First a quick revue on maintenance items and
- Oil and filter every 3,000-4,000 miles.
- Rotate tires every 6,000-8,000 miles
(every other oil change).
- 4 wheel alignment every 15,000 miles.
- Stock air filter every 15,000 miles.
- Wiper inserts/blades every 15,000 miles.
- I change my spark plugs every 15,000
miles. (Stock plugs are good for about
Let's look at the 30,000 mile maintenance.
- Include tune up, fuel filter,
brake/clutch fluid flush and coolant
- If the car has stock 80w-90 weight lube,
I also change the transmission and
differential fluids. Change to red line
and replace every 60,000.
- I have not seen the need, or had any
reason to use gas, or oil additives, but
I hear they are a real money maker!
- Note: It's been found in racing
applications, the Torsion differential
had problems with metal fragments. The
cure was to change the fluid after the
first 100 miles or so. Not bad advice for
any new car, I would change the
transmission fluid at this time also.
- Ignition wires, before 45,000 miles.
This brings us to the 60,000 mile
maintenance. The "Big One".
Assuming all maintenance has been done on the car
to date, this is what to expect.
- A full tune-up and fluid change,
including the brake and clutch fluid.
- Suspension and brakes should be checked.
(A good time to think of replacing those
- Four wheel alignment.
- All the belts. If money is tight, the
timing belt could wait, but don't wait
too long (no more than 75,000). You do
stand the risk of being stranded if the
belt breaks. If the belt breaks, there
should do no further damage to the
engine, (this engine is a non
interference type) but it will not run.
- When the timing belt is replaced, be sure
to have the camshafts and crankshaft
seals replaced. This is a job for someone
that will stand by their work. It is very
easy to scratch the surface of the shafts
when pulling the old seals out. If this
happens, the new seals will leak and
could be expensive to repair. Be sure the
crankshaft bolt is cleaned, and Loctite
is used along with the correct torque.
- When the timing belt is being replaced,
be sure to have the water pump checked
for leakage. The water pump is mounted
inside the timing belt area. If the water
pump has to be replaced, the timing belt
has to be taken off to gain access to the
pump. Best to check it when the belt is
off the car, if it is leaking, it can be
replaced for a lot less labor at this
- When a timing belt is replaced, the valve
cover gasket should also be renewed. (The
valve cover has to be removed to replace
- The timing has to be adjusted after doing
a timing belt, so if you have a preferred
spec (14 deg, 18 deg) this can be done at
this time. Also, if you are running a
setting other than stock, be sure the
technician working on the car is aware of
it, or he may put it back to a stock
Finding A Shop
Finding a shop. I guess it's like picking any
other service, (Doctor, Lawyer, Hairstylist) word
of mouth is the best indicator, letting people
with like tastes and expectations help guide you
to a shop that will suite your needs.
to look for when searching for a repair shop
for your Miata:
- Looks are deceiving, but on the whole, a
clean shop would be better than a grease
pit. (Not always true, but someone that
has pride in their work, usually has
pride in their shops appearance.)
- A well equipped shop is a must. For
example, any shop can have a tire
machine, but is it the type that will not
destroy the rim of a mag wheel trying to
get these new low profile tires mounted?
- Can you talk to the technician working on
your car directly? Or do you have to try
and communicate with a go between, and
hope the information reaches the person
doing the work on your car?
- Are they knowledgeable of your car?
(Better yet, do they own one?)
- Do they have access to information on
your car? (Manuals, CD system etc.)
- Are they certified technicians? (ASE,
- Will they stand behind their work?
The best place to find these answers is
through your local Miata chapter. You have a
whole network of people at your disposal, and
most will be willing to tell you about their
favorite repair shop, also the places to steer
When you bring your car in for a 4 wheel
alignment, ask, when was the last time the
alignment machine was calibrated? If it's a
dealer, and it's been over a week, ask them to
call you the day it's being calibrated and make
an appointment for the next day.
Reason: At a larger repair shop, many
people use the alignment equipment, and the
chances are greater that a projector could be
dropped, knocking the calibration of the
machine out of spec.
The problem with a large shop, is that
nobody likes to own up to throwing the
equipment out of calibration, the only way it
shows up, is with cars coming back with
complaints (it could be your car) until the
company is called to re calibrate the
Sometimes, the company is under contract
to calibrate once a month or so. If a smaller
shop has alignment equipment, there are less
people involved with using it, and more
incentive to keep the machine accurate.
Many small shops can not afford to call up
the company to calibrate the machine on a
regular basis, so they invest in the
equipment and knowledge to calibrate in
house, when ever they feel it necessary.
When someone's personal reputation is
on the line, they tend to do a better job, and do
it the first time around. If a technician hides
under the cloak of a large franchise or
operation, they have less personal liability.
Their incentive is to churn the work out as
quickly as possible.
I know a lot of people like to change their
own oil etc. on their cars. The question is, are
you really do the best thing for your car, or
yourself? Apart from the hassle of getting the
car on ramps, getting covered with oil, trying to
get that dam oil filter off, and disposing of the
toxic waste in a politically correct manner. Is
the car getting the inspection or maintenance it
- Are the brake lines checked? The brake
calipers checked for leakage? Brake pads
checked for wear?
- Differential and transmission seals
- Tire pressure checked? Tire wear noted?
- Doors lubed?
- Fluids filled?
- Heat shields checked?
- Clutch linkage lubed?
- Etc. Etc.
All these things can done at a glance
when the car is serviced on a lift, and all for
about $25. One of the best deals I know of. I
would rather spend my time driving the Miata than
crawling under it!
I have a container with 200-300 objects
pulled from tires that were leaking. All these
were noticed doing routine maintenance, and
noticing one tire was a few pounds lower than the
rest. If the air pressure wasn't checked every
oil change (3,000-4,000 miles) one low tire
wouldn't mean much, and further investigation for
a nail would probably not be done.
This is just one example of preventive
maintenance, if it is not done on a regular
basis, many things could go unnoticed until it is