WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

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

Be­ing a rel­a­tively new car, there aren’t many is­sues with the mk4, but there are some. Most wor­ry­ing con­cerns the gear­box, but de­ter­min­ing the scale of the is­sue is hard be­cause of on­line hys­te­ria.

Some early pro­duc­tion cars suf­fered a re­luc­tance to be shifted into se­cond and/or third gear, and some strug­gled oc­ca­sion­ally to en­gage first. Many of the in­stances of this hap­pen­ing came from the States, but there have been re­ports in the UK, too. In an in­ter­nal mem­o­ran­dum Mazda stated that prob­lem cars ‘might have been driven with rapid ac­cel­er­a­tion and de­cel­er­a­tion us­ing fre­quent changes, caus­ing dam­age to se­cond and/or third gears’. In other words, cars used for track­days and some­times rac­ing.

Some gear­boxes have been changed un­der war­ranty, the re­place­ments fea­tur­ing up­rated in­ter­nals: sources reckon that the mk4 is al­ready on its fourth gen­er­a­tion gear­box. But that said, the vast ma­jor­ity of cars have suf­fered no gear­box is­sues at all, and later mod­els have the up­graded ’boxes fit­ted from new. That said, if the shift is sticky or you hear odd noises from the gear­box, maybe start look­ing else­where. By the way, a ‘wob­bly’ gear­lever is nat­u­ral, de­signed to give you a greater feel­ing of con­nec­tion with the me­chan­i­cal bits of the car.

A more com­mon prob­lem is hood wear. As the hood is low­ered and raised, the front edge can rub against the style bars be­hind the head­rests, and in ex­treme cir­cum­stances be dam­aged to the point of re­quir­ing re­place­ment. Fit­ting a new one is quite com­pli­cated and there­fore costly, so check the hood care­fully. And be aware that the ad­vice in the car’s hand­book sug­gests be­ing out­side the cock­pit to op­er­ate the roof.

Some RFS have been known to drain their bat­tery in 12–14 days when parked up, be­cause of a glitch with the cruise con­trol – an er­ror in the in­stru­ment clus­ter’s soft­ware means that if you switch off with the cruise con­trol still en­gaged, there’s a huge par­a­sitic drain on the bat­tery. A new in­stru­ment clus­ter cures the is­sue.

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