. Depending on how much you drive, the extra cost adds up. Mr. Reed says many mechanics are "scrambling to ensure they're still making money" now that autos and their essential fluids have become more durable and need less upkeep. To keep track of service, it may help to photocopy the maintenance schedule in your vehicle owner's manual. And you can see the manufacture's recommendations for a particular car when it reaches 75,000 or 80,000 miles, at Edmunds online. Keep a log of service dates and mileage for all maintenance work done. It's also a good idea to keep all your auto-repair and maintenance receipts/records/logs together in case you eventually want to sell the vehicle.

Attached is a Miata Preventative Maintenance Schedule that I put together using owner and repair manual information and many items from Joe Menigoz, BMC Tech Advisor 12/98-7/91, earlier schedules. Mine is based on the M1 (90-97), M2 (99-05) & M3 (06+) schedules and is a complete listing of preventative maintenance items. As you can see the schedule deals with both Time & Mileage items. Keep the schedule with your Owners Manual in the glove box and review it frequently to see what should be done. I hope you find this information informative & helpful.

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Preventative Maintenance Schedule List (by Terry Lucas)

The maintenance intervals in this list are provided with the assumption that you will being doing or directing the work. These are the minimum maintenance intervals recommended by the factory for vehicles that are driven daily. If you wish to keep your miata in peak condition, you may want to perform some of these items more often. It pays to do it because routine preventative maintenance enhances the efficiency, performance and value of your car. If you drive in dusty areas, tow a trailer, idle or drive at low speeds for extended periods, or drive for short distances (less than 4 miles) in below freezing temperatures, shorter maintenance intervals are recommended.

Monthly (~250 - 1000 miles) - as applicable (A/A):

  • Check engine oil level
  • Check engine coolant level
  • Check condition of coolant hoses & connections
  • Check battery fluid level & terminals condition
  • Check power steering fluid level
  • Check brake/clutch fluid level
  • Check windshield washer fluid level
  • Check windshield wiper blade condition
  • Check condition of engine drive belt(s)
  • Check tire pressure & operation of all lights

Every 3.0k to 7.5k miles or 3 to 6 months:

  • Replace engine oil & filter, lubricate all hinges & locks
  • Check & clean engine air filter
  • Check automatic transmission fluid level - A/A
  • Check condition of spark plug wires & connections, distributor cap & rotor - A/A
Every 7.5k to 15.0k or 6 to 12 months:
  • Rotate tires & check/inspect their condition, check parking brake adjustment
  • Check spare tire condition & pressure - A/A
  • Check differential & manual transmission fluid levels
  • Inspect condition of underbody including fuel lines
  • Inspect brake system including lines & hoses
  • Check/inspect steering operation & suspension components/linkage & ball joints - A/A
  • Inspect condition of entire exhaust system
  • Check/inspect condition of drive axle boots

Every 15.0k to 30.0k miles or 12 to 24 months:

  • Replace/clean air filter - A/A & normal spark plugs (platinum/iridium @ 60-100k)
  • Replace engine coolant (long life coolant @ 60-150k)
  • Inspect entire fuel system, replace fuel filter - A/A
  • Inspect fuel evaporation & emission systems including fuel cap gasket, hoses, tubes & connections
  • Check/inspect/test PCV valve, charging system & idle speed/ignition timing - A/A

Every 30k to 100k or 36 to 48 months:

  • Inspect drive belt(s) tension & engine valve clearance - adjust A/A or if noisy
  • Replace brake/clutch fluid - A/A
  • Replace differential & transmission fluid (automatic @ 72k - 90k)
  • Replace timing belt & inspect coolant pump @ 60k (M1) - 90k (M2)

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More Cruise Controling (by Terry Lucas & MJ Schweiger)

The topic this month will be adding or retrofitting a cruise control to Miata's that didn't originally have them. As I understand it, cruise controls on the M1 (90-97) are vacuum operated and on the M2 (99-05) are electrically operated according to the listing in the Moss Motors Miata catalog. I believe the M3 (06) comes standard with an electronic cruise control that is integral with the drive by wire accelerator system.

This question came from Gerry Berndt during discussions we had at the recent Mountain Miata Color Fest in Asheville, NC. He is interested in finding a retrofit or aftermarket cruise control for his Miata which he expects will provide easier over the road driving (it did for me in my new M3), like to NC or UT. I did some research on the subject by contacting local Mazda Dealer Parts/Service guys at Hall & Russ Darrow. Both indicated that Mazda doesn't have a retrofit cruise control for any Miatas (or other Mazdas I suspect) and they knew of no aftermarket units available.

Moss lists two aftermarket cruise controls in their Miata catalogs: M1 - vacuum operation, #900-985 for $169.95 (on sale 5/06 for $149.95) and M2 - electronic, #902-986 for $209.95, both listed as a do-able installation. They are supposedly equivalent to the factory installed units! I know of no other aftermarket cruise controls available, factory equivalent (preferred) or otherwise.

Question: Does any BMC member know of or found, installed (had installed), and/or used an aftermarket cruise control on their Miata? If so, please give us some feedback on your experience - what/where/when, installation ease or difficulty, what it cost, & how it's working; or where to get/purchase one other than Moss! Terry Lucas

On the website is a page called Miata Technical Files - on the top of that page is a contents box which lists all the tech file articles from the beginning of the club. The last one is called "Would You Choose To Cruise" - written in 1991 by Pat Arvan. It chronicles his thinking about adding on a cruise control to his original Miata. You can see the article by going to the link below: http://www.badgerlandmiataclub.com/techfiles.htm#cruise. The article mentions a couple of cruise control models he found - I did a quick "Google" of them and found on the Audiovox website the same one mentioned in the article. Go to http://www.audiovox.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/rebate.jsp. Then mouse over the "Find a Product" link on the left of the page; mouse down to "Mobile" - then mouse to & click "Cruise Controls" - the 1st one on the list is the one that Pat Arvan had installed on his car. After clicking on that part number, then clicking on the "Locate a Dealer" link, filling in my address & putting in 100 miles, I found many WI places to buy or order one & have it installed (I think-you'll have to check that out for yourself)


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The NEW 2005 MX-5 Miata (by Terry Lucas)

As many of you know I bought a new 2006 MX-5 Miata (M3 w/A6) Touring model in Galaxy Gray with the 6-Speed Sport AT automatic ("autostick" with paddle shifters). This will be my third Miata - the first a red '90 (M1 w/M5), next a red '00 (M2 w/A4) and then this brand new one. I got the car in mid October 2005 at Don Miller Mazda in Madison. They were the only ones in southern WI that I could find who had a straight Touring w/automatic at the time. We made a reasonable no hassle deal over the phone. I was interested in the '06 primarily because of its additional interior size and space that I expect will provide more driving comfort. I wanted/needed the bigger cockpit to better move around in, and particularly to raise my legs past the steering wheel to reduce leg stiffness that I get while cruising. I expect this will help me to drive longer distances (more than 350 miles a day), such as to Deals Gap, NC (this spring) and perhaps Moab, UT (next fall). The difficulty of entering the cockpit is about the same as the '00. However, the seating position seems lower with more effort needed to lift one's feet over the higher door sill when exiting, just another "old guy" observation.

Since the M3 appears to be "the best of the breed", I will use this Tech Tips to share with the club some of my impressions and compare the new car with its predecessor. Here are my comments on the feature by feature differences I found between the cars:

ENGINE - The 2.0L engine is based on the Mazda 3 but retuned to produce 166 hp with the A/MT, about 26 hp more than the '00 1.8L w/A4. It is stronger and more refined with markedly better acceleration performance and sound coming from the sports tuned dual exhaust. However, the higher compression requires at least 91 octane fuel verses 87 for the '00, a 14 to 20 cents a gallon cost premium. The EPA mpg is 23 city/27 combined/30 highway up slightly from 23/26/28 on the '00. I've averaged 27.9 after about 1200 mixed miles driven in cold winter temperatures, which is satisfying. This is down ~0.5 mpg from what I got in the '00 over the 6K miles and 15 months I drove it. The 6th gear is a high overdrive with a ratio of 0.582 to 1 that results in the better highway economy. The engine coolant is extended-life antifreeze good for 120K miles or 10 years and the iridium spark plugs will go 75K miles before replacement. The engine uses SAE 5W-20 oil with no mention of using synthetics; however, I find it not readily available yet. Changing the oil filter, per the owner's manual, takes 'a special tool to retighten the filter' that is to done by an 'Authorized Mazda Dealer'. Since I haven't seen the filter yet, I'm skeptical of this statement. Perhaps it is like a regular cup type wrench, I'll see when I change the oil and filter. Terry Rieck said that no 'special tool' was used when he had the oil/filter changed on his new M3 at DMM. I expect the filter to be the same as on the Mazda 3 - 2.0/2.3L, a larger size screw-on canister type.

BRAKES - The power assisted 4-wheel disc brakes with standard Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distributor (EBD) are a significant improvement due to the larger size front/rear aluminum rotor discs. The brake pedal on my '00 was hard, requiring high foot force to achieve reasonable stops, even with its ABS.

SUSPENSION - The double-wishbone front suspension has aluminum control arms while the rear uses an independent multilink setup with aluminum bearing support for weight savings. Standard front and rear stabilizer bars are used with gas-charged shocks. Steering is rack-and-pinion with engine sensing variable power assist. These features coupled with P205/50R16 - 87V high-performance radial tires make for improved dry pavement performance. Although larger in size the M3 weighs only about 25 lbs more than the M2. The ride is better, firm yet more compliant, and smoother than the '00. However, during snowy winter conditions the M3 exhibits the same poor driving and control characteristics found on the M1 & 2's without 4 - good snow tires.

FLAT TIRE - The M3 is not equipped with a spare tire - to save weight and space, with the trunk space being only marginally bigger. In the event of a flat tire - not a blowout, an emergency flat tire repair kit - a so called "Instant Mobility System", can be used to temporarily repair the tire. However, use of the IMS has many limitations such as single use of a limited life sealant, defect size (4mm max.) and location (tread only), battery powered compressor/pump with an overheating risk, driving speed and range restrictions, and subsequent loss of the tire - replacement required due to sealant contamination. A flat caused by a nail or small screw hole in the tread or road contact area can be repaired using a plug, but often means removing the wheel/tire for repair. This problem or having a blowout is where a "spare tire" would prove useful. Maybe having a tire plug repair kit in the car is the answer to the awkward and restricted IMS!

EXTERIOR FEATURES - The new "Z-fold" convertible top has a more convenient, easier to use, central release latch and a central unlock lever for releasing the top when down. The top is fully hidden when down with no tonneau cover provided; however, one would be useful to cover the two openings on either side of the narrower top. There are nice looking silver trimmed black setback bars behind each seat that provide some structural body support, and an "adjustable" - up or down plastic aero mesh screen centered between the bars - a short wind-blocker of questionable function. Clear-lens halogen headlights - high/low beam with projector type low beams are standard. The halogen fog lights, aimed to illuminate lane markings, are quite effective. The detachable (for damage protection) rear mounted antenna is more functional than the power unit I had on the '00, which regularly froze in the down position during winter.

INTERIOR FEATURES - The M3 now has side-impact air bags in addition to the normal duals in the front. There is a covered rear storage compartment behind each seat. Also, there is a lockable storage bin at the rear of the console where the fuel filler door release lever is located. They all are not as accessible as the covered storage bin in the console on the M1 & 2's. There are two cup holders under a sliding cover in the console and door-mounted bottle holders on each side. A passenger side net pocket is provided on the floor tunnel, but its use is unknown to me. A 3-spoke tilt steering wheel with a leather wrapped rim is slippery to my hands, maybe because it's new - although I washed it several times. The spokes contain controls for both audio and cruise - a nice touch and convenience!

MANUALS - The M3 Owner's Manual is pretty normal and inclusive, yet it doesn't address how the A/MT fluid level is determined - no dip-stick is present or identified, and the what-where-how details of replacing the oil filter. The manual does indicate those Service Publications, by order number, that are available through an AMD. However, the 2006 'Workshop Manual' covering the maintenance & repair procedures for the drive train (not sure it includes the engine & transmissions), body and chassis; and 'Wiring Diagram' for the entire electrical system, are not yet available - at least in 2005. Apparently one has to order them to find out their content and cost - a bummer. Maybe in time the dealers will have them to get a look at. Prior year manuals are costly, having a list price of $150 and $60 respectively, with the same questions about their content. Of the three dealers I contacted, only Russ Darrow Mazda in Greenfield answered my Email with manual cost & availability information. Hall in Brookfield and DMM in Madison didn't even respond; then after calling Hall on their local parts line, the guy was of little help - after a time he gave me the Mazda Corporate 800 number to call, which I already had. MazdaUSA.com doesn't have any manual information as did the owners-site! As yet, I don't know who is actually providing the manuals.

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Changing Oil Filter (by Don McCann)

Don McCann experienced the problems all of us oil changers have of getting at and removing the oil filters on our Miatas, especially the M2 ('99-'05) with lots of piping in the area. He solved the problems by making a tool to remove the oil filter in about 10 minutes.

Directions for fabricating and using such a tool
Materials needed:
1 - Plastic oil filter cap/cup-wrench of the appropriate size to fit the filter. I have a ‘Tru-Grip’ Type B filter wrench by Stride Tool, purchased at Wal-Mart for about $3, that fits the small Mazda Miata #6607 filter and a larger one.
1 - Carriage bolt, 3/8-dia by 2.75" - 3.00" long.
1 - Piece of 1/2"dia electrical conduit cut to a length of 1.75" with the ends squared up.
1 - Flat washer, 3/8-dia hole, and 2 - 9/16" Nuts for the carriage bolt.

Making the tool:

  • Place the carriage bolt through the filter wrench from the inside with the bolt's square section, under the head, fitting into the 3/8" square tool opening in the cup.
  • Place the cut & squared conduit over the carriage bolt threads.
  • Add the washer and one nut - tighten this assembly.
  • Complete the tool by putting on the second nut - tightening it against the first for extra holding power.

Using the tool: Raise the front of the car using jack stands or ramps preferably.

  • Place a piece of paneling (Don's choice) or carpet runner (my choice) under the car for ease of getting underneath and clothing protection.
  • Slide your oil drip pan under the car positioning it around the oil pan nut area to catch any oil flow, where it probably is already from the oil change.
  • From underneath the car, position the tool firmly over the oil filter, then using a 9/16" open-end or box-end wrench attached to the 2nd nut - turn counter clock wise to loosen the filter. Note - Don found later that buying a 9/16" box end ratcheting gear wrench with a 5 degree offset (cost about $9) made the wrenching movement easier.
  • Unscrew and remove the filter draining it in the drip pan.
The tool can also be used to tighten the installed 'new' filter for those with hands don't have enough torque!
I found on my 2000 with lots of piping that I could fairly easily replace the oil filter from the top side under the hood using just my "Tru-Grip" filter wrench or an equivalent and a standard 3/8" ratchet wrench. There was just enough room to get my big hands with the filter wrench through the piping under the intake manifold to get at the filter, position & operate the filter wrench/ratchet tool, and unscrew & remove the filter!

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Changing the Timing Belt (by Don Gervais)

This spring Don Gervais successfully replaced the timing belt on his '93, which has the new style crank bolt that needs to be removed. Here is his synopsis of the replacement:

In preparation I studied the manuals, and read every article I can find on changing out timing belts. I had to remove the AC/PS pulley and the mounting plate to facilitate the belt swap. I followed the directions for removing the (21mm) bolt. These directions said to put the car in 5th gear, apply the hand brake, and use a long breaker bar to remove the bolt. Well, I brought home my 36" bar from work and all I did was move the car! On the '93 and the earlier models with the crank bolt change, the pulley is held in with four 6mm bolts. To solve this problem I fabricated a holding bracket that attaches to the pulley plate and the back bolt of the AC unit. This enabled me to break loose the crank bolt. Since there was no indication of any oil leaks, I did not change out the crank and cam seals. The water pump was in good shape also. I did however change the other belts as long as I had everything apart. I chose to bar the engine over slowly and cut the (timing) belt in half. I then removed the back and slid on the new belt. I think this worked out fairly well. I will provide this bracket to whoever (in the club) wants/needs it, although I am not sure if the bolt distance is the same on the 1.8 engines. If not it could be modified to fit!

The following is a synopsis of the timing belt replacement I did on my former '90, which I provided to Don as part of his preparation: I didn't run into anything strange when replacing the timing and other belts on my '90 back in 2002! Here's some advice and tips: Since you need to remove the valve cover, upper radiator hose, A/C-Alt-PS belts, and 3 or 4 timing belt covers you'll need new gasket sets for the valve and timing belt covers including some gasket cement; and this is a good time to change the drive belts, hoses & antifreeze if they need it. Also, you may find the timing belt tensioner spring weak and pulleys warn, however, this was not my case and you will probably not find them a problem either. If they are weak or lose this would be the time to replace them along with the coolant pump if its shaft is worn (wobble) or it leaks - on the new belt. Parts including the timing belt should be readily available at parts houses or Mazda dealers. I purchased my belts (Gates - the best) and gasket sets at a local Bumper-to Bumper for about $100 with a discount about 4 years ago. I found no special tools were needed! However, I had to purchase a 23mm socket or the english equivalent (15/16") as I recall to manually turn the engine from the crank/damper bolt, which didn't have to come off (in my case) because the plastic covers are split and form around the damper.

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Replacing Your Miata Top By Yourself (by Mary Hotz)

I recently decided to replace the top on my 1995 Miata by myself - mostly because I wanted to know if I could do it but also because I'm inherently cheap (my Scottish heritage I suppose). Here's a quick summary of the who, what, where, when, and how (and how much).

After quite a bit of research on the web I decided to go with a non-zip, glass window top manufactured by Robbins. That's right, NO ZIPPING and a real GLASS WINDOW for pre-1997 Miatas! I ordered the top from Cabrioworld (www.cabrioworld.com). I chose the vinyl top (same material as original top) with the rain rail already attached. This latter feature is important to remember when ordering. The rain rail is the plastic and rubber strip at the bottom of the top that catches and channels rain. If you choose to reuse your existing rain rail you'll have to remove it (requiring drilling out a bunch of rivets) and then rivet it onto the new top. Or, for $50 bucks the new top comes with a new rain rail attached. I may be cheap, but that was the best $50 I've spent in a long time. Total cost of my new top was $468.99 - $450 for the top plus shipping of $18.99.

The top arrived within a week of ordering and in great shape via UPS. It came well packaged to protect it and with decent illustrated instructions.

The tools I needed were: medium-sized Phillips and stubby Phillips screwdrivers, medium-sized slotted (for opening the bows), sturdy fork (for removing plastic rivets that hold the carpeting), 10 mm hex nut driver with a 3" or 4" extender (and power driver), needle nose pliers with good tread (for cable removal and replacement), regular pliers with the tread covered with masking tape (for clamping the bows), multi-speed drill with 1/8" bit and 3/16" bit, rivet gun and 10 rivets 4mm x 7mm long (first time I had used one - very cool tool), 3M automotive adhesive (specified in the instructions), utility knife, and putty knife (to reinstall weather-stripping).

Removing the top was straightforward and for the most part very easy. I started by removing the carpeting completely, which technically isn't necessary but prevents you from having to constantly hold it back out of the way. The less hassle the better I figured so out it came. I followed the instructions almost to the "T" except when it came to prying the top from the bows. I found this a bit difficult so I first cut the top away from the bows. This made it much easier to remove the remaining fabric from the bow. Since I threw the old top away, who cares?

The biggest challenges on the removal were the rivets that hold on the third piece of weather-stripping, and a two black plastic clips (similar to those that hold the carpet) on either end of the rain rail that were very hard to find (and weren't mentioned in my instructions). Good news is the new top didn't need these clips. By the way, be sure to wear safety glasses from the start. I pulled the carpet out without them and sure enough, the last plastic clip hit me right in the left eye...fortunately no damage.

Installing the new top was straightforward and for the most part simple, right up until the final step - replacing the metal brackets that hold the bottom of the top (is that an oxymoron?) to the car. This seemingly simple task - it's only 13 or so 10 mm hex nuts, was extremely frustrating because it required a lot of pressure to push the top, rain rail, washers, etc. onto the studs (which are mounted on the car) far enough to be able to thread the nut. Found myself cursing the engineers at Mazda on this one...if only the studs were a half inch longer this would have been a breeze! Ugh!

The last bit is to close the top for the first time. Better have some friends around for this 'cause chances are it's going to be very tight. (Especially when installing it in the middle of the winter in a not-to-well heated garage.) With 3 of us we managed to get it closed. Within a week it had stretched enough that I can close it single-handedly. The top looks great (if I do say so myself) - no wrinkles, etc. And the glass window is OUTSTANDING! And no need to screw with a stupid zipper every time I want to throw the top down. Overall I spent about 10-12 hours over 2 days on the project. With my experience I'm sure I could cut a couple of hours spent checking and rechecking the instructions and figuring out how to get at things.

All in all, a terrific experience and I'm very happy with the result. Would I do it again? Think so. But maybe not if I won the lottery!

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Aggressive Driving (by Al Smith)

Well, here I am having just woken up in in a cold sweat after dreaming of following Mike and Mary Jo around some nice quick twisties on under inflated tires. Actually, not under inflated, just set up for everyday driving.

For those of us that enjoy being a little more aggressive in our driving habits during the Miata runs or on that weekend when we pick up the map and look for some back roads to play on, a good tip is to pump up those tires. By adding a few pounds of air it can really help the sidewalls from turning under and eliminating that sloppy feeling in a high speed corner. I leave mine at 28 psi for everyday driving and pump them up to 34psi for play time. Just remember to let some air out before driving through town for regular commuting or you will have a rough riding car (especially on Madison roads).

You can also, the next time you have your car aligned, ask for a more aggressive set up but be sure to rotate your tires more often to prevent uneven wear. If your car has a lot of miles you might even want to consider going to an adjustable shock such as the Tokico Illumina Adjustables, then you can set them for whatever your preference is for that day or event. Shocks do wear out and if you are in the 50,000 mile range or so, now is a good time to replace them. An aftermarket suspension isn't much more than a stock setup to install.

Which brings me to those things by your feet, you know those pedals with the worn out rubber pads on them. If you like to play you might want to consider replacing them with an aftermarket pedal. It sure makes it easier to heel and toe. What's heel and toe you ask? It's simply being able to use your right foot to control the brake and gas at the same time to match R's, brake and downshift at the same time while going into a high speed turn or just exiting an off ramp quickly. It sounds more difficult than it actually is, it just takes practice. I'll hold a class sometime for those interested in learning the basics of heel and toeing.

Now, last but not least; when is the last time you have changed your brake fluid?

You should change it every 1-2 years minimum depending on how you drive your car and how many miles you put on it each year. It's not that difficult and it prevents corrosion in those costly brake components or worse (can you say "brake failure")?

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An Introduction from The Tech Guy (by Al Smith)

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Al Smith and I'll be filling the position left vacant the last couple of years by the untimely departure of Joe Menigoz. I only had the pleasure of meeting Joe once at the Tech Session at Don Miller two years ago. The next month, I heard of his passing away.

You know an individual has made his imprint on an organization by the way people say, "Yeah, I remember how Joe used to make everyone work on their own Miata at a garage session so they would learn how to do it, instead of just watching," or, "the things he knew about these cars was incredible!" etc...I wish I could have known him longer and learned more from him.

Five years ago I was in the market for a new car. Maybe, I said to myself (and my wife), an Alfa would be nice, or maybe a Triumph. A friend of mine kept telling me to get a Miata. I didn't even know really what a Miata was: so that shows how much I even noticed them on the road. Finally, I broke down and took a test drive. After that I said, "I want one!!"

For the last five years, I've been a proud owner of a 1995 model (in red of course.) I've done some modest modifications including a Jackson Racing CAI, lightened flywheel, cat back exhaust and an interior makeover with body modifications planned for over the winter. The Miata has grown on me by surprising me with its incredible handling and overall fun factor. While I may not be an experienced mechanic, I do love to tinker with my Miata and I hope that by being the clubs new Tech Guy, there will be new opportunities for me to learn more about this car and to be able to pass that knowledge along to any club members in need by tech articles and hands on tech sessions.

So, while Joe's Garage may be retired, I hope that in time Al's Garage may be looked to as an acceptable substitute.

Happy motoring to all and I look forward to developing new relationships with the BMC Club members and furthering those friendships that I have already developed.

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Gimme' a Brake (by Todd Murray)

Brakes are perhaps the most misunderstood system on a car. Brakes DO NOT stop your car! You can sound very smart at your local pub with this bit of info, so listen up: Breaks apply a torque to your tires. It just so happens that the torque is in the opposite direction of the driving torque (from the engine). The TIRES stop your car. Just as engine torque drives your car through your tires, the braking torque slows your car through your tires. Remember how I said tires are the most important thing on your car.

Miatas have 4 wheel disc brakes. From here on out, assume I am talking about disc brakes, because drum breaks are not applicable to Miatas, and can't even spell performance much less offer any. Miatas have floating discs (rotors) actuated by stationary calipers. This means that the disc is allowed to "float," or to move side-to-side on the wheel studs. This is to make for even pad wear (with one pad on each side of the rotor, a floating rotor keeps wear symmetrical). If yours rotor does not move side-to-side with the pads removed, your rotor is rusted to your hub resulting in uneven pad wear - nothing a couple smacks with a rubber mallet won't solve. Contact me for more info if you think you have this problem.

Brakes, from an engineering standpoint, are primarily heat synchs (release heat). Through the friction of the brake pads on the brake rotor, the brakes transfer the kinetic energy of your car's motion into heat energy. Since kinetic energy is a function of (mass x velocity)squared, you will quadruple the amount of energy (heat) your brakes must cope with when you double your speed - not a big deal from 20 to 40, but from 60 to 120 (on a race track, of course), it really becomes a factor. It is the job of the rotor (through it's rotation) to release this heat. That's why bigger rotors are better, more surface area yields more heat transfer. If brakes become overheated, they loose their effectiveness, or "fade." This can ultimately lead to brake failure. The only time you would be using your brakes that much on a Miata is when racing, or when foolishly using your brakes too much when descending a hill or mountain. Some cars, however, are designed with such poor braking systems (Geo Metro comes to mind) that the brakes begin to fade during a single hard stop from 90 mph.

That being said, as long as your braking system has the force to lock up your wheels (or engage your ABS), then you are applying the maximum amount of braking torque that your tires can handle. That being said, a brake upgrade will NOT decrease your stopping distances from a scientific standpoint. This is assuming that you have either a perfect ABS computer algorithm, or can perfectly threshold break (hold the brakes just before wheel lockup). Brake upgrades will give you better break pedal "feel" (which may allow you to modulate the brakes closer to lockup, which will decrease your stopping distances), more consistent stops (eliminate brake "fade") due to better heat dissipation, and they look really cool! I have included a list of brake upgrades for your Miata in general order of cost.

If your Miata is built to go faster than Mazda intended, it better be have a upgraded brake system to deal with all that increased kinetic energy of motion (speed). As another warning, do not work on your brakes unless you are sure you know what you are doing, they are the one system you CANNOT afford to have fail!

Brake Pads - Pads are a wear item, so many don't really consider it an upgrade, but the really are. Midas or Car-X brakes are basically garbage from a performance standpoint, and I would consider Mazda OEM pads great for street use, and a minimum from a go-fast standpoint. Each company (Hawk, EBC, Performance Friction, etc.) has their own product line, but they all follow the same format. Pads are rated by temperature. The higher the max temperature, the more abuse in the form of heat, they will take before fade occurs. These pads tend to last longer during heavy use than ones with lower max temperatures. Generally, the higher the max temp (stiffer the compound), the squeakier and dustier the pads become (consider that the down side).

Before you run out and buy race spec brake pads, note the minimum temperature. Do not use any pad with greater than a 0o minimum temperature for street driving. This means that the brakes require warm-up in order to be effective. "Your honor, I tried to brake for little Jimmy, but I hadn't used my brakes for 10 miles, so they were cold and didn't work" doesn't sound too good. It is a safe assumption that any pad sold for street use (or not specified for race use) is a zero-degree pad, and does not require warm-up. It is worth noting that it is worth having your rotors re-ground when installing new pads. The pads will "seat" better against the rotor, thereby creating more friction and better feel.

Braided Brake Lines - Rubber stretches. Your rubber brake hoses are included in this statement, and will flex, expand, and otherwise distort under hard braking. This shows itself in a "spongy" or rubbery feel in the brake pedal. Braided lines eliminate this flex by reinforcing the hose material, making for a much more solid-feeling pedal (results will vary depending on how much your rubber lines are worn with age). There is no downside of this upgrade, and they also look really cool!

Slotted or Cross Drilled Rotors - These modifications to your rotors create more surface area and also (primarily) aid in the removal of "brake dust" (the sooty by-product of break pad wear). Again, the look cool, too. There is generally no down side to this upgrade, except that repeated thermal expansion from hard use can cause Cross Drilled brake rotors to crack.

Larger Rotors (often come slotted or cross drilled) - Larger diameter brake rotors create more surface area for heat transfer, thereby making the brakes more effective during hard use, rather more fade resistant. These, again, look really cool. The reason Touring Race Car teams began using large diameter wheels (where this whole fad began) was not for better handling, but to fit larger diameter brake rotors. Likewise, I can't think of much that looks dopier than a car with huge 18" wheels and tiny 9" brake rotors! Check out a few Fast-and-the-Furious Civics and you'll see what I mean.

Larger (more piston) Calipers - Simply put, the more hydraulic pistons you have actuating your brake pads, the more force and better feel you will get. Upgraded calipers often come in kits, but are rarely needed except for racing purposes. They are mostly installed for system compatibility and fashion reasons.

Installing ABS on a non-ABS car - Often thought of, but seldom tried. It's VERY tough! Forget about it, just buy another car with ABS!

As a closing note, every well upgraded performance car I have ever seen has had upgraded brakes. "60-0 is just as important as 0-60..." "Braking is the less glamorous, but equally important sibling of acceleration..." Whatever the slogan, it's the truth. A good brake upgrade is often what separates the poseur cars from the genuine performance machines.

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Snow/Winter Tires - Tire Talk #3 (by Todd Murray)

There are two types of snow tires, true snow and ice tires, as well as urban type snow tires. True snow and ice tires are to be used if you do a lot of driving on country roads that will likely have a dusting of snow at most times, and may be iced over. As well, these are the tires you want to use if you decide to go ice-racing (contact me for details). These tires work wonders on packed snow and ice, but are made of a soft rubber that decomposes rather rapidly on warmer (>40o), bare concrete. For this reason, there are urban snow tires (H-rated). When you think of it, there isn't snow, or ice, on urban roads very often, because they are regularly plowed. Urban snow tires are made for this purpose, to grip cold pavement well, but to handle snow and ice when required. These tires are made of a harder tread compound, so in return for a little grip on ice and packed snow, you get more tread life, and you can use them into spring when the temperature raises. Unfortunately, there are no H-rated tires available in 14" wheel sizes, therefore I haven't mentioned any below. If you're interested, Noah will be glad to help you out. In comparison, all-season tires grip poorly on ice, and little better on packed snow.

A few facts about snow tires. First, they aren't designed for use above ~70mph (for Q rated tires). Going too far too fast will result in tire failure. This is a result of the compound of the tire as well as it's internal carcass construction. Second, it is very important to purchase snow tires on all 4 wheels. It's worse to have no snow tires at all than to have them on only the rear wheels. As well, it is better to have smaller wheels and narrower tires for snow use. This is because less width means greater pressure on the road to cut through the snow. If you have larger wheels, and 14" wheels will fit, I highly recommend 14" wheels for snow tires because a) the tires are cheaper, and b) small wheels are conducive to snow tire sizes.

I have prepared a list of good tires along with sizes and prices. Have a look and ask any questions you may have. I wish I could get free tires for saying this, but I don't. Tirerack (a mail order service in Indiana) is by far the cheapest place to purchase tires. See www.tirerack.com or call 888-541-1777. I do most of my business with them, and they have a great service department. They understand that you will buy many more tires in your life, and look to cater to your needs. I spoke with Noah (ex 272), who asked for any referrals.

  • Snow Tires in 14" Sizes
    • Michelin Arctic Alpine 175/65-14 ~$60; 195/55-15 ~$75
      • Mainly for road use
      • Only for urban settings that don't see much snow on roads
    • Blizzak WS-50 175/65-14 ~$65
      • Highly recommended
      • Able to handle pretty much anything Wisconsin can throw at it (okay, within reason)
    • Dunlop Graspic DS-1 175/70-14 ~$44; 185/60-14 ~$50
      • 70% of WS-50
      • A good budget choice

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Summer Tires - Tire Talk #2 (by Todd Murray)

Time for performance...I know what you want, you want to go faster! So it's time for practical articles...1st-summer tires...and next month-winter tires.

Okay, step 1-TIRES. Tires are probably the most neglected piece of your car. They are its lifeblood. Without good tires, your car cannot accelerate, brake, corner, or respond at it's best. An upgrade in tires will improve every aspect of your Miata's performance. EVERY aspect.

First, let's make the most of the tires that you have. Set your tire pressures according to the type of driving that you do. 28-30psi is recommended for street circumstances. More pressure gives better response and more grip, while less pressure gives a smoother ride at the expense of handling precision. Try it, you'll see for yourself. Their pressure is the most basic form of chassis adjustment. Do not drop your pressure below 26psi or a whole lot above 35 psi. Mazda specifies 28 psi.

Now, anybody who considers themselves to drive their Miata as a performance vehicle using all season tires, shame on you!

All season tires do everything marginally. Marginal isn't good enough for you, though. At least it shouldn't be the Miata isn't a marginal car. Because all season tires need to do everything, sacrifices need to be made on all aspects...dry, wet, snow, and ice handling and braking. Sacrifice is bad. All season tires have no place on a Miata that is ever driven at more than 6/10 of the limit.

I wish I could get free tires for saying this, but I don't. Tirerack (a mail order service in Indiana) is by far the cheapest place to purchase tires. See www.tirerack.com or call 888-5412-1777. I do most of my business with them. And they have a great service department. They understand that you will buy many more tires in your life, and look to cater to your needs. I spoke with Noah (ex 272), who asked for any referrals.

Summer high-performance tires have the advantage of greater ultimate grip, better stability due to larger tread blocks, better communication (you'll know what I am talking about when you experience it), and a more progressive transition from slip to slide. Advantage of all season tires, you save yourself from changing them twice per year. You could run a 100m dash in a pair of dress loafers, but why?

Likewise, you could walk on ice with dress loafers, but you'd fall on you backside. If you drive a Miata in winter, but a cheap set of extra wheels and buy snow tires. Remember that when you are using one set of tires, you're not using another. Therefore, you are out more upfront cost, but ultimately, the tires will last twice as long, so you won't be spending much more. (More about snow tires next month)

I have prepared a list of good tires along with sizes and prices. Have a look and ask any questions you may have.

  • High Performance Tires (don't play in the snow with these) 14" Wheels
    • 195/55-14 Dunlop Sp 8000 - $70 each
      • Good tires that are a current staple. Little squeal before loss of grip, and have been known to overheat after extended track use.
    • 195/60-14 Yokohama AVSi - $60 each
      • Noisy, and loose grip below 50 degrees and heat rather rapidly. Otherwise another good all-rounder.
    • 195/55-14 Toyo Proxy T1-S - about $100 each
      • I use them and love them. Perform like race tires at track days. 20% more grip than the SP 8000 coupled with progressive breakaway. Wears twice as long as the AVSi and about 50% longer than the SP8000. You get what you pay for. Not available at Tirerack.
  • 15" Wheels (in addition to the above mentioned, which are also all available)
    • 195/50-15 Bridgestone RE-730 - about $75 each
      • My parents and my good friend use these. I am very impressed. Excellent dry grip and even better wet grip. No comment on noise or treadwear, though they are wear rated comparable to the Toyo Proxy.
    • 195/50-15 Khumo ECSTA 712 - about $55 each
      • I don't have experience with these tires but I have heard many good things about them. Worth a look as a budget choice.
    • 195/50-15 Bridgestone Pole Position SO-3 - about $120 (on sale now for $83)
      • One of the top three street tires in the world. I don't have any experience on the SO-3, but the SO-2 it replaces was amazing in grip (wet and dry) at the expense of rapid wear. The wear issue has been addressed according to Bridgestone. Anyone wish to give them a try? Let me know!
  • 16" Wheels - Too many to list, contact me independently if interested.

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Automotive Performance - The Nut Holding the Steering Wheel (by Todd Murray)

The best way to make your car faster is to drive it faster. RELAX, future World Champions, I will only touch on some aspects of driving that can be exercised in "spirited" (read, BILL RUN) street driving.

Let's chat today about the Miata's strong point, cornering! Cornering power depends on tires. To understand cornering, you must first understand the tire. Tires have three stages - Gripping, slipping, and sliding.

Gripping is what happens under normal driving conditions when your tires are doing what is asked of them both by your control inputs (steering, throttle and brake) as well as what the pavement dictates given the car's motion.

Sliding is what happens when the tire looses traction, or grip, and moves in a manner other than that dictated by pavement. This usually results in skid marks, and the best example of sliding is a wheel locked under braking (the road wants the tire to turn, but the brake prevents the tire from turning - result: SLIDE). Sliding tires have much less traction than Gripping tires, and the less grip you have, the less control (locking brakes, spinning - just watch me in an autocross for an example).

What does this mean? A tire has only 100% grip. It can't grip any more than 100% or it's limit. That means that a tire will lock when a braking force is applied in excess of the tire's limit (locked wheel), likewise under acceleration (spinning tires). When a cornering force is applied in excess of the tire limits, and the tire looses traction, many scary things happen (usually resulting in spinning or, the opposite, plowing, where the car travels straight).

What I have described is for a single tire, but for our purposes, it works almost the same for the entire car. The difference is load transfer. When a car leans because of cornering, squats because of acceleration, or dives because of braking, the tires in the direction of the car's tilt have more weight on them, and therefore have more traction. This is a good thing, since the weight transfers to the tires that need it. Be aware, however, that the wheels with weight lifted off of them have less traction.

Tires have that limit of grip in all directions, not just strict cornering, accelerating, and braking. Therefore, be careful with your inputs! If you have the car loaded up while cornering, and stab the brakes (even if it's an amount allowed traveling in a straight line), the tires will loose traction. Likewise, if you are accelerating at the tire's limit (tough to do in a Miata), and you turn the steering wheel, you will likely spin.

Summary: For spirited street driving, keep your control inputs SEPARATE. Brake, THEN turn, THEN accelerate. Pretend there is a string attached from the steering wheel to the brake and gas pedal - the more you turn the wheel, the less you are allowed to "give" the gas and brake. Control inputs CAN be mixed to attain desired behaviors, but this should only be done when competing or showing off for your girlfriend - No, no, just when competing.

As always, I would be glad to discuss this topic further with you. If you would like to learn how a tire's available traction is affected by load, or what trail-breaking is, please let me know! If you are interested in PRACTICING car control, as always, I recommend entering a parking-lot-autocross. If you would like some references, check out the book below for a MUCH more in depth discussion of driving at speed.

-Sports Car and Competition Driving - Paul Frere, Drive to Win Carroll Smith

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Headlights Left On Reminder (by Joe Menigoz & Roland Groddy)

We have all at sometime walked away from our Miata's and left on the headlights or parking lights only to return to find a dead battery or a very discharged battery. Then one says to themselves, "DARN, I wish something would warn or alert me that I left the lights on."

Roland Groddy, a club member to the rescue. Roland came over to the Miata garage with a Headlight-Left-On Reminder-Unit that he had picked up from the local G.M. parts counter. Roland found an article in the old 1995 Miata Magazine telling how to install the unit. Following the Miata magazine instructions to the letter, the unit would not work. We did a few tests and "YES" the unit worked great hooked to a 12V battery, but not in the car. A few days later, Roland stopped back and found the instructions that were given in the magazine article were incorrect. Roland did some testing on his fuse panel and found the correct connection points. "HATS OFF" to Roland on his trouble shooting skills. Roland stated if all else fails read the instructions. GOOD POINT. Roland found his Headlight-Left-On-Reminder-Unit kit which consists of instructions a small buzzer/tone unit and fuse adapters for about $10.00 at the local G.M. dealership. After looking at the G.M. unit, I stopped at the local Wal-Mart and guess what the same unit packaged with the 3M logo on it. Wal-Mart price was a little under $7.00 found in the automotive section by the replacement fuse and lamps. Take your pick.

For installation: Your Miata has two main fuse panel locations. One is located under the hood next to the right fender (passengers) side near the windshield. We will NOT use this location. The fuse panel location where the Headlight-Left-On-Reminder-Unit will be installed is in the interior of the car located under the dash, located by your left knee area.

Tools needed are: Trouble light or good flashlight; Fuse puller located in the inside of fuse panel cover

  1. Remove lower steering wheel cover (METAL) held in place by 2 screws, this will give a little more working room;
  2. Remove fuse panel cover noting how it was removed;
  3. On the fuse panel cover the fuse location and designation is noted;
    • The Headlight-Left-On-Reminder-Unit has a RED and a WHITE wire;
    • Connect the RED wire to the TAIL fuse using he fuse adapter in the kit;
    • Connect the WHITE wire to the METER fuse using the fuse adapter in the kit.
    • The unit is supplied with a double backed tape strip for mounting the unit under the dash area.
  4. Check out the unit - start car and turn lights on, unit will NOT sound. Shut off engine with lights on and unit will SOUND.

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Front Strut Tower Brace (by Jeo Menigoz)

What is a Front Strut Tower Brace and what does it do?

The brace, as I will call it, is designed to stiffen and make the front end of your car more rigid and reduce body flexing. It is installed between the front strut shock towers under the hood.

In 1999 Mazda introduced the brace on the Sport Suspension Package cars. I have installed a '99 factory brace on my yellow '92, and it is a very simple installation with everything falling into place. I cannot at this writing let you know if it makes a big difference or not, but there must be some merit in the brace because they are standard equipment on all '99-'01 Sport Suspension Package cars.

As I said, mine is a 99 factory brace; but many after-market braces are available, with a whole array of styles and prices. A good place to check is on the Internet - try MiataNet. The only draw back that I can find is if you have an after market cold air intake system installed on your car. Most after market braces will not work with the Racing Beat cold air systems. Jackson Racing cold air intake systems will work with the braces as well as the factory installed intake systems.

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Tire Talk #1 (by Joe Menigoz)

Your tires may be talking to you and telling you something. The Miata famous 65 MPH shimmy or shaking is usually related to improper wheel balance. The Miata's suspension is very sensitive by design, and proper and accurate wheel balancing is a must to avoid the shimmy problems. High speed balancing is the best method for balancing. Over time your wheels may lose a wheel weight used in the wheel balancing process. I would suggest every 10,000 miles or so your wheels should be rebalanced. Proper tire inflation is very important. 28 PSI cold is the best for over all around driving conditions. Autocrosser's on the track run 33 PSI and up. Tire rotation will also increase your tire life. Remember front to back not criss-cross. Tire rotation should be done every 6K or every other oil change and lug nuts torqued to 80 ft-lbs to prevent rotor warpage.

Now lets talk a little about old/new tires. Many of us drive our Miatas in the warm months and store our car during the winter months. Our club has many 90/97 cars with low mileage that still have the original factory or replacement tires on them. Yes, they have lots of tread life on them, but the tires over time have lost their grip and handling characteristics. What's wrong?...time has taken it's toll on the tire compound - they have hardened. Maybe hair-line cracks will be found in the side walls and tread. UV rays have taken their toll on tire compound also. The hardening process is slow and you may have not noticed it creep up. Here is a little example that we all see every couple of years with our windshield wipers. New wiper blades slide across our windshield clean, smooth, and don't bounce when its a little cold. After a year or so they don't clean as well and they bounce when it is a little cold. The compound in the wiper blades has hardened with time and UV rays, just as our old/new tires have done.

Miata's like a soft tire - 140 to 300 tire ware compound; in other words nothing over 45,000 mile tire. Dry and wet handling can only be found in a softer compound and tire design. Here are some very good choices for tires:

Bridgestone Treadware Size
Potenza RE 71 140 195/55 VR 14
Potenza RE 930 300 185/60 HR 14
Potenza RE 730 " "
Dunlop Treadware Size
Dunlop SP Sport 8000 200 195/55 ZR 14
Dunlop D60A2 JBL 320 195/60 HR 14
Yokohama Treadware Size
AVS Intermediate 160 185/60 VR 14
AVID HR 320 185/60 HR 14
Pirelli Treadware Size
Pirelli P700Z 140 195/55 VR 14
These above tires are also available in 15 inch sizes.

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Getting Ready For Spring #1 (by Joe Menigoz)

Well it's not spring yet as we all know but a few items still can be performed before the warm weather comes.

  • Charge battery with low amp charges (2 amps)
  • Check fluid levels, oil, brake and clutch
  • Check for any leaking fluids (front and rear) and look for the source of the leaks
  • Check interior, trunk, and under hood for any unwanted "guests"
  • Inspect tires

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Alloy Wheel Refinishing (by Joe Menigoz)

As we well know, the winter is long! Christmas is behind us and it is not top-down weather for a long time yet. So guess what I just completed? Another project: refinishing the factory alloy wheels on the 1992 yellow. The wheels were in a sad state with 90K miles of hard use on them, stains, road tar and with only a little finish left on them. So, I thought maybe this would be a good time to make those wheels to sparkle like new again.

Let's get started...

  1. Remove the wheels from car and remove the tires from the rims.
  2. Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages and find a shop that will sandblast your rims. I found a shop in Watertown that did them for $10.00 a piece.
  3. Preparing the rims for painting, use lacquer thinner or a denatured alcohol solvent on a clean cloth to remove any dirt or grime left over from the sandblasting.
  4. I put a light coat of Gray Metal Primer in the spray can on each rim. ( I am not sure if this step is necessary but just an extra little protection.)
  5. After several attempts on color matching, using the center hub cap for the color match, I found that RUST-OLEUM Metallic Brilliant Metal Finish - 7271 Silver Metallic spray is almost an exact match to the factory finish. I applied several light coats, letting them dry between coats. Two 11 oz. spray cans will be enough to do 4 rims.
  6. To protect the new finish I used RUST-OLEUM CRYSTAL CLEAR ENAMEL-7701 CRYSTAL CLEAR. I also sprayed the plastic hub caps to freshen them up with this product. Several light coats were applied. One 12oz. should be enough for the 4 rims. Another option would be to take the rims to your favorite body shop and have them clear-coated.
Terri Gruhn replaced her OEM tires with Dunlop SP Sport 8000s for her trip to Miatas in Paradise - Daytona 2000 and her OEM tires are going on the refinished rims. THANK YOU - Terri!

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Cat-Back Exhaust Swap (by Joe Menigoz)

The past couple of months, the Miata garage has worked on 3 new cat-back exhaust systems. The systems were installed on Roland Groddy's '94 black, Ron Carlson's '94 black, and my 10th AE. All 3 systems were purchased from ENTHUZA CAR (www.enthuzacar.com). Enthuza Car is a new business located in Georgia that specializes on Miata exhaust systems. The 3 systems that were shipped by Chad Sanders, the owner, and arrived safe and sound. From looking at the systems, the materials and workmanship are first class. The muffler and pipes are of stainless steel and polished to a mirror finish. These systems are almost too pretty to be installed on the underside of your Miata. Roland Groddy liked his so much he had his installed at a local garage...just like a kid at Christmas, he just couldn't wait.

Now let's install the cat back system on a 90-97 (M1) and 99-00 (M2) Miatas. The most difficult task is removing the nuts from the stud on the rear of the catalytic converter on the 90-97 (M1). The factory installed nuts are really tight. The best way to loosen these nuts is to spray the nuts with good penetrating oil several days ahead of time and again before removal. I found that if the nuts will not loosen, a little tightening of the nut will break them loose. If the nuts are real rusty keep using penetrating oil to work the nut back and forth. The next step is to remove the rubber donuts used to suspend the exhaust system to the car. I use penetrating oil or silicone spray on the donuts so they slide off the mounts. A small screw driver will work great to pop the donuts off the mounts. On the 96-97 models, the second oxygen sensor must be removed from the old system and reinstalled on the new system. Also on the 92-97 model the rear frame brace must be removed to remove the old system. The nut and bolts should also be sprayed with penetrating oil ahead of time. If for some reason you snap off the nut, Ron Carlson is an expert on snapped off nut removal. In other words, Ron busted his nut on this job. Overall the job takes an hour or so even with a few set backs.

M2, 99-00, is a much easier overall removal and installation. Just 2 nuts to be removed from the muffler located under the trunk area of your car. The muffler is also hung by rubber donuts which are easily removed and reinstalled. About a half an hour will do a M2 swap.

Summary Fit-Excellent---Material & workmanship-Excellent---Sound-Much deeper under acceleration but very comfortable. Not too loud, but a little louder than stock.---Overall-An excellent exhaust system for the money.

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Miata Maintenance Schedule (by Joe Menigoz)

Another year has passed at the Miata garage here in Oconomowoc and few things have stood out to me along with our Miata owners. BASIC MAINTENANCE or the lack of. One item that is overlooked is your owners manual which lists the maintenance schedule. The Maintenance schedule for example says "Every 30,000 miles or 24 months, Whichever Comes First" check, replace inspect the following items, etc., etc.

"Whichever Comes First" is the problem area which is the time factor. Example a 91 BRG with 6000 miles on the clock. Yes, Bob and Sue Schellin found this beauty in Ohio and it now lives with us in Badgerland. Bob and Sue came to the Miata garage and we did a complete fluid change - brake, clutch, transmission differential, cooling and shift turret. We were amazed at the condition of the fluids on such a low mileage car. Example: Transmission and differential oil very discolored which indicates lubricant break down (turning acidic, brake and clutch fluid dark orange and brown in color which tells us moisture (water in system). Cooling system looked dark green in color but we are dealing with many different metals in the cooling system that brake down anti-freeze and turn it acidic. Example, cast iron engine block, aluminum cylinder head, brass heater core and rubber hoses all contribute to anti-freeze breakdown.

Many of us drive low mileage summer cars and high mileage year around Miata's and we want our cars to be trouble free and last forever. Maintenance must be done to keep the Miata smile on your face and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. For under thirty dollars every two years is cheap insurance. As the saying goes "Pay me now or pay me a great deal later". Example one gallon anti-freeze $6.00, and one gallon distilled water $1.00 now or replace radiator $357 plus labor later. One quart of brake fluid $5.00 now or replace brake calipers $78.00 plus labor later.

I have put together a maintenance schedule to make it a little easier to keep track of things. The schedule deals with TIME items and MILEAGE items. The TIME items are the most over looked and just as important as the mileage items. Keep your maintenance schedule in the glove box and review it and see where you fall. I am always ready to give a hand with your projects and service needs, give me a call and we can go over your parts needed list and get you in the Miata garage. I hope you find the Maintenance schedule helpful, but most important follow the recommendations and keep that Miata Smile. The schedule is for all year car's 90-2000? some things never change with time - MAINTENANCE.


Every Year or 3,000 Miles
Engine, oil & filter Every 3000 miles and/or before winter storage Date             

Every 2 Years Regardless of Milage Driven
Brake Fluid Replace, flush, bleed system DOT 3 Date             
Clutch Fluid Replace, flush, bleed system DOT 3 Date             
Anti-freeze Replace, flush system 50/50 mixture Date             
Transmission Oil (M) Replace, 75W/90 gear oil Date             
Differential Oil Replace, 75W/90 gear oil Date             
Air Conditioning Service Check A/C Freon and test for leaks Date             

Part to Check Work to be Done When Date             
Engine, oil & filter Replace oil & filter Every 3000 miles             
Air filter element Replace element Every 15,000 miles             
Spark Plugs Replace Every 30,000 miles             
Spark Plug Wires Replace if OEM black in color     "                 
Brake Service Inspect pads for wear, lubricate slide pins, adjust rear brakes     "                 
Timing Belt Replace Every 60,000 miles             
Belts Replace power steering, A/C     "                 
Hoses (cooling system) Replace     "                 
PCV Valve Replace     "                 
Fuel Filter Replace     "                 
Transmission Fluid (AT) Replace     "                 

At 90,000 - 120,000 - 150,000 -- Repeat 30,000 - 60,000 mile schedule

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Air Horn Maintenance (by Joe Menigoz)

HONK If You Hear This (MJ notes: In May of 2003, a number of BMC Miatas traveled to Moab UT, through numerous dust storms & other gritty conditions, and came home with weak-sounding or no-sounding horns. Mike Schweiger's was one of them. He performed the maintenance detailed below & discovered - as did Joe - that it really works! Read on...)

I have recently learned that the single most frequent cause of air horn failure is the accumulation of dirt - road grime and bugs - in the trumpets. The thin metallic diaphragm becomes stuck and doesn't vibrate, so there is no sound or weak sound from your horns.
So I recommend some preventive maintenance. This also serves as a method to bring back dead or sick air horns. I have tried it and I know it works! This advice is more important for the M2 horns than the M1 horns, because the M2 has a bigger mouth and gathers more dirt.

Remove the air horns and compressor assembly from the car. Squirt some WD-40 into the trumpets (the wide ends and into the air intake where the vinyl hose attaches). Swish the WD-40 around a bit and shake out any excess. Also spray a little bit of silicone spray into the intake of the compressor. This should remedy the sick sounding or no horn sound problem.

If the air horns do not sound at all, you may have to tap the back of the trumpet bases with the back of a screw driver. This should help break-up the loose grime. It may take several attempts. The horns may need to dry out for a short time before they come back to their original clarity. If you notice your air horns starting to weaken, do the maintenance right away.

Another cause of air horn failure may be a blown fuse in your fuse panel located by the emergency break area under the dash or under the hood main fuse panel. It is recommended that you perform this maintenance on your horns at least once a year.

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A/C Tune-up (by Joe Menigoz)

Is your air conditioner just not putting out the cold air it did a few years back? Well you are probably low on Freon, but before we address that subject, I want you to take a good look into the mouth of your Miata (were your license plate is suppose to be). Are the condenser fins clean or are they filled with butterflies and bugs? This can be cleaned by hosing down with water and using a stiff brush to remove the critters. Just by doing this your engine will run cooler and the efficiency of your AC will improve.

I want everyone to TURN ON the AC for 10 minutes every time you drive your Miata even with your top down or up. Why? The biggest problem with low Freon is leaks caused by the lack of use. AC systems contain refrigeration oil along with the Freon. The oil lubricates the compressor and also keeps the seals from drying out. Dried out seals (O RINGS) are usually the cause of the leaks.

If you own a 1990 - 1993 Miata with air conditioning, it uses the now outlawed R-12 variety of Freon. At some point you might need to add a bit of refrigerant, sending you to your local auto parts store. There you may find small cans of refrigerant conveniently packaged and ready to use. They won't be R-12, however. Now you can only buy the new chemical R-134a in the do-it-yourself kits or cans. This new product should never be introduced into an older system containing R-12. You might also see cans of refrigerant lubricant that could be used to 'charge' an R-12 system. Don't do it.

What is your solution if your system needs charging? Now you need to go to the professionals. By law, only certified technicians can handle R-12 and they have recovery systems that can recycle your old refrigerant. See your dealer or local air conditioning shop that displays the ASE certified technician sign. It won't be as cheap as the old $3 cans of R-12, but you will get a professional's hand in assuring your system is up to specification.

How will you know if you need a Freon charge? Look at the sight glass on your receiver-dryer. The sight glass is located in front of the radiator to the left as you face the car with the hood open. There is a 3 inch round hole in which the receiver/dryer sight glass will be found. The sight glass is about the size of a dime, clear glass. Wipe it off. Look at the sight glass on your receiver/dryer. With the engine running, the air conditioning on, MAX COLD, the fan on HIGH and the car air distribution level on RECIRCULATE, you should see no bubbles or foaming in the sight glass. Once the air conditioning is cut off, you should see some foaming under the sight glass for a moment, and then it should clear up. (If you never see the initial foaming once the AC is cut off, you have too much Freon in the system).

If your system is low on Freon, it is for a reason. Leaking refrigerant is a condition that should be looked into - it is probably happening at one of the O-RING fittings. These are inexpensive to repair. If you ignore them and run your system with too-low level of Freon, you can fry the compressor - not an inexpensive thing to replace.

So take a quick look at your sight glass and check for bubbles. If you see some, make an appointment to have it corrected as soon as possible. Even though your air conditioner might be working fine, it needs a bit of attention now.
On the 1994 - 2003 year models Freon R-134a has replaced the older R-12 Freon. The 1994 - 2003 AC systems DO NOT have a sight glass, so self checks are not possible. But the same holds true - TURN ON the AC for 10 minutes and also clean out the butterflies and critters from your Miatas mouth.

The best medicine is to keep your system in tip-top shape. To protect its longevity, have a professional go over the system every two years. It could turn out to be a very cheap insurance.

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Put The Brakes On (by Joe Menigoz)

Now would be a good time to perform some brake service; but, you say to yourself, my brakes work fine. OK - let's keep it that way (working fine). Let's start with the brake fluid -- take a look at the color of the fluid. Is it almost clear in color or is it a dark reddish brown in color? If it is dark in color it's time for a flush and new fluid. As with time the brake fluid absorbs moisture and the color changes from almost clear to the dark color. This is normal but not good for the internal working parts, calipers, master cylinders and brake lines. What happens is the brake components rust from the inside out. When checking the brake fluid check the clutch fluid also for color, it also should be almost clear in color. Brake and clutch fluid should be changed every 2 years. "DOT 3" brake fluid is used, a quart will do both the brakes and clutch fluid change.

Brake pads should be looked at with the 50K MI check-up for the wear under normal driving and much sooner for you auto "x" people. The wheels should be pulled off and a visual inspection done. Looking for leaks in the brake lines and brake hoses. Have someone press and hold the brake pedal and inspect the brake hoses for cracks and bulges, make sure to check all sides. Replace any hoses that show any cracks or bulges.

Now lets look at the brake rotors. Rub your fingers on them, are they smooth or is there deep grooves in them? Most auto part stores can resurface your rotors for you. Front brake pads do almost 80% of the braking so they will need replacing more often then the rear pads. Two sets of front pads to every set of rear pads.

A problem: rear and front caliper slid pins should be lubricated with high temperature brake grease. Miata's are known for rear brake caliper problems. They freeze up and the rear brakes will not fully release. This can happen at anytime, if the caliper slide pins are not lubricated.

Now, let's go out and "put the brakes on!"

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Car Care (by Joe Menigoz)

Now that summer is just a few weeks away, it might be a good time to get your paint finish (on the outside of your car) in tip-top shape and protect it against those UV rays. There are many excellent products available on the market that I have tried and have worked well for me. Some of the polishes I recommend are:

  1. Meguiar's Professional Polymer Sealant
  2. Zymol Auto Polish
  3. Race Glaze Polish and Sealant
These products do an excellent job cleaning dull paint and bringing out a great shine.
An excellent product for cleaning the top is Simple Green. I use a soft brush to remove the built-up grime and rinse. Then follow-up with Lexol Vinylex Protectant or Meguiar's Vinyl and Rubber Conditioner.
Everyone has cleaning and polish products that work great for them; I would like to hear what works best for you and what doesn't.
If anyone would like to clean up under the hood and the engine, S100 Total Cycle Cleaner works wonders and is very easy to use. S100 can be bought at most motor cycle shops.

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Wheel Alignment (by Joe Menigoz)

Your Miata was designed and built with a very adjustable suspension. Most cars on the road today cannot even begin to get close to the adjustability of the Miata suspension. a 4-wheel alignment should be done when uneven tire wear is evident or if your Miata wants to pull to one side or the other. To check for pull, do the following:

On a flat, level, straight, open road, at about 50 mph, remove your hand from the steering wheel and the car should continue to go straight down the road - not wanting to pull to the left or right. One thing - check your tire pressure before the road test; Miatas like 28 PSI on cold tires. A good alignment will also improve the handling of your car.

Questions to ask at the alignment shop:

  1. When was the last time your equipment was calibrated? (A good alignment is only as good as the equipment taking measurements.)
  2. Are your technicians familiar with the Miata suspension? (They must know what they're doing.)
  3. May we sit in the car when the alignment is being done? (A good alignment is done when the weight of the driver and passenger are in the car, or equivalent weight is placed in the seats.) This is very important for an excellent handling car. Remember, your Miata will never drive a "Bill Run" without you &/or your passenger in the seats.

When {Joe Menigoz got his} Sunburst Yellow, the car pulled to the left and did not corner well. The steering wheel was not centered when going straight down the road. After redoing the suspension with new shocks and bushings he started looking for a good alignment shop. He found one in Oconomowoc with new Hunter laser alignment equipment. He asked the above questions and was given all the answers he was looking for. He and Michelle sat in the car while the alignment was done. (WONDERFUL way for Michelle to spend a Saturday - just what she's always wanted to do!) They were (well, Joe was) very impressed with the tech and equipment. They watched (well, Joe again) the tech dial in the alignment on the front and rear suspension on the screen. About 40 minutes later, they were finished and took the car fora test drive. WOW - it is a completely different handling car now - what a difference - EXCELLENT).

After talking with the tech, they told him about their 10th Anniversary Miata with 2000 miles on it - he said to bring it down & check the factory settings. They brought (well, Joe again) down the 10th Anniversary and sat in the car. The front end alignment was very close, but he made a few minor adjustments. The tech then went to the rear alignment and found rear wheels turned out (to the left). He explained it this way, "The back of the car is trying to pass the front." Needless to say the rear alignment was then dialed in and another great handling 10th Anniversary is now back on the streets. One BMC member said his father always made the dealer perform an alignment as part of the auto sale and he also does the same. Good idea!

The alignment shop Joe found is:

  • Cooney Motors
  • N56 W39413 Hwy 16
  • Oconomowoc WI 53066-2182
  • 262-569-8880
  • Mark Stabelfeldt - Service Manager (then) - GREAT STAFF! They work on Saturdays, also. Mention you are with the Badgerland Miata Club and tell them Joe (& don't forget Michelle) Menigoz sent you.

Don Heck, a BMC member, submitted this Tech Tip on winter storage: To keep the mice out of the interior of the car, shave a bar of Irish Spring soap (do not bathe first) and place it in an open container in the car. It keeps the mice out and your Miata will smell great in the "Irish Spring" (then you can bathe - this will be a LONG winter). THANKS DON!!

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Start Your Engines - Getting Ready For Spring #2 (by Joe Menigoz)

The birds are coming back...a taste of warm weather in the air...Ladies & Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!
Before we turn that key and start your Miata for the first time after the long "hibernation" let's cover a few important points:

  • Give your insurance agent a call to reinstate your Miata coverage.
  • Re-connect your battery.
  • Check tire pressure - recommended is 28 psi.
  • Remove any rodent prevention (steel wool, Irish Spring soap peelings, etc.), remember to rtemove anything from the tailpipe and air intake systems (from winterizing).
  • Check fluid levels: engine oil, windshield washer, brake, and clutch.Inspect tires
  • Secure convertible top clamps.
  • Take it easy after start-up - your engine may exhibit HLA (Hydraulic Lash Adjuster) noise. This should subside after a short time. This noise is very common after storage. Oil drains leak (out) of hydraulic lack adjusters on '90-'97 models. The '99-'02 models now have solid lash adjusters and should not have the start-up noise that is common with the earlier models.
  • Do a walk-around and check all your lights: head, brake, backup, side markers, turn signals, etc. Check the horn. Check your instrument gauges, etc. Remember - Safety First!
  • Test your brakes. Slow stops to burn off any corrosion protection that was applied to brake rotors at the fall storage.
  • Turn on your air conditioner. This is very important. By running your air conditioner the oil in the system lubricates the seals and prevents system leaks.
Now, go out and find some twisty roads and enjoy!

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Air Horn Installation (by Joe Menigoz)

As we all know, Mazda did not equip our Miata's with a very powerful horn; you might say they are kinda whimpy. When you are next to a truck or a huge SUV and they want the space that you are in -- a loud horn will get their attention and be heard. Miata's are small, low, and sometimes just not seen. New air horns provide a little extra SAFETY--plus they sound "cool".

Air horn kits are offered by many vendors on the Internet (www.miata.net), MARKETPLACE, your local auto parts store (Auto Zone, TRAK), and many others. Kits run in price from $20.00 to $40.00 plus range. I have found that the horns are all about the same in quality. The kits usually contain the following: air compressor, horns, vinyl tubing, relay, nuts and bolts. The supplied relay is not used, your Miata has one already that powered the factory horn.

Now let's get started:

  1. Mount the straight metal bracket to the horns. Use the last hole on the straight bracket.
  2. Cut two 4" (four inch) lengths of the clear plastic tubing. Push the end of one tube onto the outlet of one of the air horns. Push the other tube onto the outlet of the remaining air horn, attach the black plastic Y-connector to the two short tubes coming from the horns.
  3. Your Miata's engine should be cold (not run in the past 6 hours). Open your Miata's hood and make sure it's propped up securely.
    • Note: Even though there is no power to the horns when the horn button is not being pressed, for safety reasons when working on your engine you should always disconnect the negative terminal from your battery.
  4. If you have a 1993 or earlier Miata, skip to step 5. If you have a 1994 or later Miata, you will need to remove the flexible black plastic or metal (for 1999 & 2000) cover in front of the radiator at the very front of the hood opening. Unscrew the four plastic or metal screws that secure the cover and lift the cover out of the way.
  5. When facing the car, a few inches towards the left of the hood latch hanging down off a straight metal bracket is your Miata’s original, wimpy horn. Using a 10mm wrench, remove the single bolt that holds the top of the horn bracket to the engine compartment.
  6. Remove the power wire from the wimpy horn (the connector should just slide off). We'll need this wire again soon, so don't let it fall into the engine compartment and get lost. Then, using the 10mm wrench, remove the wimpy horn from it's mounting bracket.
  7. Take the mounting bracket you just removed from he wimpy horn and bolt it to the air horn compressor. Before attaching a nut to the bolt, slide the loop end of the ground wire over the end of the bolt. If your kit does not come with a compressor ground wire you will have to make one up. You will need a short piece (8 inch) of #16 wire and crimp on the needed connectors. Tighten the nut securely.
  8. Attach the slide-on connector end of the ground wire to the negative (-) terminal on the compressor. Be sure to attach it to the negative terminal, or the compressor will suck air instead of blowing air.
  9. Carefully pass the compressor/bracket assembly through the nose opening at the bottom front of the car. Take care not to bank the compressor against anything in the engine compartment. Attach the power wire you removed from the old, wimpy horn to the positive (+) terminal of the compressor.
  10. Using the bolt you removed from your original Miata horn in step 4, attach the compressor/bracket assembly to the engine compartment so that the compressor hangs wire end down. Be sure that the compressor and wires do not come into contact with anything in the engine compartment, adjusting the angle of the bracket if necessary.
  11. On the opposite side of the hood latch from where you just mounted the air compressor bracket, you’ll notice the hole at the top of the air horn mounting bracket is offset from center. You may have to purchase a metric bolt and a bracket with holes in it to attach the air horns if your kit does not include the bracket. These parts can be found at your local hardware store. Flip the bracket assembly to the direction that will place the horns as far away from the radiator as possible (one direction will be about 1/4" farther away than the other). Angle the bracket so that the horns do not touch anything in the engine compartment, especially anything that gets hot when the engine is running. Bolt the bracket assembly to the engine compartment. Since the hole in the engine compartment is threaded, the bolt should screw right in.
    • Note: To ensure maximum distance from the radiator, you may also want to loosen the bolt that holds the horns to the bracket and adjust the angle of the horns (this can be done after the horns are already mounted in the engine compartment). Again, be sure that the horns do not touch any engine components. Be sure to retighten the bolt when finished.
  12. Attach the remaining piece of clear plastic tubing to the black Y-connector and run it to the bottom of the air horn compressor, avoiding interference with any sharp or potentially hot components. Before pushing the end of the long tube onto the bottom of the air horn compressor decide if you want to shorten the tube.
    • Note: Remember, the air must travel from the compressor to the horns, so the longer the tube, the longer the delay you will get from the time you press the horn button to the time the horn sounds. Too short a length however may cause kinks in the tube, which can weaken the horns or stop them from sounding entirely.
  13. Replace the 15 Amp horn fuse in your Miata with the included 20 Amp fuse. The fuse box can be found under the dashboard on the driver's side, on the left wall of the car (you'll want to use a flashlight for this). Pull the cover off the fuse box. Inside the cover you'll find a fuse-puller tool. The fuse we want to change is on the fuse box cover as the STOP fuse. Use the fuse-puller tool to remove the STOP fuse, located on the second fuse row down, three slots over from the right (some of your fuse slots may be empty). Then press in the new 20 Amp. fuse. Replace the fuse-puller and the fuse box cover.
    • Note: Any fuse can blow with age. Since the fuse for the horn is also the fuse for your brake lights, it's very important that you make sure to test the circuit periodically by sounding the horn. If the horn sounds, then the fuse is good. If the horn fails to sound, check the horn/stop fuse immediately, and make sure your brake lights are working properly.
  14. Your horns are ready to go! Test them out and then look out world!

This time of year might be a good time to re-charge your battery, if your car is in storage. Remember to use a 2 Amp or trickle charger.

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Tires and Wheels (by Joe Menigoz)

Now that we are preparing our Miata's for winter storage this would be a good time to inspect our tires and wheels.
Safety First - Block front and rear wheels to keep car from rolling.

Tires - Break loose wheel nuts while car is on the ground. Raise car with jack and remove tire. Check tire on both side walls for cuts, cracks, blisters, nails, etc. Now inspect tread for cuts, cracks, nails, etc. (One member found a ball point pen stuck in his tire, the roads are full of hazards.) Check for tread wear. Look for uneven wear on the outside of the tires. These inspections go for the front and rear tires. If unusual wear is detected, a 4 wheel alignment is probably needed. Some good replacement tires for Miatas are "Dunlop D60A2," "Dunlop SPS8000" and "Bridgestone Potenza 930." Good prices for these brands can be found on www.TireRack.com or www.DiscountTire.com. This is also a good time to rotate your tires. We rotate front to back do not criss-cross tires from side to side.

Wheels - Inspect wheels by looking them over on both sides. Look for cracks in the alloy metal around the holes where the lug nut fastens to the wheel studs. Check the spokes for cracks, check the outside rim for damage - DAMN curbs!! When remounting the wheel make sure to use a torque wrench to tighten the wheel nuts. If you have a service center that does your wheel removal and installation, make sure they use a torque wrench and NOT an AIR IMPACT WRENCH. Damage can be done to the alloy wheel and brake rotor by using an AIR IMPACT WRENCH. The torque wrench setting for the Miata is 80 ft lbs. for both steel and alloy wheels.

Wheel Balance - A common problem with our Miatas is with wheel balance. The balance problem usually shows up around the 65 MPH area. It is a vibration or shaking in the car. You have your wheels perfectly balanced and it still vibrates. What I have found for owners that have locking wheel nuts on there wheels is the following: The locking wheel nut weighs about 1 oz. more than the non-locking wheel nuts. Your wheels are balanced but you just unbalanced them with the locking wheel nut. This can be solved by removing the locking wheel nut and replacing it with a standard wheel nut or adding another locking wheel nut opposite the existing one. Guess which one is less expense?

Use a torque wrench to tighten your wheels and not an AIR IMPACT WRENCH. This should be followed for all vehicles you own.

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Miata Hibernation (by Joe Menigoz)

As we all know winter is not far away. The leaves are falling and your Miata has a sad look on its face. Let me give you some tech tips on winter storage. Your Miata will love you next spring if you treat it well this coming winter.

Starting your Miata for short periods in NOT recommended -- it only adds moisture to your exhaust system and also to your engine oil.

Now let's cover the preparation for final storage.

  1. Wash and wax your car and clean interior.
  2. Check anti-freeze. If replacing anti-freeze use 50/50 antifreeze and distilled water.
  3. Change oil and filter just before storage.
  4. Add STA-BIL fuel additive to gasoline, (directions on bottle) and fill fuel tank.
  5. Inflate tires to 50 psi if not storing on jack stands. This will keep your tires from forming flat spots.
  6. Loosen gas cap to relieve pressure on fuel system. After pressure is relieved, tighten gas cap.
  7. Remove battery. If battery is not being removed, DISCONNECT NEGATIVE battery cable. Dark currents will drain your battery if negative cable is not disconnected. Dark current is the power used by the radio/clock and the on-board computer when car is off with key removed from the ignition. Store battery in a cool location. Charge battery once a month or so with a 2 AMP trickle charger. Do not charge battery with a high AMP charger. Miata battery will be destroyed if high AMP chargers are used.
  8. To prevent rust to the brake rotors, remove wheels and spray some WD40 on cloth and wipe rotors on both sides.
  9. Place some steel wool in the tail pipe to keep out the mice and critters.
  10. Place a rag in the air intake snorkel located high left fender area under the hood, also to keep out the critters.
  11. Loosen the top latches to relieve the strain on the top.
  12. Roll down side windows a half-inch or so to remove the glass pressure on the top gasket seals.
  13. Place a bar of Irish Spring soap (cut up or shredded) in an open container inside the cabin. The mice hate it and your car will smell great next spring.
  14. Cover car with car cover or old sheet/blanket (to keep it warm during the COLD winter, poor baby!!)


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Shift Turret Boot Replacement (by Joe Menigoz)

As I mentioned in last months Tech Tips most shift boots/seals are torn in 90% of the 90-94 model years. This problem affects only the 5-speed transmission models.

You are probably thinking my shift boot is just fine, I don't see any torn material by my shift lever! Well the culprits are located under what you don't see.

Now lets take a closer look - we have to remove the console between the seats to gain access to the boots.

First remove the cup holder or ashtray from the console; next unscrew and remove the shift knob. Located under the cover of the console there are 2 phillips screws - remove them along with the screw where the cup holder/ashtray is. On both front sides of the console, remove the screws. Lift the front of the console and unplug the electrical connector that attaches to the console. Remove the console and set aside. Next you will see some brown insulation material located around the shift lever. Take note on how it is placed - remove and set aside.

Place the transmission in neutral. The first boot you will see is a large neoprene boot - this boot/seal keeps the heat, cold, noise, and exhaust from entering the inside of the car. Inspect it carefully, look for tears or rips - now let's look a little further. Remove the 4 bolts (10mm) that hold the first boot to the base. A little silicone spray on the shift lever will let you slide the first boot off the lever - inspect the large boot again. You will now see the small round boot (seal) on the shift turret held in by 3-10 mm bolts - inspect this boot for tears. This boot keeps the oil in the shift turret and keeps out the dirt. I found the best way to remove this boot is to cut the neoprene seal off the shift lever then slide the metal part off.

Now is also a good time to change the oil in the shift turret. The oil in the turret is 75W-90 weight transmission oil. This shift turret oil is SEPARATE from the transmission oil. In other words if you change your transmission oil you DID NOT change your shift turret oil.

Make sure the transmission is in neutral and hand brake is set. Lift the shift lever straight up and out. You may want to have some paper towels handy to catch any oil drips. Set shift lever aside. I use a old turkeybaster and coffee can to remove the old transmission oil. Get out as much as you can. Replace with new transmission oil 75W-90 weight. You can use synthetic oil or dino oil. The amount to replace is 3 fl. oz. of new oil.

I found that silicone spray makes the new and old boots/seals slide on the shift lever without much problem, use it.
The boots/seals are about $16 each through Roebuck Mazda (800-240-2121 - no longer in business at this number) and tell them you belong to Badgerland Miata Club for the discount price.

We had a busy month in the BMC garage. Club members completed the following projects on their Miatas:
Catalytic converter replacement, shift boot replacement, brake, clutch, transmission, differential fluid change. Timing belt and water pump replacement. Aftermarket exhaust system replacement.

Everyone did a GREAT job, had some fun, and learned a little more about their cars.

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Hand Brake Adjustment (by Joe Menigoz)

Here is a easy adjustment that can be completed in about 15 minutes. As our Miata's add stop and go miles our brake pads wear down, which is normal. Miata hand brake operates the rear wheel brake pads.

Now let's adjust that hand brake! The adjustment is made inside your car, you don't even get dirty on this project. Tools needed - small phillips screwdriver and a large regular screwdriver.

On the hand brake you will find a plastic cover behind the hand grip. The cover is two pieces held together with a small phillips screw. The screw is on the drivers seat side. Remove the screw and separate and remove the plastic cover. Looking down you will see a slot that the large screwdriver will fit into. Pull up on the hand brake and count the number of clicks until the brake is firmly set. Release the brake and count the clicks again. For 90-93 models 5-7 clicks to firmly set brake. For 94-97 models 7-9 clicks to firmly set brake. Adjustment is made by placing the regular large screwdriver into the slot and turning it clockwise. After a few turns count the clicks until the correct amount is counted. Replace the plastic cover, and you're done. This adjustment will give you some ideas on how much rear brake you have left. If it takes many many turns to adjust the hand brake it might be time to get a brake inspection for worn pads.

Completed member projects this month include Mark Nordby, replace shift turret boot seals, transmission rear end, brake and clutch fluid, change and adjust rear brakes. Todd Murray shift turret boot seals.

From what I have seen most Miatas in the 90-94 range have torn shift turret seals, oil leaks out and dirt may get in. One car had very little oil in the shift tUrret but all is well now after replacing the oil and seals.

Upcoming member projects, catalytic converter replacement, timing belt replacement.

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Unzip - Protect - Cover (by Joe Menigoz)

Now that summer is in full swing lets review some very important summer items:

Rear Window - NEVER lower your top without unzipping the window. When the top is lowered without being unzipped there is a good chance that you will get heat set creases in the window. So take the extra time and UNZIP.
Window Protection - Use a towel or after-market window protector. This protection will prevent scratches from the top rubbing and vibrating on the window when top is down. PROTECT.
Cover It - Use the top boot (cover) when your top is down. If not used the inside of the top suffers damage from ultra violet rays (UV). The inside of the top is not the same material as the outside top material. COVER.
Tire Pressure - Check the pressure when tires are cold. Miatas like 28-30 PSI tire pressure.
Oil - Change it every 3000 miles along with the filter. A good grade of 10W-30 is ideal for summer use.
Wash and Wax - When giving your baby a bath, remember to pop-up those head lights - they are often forgotten. I like Meguiar's waxes, also Race Glaze polish for the shine and paint protection.
Safety Check - Check your lights some evening. Check tail, side-marker, brake lights, directional, and backup lights. Remember our cars are small and we want other people to see us.

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Spring Tune Up (by Joe Menigoz)

OK, you're a procrastinator and so am I: your Miata has 30,000 miles or more since your last tune-up. You say to yourself "it runs fine - why should I fix something that isn't broken?" Well - as the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The pound of cure can be very expensive and the ounce is very modest cost.

A major tune-up consists of the following items:

  1. Spark plugs
  2. Spark plug wires
  3. Fuel Filter
  4. Air Filter Element
  5. PCV Valve
  6. Timing belt change - 60,000 miles
Now, let's do it!! Clean the top of the engine off, loose sand and dirt.
Spark plugs - Use NGK spark plugs, they are listed in your owners booklet by part number. They seem to work the best in the long run.
First remove spark plug wire from spark plug. Grasp plug wire at the top of plug and pull spark plug wire straight up. Remove old plug. Check the spark plug for proper gap. Gap should be 40 thousands inch. Coat the threads with anti-seize compound, just a light coating will do it. This is very important to do, if not done your plugs may not come out next time - SEIZED in place. Install new plug and torque to 15 ft. lbs. Do the remaining plugs.
Spark Plug Wires - Miata spark plug wires are the weakest link in the chain. The wires are by far the biggest contributing factor in causing problems. The new replacement wires are NKG brand, blue in color. Replace wires one at a time noting how they cross each other near the coil pack. Coat the inside of boot with die-electric silicone grease so they can be removed from the spark plug at a later tuneup date.
Air Filter - Air filter is located under the Mass Air Flow Sensor on the drivers side. Loosen clamp on black air duct on the front of Mass Air Flow Sensor, slip off duct. Remove bolts (screws) on base of Mass Air Flow Sensor. Lift up on sensor and air filter is located here. Air filter is a panel type filter. Replace with new.
Fuel Filter - Fuel filter is located under the car in front of the right rear wheel. This is the hardest part to replace. The car should be placed on jack stands or ramps. Remember you are working with gasoline - be very careful. Keep trouble light away from work location and make sure you work in a well ventilated area. The filter is located under a plastic cover held in place by nylon screws, remove cover. The fuel filter has a strap holding it in place with a bolt. Before removing bolt, loosen the fuel fill cap (were you put in your gas) this will remove pressure in the fuel tank. You will notice that the filter has two neoprene hoses attached to it. Clamp off these hoses with clamps, (we used vise grips), Slide clips back that are on the hoses of the filter. Have an aluminum turkey pan or something disposable to catch any gasoline. Slide off hoses from old filter. Remove bolt holding strap on filter. Remove old filter and replace filter with new. When completed check for leaks.
PCV Valve - Positive Crankcase Ventilator is located on the passenger side of valve cover on engine. It is round and held in the valve cover by a neoprene grommet. On the other end is a hose held on the PCV valve by a clip. Pull PCV valve outward from valve cover. Remove clip or hose end, install new PCV valve.
Timing Belt - We will tackle this subject at a later date. Major work involved.

We ordered parts needed except timing belt from Roebuck Mazda (800)240-2121 (they have all the part numbers). Total cost was $79.00 which included shipping (in 1999). This tune-up would cost approximately $250.00 plus, at other locations, so lets give it a try!!

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Nice Sounds (by Joe Menigoz)

(1st: I need your help and input. At this time I am putting together a list of Dealers, Garages, Body Shops and people that I/ you would recommend to the club for outstanding service. If you had your Miata worked on and were very satisfied, please let me know. I am looking for names for all areas of the state.)
Would you like to change the sound of your exhaust plus squeeze out a horse power increase? I have the answer: after-market exhaust system. There are many excellent systems - let me name a few: Borla, Jackson Racing, and Thermal. These systems are made of stainless steel and will last forever.
Let's Do it!

SAFETY FIRST: Use jack stands or ramps blocking wheels. WORK SAFE!!

Let's first change out a 1990 thru 1997 system, the 1999 system is a little different.

  1. At the rear of the catalytic converter flange is where the old system will be removed. It is important you soak the studs and nuts that hold the old system on, use WD-40 or any good penetrating oil. Start soaking with penetrating oil the night before and as many times as possible before removing the nuts.
  2. Remove the two (2) nuts holding on the old system. Keep adding penetrating oil as you remove the nuts. This is the hardest part of the job. *Note: 1996 and 1997 models have a oxygen sensor located on the system that must be removed and reinstalled on the new system.
  3. You will notice the system is suspended by rubber hangers. Add some penetrating oil to the rubber hanger suspension points also. Using a small screw driver pry off the rubber hangers from the exhaust system. Remove old system from under car.
  4. Most after market systems provide new stud nuts and flange gaskets; USE THEM. Apply anti-seize compound to the studs before re-assembly.
  5. Install new system in reverse order - hang system on rubber hangers, place new gaskets and nuts, tighten system. YOUR DONE! If this looks like a "more than you would like tackle task" a muffler shop will do it for a nominal fee.
  6. '99 model systems are available but limited at this time. Borla makes a system along with others. The disadvantage is Mazda has a welded system on these models, no more rear flange at catalytic converter to just unbolt. Cutting the system is required (not impossible but more difficult.)

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Oxygen Senson (by Joe Menigoz)

Is your Miata suffering poor mileage, hesitates on acceleration, have a rough idle, and you did a basic tuneup which include replacement of the spark plugs, plug wires and air cleaner filter? Let's check some areas where these problems may be coming from.

Air Leakage of intake system:
Inspect for cracks and splits on small vacuum hoses on the engine. Inspect all hoses from connection point to connection point. Inspect hoses on all sides. I have found that most hoses fail at the connection points where they connect to the engine or to vacuum controls. With age and heat these hoses harden and can fail. Under hood temperatures can reach 170 degrees in the summer. Also I check all clamps for tightness and cracks from the air cleaner filter area to the throttle body injection unit - this is the black ductwork on the front of the engine.

Oxygen Sensor:
This sensor sends signals from the engine exhaust system to the ECU (engine control unit) or on board computer. The signals sent to the ECU are then translated and sent to the fuel injectors. The oxygen sensor tells the injectors how much fuel is needed for good engine performance and clean emissions
On the 90 thru 95 models there is 1 sensor located on the exhaust header pipe under the hood, lower left side. On the 96 and 97 models 2 sensors are used, one under the hood and one located behind the catalytic converter and before the muffler. When your oxygen sensor heads south (fails) it can cause a whole host of problems: failed state emission test is just one example. Check for engine code 15 and 17 which was reviewed in last month's Tech Tips. One of my 1990 sensors did not bring up a 15 or 17 code but after some further testing I replaced the sensor and my problem was solved. My problem was poor mileage and hesitation.

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Miata Engine Computer Self Diagnostics (by Joe Menigoz)

The Miata engine computer continuously monitors many of the parameters related to engine performance such as fuel, spark, air, rpm, etc. It uses this information to get the most performance and fuel economy possible from the engine. A nice side affect is that it can detect many problems your engine may be experiencing and it even has a way to tell you about them. When an out-of-range condition is detected, a fault code is recorded in the engine computer. To read codes, first open the diagnosis connector that is positioned just on top of the driver's side shock absorber under the hood. Raise the lid on the small black box to reveal the legend for the connector.

To test your engine, first start it up and let it reach normal operating temperature. Then shut the engine off and proceed with work at the diagnosis connector. Using an unfolded paperclip, connect the GND and the TEN pins together. Return to the driver's sear and turn your ignition key to "ON" but do NOT start the engine.

Observe the "CHECK ENGINE" light in your instrument panel. It will flash a certain number of times to indicate a malfunction in your engine's control system. Count the number of flashes to indicate the malfunction code.

If the code is a two-digit number, the "tens" digit will be displayed first, then for a short 1.6 second period the light will be dark, then the "ones" digit will be displayed. This will repeat after a four-second dark pause. If there are multiple codes, they will each be separated by a four-second pause and may include two-digit codes, so pay attention. Take as long as you need to record the codes and then refer to the chart below or section "F" of your factory manual.

  • 1: ignition pulse
  • 2: ne signal
  • 3: g signal
  • 4: sgt signal (1.8)
  • 5: airflow meter
  • 8: water thermistor
  • 9: intake air thermistor in airflow meter
  • 12: throttle position sensor
  • 14: atmospheric pressure sensor
  • 15: oxygen sensor (output not changing)
  • 16: egr solenoid valve (1.8)
  • 17: oxygen sensor (output not changing)
  • 25: prc solenoid valve (1.8)
  • 26: solenoid valve (evaporative cansiter purge)
  • 27: erg solenoid valve (vacuum - 1.8)
  • 28: erg solenoid valve (vent - 1.8)
  • 34: idle air control (1.8)
  • 36: idle speed control valve
To clear fault codes, disconnect negative battery cable and depress brake pedal for 10 seconds.

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Front Swaybar Bushings Replacement (originally written for 1990-97 cars) (by Joe Menigoz)

Symptom - Dull thumping noise coming from front suspension. Noise most prevalent while going over bumps or cornering. Body roll. Cause - Bushing deteriorates (wears) causing slack between bushing and SWAYBAR. Cost and Time - About $5.00 each, 2 required. About 1 hour should do it. Part # - Mazda NAO1-34-156A (90 thru 97 - but check your year).

How to:

    1. SAFETY FIRST - place Miata on ramps or jack stands block - rear wheel - set emergency brake.
    2. Remove under cover (black plastic) using 10mm socket. 11 fasteners to be removed.
    3. Locate Swaybar - U-shaped bar 3/4" diameter located behind radiator and engine front.
    4. IMPORTANT - do one side at a time. Swaybar held in place by two straps, one on each side of sub-frame. Bushings mounted on bar and under straps. Bushings are split so they can be removed and installed without removing Swaybar. Use 12 mm socket to remove strap - 2 bolts.
    5. Remove old bushing. Clean-up Swaybar if rust or grime is present. Emery cloth or steel wool work well.
    6. Lubricate new bushing with silicone spray. Install new bushing on Sway bar, replace strap. Tighten strap to 13-20 ft pd. or tighten firmly by hand.
    7. Do the other side and replace undercover. Benefits - Reduced suspension noise, better handling and less body roll.

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Introduction to Tech Tips - Brief Winter Storage (by Joe Menigoz)

It is with great pleasure that the editorial staff announces a new writer to our small effort. Joe Menigoz has volunteered to write a monthly tech tips column so that we may become better informed as to what makes our "babies" tick. We welcome his humor and expertise. His first column follows.

Let me first introduce myself to the members that may not already know me: Joe Menigoz, your Tech Advisor. I wanted to contribute something to the club and I think this will be fun and helpful for everyone. Tech Tips will deal with maintenance issues, problems, and after-market goodies. Hey maybe we can save some money and have fun doing it!

Christmas is coming and your Miata sent me a Christmas list. The list included the following:

  • Auto ramps
  • Metric sockets and wrenches Hydraulic floor jack (2 1/2 ton) Jack stands (3 ton)
  • Torque wrench 1/2" and 3/8"

P.S. Your Miata also said that he or she was really good this year. Well, we will have to think about that!!!!

A Few Tips For Winter Storage

  1. Gas filler cap: Loosen gas cap at time of final storage and then tighten after the normal pressure is released. This takes the pressure off the 2-way or 3-way check valve fuel injection system.
  2. Battery: Disconnect battery at time of storage. Even with your ignition switch off "Dark Current" is drawing down your battery. Current is being used with the switch off to power your radio memory- clock and the ECU engine control unit(on board computer). So - possible DEAD battery come next spring.

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Would You Choose to Cruise? (by Pat Arvan)
Since buying our Miata, Barb and I have been obsessed with the open road and will look for any excuse to get behind the wheel.
Although most of us prefer driving on the winding back roads, there are times when we have to travel the interstates. These are the times when cruise control might be an advantage.
Initially, the only way to have cruise control on a Miata was to order the Package B model, since Mazda does not offer cruise as a factory or dealer installed option. There is, however, a good aftermarket alternative. The Dana Corporation manufactures a cruise control that is rated as good, if not better, than the Mazda factory installed unit (ref. - Miata Magazine, summer 1990). This Dana control is marketed by three companies: Sears #20310, NAPA #250-1075, and Audiovox #2501076. All three units are the same. Questions concerning these units can be answered by calling Dana Corp. Toll-free number - 1-800-438-3262.
The control I had installed in my Miata is the Audiovox unit #250-1076. The cost of the unit, including installation, was $200. The installation was done by Kevin Gerharz of "Signature Auto Accessories" in Waukesha - 1-414-547-8514. Kevin has done over 30 Miata installations.
The control arm is mounted in the steering column below the directional controls. It has the usual resume, accelerate, and coast capabilities.
After I had the cruise control installed, Barb and I vacationed in northern Wisconsin and Michigan, used it on several occasions, and were very pleased with its performance.

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Kar Kare (by Aaron Marshall - Marshall Autobody)
Many of today's automobiles are designed and built on the forefront of automotive technology. Their systems are complex yet durable. Maintaining the cosmetic appearance of these vehicles has become a productive pastime for their owners who wish to preserve the lasting beauty of these automobiles.
What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than tooling around the countryside, top down, leather sheathed hands gripping the wheel, and a rear-view of stirred leaves swirling in your path? Perhaps a lazy day in that favorite worn out golf shirt detailing a car whose appearance is as ravishing as its performance.
The following tips will help you to not only preserve the beauty of the Miata, but also protect it from the many harmful environmental factors which can deteriorate an automobile's appearance.
You should always begin by washing the car to remove the dust and dirt that can scratch the surface during waxing. A solution of warm water and a mild detergent (such as Ivory liquid soap) works best. Many of the "Wash and Wax" detergents are gimmicks and often contain substances which can be harmful to the finish. any road tar should be removed from the lower half of the car as well. Mild mineral spirits from the hardware store works quite well.
Car wax is probably one of the most exploited markets in the auto care industry. In a world characterized by "space age, super polymer enriched, lustre enhancing, effortless application" waxes and glazes, good old carnuba paste wax is still the best. Stay away from waxes which contain silicone. Free floating silicates eventually work their way into the paint and make any repainting difficult since the infected areas occasionally must be stripped completely. Meguire's makes a wax called "Meguire's No. 26" which is available in paste or liquid form. The liquid is easier to apply and has about the same durability as the paste. Apply the wax to the cloth instead of pouring it directly on the paint's surface. This will prevent "wax buildup" around moldings and within crevices. Use very soft cloth towels or "Viva" paper towels (for light colors) to buff the wax off after it has been applied. Always remember to wax your car in the shade since waxing it in the sun can be harmful.
Like crummy old sneakers with an Armani suit, dirty rims and tires can noticeably detract from an automobile's appearance. One of the most common problems plaguing rims today is the buildup of brake dust. I suspect most Miata owners have either the painted steel rims, or clear coated aluminum rims. With either of these, you must be careful not to use any abrasive chemicals which could damage the paint since repainting rims can be costly. The best way to tackle brake dust is by keeping it from building up. Taking the time to wipe the dust from every crevice of the rim whenever you wash your car is the best preventative measure. Waxing the rims also helps to keep the dust from sticking and makes it very easy to clean the wheels when you wash the car. If brake dust deposits have collected, there are a few ways to remove them without damaging the finish. Sometimes applying liberal amounts of wax to the "wheel ulcers" will loosen the material enough for it to be removed. Most store bought wheel cleaning products are safe to use for occasional cleaning if you follow the directions carefully. Tires can be cleaned relatively easily with "Fantastic" without harming the rims. A plastic bristle scrub brush from the supermarket works just fine. After scrubbing the sidewalls, rinse them off and allow them to dry. "Armor All" is about the best product offered to the public for preserving and protecting tires.
If your Miata has cloth seats, I highly recommend purchasing a can of "Scotch Guard". Coating the upholstery with this keeps some dirt from working its way into the fibers as well as saving the fabric from a catastrophic coffee spill since most water based substances will bead long enough to get a towel. Leather seats should first be cleaned with Windex and then protected with "Tannery" leather conditioner. The company manufacturers an aerosol which is easier to use than the original creme. It dries to an original luster, free from the slimy feeling of silicone based products like Armor All. The dashboard and door panels can be cleaned with Windex or Fantastic in order to remove most dirt. Q-tips work very well for cleaning air vents. The instrument panel should be cleaned periodically with Meguire's plastic polish. As for the carpets, the best suggestion I can make is that you have the carpet shampooed and steam cleaned at least once a year. This will lengthen the life of the carpet as well as keep it looking relatively new.

The Badgerland Miata Club, including its officers and staff, assumes no liability for any information contained herein; or injuries or damages resulting from the use of this information. The ideas, opinions, maintenance or modification tips expressed are to be used at the reader's discretion. Individual contributors and/or the editors express no approval, authentication or endorsement. All articles are dated; some information may have changed since original appearance.
BMC Line

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