Looking for a fun, chuckable, and peppy car? One that’s high on thrills but low on price? Then any model variant of the Mazda MX-5 will have you grinning from ear to ear each time you turn the ignition key (or press the start button). This is the best-selling two-seater sportscar in history, and with the next-gen model just around the corner, it is a car that has a rich motoring heritage and a cemented future.
Much of the success is down to great handling, a superb chassis, and engines sublimely matched to the weight of the car. Throw in the low maintenance and running costs, the ludicrously low sales price, unmatched reliability, and a huge aftermarket, and you can see why the Miata is topping sales charts year after year.
The car is mechanically stellar, and only a few minor issues have been reported. Early models had some body rust and negligible electrical problems, but these were fixed in subsequent models or with simple replacement parts. In the meantime, all four generations have seen a list of auto electrical parts that make for a more comfortable, convenient, and up-to-date car. Stay tuned with DriveRevolve!
MX-5 Electrics: Dealing with the Basics
The Fun Auto Miata is a value-packed second-hand buy, and anyone considering getting an older model should also get it thoroughly checked. Cars that have had regular service intervals should perform as new, even with six figures on the odometer. A few engine problems (stuck valve spring lifters, clogged EGR sensors, and worn oil pumps) have appeared in several cars, but they are an exception and not the rule.
The odd electrical hiccups, such as tired electric window regulators and switches, frayed wiring, and faulty rear demisters, aren’t anything to fret about and are a cheap and easy fix. The main electrics, including batteries, alternators, coils, and starter motors, have all stood the test of time, so besides old and tired batteries (most last 10 years or so), owners won’t be dipping into savings to get the car going.
Sorting Out Minor Issues
Older cars will understandably have more problems, but again, the Mazda MX-5 is well-made, uses quality OEM parts, and all components and systems work well together. Minor issues are easy to fix, parts are readily available (no time lost shopping around), and they are extremely affordable.
The rear demister on the soft top is prone to malfunctioning, so you’ll have a hard time with rear visibility in typical UK weather. Check for blown fuses in the fuse box, the condition of the wiring, or whether the switch is the problem. Replacement switches and fuses are dead cheap to replace, with either aftermarket or real Mazda OEM parts when you want to keep with the original look. And the work only takes a couple of minutes.
Electric windows (standard on the NB cars) are another minor glitch, but nothing serious. Stuck, damaged and faulty switches are common reasons why windows aren’t functioning. These are affordable, come with the expected auto-raise function on the driver’s side, and are also quick to swap out.
There’s more work in window mechanisms or what actually gets the glass moving. Door panels need to be removed, the old mechanism replaced with a new one, windows checked, and panels go on again. Not exactly complicated, but time-consuming. Just remember, you can also retrofit an NA Miata with electric windows (and the corresponding regulators), though ensure you’re getting the right ones as these aren’t interchangeable with parts fitted in subsequent models.
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Choice of Upgrades
Central Locking for NA Cars
What we today take for granted was often left out of standard gear on the early NA and NB Miatas, or part of costly optional packs. Basic items like central locking are missing in NA cars, but Mazda upped its game with the NB model.
Complete locking kits with motors, brackets, control units, wiring, and key fobs will set you back 100 pounds or so and nett you more convenience and peace of mind. Go with universal kits if you want to save, or shop around for OEM parts if you’re restoring an older car.
The current ND model offers heated seats depending on trim, but these can also be fitted in previous models. Most buyers include these in a pair of new leather seats optioned from the aftermarket. Kits come with everything you need, including switches, relays, fuses, and the wiring harness, and are cheap for the comfort and warmth they offer on colder days, especially if you use the Miata as your daily runabout.
Nine speakers provide for aural bliss in the current model. If you want comparable sound in NC, NB and NA cars, look for speaker upgrades from respected hi-fi brands. Replacement speakers are sold in pairs, fit the door panel cutouts housing the original units, and are easy to replace with no drilling required.
Like other parts, speakers are different in different models, so don’t expect NB units to fit an NA Miata without reworking panels for fit and a neater look. Sizes are of the standard 6.75 inches, with obvious differences in the housing.
Multifunctional Steering Columns
Basic switchgear housed on the steering wheel for the air conditioning and radio appeared in the NC cars. First- and second-gen Miata owners can have this functionality as an aftermarket option when included with a steering wheel replacement.
These can additionally be fitted with airbags, come in some interesting shapes (round and flat-bottomed), and have 3 or 4 spokes. There is some work involved, but you’ll be abiding by current safety standards.
Cheaper steering column upgrades come in the form of multifunctional stalks. These combine the functions of lights and wipers (front and rear) in all models, while NC and ND cars also have cruise control.
Dashcams, Parking Sensors and More
All Miata model variants can benefit from an onboard dash cam. This serves a safety function and allows for additional convenience when you want to monitor or record trips. Dashcams come in handy in accidents, when someone is tampering with your car, to prevent parking mishaps, and to record both the good and bad on each journey. Most are also equipped with GPS, can record HD or 4K video front and back with wide-angle lenses, and complement driver safety systems in the ND car.
Front and rear parking sensors came as an option on the NC Miata, but these are also available for older Miatas. Complete kits go for around 200 pounds, but cheaper rear sensors will suffice for most drivers.
And, depending on the model and whether your Miata is a UK-spec car or a Japanese (Eunos) import, you can get small but worthy auto electrical parts like KPH to MPH speedos, either packaged with a full replacement dial cluster or on its own.
Sourcing Parts for Your Miata
When buying interior and cabin electrics, consider either going for new or used, OEM, or aftermarket and universal parts, no matter Mazda or “Smokey and The Bandit” models. New parts are guaranteed to work but will cost more than used components sourced from a loaned, stripped-down car.
Mazda has restarted making parts for all Miata variants, so you can retain the old-school feeling of classics like the NA or NB models and know they’ll fit, work, and last. This too is a more costly route, especially if you have a car that needs more work.
To save a few pounds, items like switchgear, fuses and harnesses are universal. Whichever electrical parts you need, get them from certified dealers. And lastly, to prevent future issues, get all the work done by a pro. Just factor in the labour costs.
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