Z-Car

Upgrade your Miata’s headlights with Hella H4 halogen bulbs, Cibie eCode projectors, and a relay kit.

 

My 1994 Mazda Miata has suffered over the years with a very poor headlight setup.  It got to the point where I just did not enjoy driving it at night anymore.  The pathetic yellow light dripped from the front of the car, providing limited visibility, even in urban driving.  Rural driving, out where I live, was just down right scary.

So, I finally decided to do something about it.  I ultimately decided to upgrade my sealed beams for a set of Cibie eCode projectors fitted with H4 100/80W bulbs.  When upping the watts and amperage from stock values to these floodlights, it is important to add an aftermarket lighting relay.  Your factory wiring harness and light switch will thank you, 20 year old thin wire usually does not like having 10+A flowing through it on a regular basis.  

First step, buy a quality relay harness that will work with your Miata.  The picture below shows the unit I went with.  Installation took all of about an hour.  I suggest connecting the power to the main fuse panel via the main breaker bolt.  Also, wire it in with your stock lights first to test operation before upgrading to the H4’s.  Changing one thing at a time helps with troubleshooting if you run into any issues.

The next step is to replace your sealed beams with the Cibie eCodes.  These are European styled projectors that will amaze you with how much better they project light down the road.  The light is focused, yet is aimed so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic.  Swapping out the projectors just involve popping your headlights, removing the plastic shroud around the pop-up, and then loosen the three screws around the silver retaining benzel.  

 

Lastly, we get to the Hella H4 100/80W bulbs.  Most folks will stick with the more standard 60/55W bulbs, however I highly recommend upgrading to a higher wattage.  The difference in output is just stunning, and when combined with the Cibie eCodes, you will not blind other drivers.  There are other wattage H4’s such as a 130/90, 130/100, and 100/90.  As long as you have upgraded your wiring with a relay harness, it is safe to give these bulbs a try.  However, it has been reported that the high wattage bulbs have very short lifetimes, sometimes only hundreds of hours before they fail.  Also, care must be taken when installing an H4 to get NO fingerprints on the bulb.  The oil from your hands will cause early failure as well. 

If you shop around (click on pictures to see on Amazon), you can pick up all the parts you need for less than $150.  And, future replacement bulbs can be picked up for less than $10 each.  Don’t put it off, click on the pictures above, go to Amazon, and be amazed at how awesome a new headlight setup will enhance your night time driving!  Leave a message to let us know how it goes for you.  

 


How to add DRL and LED to your Miata NA.

girl fixing a miata

As I have been daily driving my 1994 Miata NA for the last year or so, I have been more cognisant of trying to make the little Miata more visible. We also have a lot of divided highways out this way that require headlights to be on, and the police enforce it. I hate raising the barn doors, and if I just turn on my parking lights, they don’t really do much, and I always forget that I left them on.

So, I decided to get a couple of smoked replacement lights ($50 on Amazon for a pair), and modify them. I opened up the unused half of the light and used a LED for the parking and turn signal, and used the main bay with a H11 LED.  If you follow along, I will show you what you need to do to make this work.  In addition, you can easily wire in a relay to make your parking lights come on whenever the car is running.

First get some of these nice smoked turn signal assemblies.

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Then buy a set of 3157 parking and turn signal bulbs, I like these, and get this pigtail harness.  I also used H11 LED bulbs as the main DRL, I got these, and also the pigtails.  What we are going to do is open up the normally closed section on the parking light assembly.  I used a soldering iron to melt it out.   Once you get a good fit, a glob of silicone sealant will hold them in place and seal the opening from moisture.

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You will now need to wire the lights up.  This will vary by pigtail, lights, and assembly, but in general you will want to wire red to red and black to black.  The blue for the turn signal light will connect with the turn signal light coming from your original parking light wiring.  This is all pretty simple, leave a message if you have any issues.

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As you can see, it worked out pretty well. I wired in a relay that turns them on whenever the the car is in Run, instant DRL. I also wired the side markers to flash with the turn signals.

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How to Repair a Lotus Switch Pack – Or, why don’t my Elise’s parking lights work?

LotusGirl

Odds are you are either reading this page because your Lotus parking lights suddenly stopped working and you don’t know why, or you already know you need to replace or repair you Lotus Switch Pack.  That is great, because either way I will help you solve your problem.

I normally do not drive the Lotus that often in the Winter, and sometimes it can sit for a month or so with no venture outside.  This Winter was no different, and in addition, I had to get it moving at the beginning of March because I needed to get it emission tested.  That all went great, however when driving home I went to turn on the parking lights because it was misting slightly.  Imagine my surprise when the parking lights refused to turn on.  However, everything else worked, headlights, flashers, hazards, etc.  After looking at the schematics, it looked like Fuse F6 could be the issue.  I checked it, but it was fine.

Ok, this was not going to be a simple fix.  Maybe the switch was bad?  Remove the panel on the left that holds the switches, two screws on bottom, swap headlight switch connector and parking light connector.  As expected, parking light switch would turn on the headlights, so the problem was not the switch.   This panel is displayed below, the two green connector at bottom left are the ones you want to swap.

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After some more reading, and reviewing the Elise electrical schematic, it became pretty obvious the issue was the infamous Lotus Switch Pack pictured below!

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So, where is this Lotus Switch Pack located?  It is mounted on the steering column behind the instrument cluster.  Some online guides will tell you need to remove the full dash to get to it, however that is not true.  You can get to this by removing the cluster cover, unbolting the instrument cluster, and moving it out of the way.  Here is how you do it.

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First, remove (4 or 6 screws depending on if car was built on a Monday or Wednesday) the bottom cover around steering wheel.  One or two screws on each side, and two screws on the bottom.  Remove the top and bottom cover.  Then, you need to remove the instrument cluster housing.  This part sucks.  Remove two screws on each side.  The back of the cluster is just velcroed in place, yep 50K car uses velcro…  That part is easy, just lift up slightly.  The next is hard.  You need to pull the whole cluster back straight to release clips holding it on.  This requires pulling hard, if it does not come out, pull harder.  Take your time, and try not to crack anything.

It should look like the below when all is removed.

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I did not get a picture of the unit installed, but imagine in the picture below it is connected to those two connectors, and is mounted vertically with a screw on each side.  That part is easy, remove two screws, release the connectors.  There is a tab in center of connector you need to hold down while pulling carefully on connector.  Wiggle as needed.

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Success, you now have the Lotus Switch Pack module in your hands.  At this point, you have two choices, you can either simply buy a replacement, or you can attempt a repair.  If you decide to buy a replacement, you will need to search for the proper unit.  My 2005 Lotus was part number C117M0008f.  This has actually been superseded by two newer model numbers, D117M0008f was used in some later models, and E117M0008f appears to be the current replacement model.  I was able to find new versions online for between $160-$250.

However what if I told you that you could repair the unit for free? Worst case, for less than $25.  So, how do you do this?  Read on.

Inside the Lotus Switch Pack are two little relays, and one of them is preventing your parking lights from working.  The other relay is installed for the factory fog lights, which in many cases will not be installed on your Lotus.  You will know because you will have a fog light switch below the headlight switch.  If you don’t have fog lights, you can simply swap relays and solve your parking light issue.

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If you remove the switch pack module cover, you will see the guts of the unit.  On the top are relays, which are soldered below.  If you look carefully below (taken after removing the fog light relay), you will see five empty holes.  These are the five connections that you need to desolder.

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The picture below shows the relays.  The one in the center is the fog light relay, the parking light relay is directly below.  You will need a desoldering vacuum pump and/or desoldering wick.  Carefully remove ALL the solder from the relays and gently rock them loose.  There is some sticky substance that causes the relays to adhere to the board, be careful as it is easy to damage the relay when removing.  In fact, my guess is there is a 50/50 chance that it WILL be damaged, so be prepared to have to replace the relay.  If you email me or leave a comment with your contact info, I can provide replacements that WILL work with your unit for $25.  If you purchase on your own, be careful of your source, as it appears there are a lot of used units on eBay that will not work.

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How do you know if your relay is good or bad?  If you measure the coil with your ohmmeter, it should have a value between 120-140 ohms.  The proper pins to  test are the outer pins of the three in a row.  In picture below, it would be the pins that go into the three holes in the center.  Here you can see that I have removed the fog light relay, and replaced the parking light relay with a new unit.

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Connect the unit back up, and if you press the button, you should hear the relay click, and you now have parking lights!

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Put everything back together in the reverse order, and have a cold one.  Think about the $750 you saved by not going to the dealer, and leave a comment with your success story.  If you have any questions on the process, connect me and I will see what I can do to help you out.  Good Luck!

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Miata Padded Leather Armrest How-to

One of the more annoying aspects of my 1994 Mazda Miata was the center console armrest’s hard plastic cover.  Whenever my elbow touched that cover, it just plain hurt.  So, I decided to fix the problem.  I bought some supplies from Amazon, and got started.

The first item on the shipping list was a package of NU-Foam.  This poly-fil is really great, it is compressive, however even when compressed down, it still has a lot of give.  Perfect for providing a firm arm support that still has cushion.   

The other product was a sheet of genuine leather, plenty to cover the arm rest.  The piece I bought was 1 foot by 2 foot.

 

We will attach the leather to the plastic cover using a staple gun.  Make sure you have a good quality staple gun and staples.  I don’t think size is very critical, however the gun needs to be strong enough to pierce the plastic.  I suggest practicing with a few staples before you try and attach the leather.

The installation process is actually super simple.  First remove your console cover, it comes off with a couple of phillips head screws.  After removing, clean it up and test fit your material.  Cut a piece of foam to fit the top of the lid.  Don’t skimp, it is easier to start with too much and trim it back if you get too much.

Now is the only tricky part, cut the leather to overlap the top of the cover.  Starting at one side, firmly staple the entire side.  Then carefully stretch the leather across and fasten the other side.  My suggestion is to stretch tight enough that the top of the cover is firm, however still has noticeable give, this is what will make it comfortable for your elbow to rest on.

The final two sides will be a little more challenging.  You have to stretch and tuck the leather so that you do not have any large creases on the top of the armrest.  Don’t be surprised if you have to pull some staples and reposition, just be patient and take your time.  When you are done, it should look like the picture below.  Now, go and enjoy your new arm rest!

miata padded armrest


Noisy Mazda Miata Speedometer Cable – Eliminate the wobble.

girl on speedometer gauge

 

Miatas are known for speedometer cable noise and associated needle wobble.  The obvious symptom is a loud clicking sound that varies with speed, and a bouncing or wobble of the speedometer needle when driving.  You may find it is worse when hot, or when cold.

The standard fix is to simply replace the cable.  The cable is relatively inexpensive ($80), and can be changed fairly easily.  If you check the regular Miata forums, you will hear that it is impossible to lubricate an existing cable.  I will admit that buying a new cable is a sure fire way to fix, and that most lubrication efforts fail.  However, if you want to give it a try, this is what I did that worked.

First, disconnect the speedometer cable connection from the transmission end.  Carefully unhook it from the two tie downs that hold the cable against the transmission tunnel.  Then gently pull the cable into the engine compartment.   Inside the connector is a round pin with a tang on it that spins.  This drives the cable that goes to the speedometer.  The pin is in a small little cup.  What I did is strap the cable vertically so that you can fill the cup with oil, and let it slowly drain into the cable sheathing.  I used a small amount of used synthetic motor oil.  I filled the cup up about fives times over 30 minutes.  Take your time, I think the longer you leave the cable end higher than the speedometer, the better your results.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!


Parts required to rebuild Mazda Miata Shifter Turret

girl mechanic working on mazda miata

After 140K miles,both of my Miata’s rubber shifter boots were rotten and ripped.  I decided while I was replacing them, I would also perform a full shifter turret rebuild.  There are many guides that document how to perform the actual rebuild, however there seems to be confusion on what parts are required.    I replaced all bushings, this consists of two bushing shells, the half-moon side bushing, and the tip of shifter bushing.   In addition, I replaced both wavy washers, and both rubber boots.  I used the NC style inner boot and it fit perfectly.

Some of the guides show a shim washer that can also be replaced.   My car contained neither shims, and I did not add them.  After rebuild, the shift feel was noticeably better, less slop and more feel.  This is a cheap, easy and well worth project on any Miata with a couple miles and years on it.

miata shifter bushings

Official Mazda Miata Parts list for Transmission Shifter Turret Rebuild

BOOT,DUST (R501-17-47Z) 
BUSH (M501-17-515) 
BUSHING, SHIFTER (0398-17-462A) 
INSULATOR (NA01-64-481B) 
INSULATOR,LEVER (M501-17-501) 2 required
WASHER,WAVE (M505-17-482) 2 required

 

miata turret rebuild parts