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<  International corner  ~  My Experiences with a 2001 Mazda Miata

yeopazman
Postano: 3.05.17. 11:37 Citiraj i odgovori
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Pridružen/a: 11. 04. 2017. Postovi: 14 Lokacija: Zagreb
For a quick introduction, I live in Croatia. I bought a 2001 Miata Jasper Conran edition, which means absolutely nothing except that there are only 400 of them in the world and my car is number 214. I went to the UK to buy a car, because the prices are reasonable (this car cost 900 GBP after bargaining) and besides a rip in the seat, a broken windshield and worn out tires, the car responded and was stable. So when I drove it out of the UK, it was in great condition with minor rust spots. I was planning on buying a prettier and more stable Toyota MR2, but someone grabbed it 15 minutes before I came to the dealer, and I have regretted buying a Mazda ever since.

Why did I get it then? Well, I’m not a rich Croatian to be able to take my time and hang around the UK. I had a budget of 5 GBP for food and had 5 days off work before I had to drive back and work the next day. So the car had to be bought that day and this was the only reasonable offer. Like most things in Europe, you always have to just settle. The American dream doesn’t work here, and no matter how hard you work, the social system will just nudge you back into your place with all the rest within your social caste.

Since I have brought the car here, I have learned a lot by putting my trust in Croatian mechanics, so I would like to share my experiences, so that not only do you know your car better, you can diagnose problems.


high res image upload

The First Rattle

After driving 1600 km without an issue, I drove on Croatian roads and then something started to scrape. My friend in Kostajnica who is a mechanic told me it was the wheel bearing, so I bought both sides and replaced them. Of course, I went with Japanparts but now have FAG bearings after replacing bearings 6 times on the right side, 3 of them were FAG bearings. So when your bearings keep failing, make sure that your mechanic (because he won't tell you and just take money):

1. Has as press and does NOT hammer bearings in place.
2. REMOVES the inner race before installing the new bearing.
3. Check the wheel hub for injury (Mazda Arbanas caught this mistake on the 6th replacement).

Pulling Right

The car was driving straight and stuck to the corners and after replacing the wheel bearing, I went to Sisak for a maintenance alignment, because everybody said that this guy was “the best”. There are so many times I’ve heard that and I found that “the best” in Croatia is about 70% of acceptable level in the USA and about 50% of acceptable level in Asia. So the best guy actually tried, but couldn’t do my alignment because he said he could not remove the cam bolt off. So we actually heated up wishbone and that melted the bushing a little and replaced the cam bolts AND bushings on both sides. This makes sense, because the car is already 13 years old at the time and might as well. Since then, the alignment has been off and I have aligned the car about 12 times in four cities in Croatia and they have always left the toe out 2.00 degrees. This will give bad steering response since the car is a rear wheel drive. This is a fact that most mechanics forget.

The only place that did a great job and steadied the camber is the Autoservis on Vukovarska in Zagreb. Vulco told me that their computer did not handle right hand drive cars, but it had an option for South Africa. Vulkal always screws up, but has cheap tires. My suggestion? Get the car out of the alignment at green and then if it pulls easier to one side, toe in the other side by 1/8th turn at a time until it feels even. This will give you a 0.15 degree toe in, which is suggested by Mazdaspeed. You have to do it by feel and before you do, do not compare your Miata with a FWD Golf that you had when you were a kid, nor compare it with a Porsche. It should be responsive and grip the road. On top of that, you should have 1 degree camber. I suggest bringing your car to Vukovarska. They charged me 250 kn, but at least it is not two old men eyeing my car and saying that it is as straight as possible.

Overheating

I was tired and the car needed an oil change, so I just decided to pay someone 350 kn to change the oil. I bought the oil and filter and went to the closest mechanic near my apartment and left the car there. After a few hours, he called and told me to pick it up. So I drove the car home and didn’t think twice about it until I drove to work and the car was sluggish, clicked and was misfiring. When I came home, I tried to figure out what was wrong and then took everything apart and replaced the plugs and when I looked up sequence, that mechanic switched the spark plug cables on me.

So EVERYBODY knows what that does. That causes misfiring and causes gas to travel to the catalytic converter, breaking the ceramic honeycomb inside and then blocked the airflow. I didn’t notice this and went to AS Drobilec because my ex said he was “awesome” and he didn’t see the cause of the symptom and changed my water pump and temp sensor. I changed my timing belt at the same time, because why not? I’m not stupid. Why take everything apart again anyways?

As time went along and the engine heated up constantly and eventually seized going to work on NYE. I called towing, paid 500 kn for a tow from Velika Gorica to AS Drobilec in Dugave and then went to work. He told me the engine seized (no kidding) and I had to buy a new one. Found one in Auto Jazbina and the guy agreed to 5000 with one friend that called and asked for it. Then I called to buy it and it was at 6000 kn. And as a foreigner, I settled for 5500 with 2000 kn for installation. The clutch after that rattled and the bearing was off. And as a great mechanic, he did not inform me that an engine mount broke and covered that by putting a few zipties on the mount.

The engine still overheated and so I went to replace my thermostat. Turek then said it might be the catalytic converter and when she checked the exhaust flow, she said it was blocked. I asked the guy who installed the Bosal exhaust (which ONLY in Croatia does a stainless steel Bosal exhaust rust) to decat my car temporarily to see if it changes anything. It still overheated. Then I asked Irena at Turek and she said it might be the radiator, the water pump or the temperature sensor, which narrows the problem to the entire cooling system.

If I was Irena, here is how I would diagnose overheating issues:

1. Check exhaust flow.
2. Check leaks in the coolant. Check levels after cooling down. Is it lower than before?
3. Turn on heater full while driving. Does the temperature gauge go down? That means there’s coolant flow and the pump is working.
4. Check the fan (engine off) if it turns nicely. Then heat it up and check if it turns on. If it does, then the temperature sensor works.
5. Replace your thermostat. It’s not expensive. You can’t really check that unless you open it, and if you do it takes 30 seconds to put a new one in.
6. Then that leaves the radiator.

The radiator works by flowing cold air from outside through to cool down the coolant. If there are bends or if there are calcifications blocking the vertical pipes, then the coolant won’t flow as efficiently. You can test if there is some flow by massaging the lower pipe and seeing if it overflows, but that just means that it is not FULLY clogged. What I did was took off my grill to let 120% more airflow in and the car remained cool.

So it is the radiator.

Conclusion

Being a mechanic is not hard, but Croatian mechanics are not engineers. They are like nurses to doctors. It’s also not that hard to be a nurse.

The miata itself is an ok car. It was built wrong and anybody who knows anything about building cars knows that. It is the only “sports” car to just borrow an engine from a family car and then not do anything to it. That’s why the coolant flows in the wrong direction to cool down the engine, the intake is above the exhaust manifold and the car is 53/47 weight ratio. If I were to make the Miata, I would put the transmission in the back, or seat the driver half a foot back and shorten the trunk. Mazda has never had a racing pedigree like Honda or Toyota. That’s why Honda knows to VTEC their engines and Toyota knows to make a mid-engine car. The intake for air is TINY for an inefficient engine and the entire thing is a Mazda 323 in a smaller chassis. I'm not sure what they did with the SkyActiv version, but I'm guessing it's a Mazda 3 in a smaller chassis.

For 900 pounds, it wasn’t a bad purchase. But for 4500 Euros that I dumped into Croatian mechanics, I think I should have bought a more reliable Toyota MR2, which also has variable valve timing, air conditioning and is really 50/50 as a better base for a sports car.

If anybody wants to trade knowledge and information about their Miata and how to do the engineering. I blueprinted my CRX, I raced my Porsche 944, owned a 1996 MR2 and now I am playing with this Miata.
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Raziel
Postano: 3.05.17. 12:33 Citiraj i odgovori
Turbocharged Turbocharged
Pridružen/a: 17. 02. 2016. Postovi: 420 Lokacija: Sv. Klara, Kutina
Wow. I'm not even going to comment on the problems you had with your car. If you think about it very hard, it was to be expected - buying very cheap car from UK's moist climate.

I'm going to comment on your statement that Mazda does not have racing pedigree. As far as I know, Mazda is still the only Japanese manufacturer that has Le Mans victory. That should be enough to settle any discussion about Mazda's racing pedigree, but if you need, I have more examples like Bonneville salt flats land speed records, etc.

As you consider yourself a petrol-head, you should also know that Mazda has conceived one of the best balanced sports car ever, in three generations of RX-7.

I will not defend MX-5 against your perception. MX-5 is a great car for what it was made and that is common knowledge around the whole world. Your bad experience will not change that.

My suggestion to you is to sell your MX-5, or scrap it, or whatever, and to get something that you'll enjoy.


Tomislav

_________________
'91 Nissan Primera SR20DE
'94 Alfa Romeo 146 Boxer 16V
'01 Mazda MX-5 1.6 (R.I.P.)
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miataoldschool
Postano: 3.05.17. 18:07 Citiraj i odgovori
Turbocharged Turbocharged
Pridružen/a: 25. 07. 2012. Postovi: 1198 Lokacija: MAKSIMIR
Raziel you took the words right out of my mouth ,especially about mazda racing pedigree !


For me there is no better drivers car than miata as a matter of fact they don't say " miata is always the answer " for nothing Wink

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a112
Postano: 4.05.17. 23:30 Citiraj i odgovori
Druga brzina Druga brzina
Pridružen/a: 25. 11. 2016. Postovi: 16 Lokacija: Lipik
I would like to be nice with the reply but I really can't because I wouldn't be sincere and truthful.


yeopazman je napisao/la:
I was planning on buying a prettier and more stable Toyota MR2, but someone grabbed it 15 minutes before I came to the dealer, and I have regretted buying a Mazda ever since.


Regret is a waste of time and resources. I agree any generation MR2 looks good but I wouldn't agree about stability as they are nervous cars. They can be set up to handle well for sure, but they aren't as predictable or set on the safe side for fast road. MX5s also look good as well, I wouldn't call any car uglier than the other personally.

yeopazman je napisao/la:
Why did I get it then? Well, I’m not a rich Croatian to be able to take my time and hang around the UK. I had a budget of 5 GBP for food and had 5 days off work before I had to drive back and work the next day. So the car had to be bought that day and this was the only reasonable offer. Like most things in Europe, you always have to just settle. The American dream doesn’t work here, and no matter how hard you work, the social system will just nudge you back into your place with all the rest within your social caste.


If you don't have money use the public transportation. American dream doesn't work anywhere as far as I know. It's called a dream for a reason.



yeopazman je napisao/la:
The only place that did a great job and steadied the camber is the Autoservis on Vukovarska in Zagreb. Vulco told me that their computer did not handle right hand drive cars, but it had an option for South Africa. Vulkal always screws up, but has cheap tires. My suggestion? Get the car out of the alignment at green and then if it pulls easier to one side, toe in the other side by 1/8th turn at a time until it feels even. This will give you a 0.15 degree toe in, which is suggested by Mazdaspeed. You have to do it by feel and before you do, do not compare your Miata with a FWD Golf that you had when you were a kid, nor compare it with a Porsche. It should be responsive and grip the road. On top of that, you should have 1 degree camber. I suggest bringing your car to Vukovarska. They charged me 250 kn, but at least it is not two old men eyeing my car and saying that it is as straight as possible.


Alignment is done both first rear and then front, and any respectable shop should have a database for alignment specs. The fact is that the average consumer with an average Golf is happy if the Golf runs straight and has no tyre wear. Fact number two is that the average car in Croatia has been in a collision so the alignment guys are used to that kind of customers and are in fact lazy to adjust the rear end because that takes time and effort. If someone that does the full alignment doesn't examine the car or ask You if the suspension is in good condition without play or signs of wear before the settings, You should turn around and go elsewhere.

yeopazman je napisao/la:
I was tired and the car needed an oil change, so I just decided to pay someone 350 kn to change the oil. I bought the oil and filter and went to the closest mechanic near my apartment and left the car there. After a few hours, he called and told me to pick it up. So I drove the car home and didn’t think twice about it until I drove to work and the car was sluggish, clicked and was misfiring. When I came home, I tried to figure out what was wrong and then took everything apart and replaced the plugs and when I looked up sequence, that mechanic switched the spark plug cables on me.


I have a reason to believe You are some kind of magnet for fraud and bullshit and they can read it on You. We charge 30 kn of labour for an average oil change with service reset and receipt and everything. I'm really sorry that You got fooled by idiots, but I can see the pattern repeats and there is a reason for that probably.

yeopazman je napisao/la:
If I was Irena, here is how I would diagnose overheating issues:

1. Check exhaust flow.
2. Check leaks in the coolant. Check levels after cooling down. Is it lower than before?
3. Turn on heater full while driving. Does the temperature gauge go down? That means there’s coolant flow and the pump is working.
4. Check the fan (engine off) if it turns nicely. Then heat it up and check if it turns on. If it does, then the temperature sensor works.
5. Replace your thermostat. It’s not expensive. You can’t really check that unless you open it, and if you do it takes 30 seconds to put a new one in.
6. Then that leaves the radiator.

The radiator works by flowing cold air from outside through to cool down the coolant. If there are bends or if there are calcifications blocking the vertical pipes, then the coolant won’t flow as efficiently. You can test if there is some flow by massaging the lower pipe and seeing if it overflows, but that just means that it is not FULLY clogged. What I did was took off my grill to let 120% more airflow in and the car remained cool.

So it is the radiator.


Why haven't You done that for Yourself then If You wrote this procedure and understand that so clearly?


yeopazman je napisao/la:
Being a mechanic is not hard, but Croatian mechanics are not engineers. They are like nurses to doctors. It’s also not that hard to be a nurse.


The hard part of being a mechanic (or a nurse) is to put up with other people's shit because everyone has a cousin that knows about cars/medicine and everyone read something on the forums and tells you what you should do.

yeopazman je napisao/la:
The miata itself is an ok car. It was built wrong and anybody who knows anything about building cars knows that. It is the only “sports” car to just borrow an engine from a family car and then not do anything to it. That’s why the coolant flows in the wrong direction to cool down the engine, the intake is above the exhaust manifold and the car is 53/47 weight ratio. If I were to make the Miata, I would put the transmission in the back, or seat the driver half a foot back and shorten the trunk. Mazda has never had a racing pedigree like Honda or Toyota. That’s why Honda knows to VTEC their engines and Toyota knows to make a mid-engine car. The intake for air is TINY for an inefficient engine and the entire thing is a Mazda 323 in a smaller chassis. I'm not sure what they did with the SkyActiv version, but I'm guessing it's a Mazda 3 in a smaller chassis.


I don't understand how the car is built wrong as the general petrolhead public praises the car everywhere you go. The car is a masterpiece of simplicity. Only thing that personally bothers me philosophicaly is that the engine block is made of iron. I again see the pattern with You knowing everything about anything. You should design and build Your own car. With all the resources and knowledge, You could finish the project in about 100 years and finance the thing in another 200 years of time. And when it goes to production some outsourced factory is going to screw you over 5-6 times in the process and You're going to need to cut the quality to save money, maybe reinvent the wheel to finance the whole project.

Last time I checked my car was running fine after 25 years of life and was nicely balanced from the factory, it outperforms more "serious" cars in the right hands. Coolant system works as a charm, the car is naturally balanced well. Intake is in the right place as the head is crossflow and the engine was tweaked for the chassis as far as I'm informed.

Mazda ran in LeMans and SCCA, Bathurst, even done some world rallying and much more. Toyota literally had much less success in racing before 1989 when MX5 was made. Honda had peaky production engines that were well made in econoboxes that were far less great at the time, not to say they were shit for various reasons, (and peak power was there on paper since VTEC is used to maintain driveability with a lumpy cam profile - heads were great for sure)

MX5 was designed to be an affordable simple sportscar and it does that really really well. No one ever really touched that since.

If you aren't happy with what Mazda did there You should buy a proper sportscar that is probably free to acquire and maintain. Ask some friend to translate You the phrase "Jebo bi se da ti ne uđe". That should match Your mindset quite well.

yeopazman je napisao/la:
For 900 pounds, it wasn’t a bad purchase. But for 4500 Euros that I dumped into Croatian mechanics, I think I should have bought a more reliable Toyota MR2, which also has variable valve timing, air conditioning and is really 50/50 as a better base for a sports car.


You had a misjudgement, overestimated the car and bought a piece of shit that wasn't well maintained because You're a cheap. Deal with it and get over it.
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yeopazman
Postano: 5.05.17. 07:23 Citiraj i odgovori
Prva brzina Prva brzina
Pridružen/a: 11. 04. 2017. Postovi: 14 Lokacija: Zagreb
Jesus. This is why I don't like Miata people. I am just going to leave the group. I said to help with mechanic talk.

I owned MR2s and they were more stable than the Miata. The aerodynamics take over and it becomes stable at high speeds. Miata loses control because of their light back design, so that's why it's known to put bricks in the back during winter so they can make normal turns. Anybody who is an engineer knows that the Miata is a shit car.

As for me being cheap? I earn less than a slave here and am trying to make things work. I told you. I'm not as rich as you F-ing Croatians. So let a struggling person enjoy and try to fix my car, especially since Croatians overcharge foreigners for everything.

Fuck off. This is the type of Croatian response I was expecting. I was HOPING for better, but I was 100% right in expecting the worst from these people.

_________________
2001 Mazda Miata Jasper Conran (214/400)
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a112
Postano: 5.05.17. 08:16 Citiraj i odgovori
Druga brzina Druga brzina
Pridružen/a: 25. 11. 2016. Postovi: 16 Lokacija: Lipik
I was offering You help with anything and I'm still offering help. If you need to find something or need to sort something on the car, there are good and honest people out there and You can contact me any time You want. If not for help, we can chat in english and have a cup of coffee. I'm not Miata people by the way.

Define high speeds and stability. In my dictionary high speed is well over 250KM/H. Our cars can't do high speeds and they are certainly stable at the desired maximum speed for the car. Also we had a strong winter here and I drove the shit out of my car every day without anything in the trunk without any problems.

Btw, MR2s are known for good snow traction, check this out. It's a perfect winter vehicle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRqMq_WfNnk

Everyone in Croatia is struggling besides thieves and politicians(thieves). We are making the best of everything everyday, and it's not hard just for You believe it or not.

Problem is You're expecting something from people. No body owes you shit, You're responsible for Your own actions, that's real life. If you don't like what You hear, You have an ego problem.

Again, if You need anything I will gladly help You if I can, all differences in opinion aside.

Regards
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