Z-Car

1997 Mazda Miata


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


Glub, Glub…

Mazda Miata goes for a dive. I am sure everyones first reaction is, “How can you let your car roll into a swimming pool”? But, stuff happens. Good rule to follow is, keep your car in gear, pull your parking brake up firmly, and if on a hill, turn your tires in towards the curb, or up hill.

My first thought was how the heck do you remove a car from a swimming pool?  Reminds me of the Lotus Elise submarine…

 Car in Pool

Oh, that is how you remove it…

miata getting pulled from a pool

At least she had the top up…


Where I have been – cars that I have owned over the years

lotus in a field

These are some of the cars I have owned in the past, starting with the first car I ever owned.

1976 Datsun 710
1970 Datsun 240Z
1987 Toyota MR2
1988 Toyota Celica All-Trac
1972 Datsun 240Z
1991 Eagle Talon
1992 Mazda Miata
1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo
1994 Mazda RX-7
1968 Datsun Roadster
1970 Datsun 240Z
1976 Datsun 260Z
1998 BMW M3
1997 Mazda Miata
1993 Mazda RX-7 CYM
2003 Mazda Miata
1987 Toyota SDK8
2005 Lotus Elise
2006 Infiniti G35x
1997 Ford F150
2011 Infiniti M37x
1994 Mazda Miata

I have also owned a couple Tundra’s, T100, and Troopers mixed in there as well.  What was my favorite car?  I love my current Lotus Elise, however my 1993 RX-7 CYM was probably my all time favorite.  The Talon was most reliable, it went over 150K miles, very few of them were what you would call “easy” miles.  My 2006 Infiniti cleared 170K miles before finally giving up one of its cylinders.