Piston Slap: How To Fall In Love With A Stripper… Miata

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap how to fall in love with a stripper miata

TTAC Commentator superbadd75 writes:

My question is somewhat loaded, as I have a general plan of attack, but would like to hear from you and the B&B. My awesome wife just surprised me with the car I’ve been dreaming of for some time now. It’s a very basic 60,000 mile ’93 Miata with power NOTHING, and no A/C, so there’s very little to break. I plan to make the timing belt change top priority, and do the fluid changes, but are there any other Miata specific items that need attention? I appreciate any and all advice!

Sajeev Answers:

Does your wife have a sister with a penchant for Indian men obsessed with cars? I’m dead serious! Speaking of: remember these three things when bestowed with such a surprise.

  1. You are officially that woman’s slave. Be okay with is!
  2. Get on the Miata forums and find the most popular threads aimed at common issues or modifications. Timing belt tensioner upgrades, valve lash adjustments and general restoration that’s common in old cars is y. But if you’re lucky, the forum has a Greatest Hits area with all this info.
  3. Your attention is needed immediately in the LS1 swap corner of the Internet. This really isn’t an option, when you stop and think about it.

Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com

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5 of 34 comments
  • Darrencardinal Darrencardinal on Aug 05, 2010

    As the owner of a 1990 Miata with 118,00 miles,I can give you some good advice. 1. Make sure you change the timing belt on schedule, and also change out the water pump when you do. 2. Pay attention to the upper and lower radiator hoses, and the heater hoses in the back of the engine. Your car is not super high mileage, but those belts are pretty old if still original. Go ahead and replace them. All the hoses and belts, really. 3. Replace the spark plugs, plug wires, and distributor cap with new NGKs. Gives the car power like new. 4.If you hear a noise like wow-wow-wow coming from the front or back end, it is the wheel bearing hubs. Replace them at once. 5. Pay attention to those fluid changes. Keep them all fresh. 6. Be aware that the upper valve cover gasket and the cam timing sensor may leak oil. Mine did. 7. Be aware that on the early Miatas, the crankshaft can have a serious problem if the Woodruff gear is not torqued correctly. This is a $1500.00 repair. This can happen when you change the timing belt. Do not screw around with this! Worst case scenario the crankshaft can FALL OFF THE CAR. 8. The slave cylinder on the clutch can go bad. Mine did. If the shifter is stubborn about going into gear, this is the problem. Good luck with your cool car, and Miata forever!!

    • Disaster Disaster on Aug 06, 2010

      "7. Be aware that on the early Miatas, the crankshaft can have a serious problem if the Woodruff gear is not torqued correctly." I believe you are talking about the short crank concerns. That would only apply to '91 an older Miatas...or is it '90? Anyway, his '93 will be fine. The other advice all sounds good...the voice of experience.

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Aug 05, 2010

    And also: don't forget to take the wife who got it for you on long romantic scenic drives with the top down. Christmas is coming, remember.......

  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Aug 05, 2010

    Congrats on the Miata! I had a 93 and put about 150K on mine. Yes, get that timing belt changed every 60K. Beyond that, wash it, wax it, and drive it. Everywhere and everywhen!

  • Superbadd75 Superbadd75 on Aug 09, 2010

    Guys, sorry it's taken me so damn long to reply, but work has been pure hell. Thank all of you for the responses. I see lots of killer advice, and have already found much of it to be very applicable. I've been to miata.net, I've ordered a Moss Motors catalog and drooled over the possibilities, and I've driven it with the top down in blazing Texas heat just because I love it. I am smitten by this car, it's perfect the way it is, and I have zero desire to hot rod the hell out of it. I will say that a little chassis stiffness here and there would be nice. So, sorry Sajeev, no LSX for me. For those of you that wanted to know if my wife has a sister, she actually has two. You can take your pick between a mid-30s career student, or a spoiled rotten 11 year old. I got the good one.