Total MX-5 - - YOUR FIRST MX-5 -

Although its styling is dif­fer­ent, much of what’s un­der­neath the mk2 is very sim­i­lar to the mk1, in­clud­ing the same rust traps around the rear arches and sills. So rather than sim­ply re­peat our­selves, let’s just say that equal cau­tion around the back end of the car is re­quired. In com­mon with the ear­lier car, blocked rain wa­ter drain holes through the sills can help give you an in­di­ca­tion if there’s likely to be trou­ble – give the car a lit­tle rock from side to side, and if you can hear wa­ter slosh­ing around in the sills, take that as be­ing ‘not good news’. Where the mk2 dif­fers from its pre­de­ces­sor in the rust de­part­ment is with its front chas­sis rails, which are prone to sig­nif­i­cant and po­ten­tially haz­ardous cor­ro­sion. Turn the front wheels to full lock and look at the chas­sis rails where the front anti-roll bar brack­ets bolt and weld on – this area is a dou­ble skin on the mk2 and a har­bour for se­ri­ous rust. MOT testers of­ten cor­rectly pass cars with prob­lems here be­cause the rust sur­vives the tester’s plas­tic ham­mer – a cou­ple of sharp blows with a ball pein ham­mer will of­ten re­veal an ugly truth. Good re­pairs can be made, but all of the cor­roded metal must be cut out first.

As with the mk1, crusty-look­ing sub­frames and wish­bones aren’t nec­es­sar­ily deal-break­ers as the metal here is quite thick and re­sponds well to vig­or­ous at­tack with a wire brush and a lib­eral ap­pli­ca­tion of a de­cent qual­ity rust treat­ment, though not a bi­tu­men-based prod­uct. Both the 1.6 and 1.8 en­gines can drink a fair bit of oil and it can weep from var­i­ous seals, but if you keep a keen eye on the dip­stick this shouldn’t be prob­lem­atic. The gear­boxes ap­pre­ci­ate an oil change from time to time, so check when that was last done. If the gears are par­tic­u­larly hard to en­gage or the clutch pedal is bit­ing very high, it’s a sign that the clutch in on the way out. Bind­ing brake calipers are pretty com­mon and will need ser­vic­ing or re­plac­ing with a re­fur­bished item. Tired dampers on high mileage cars are com­mon – re­plac­ing them makes a huge dif­fer­ence to the han­dling.

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