Dec 19, 2012 update to the Mazda MX-5 Miata project car

More cooling system woes

It was time to go to work, but we had a Volvo that won't start and a bicycle with a flat tire. Of the three, the radiator was the easiest to repair.
Anyone who's owned an early Miata long enough has done this job. This radiator lasted a good 90,000 miles since it was last replaced at 175,000 miles.

Earlier this year, we had a series of coolant leaks and hilarity come together at once. After those were sorted, we thought we were in the clear for lots of hot Florida driving.

We had only bought ourselves a few months. Recently, while using the Miata to jump-start our 302-powered Volvo 242 (now departed), we heard a pop, a hiss, and a pouring sound, followed by a big, white cloud blooming out of the Miata’s hood and a brown river running underneath it. This was a disappointment, but not a big surprise. The plastic side tanks on these OE-style radiators are a known weak point, and anyone who’s owned a Miata long enough has replaced one.

We could install a high-performance all-aluminum piece and never have this problem again, but the cost is excessive considering this naturally-aspirated car doesn’t need the extra cooling. Our local parts store, thankfully, had one in stock. We ran over there and picked it up, but by then it was dark outside and we were hungry for dinner. We figured that would be a project for the following afternoon, and we’d take a bike ride to work in the morning. Flyin’ Miata does offer an all-metal OE-style radiator, which we’ll have to consider for our other Miata project when it goes endurance racing.

Oh, but come morning, we discovered a flat bike tire. We’d have to fix the radiator right then. Out came a couple of sockets for the radiator and fan, and pliers for the hoses. Within half an hour, this Miata was running again, with a functioning cooling system. There’s really not anything else that can fail now, is there?

Don’t answer that.

Get the answer to life, the universe and everything automotive 8 times a year. Subscribe to Grassroots Motorsports now.
Join Free Join our community to easily find more project updates.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Dork
12/19/12 10:00 a.m.

Earlier this year, we had a series of coolant leaks and hilarity come together at once. After those were sorted, we thought we were in the clear for lots of hot Florida driving.

We had only bought ourselves a few months. Recently, while using the Miata to jump-start our 302-powered Volvo 242 (now departed), we heard a pop, a hiss, and a pouring sound, followed by a big, white cloud blooming out of the Miata's hood and a brown river running underneath it. This was a disappointment, but not a big surprise. The plastic side tanks on these OE-style radiators are a known weak point, and anyone who's owned a Miata long enough has replaced one.

We could install a high-performance all-aluminum piece and never have this problem again, but the cost is excessive considering this naturally-aspirated car doesn't need the extra cooling. Our local parts store, thankfully, had one in stock. We ran over there and picked it up, but by then it was dark outside and we were hungry for dinner. We figured that would be a project for the following afternoon, and we'd take a bike ride to work in the morning. Flyin' Miata does offer an all-metal OE-style radiator, which we'll have to consider for our other Miata project when it goes endurance racing.

Oh, but come morning, we discovered a flat bike tire. We'd have to fix the radiator right then. Out came a couple of sockets for the radiator and fan, and pliers for the hoses. Within half an hour, this Miata was running again, with a functioning cooling system. There's really not anything else that can fail now, is there?

Don't answer that.

Get the answer to life, the universe and everything automotive 8 times a year. Subscribe to Grassroots Motorsports now.
Sponsored by

GRM Ad Dept

Our Preferred Partners
dvTEgPOOADTXX3P28C1sHbT4MuqZVsvkPpS7kYEQkJPOtonTdctYwZ6gLQgHB7zj