First MX5 MK1 - may need work doing!

Hi everyone. I’ve just bought an MX5 MK1. It’d one of the more impulsive purchases I’ve made and perhaps an antidote to the stressful 2020 I’ve had so far :slight_smile: It’s a 1990 Japanese import with only 45k on the clock.
Previous owner bought in 2005 (fresh import) and only did a few hundred miles per year. Looks like it’s been well looked after but has been stood for long periods in a garage.
I’m thinking it’ll need pipes and seals etc replacing, although it has just passed an MOT after the rear brakes were fixed.
Really I’m looking for any recommendations on what to look for in terms of servicing and (preventive) maintenance . I’ll be using it weekends only and keeping it under cover for the week (or maybe in the garage if I can get rid of some of the junk in there!).
Any advice gratefully received.

Largely depends on how the previous owner used it, and what proofs of servicing + parts are available. EG…if it’s never (?) had a cambelt-water pump job done…in your case age not miles related…these are the kind of things.
Probably best get an online manual downloaded and start box-ticking anything unproven.
Otherwise…unless proofs of basic service is available, give it one.
I could list an extensive front to back checklist from suspension upwards…but it’s late! :smile:

Thank you for your reply.
I gather the previous owner drove to Sainsburys every so often, thats about it. She’s retired from driving now hence reason for the sale. I’ll defo check recent work receipts, its being delivered this Thursday on a low loader.
Luckily I have a mechanic round the corner who I trust, who incidentally owns an MX5 :slight_smile:
Yes water pump cambelt, also ive read the dust seals over the suspension?I’ll get it all checked. The tyres she had put on (recently by the look of them) are top notch Micheline tyres so I figure she was a ‘no expense spared’ owner and not short of a bob or two. Really hoping there are no nasty surprises!
Thanks again.


Sounds good.
I look forward to hearing how it all looks when you get it.
It’d be interesting to hear what you do with your new ride.
Enjoy :+1:

Check on the issues regarding 1990 crankshaft were and cambelts.

2005 is long enough for sill rust to start showing up. Battery will probably need replacin’ make sure its an OE Panasonic.

Whereabouts in the SouthWest are you??

An MX5-owning trusted mechanic would be a serious bonus as MX5 specialists do seem thin on the ground in the area

Thanks for everyone’s replies. Really helpful.
Received her (yes from now I’ll refer to my car as a ‘her’!) On Thursday on a low loader. Absolutely fantastic, though could do with a respray as the paintwork is original and there are a few scratches here and there. By the look of the inch or so around the door handle, the previous owner was in need of new glasses.
I’ve had a good look on the undercarriage and no obvious signs of rush; picked up so sealer with waxoyl from Screwfix. Checked oil, looks new, however I’ll still get a full service / fluids change to be sure.
The mx5 owning mechanic local to me in Glastonbury is Auto Rescue Somerset. Guys name is Sin; he’s worked on my partner’s Bongo and my Mazda 6 and found him to be excellent and very reasonably priced.
One downside is the alloy wheels . Looks like they’ve been cleaned using acid and they’re in need of restoration or replacements. I really want to keep it as original as I can / as I can afford to. The engine sounds sweet. And yes, thanks, I’ll replace the battery.
Thanks again for your replies.

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rust not rush (on my phone with my sausage fingers)

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Thanks for the info on your mechanic, shame he’s not a little closer to Exeter…
The Panasonic batteries would appear to be brilliant quality but not exactly cheap. A cheapo replacement wouldn’t be a good idea though, so can I recommend you look at a Yuasa AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery.
These are also very good quality and available from Halfords with an MX5 OC discount.

Had a bit of an issue I’m hoping to sort this weekend. The mechanics are expecting the car on Monday for the full inspection and service, however… I noticed the battery terminal on the earth side was tightened with a wood screw (!) So in all my new found excitement I removed the battery and popped it on charge for a bit (charger reported 100% from the off so I think the battery is good) then replaced the terminals with two new ones from Amazon. They fit perfectly. Problem is there is now no power. Nothing when I turn the key, no lights, zero power to the car. After a bit of research I think my battery hasn’t got the terminal inverted as they should be on an MX5, so the hot terminal is on the right nearest the edge of the car and the negative is nearer the boot. The cable from the red terminal goes to a cut off switch. I’ve put everything back as it was, but with the new tight fitting terminals not the old knackered ones. So my question is, could this be a dodgy immobilizer problem? Perhaps removing all power, even briefly, has caused the immobilizer to ‘hang up’ or perhaps an alarm (tbh, I’m not even sure there is an alarm). I’ve watched a great many YouTube videos on mx5 electrics (enough to be dangerously under qualified yet ready to have a go!) and I’m thinking my first call to action is to a) check fuses, replace if required, b) remove alarms and immobilizer c) tow it to the garage feeling like a complete idiot. Banking on a or b to yield results …

And here she is! Makes me very happy, even if it wont start at the mo!

I suspect it may be the ECU that you need to worry about…
Hope I’m wrong…

If the battery has been misconnected, the main 80A fuse has blown. Check in the main fuse box under the bonnet.

Its the one that is screwed in

Fingers crossed its just a matter of replacing the fuse then.

Thanks for the advice. I don’t think I shorted anything out, but it stands to reason that’s what’s happened. Found a fuse on eBay for a tenner locally so I’ll check the fuse (they look burned out visibly?) this morning and get the 80amp fuse swapped if nothing changes. ECU is a not something I know about, again eBay and £15 ish for a used one, but there are some for over £300. Hopefully the 80A fuse did it’s one job steadfastly.
I’ll update in here in the hope this thread assists others with similar problems.
Cheers all :+1:

… so i took the battery to halfords and had them check it - 1.8V and dropping. New battery same as the one taken out (cost me £60, I know, probably not the best but I’m anxious about getting it to the mechanics on Monday) and fitted battery. Dead. No power. I then removed the 12V cut off switch, which was on closer inspection fitted rather badly - the bracket was screwed into the chassis!! so surely a risk for shorting out??) - anyhow, good news is she started up! How my battery charger reported ‘100%’ charge I dont know. So, the simplest explanation usually the right one and all that. Just a dead battery. What threw me off the scent is that it seemed to be working just fine until I took it out. Probably have to put this down to experience. Mechanic I am not! :slight_smile:

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