Mk3.75 Gearbox and clutch

  1. My model of MX-5 is: __
  2. I’m based near: __
  3. I’m looking for technical help or recommendations on: __
    I have a 6 speed Mk3.75 Sports tech on a 13 plate.
    I bought it back in April this year (2021) with some service history and a clean MOT.
    Today was MOT and 8 year service all passed the service and MOT were done at a Mazda main dealrship.
    Over the months getting the car into gear has been a little bit of a problem it will go in but needs quite a lot of help.
    I didn’t say any thing to the garage cos I forgot about it plus I have sort of lived with the problem.
    When i went to pick up the car the receptionist said every thing is fine but there is a problem with the gearbox. The mechanic, who had gone home as he finishes at four, had said it was his intention to change the transmission oil because that may be the problem (really??) but didn’t have any ??? Weird or what. Plymouth how many car parts places are there? Plus this is a large dealership with other car dealerships in the complex. I despair.
    Any way advice please.
    Could the problem be bad transmission fluid? Guess there may be some loss and it needs topping up but!!!
    I reckon the problem is the clutch and if it can’t be adjusted (can it??) may need changing.
    What do you people think.?
    Don’t fancy the cost of a six speed gearbox :wink:

Clutch pedal travel can be adjusted to get the bite point out of the carpet.


Is the dealership vespers? If so, beware.
I would forget using a main dealer, especially V… and find a specialist near you, or even an individual who knows their way around these cars. You’re far more likely to get an honest, accurate diagnosis.

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Vospers and why beware? Do you know something I don’t.
Do you know East Cornwall? and a garage that knows MX5s ?
I have been asking for months and got no answers

Also in the plymouth area, I’ve seen a specialist in Truro mentioned here and there’s another up towards Widemouth. I’ve got a local garage that family use who have given me reasonable estimates for basic work, or il be renting a lift/work bay for a few hours and il do it myself.

As others have said clutch can be adjusted, @DuratecNC sells some special gearbox oil that can help (haven’t stuck mine in yet) and rebuilding the shifter (lower boot/lockout plate/bushing/oil) can also help depending on what exaclty is going on.

It seems fairly common for 1/2/3 to be ‘notchy’ or hard to change into when cold, my 6 speed is sometimes but can also be a bit funny when warm so I’ll be doing the lot.

Edit - links:

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Bit of a protracted story I won’t bore people with here, and I won’t go into detail in print, except to say that I would not either buy, or have my car serviced or diagnosed there again.
MX5’s are not complicated cars, and I’m sure most independent service garages could advise on the issue with your car.
You could also try Honest Johns Good Garage Guide, if no one on here knows of anyone who could help.


Getting a second message is never good. The receptionist not being aufait with anything mechanical passed a mesage from the mechanic that could be given as ambigeous. The mechanic phoned me this morning and explained the problem and the possible cause. Nothing to do with transmission fluid and like I thought transmission fluid SHOULD be checked (which he did) but NOT necessarily changed. Transmission fluid is for (or could be) life. On this occasion that was the case. He checked the Transmission fluid it looked good. He said the problem was (as I thought and Trevor Davis pointed out is the clutch and in this instant probably the slave or master cyclinder could be at fault. I’m happy with that cos that makes a whole load of sense. From cold, gears are hard to engage, once the engine has done a few miles it gets easier. As for Vospers in Plymouth I have no truck with them they were honest the mechanic knows, in my estimation, to know what he is talking about and 20 years experience must count for something. So I have a return appointed booked in for the clutch and gear box to be sussed Ill comment if necessary in a weeks time.
Oh and Overdive who ever you are bit scathing isn’t it to condemn a garage with out any prove they need castigating

Sorry i might have missed something, but is the only concern that it can be hard to shift gear when cold? If so you can Search here and find lots of posts about it (example Notchy NC gearbox curiosity/history), often when going back to the dealer from purchase its a case of “they all do that sir” which seems truthful with the 6 speed atleast. Changing the oil can help with this.

The transmission oil is 100% a service item - 60 months/62k Miles:

Clutch drag (if your clutch is in/close to the carpet as mentioned above) can contribute to rough shifts but can be adjusted under the pedal: Adjusting the Clutch

I’ve had no personal dealings with vospers, but family had bought a fiesta there years back and had issues from sales through to servicing and swore off em. I doubt @Overdrive is warning without warning due.

Thats a Ford this is a Mazda MX5

Same dealerships/franchisee. I’m not gonna argue with you about it, your car your money. The concern you/the mechanic has isn’t clear, however it sounds like a well known and documented charistic of the car in which case the dealer may be taking you for a ride.

If that’s all you’ve taken from my responses providing the information you’ve requested and information directly from mazda that conflicts with the mechanic then theres nothing more for me to add.

All the best.

OK sorry you have taken umbridge it wasn’t intended.
This MX5 is new to me (My last car was a MX5) and its fairly new with low mileage (51k) The service history is scant (only serviced by Mazda garage up to 2016) so I wanted it done properly with a service history base I could work to.
I have never had any dealings with Vospers there are no other Mazda garages close by, albeit I have asked. Vospers Plymouth is 22 miles away Truro the next nearest is close on 50 miles. As I said as I have no knowledge on Vospers so I used them.
What the mechanic told me said seemed reasonable so why should I question it?
The car is going in for a clutch gearbox assessment in a weeks time.
I have contacted the garage (Vospers) and requested transmission and diff oil change just for peace of mind.
The trouble with forums, FB Groups etc/whatever so many people resulting in some many points of view.
Again sorry for sounding off just want whats best for my car

I went out of my way not to accuse them of anything, and did not castigate them in any way.
My reply to your post was meant as friendly, hopefully helpful advice based on the assumption (from your post) that you have no mechanical knowledge or experience of either the dealer in question or your car, and I do have experience of that particular dealer.
The mere fact that you believe the mechanic’ as to the transmission fluid (how on earth can he assess the condition of the oil without having it tested ? ) confirms this.
I sincerely hope you get your car sorted out via whatever route you think is best.

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I don’t think we know quite where you live but there is a specialist in Bideford I believe.
It is very common for the clutch take-up/bite point to be somewhere in the carpet with these cars and this will cause clutch drag and the symptoms you describe.
Yes, the hydraulics can cause clutch drag too but adjusting the pedal very often cures the problem.
It is simple, if fiddly to adjust the clutch pedal but it does help if you are young and flexible and don’t suffer from claustrophobia.

So here’s my opinion having read the issues you’ve described…

I had the exact same problem with my NC1… Difficult to engage, notchy, generally felt awful.

Changed the fluids regardless (gearbox and clutch), no improvement.

Took advice from the well known Paul Roddison and without even seeing the car or driving it, he said immediately that the issue was the clutch.

I wasn’t so sure… The clutch felt fine, bite point was fine, no slipping or indeed any of the usual symptoms you’d expect.

I adjusted the pedal, very brief improvement and then it went right back to how it was before. I also felt fairly sure that it needed either a new master or slave cylinder, or both

It turns out that the symptoms of a failing clutch on MX5s are what I (and you) have described above… I bit the bullet and had Paul fit a new OEM clutch trusting his diagnosis even though I had convinced myself the clutch itself wasn’t the actual problem… He fitted it and the difference was like night and day and all of the issues immediately went away. The car now drives and feels the best it ever has in my ownership.

If you’re able to, take it him in Sheffield and get his opinion, and brace yourself for the inevitably of it needing a new clutch.

FYI, don’t pay too much attention to the mileage either… Mine had 69k when the issues started… I expected much more out of it, but no such luck!

Definitely start by adjusting the pedal and if it doesn’t address the problem, you need a clutch.

Good luck!


Prior to biting the bullet and fitting a new clutch, it might be worthwhile adjusting the clutch pedal and changing the gearbox oil - I did both on my MK3.5 and found it made a big improvement (previously a bit notchy, and hard work when cold). Adjusting the clutch is actually quite easy, but you do need to be a bit of a contortionist! I used Castrol gearbox oil as it seemed to get decent feedback on the forum.


Having the incorrect oil in the transmission could well affect gear selection on an MX5.

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I wouldn’t dismiss the oil change comment out of hand. It’s quite common (mine included) for the NC to have a notchy and difficult gear change problem which is sorted by a gearbox oil change and turret oil. :+1::+1:

I haven’t dismissed the gearbox oil change at all. I have the Service schedule for my car and it should have been down a service or two ago as I’m not sure if it has been done I am having it done along with the diff oil change on Monday when the garage are going to sort out the gear change problem.