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Miata: Maintenance thoughts

It was a lot of fun, mixed with a lot of labour, and a little frustration (silly exhaust system).

Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  Would I do it again next week?  Ah, no.  Maybe next year.

I think the most fun was all the new things I got to do:

  • Using an engine hoist to remove a functional engine/trans from my daily driver
  • Changing a clutch/flywheel
  • Bleeding the clutch system (thank you, 949racing!)
  • Now knowing how to bleed the brake system
  • Putting a valve cover gasket on (we'll see how the sealant works out)
  • Removing suspension from a car I was promised required two people to myself :) (yay leverage)
The planning/reading was enjoyable as well.

I think the worst part of the job was trying (and failing) to get the exhaust unbolted.  Pretty sure it'll need to be cut out whenever that job comes up - stripped one of the cat bolts using the impact gun (the other one came out fine :S ).  Wasn't even going to attempt the header->downpipe bolts...haha zero room.  

Also...the rearmost PPF bolt was NOT moving.  I had a 30" 1/2" breaker bar on it...pushing will all my strength just flexed the bar!!  With the little compressor I had...the impact gun impact....  At any rate, that was not a deal ...breaker?

What surprised me most was how simple the process really was, once you knew what the components were and how they plugged in/attached to the block.  I won't detail it to save boredom, but it really was, unbolt the big stuff, unplug connectors, unbolt the small stuff, forcibly remove engine (it did require some encouragement).  Putting it back in went much faster even though I was on my own (had a helper during the removal).

The firing order in the Haynes manual was reversed...this was a big delay (~1-2 hours), also fiddling with the idle, and looking for what could be causing the weird noise (that disappeared after an hour of driving) - those also caused unnecessary delays.  However, the engine is now running MUCH better than it did before - idle droop is gone - albeit the exhaust smells of running very rich, how it has been since I got it.  I think that change will require perhaps a new O2 sensor?  Or a MSPNPv2 :)

Further revelation is that a V8 swap is off the radar - the car is lots of fun with stock power (new flywheel/clutch has a big part in that) - if anything I would do a 1.8 swap (~5% the cost of a V8 swap) for that additional 30hp, and then a low-PSI turbo kit.  With the gearing the way it is, car is not pleasant to drive above 100-120km/h, so big horsepower turbo just doesn't make any sense to me.  It's got probably 80-90whp as it is...I'd say 150-200 would be plenty - puts the power:weight ratio in Corvette territory.  Those numbers are also well within what a moderate turbo 1.8 could do on pump gas.

Enough rambling.  

I'm still not 100% convinced the suspension is correct, but so far only bad potholes are jarring.  I'm guessing this is normal due to the shocks/bumpstops/shockmounts actually being functional, rather than super spongy/loose.  If it's still really bad with the 14" wheels, I'll go back in to investigate.  Otherwise, car is running great (ok, 2nd gear is unhappy with the cold weather)...for a 20 year-old car!!!

Gonna stop worrying about it and just enjoy it.


  1. Nice work, Chris! Sounds like it was a fun project. :)

  2. Yar, it was. I failed to mention how, in my rush to complete the suspension, I neglected to place the passenger-front sway bar inside its mount prior to bolting/torquing. Haha, glad my guess as to what that awful clunk was proved correct.

    All good now, tho!


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