Below are a few tips & mods you can perform on your car. If you have a car care tip you would like to share with the club, please send your tips to our Tech Advisor.

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A Tech Day Follow-up by Ken Schiess

Those CFMC members who participated in Tech Day at Stevenson Mazda may remember that Ken had complained that he was experiencing a vibration while driving his Miata. He learned that day that it was rooted in two of his aluminum wheels (see the March issue of Ragtop Tales). Below is his follow-up to that event.

Two of my wheels appeared to be oval when we ran them on the balance machine at Stevenson. That would have explained the vibration I was feeling between 45 and 55 mph.  So I had Stevenson get them straightened. It was cheaper with the club discount than if I took them to the wheel guy myself, probably due to the professional discount that Stevenson gets but cheaper is cheaper (Thank you Stevenson Mazda).  Anyway that pretty much solved the vibration issue but since I needed tires anyway I went ahead and replaced them with fresh balancing and four wheel alignment. Now there is no vibration at all.

On the subject of tires; I had Falken Z912’s on the car for the past 19,000 miles. They are a great high performance tire. They stick well but I don’t tend to drive that aggressively so the short comings of a harsh ride, noise and complete wear down to the wear bars in 19,000 miles seemed an excessive trade off. I have replaced them with General Altimax RT 43 Grand Touring tires. They are MUCH quieter, ride better, especially over tar strips and other uneven surfaces but are slightly slower to respond to steering inputs. But only slightly and they tend to stick tight enough for anything I do with the car.

I’ll give you an update on the tires in a year or two when I have 5,000 or 10,000 miles on them

Tech Column by Paul Reinmann


So, this top replacement was actually done by a shop in Wilmington. If anyone wants to know how to do it yourself there are lots of videos on the Miata Forum. Most admit it takes over 20 hours with no prior experience. Mine took two hours; one hour to drop the car off and one to pick it up…

I decided my 2008 Miata was ready for a top replacement when I had patched many spots on my original vinyl top and then when removing a leaf at the rear edge, put my thumb nail partially thru the fabric. This showed me how degraded the material was. While it still did not leak during rain I decided to replace it now before it did.

First I visited my trusty Miata Forum for tips, not just how to replace the top but for the right materials too.

I chose to use a cloth top instead of vinyl mainly to give it a try. It will require treatment with water repellent every 6 months or so using a

product called 303 Fabric Guard or equivalent. Some people I talked to said that a cloth top was better at opening and closing in cooler weather than vinyl. I read differing opinions. Some said Robbins was the best while others liked EZ Top better. Upholstery 1 Trim told me they use both and didn’t see a difference. I think mine is a Robbins top.

I don’t have indoor space and replacement takes a few days, so I decided to use a local shop. I contacted four shops with prices ranging from $1,300 – $1,800. All these shops are experienced in this work, so no first timers. I chose Upholstery 1 Trim located in Dutch Square in Wilmington. When I asked them how many Miata tops they have done they asked: “In this year?” They have done about 10 just this year and have been in business 30 years.

I dropped the car off on a Monday morning and they had it done the next day at 3pm. All looked good and they cautioned me to not open the top for 2-3 weeks because the cloth material needed to stretch out. I did wait two weeks. When opening the new top it was a bit tight, but not so bad closing. I assume it will loosen a bit more over time.

While the replacement was at the half way point I visited their shop to clean my rain drains and take some pictures. They allowed me in and also let me use their shop vac. My rain drain areas have a blue filter material installed by Stevenson Mazda. This was required when I experienced problems with a soggy trunk and interior floor areas which were caused by rain drains clogged with tree debris. Apparently the previous owner parked the car under trees. These drains were filthy dirty. I removed these filters and ran a coronet brush down the drain tubes as far as I could. The brush wasn’t long enough to poke out the bottom. I have heard a trombone brush is the

thing for this job. Anyway, we blew compressed air down the drains and also vacuumed all around the drain areas before reinstalling the filters.

They finished the installation and water tested the top area prior to calling me to pick her up. All done in little over a day and a half. So far it has been a month now with no problems. Please see the pictures showing drain location. The big area circled is the whole drain on the right side. The smaller circle is the top of the drain tube.

Soft Top Zipper Care

Do you know the best way to take care of the zipper on your 90-97 Miata’s rear window? When opening your top, you should always unzip the window before lowering it to protect the sensitive plastic window from being damaged. If you already do this, great! However did you know that there is also a way to help protect your zipper from damage? It’s important to unlatch your top to relieve the tension before unzipping or zipping your rear window. And when you are raising the top, stop just short of latching it and zip up your window first. That way, you don’t zip the window in under tension. Hopefully many of you are already doing this, but we’ve seen enough fellow Miata owners who don’t…so we hope this helps! 

Mazda In-Dash 6 CD Changer/Cassette/Radio Installation for 90-97 Miata

This tech tip gives step-by-step instructions on how to install and Mazda in-dash 6 CD Changer/Cassette/Radio in a 90-97 Mazda Miata.

A special thanks goes out to the following folks for their contributions in helping develop this resource:

Drake A. Daum aka MVMC Nr 1
Santa Rosa Steve
Mitro aka John
Ray aka BLK92c
Kevin Morrison
and many more….

  • m1 90-93 requires some minor cutting of center console bezel and radio.
  • m1 94-97 may require some minor cutting depending on model year. You can avoid doing any cutting by purchasing a center console bezel for a base 97 miata part # NB38-55-210A 00 which will fit this radio perfectly.
  • A VERY small jeweler’s screwdriver
  • #2 Phillips screwdriver, regular length and a “stubby”
  • Dremel tool and some cutter/router/grinder bits
  • Wire cutter or knife
  • pliers
  • hammer
  • tape measure or ruler
  • about 12″ of 12v electrical wire
  • some male spade connectors
  • a T-tap splice connector
  • 2 sheet metal screw
  • 4 3MX6 pan head screws
  • some foam padding (optional)

Where can I buy one of these units?
Ebay is your best bet. Search for “Mazda CD” There should be several units for sale.

What is included with the unit?
The unit includes the unit itself and a wire harness to the radio.

How big is the unit?
See description below for dimensions.

Does the FADE control work with the headrest speaker?

Does the unit play MP3 CD’s?

Does the unit play CDR’s?

Does the tuner on the unit go down to 87.7?

Does the unit have RCA output jacks?

How many watts does the internal amp have?
According to reviews of the unit and sales literature the unit has 190watts.

What color does the control buttons on the unit illuminate?
Green. See photo below.

Is there a users manual for this unit?

Can I use the existing mounting brackets from the OEM Radio?
Yes, but it does require modifications to either the bracket or the radio.

Where can I get more information about this install?
Go here

Other Installation photos can be found at

A review of a similiar unit found in the Mazda Tribute review

Made in Japan by Matsushita

Communication Industrial Co. Ltd. Yokohama Japan

Model No: YL84 18C868-AC
The plastic face measures 7.5″Wx4.625″Hx0.5″D and the metallic body measures 7.0″Wx4.5″Hx6.625″D










radio-front radio-label


Soft Top Split

Is your soft top fabric starting to get pinched or split?If you have a Miata with a 1999-2002 soft top with VIN before JM1NB353**0231580, then please check the following Mazda Service Bulletin.

Side Sill Drainage

Side sills not draining?

Ever wash your car and notice that the water doesn’t drain from around the top as fast as it used to? There could be a good reason for that! The side sill drain holes are susceptible to dirt, leaves and other debris. One key indicator – after washing or a heavy rain, a sloshing noise that sounds like it is coming from the bottom of the door(s) can be heard due to trapped water. This, of course, could cause Mister Rust to visit one day! There are four sill drain holes per side – two in front of, and two behind the door. Periodically, I like to clean the openings with a pipe cleaner. If you have a pair of ramps, it makes it all that much easier. But beware – you will get dirty!

REF 1994 Mazda Technical Services Bulletin

Anti-Freeze Alternatives

If you haven’t changed your antifreeze in 2 years, it’s time. There are 2 ways to do have it done: yourself or a shop. It isn’t at all complicated and a shop can even suck out the old without climbing under the car. But if you do it yourself, you will need to dispose of the old properly, as it’s sweet smelling and very toxic if ingested by kids or animals. If you want to try it, see Ivan at the next event and he’ll show you how easy it is!

New to the American market is the so-called 5 year/150,000 mile extended-life antifreeze. GET THIS! Not because you ever need to leave your antifreeze unchanged for that long, but because it’s a different and far superior chemical composition. The old green-colored antifreeze contains phosphates and silicates. These can eat up the insides of your engine and radiator. The new amber-colored antifreeze doesn’t have these and has been used by European car manufacturers like Mercedes for a long time. The additional cost is about $1 per gallon, goes in the same way, and will protect your Miata much better. Protect your investment so you can continue to be a part of our runs without a break-down.

PS. And if your radiator hoses (5 all together) are over 4 years old, they’re due for a change too. Also easy if you can handle a pair of plyers and a screwdriver!!