Miata Radio Removal



1990-1996 1/2


By Jeff Anderson

This instruction is for the standard older type Miata radio used before and in some 1996's.

If you've not done this before, or are not accustom to this sort of work, you should allow about 30 minutes time to remove the radio and about 20 minutes for its reinstallation. The only tools needed are a regular size Phillips screwdriver, a piece of wire or cord a little over 2 feet long and perhaps a flat blade screwdriver and any kind of tape.

These instructions may include considerable more detail than most will need. The procedure is actually fairly simple, so don't be discouraged by the length of these instructions. They include extra hints gained from experience of many in removing hundreds of Miata radios.

The first hint is to put the top down before getting started -- this may provide more light and a little extra room for working. Another one is that a total of thirteen screws must be removed and all but one or two of them are the same type. So, it's not necessary to keep the screws sorted for their reinstallation. Work from the driver's side.

Know your radio security code if you've entered one before disconnecting the larger plug at the lower back corner of the radio (it's not necessary to know the code if you're sending your radio for H.R. service). In practice it's not necessary to disconnect the car's battery to remove the radio.


Twist to unscrew (check for a set screw if not a Miata knob) (No need to remove for automatics)


Set the hand brake.


Take out 5 screws:

  1. Under ashtray (or cup holder)
  2. Bottom of storage box area
  3. Bottom of storage box area
  4. Front of console, low on left side
  5. Front of console, low on right side

Lift the front part of the console upward a few inches and slide it a little forward so as to clear it from the levers for trunk and gas at the back of the console.

Once the console is clear simply lift it up and set it in the passenger seat. A plug-in wire cable runs to the bottom of the console -- it can be left plugged in.


Doing this will help prevent scratching the radio's face. Check, especially for automatics, to make sure the hand brake is still set.


The eye-ball vents must be removed to expose two screws that fasten the dash center piece to the main part of the dash. These two center vents just snap out by pulling them from the dash with a strong wire or cord (window blind cord works well) that's been looped through the vent openings.

Remove the left hand vent first. Start by forming a "V" shape in the cord about 3 inches from one end and have about two feet of cord on the other side of the "V". Window blind cord will not usually dent or scar the back- side of the vent but may not hold its "V" shape. If this is a problem with the cord you're using, use some tape to hold the "V" shape in the cord while sticking it through the vent openings.

Stick the point of the "V" into one of the vent's louver openings and then pull back so that the cord loops around the back side of the eye-ball from one vent opening to another. Pull the short end of the cord out of the vent so that both ends of the cord extend out with equal length.

Get both ends of the cord in your hands and give it a good strong steady pull until the eye-ball vent pops out. Start with the left vent to see how it works -- the right eye-ball vent in some of the 94's and 95's is installed overly tight and sometimes will not pop out using this method alone.

If an eye-ball vent will not pop out after a very strong pull, then in addition to pulling with the cord it'll be necessary to give it a little help by prying it from the dash with a flat blade screwdriver. To prevent marring the dash and the vent, cover the screwdriver's blade, the dash, and the rim of the vent with tape. Small sheets of thin plastic shoved into the junction before inserting the screwdriver's blade also works.

Use the flat blade screwdriver to pry at the eye-ball's outer perimeter rim (far right side for the right vent and far left side for the left vent) while also pulling firmly on the cord.


The center dash piece is held by 3 screws:

  1. At top inside of left vent opening
  2. At top inside of right vent opening (a magnetic screwdriver will help prevent these 2 screws falling into vents)
  3. At center dash piece lower left corner (this screw in some older Miatas is shorter than the others)

The center dash piece is also held in with metal spring clips. To remove the center dash piece simply grab hold of it at strong points along the sides and pull it from the dash.

Once the center dash piece is pulled away from the dash a few inches, reach behind it and unplug the plug for the headlights-up and emergency buttons. Press in on the plug's locking tab release and unplug. The headlight covers will not operate while this plug is removed.

Hint: If the plug is removed while the headlights are up they will always stay up, even while the plug is removed. With the covers in the up position the headlights will work and can be used to drive the car. So, as a precaution in case you happen to forget to plug the buttons back in when you put things back together it's a very good idea to


The spring clips should come out attached to the back side of the center dash piece; however, they sometimes don't. So carefully look to see if some of the black metal spring clips have remained in the dash. If some have it's important to pull them out and shove them back into the back of the center dash piece. A drop of glue will fix them in place for the next time the center dash piece is taken off.

If one of the eye-ball vents was stubborn in coming out this is a good time to take care of that problem. Take your finger and bend back the copper colored metal springs clips on the back side of the center piece. Put the eye-ball vent back in to see if it needs further adjustment for ease of removal.


The radio (CD too, if installed) and its mounting bracket remove from the dash as a unit. Be careful not to nick the radio's face plate on the top of the gear shift shaft. You might want to cover the top of the shaft with a rag. Also, when removing the radio its metal bracket can nick the steering wheel, so take caution to avoid that happening.

Take out 4 screws:

  1. Just right of radio's top edge (or CD)
  2. 3 1/8 inches below screw 1. above
  3. Just left of radio's top edge (or CD)
  4. 3 1/8 inches below screw 3. above

Pull the radio and its bracket from the dash. If it has not been removed before it may only come out freely an inch or so. If binding is felt at this point just pull a little harder -- the radio's connecting cables are tied in a bundle with weak paper tape that will pull apart by just pulling out with a little more force.

Don't pull too hard if the radio will only come out an inch or so because on some Miatas (perhaps those with dealer installed air conditioners) in addition to the tape, the radio's wires are wrapped around some pipes. This will absolutely prevent the radio from extending out of the dash for more than about an inch. If this is the case, then it's necessary to first unplug the radio's plugs (on back of the radio) by sticking the tips of your fingers (or screwdriver) into the small opening to release the tabs on the plugs going to the back of the radio. Once the radio is out re-route the cables so they are not looped around the pipe. This is not a very common problem -- I've only seen it on about three Miatas.

Once the radio and its bracket are out far enough to place your hand behind the radio reach in and unplug two plugs on the left back-side of the radio. Both these plugs have tabs that must be pressed-in to release them. Press down on the tabs while pulling out the plug.

Next you will see a large black coaxial cable wire coming out of the radio's right back-side. About 6 inches from the radio an in-line connector (covered in grey foam) can be unplugged simply by pulling it apart.

The last wire to remove is the black ground wire. Unscrew the screw in the back of the radio to release its ring connector. This screw is a different type from all the rest you've removed. Screw it back into the radio so that it will be handy when the radio is being re-installed. Now the radio and its mounting bracket can be completely removed from the dash. When removing the radio from the bracket, mark some lines on each side to show the relative position of the radio (and CD, if installed) in the bracket. Doing this can greatly speed the reinstallation.


Reinstallation is the reverse of removal. The eye-ball vents just press and snap back in. Make sure the spring clips for the center dash piece are all in their proper place in the back of the center dash piece. If any of the clips are still hanging from the main dash the center dash piece will not go back on properly.

Don't forget to plug in the plug for the headlight-up and emergency buttons -- if you don't do this the headlight covers will not operate. It's easy to overlook plugging these buttons back in. If you do forget you'll have to take most everything back apart again.

Place the gear shift lever back in the neutral position before you place the center console back on, and be careful not to poke a hole in the shift boot. If you have an odd screw that's not the ground wire screw for the radio then that odd screw goes at the dash center piece's lower left corner.

Newer Miata's have a rubber filler plate that goes around the levers at the back of the console. It will usually become dislodged when the console is put back in. Work this rubber piece so that it goes back into proper position around the levers.

1999 -2005 (Also works for '96 1/2 - '97)

Aaron Lopez

The removal of the radio from the 99+ Miata is very simple. It takes only a few minutes after the tools have been collected. One can either purchase the necessary removal tools from an automotive shop or they can be made simply.

To make the removal tool, locate an uncoated wire coat hanger. Cut it into two lengths about eight to 10 inches in length. Bend them into a U shape about 1.5" wide. These are the only tools necessary to remove the radio.

If you do not have the wire hanger or a way of cutting them, or if you have time and money to burn, the tools can be purchased. Go to an automotive store that sells audio wiring harnesses and installation kits. Most of them should also sell the removal tool. It is usually referred to as a "Ford/Mazda Radio Removal Kit." It consists of the two Us.

Ok, now to get in the car. It should be unnecessary to disconnect the battery since no wires will be cut, only plugs removed. (4/2009 update by Jeff Anderson: That's proven invalid for some of the NB Miata radios, so first disconnect the car's battery before removing, and reinstalling the radio). Put the top down since it will make any maneuvering needed (which should be very little) easier on the body. Look at the Radio to be removed and notice the two covers on either side of the faceplate. Carefully remove the two covers to reveal two small holes underneath. These holes are where the two U shaped pieces of wire are to be inserted.

With the wires inserted, one for each side, pull the loops apart while pulling the radio out. If the tools were purchased, there should have been some notches in the sides that lock them to the radio clips. If you were brave, and constructed your own tools, they may have a tendency to slide out, but just reinsert them and try, try again. It may be necessary to wiggle the radio up and down a bit to shake the rear support free of its hole. That is it. The radio should come right out. Unplug the ground, wiring harness(es), and antenna connection and the radio will be free of its constraints.

If you have the double-DIN radio that takes up two spaces in the column, either buy two kits, or make two sets of tools. Either way, have 4 U pieces of wire and insert two in each side of the double-DIN head unit.

IF there are 5 holes on the Double DIN radios, then use the lower 4. The upper hole should only be used as a point to attatch the side covers and there should not be a retaining clip behind it.

Now, to put the radio back in, just plug in all the rear connections and push the radio back in. You will probably hear a click when it is all the way in. If you are upgrading/changing the radio to an aftermarket head unit, I would recommend purchasing the wiring harness for the M2 from the 'fore mentioned stores. Cutting of the factory wiring, when it can be avoided, is never a good idea.

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4 May, 2009

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