Long-Term Testing

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Dec 24, 2001

Three years ago today, we bought our ‘92 Miata, so here’s a little real-world “long-term testing” feedback on the car.

The car had about 68,000 miles when we bought it, and it just recently turned 94,000. Aside from stuff upgraded for increased performance or editorial, problems and breakage have been pretty minimal (knock on wood). However, it’s fair to say that our car has received above-average care, as it sleeps in a garage and receives lots of preventative maintenance. For example, when we did the head, we also replaced all of the belts, hoses and seals. When we did the clutch, we spent the extra 20 bucks to replace the rear main seal. We also take the time to wash, wax and vacuum the car on a regular basis. It may be approaching the 100,000-mile mark, but the only way to tell is by looking at the odometer.

Here’s the list of problems encountered during our three years of ownership:

  • Had the clutch pilot bearing go about 2 years ago—and it went loudly (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!). We found a locked pilot bearing when we pulled everything apart, but we used this as an excuse to upgrade to a Moss Motors aluminum flywheel and Jackson Racing clutch. During the repair, we installed brand-new Mazda seals.
  • Also about 2 years ago, the clutch slave cylinder went. Pumping the pedal at stop lights gave us enough clutch action to limp the car back home, but the piece itself wasn’t too expense ($39.95 through Moss Motors).
  • Dead battery. The Miata uses a small, vented battery, so it’s not something in stock at every parts store. We paid $100 for one at the dealership. You can save a few dollars by buying a battery via mail order, but the dealership had one in stock. Ours went after a particularly cool winter night. (Well, cool by Florida standards.)
  • The airbag light came on during some recent track testing. The car did a little soil sampling, however, so something may have been jarred loose. The leather on the wheel is getting a little dingy, so a race-style wheel is probably in the car’s future.
  • Okay, really stretching here, but almost all of the little teeth on the back of the driver’s floor mat have fallen out, so it doesn’t always sit straight. Yeah, that’s piddly, but that’s really the only other problem encountered. The top, paint and rest of the interior have aged quite nicely.

Future plans: We’re still having way too much fun with this car, so we’re kicking around ideas for future projects. Turbo? Supercharger? Supercharger with high-boost pulley? Individual throttle bodies? New camshafts? Deck the block? Or, should we just run the car as-is and enjoy it? If there’s something that you’d like to see, let us know.

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