I appreciate there is an other thread I created where this is talked about, titled “Gear Lever Rubbing Surfaces”, but thought worth posting this as a ‘How To’ which is the conclusion of the other thread.
I am not sure if this is applicable to other models, my car is a 2008 NC 2.0 Sport. The problem was a horrible 2nd gear engagement on a cold gearbox.
The solution was a replacement of the the ‘Reverse Lock Out Plate’ which limits how far the gear lever can move left to right. This plate is made of a hard plastic, and the limit surface on the left side is thinner than on the right as it allows for the ‘lift’ to move further left to engage reverse gear. This surface wears, and then the gear lever does not line up correctly when changing to second gear.
On my car, the turret was dry of oil, so I topped that up and greased the ball - this made a big difference. A week or so later I fitted the new plate, and that then made a difference again, not as much as refilling the turret, but a definite positive improvement.
It is hard to see on the picture, but the inside left edge should be straight, the curvature you can see is wear - this car had done 73,000 miles.
Below is the new plate for comparison
The part is available form Mazda as part number P601-17-449A; and is also available from MX5PARTS on thier part number SP3003. This is not (yet) listed on the website, so you need to call and ask for it using this part number. Cost was about £19 delivered.
How to fit:
Remove the plastic coin holder, and the trim cover at the rear of the console - both prise upward and will pop out when the catches release. Use plastic trim tools to avoid any damage to the soft plastic. Also remove the cover from the bottom of the front cup-holder (on the pictures below, I have replaced the cup-holder with a rough home made cubby space, but the screw is in physically the same place.
Doing this exposes the five screws that hold the console on place. Remove all these screws, they are all the same so you wont get them mixed up.
Pull the cover off the handbrake, there are clips on the inside edge, use your fingers to pull them free. Do not pull the front up as it has a locating tab that is only released by moving the whole floppy cover rearwards when the clips have been released. You can then pull the whole cover off the handbrake. The first couple of times I simply wiggled the cover though the opening in the released console, and left it in place - but it is much easier to remove it completely before removing and refitting the console.
Unscrew the gear nob and remove. Simply twist anticlockwise and it comes off.
The console is now only held in place by two clips at the front, the picture below shows the open console so you can see the clips. Pull the whole of the front straight upward using your hands on each side of the transmission tunnel.
Don’t yank it off yet - the electric window switches are on an awkward little connector that you need to push the clip on in the right place to release. Squeeze the clip and pull the connector downwards and it slips off. The picture below shows the connector removed, and you can see the clip about two thirds of the way along the edge towards the front.
Now you can see the gear lever and its surrounding gator. Remove the small foam cylinder from the gear lever, and remove the cable tidy clip form the rear right gator bolt. I fount the best way to do this is with a pair of cir-clip pliers that can open the internal tangs that grip the threads.
Pull the centre of the gator up and off the top of the the fat bit on the gear lever, some lubricant may help this. The first time I did this, I was changing the gator as it was split, and the top was pretty much glued to the gear lever after 15 years of use. As I had a new one, I simply cut the thing off. If yours has never been touched, might be worth checking if there are splits, and if so get a new one. Cost about £35 from MX5PARTs for either a genuine Mazda or a pattern one is a couple of pounds cheaper. There are two rubbers, the large outer one you can see at this point, and a smaller internal one under the outer one. Both come together in the kit from MX5PARTs.
Undo the four nuts - easy with a 10mm deep socket, and lift the gator off to expose the inner gator - the inner one just peels off. If has a foam seal around its perimeter, and that may have glued itself down if it has never been touched before, so pull gently unless you have a new one ready to go in.
You can now see the plate which is clipped on the rest of the plastic gear lever components, and all held down by three 10mm bolts. Undo the three bolts and the whole gear lever assemble will lift straight up and out. Have paper towels ready to wrap it. You can now see if there is any oil in the turret. If not, pour some in. Mine took about quarter of a pint at a guess to get oil up an into the cup that the bush on the bottom of the lever goes into.
The whole plastic assembly on the gear lever cannot come off the gear lever assembly, but the top plate is clipped on with a clip front and back. Mine simply prised apart using my fingers, no tools needed.
Clip the new part on, and assuming you have oil in the turret, put some grease on the ball on the gear stick and put it back in (some say use white lithium grease, I used general purpose lithium grease as 1. I don’t have any White lithium grease, and 2. I have heard strories of While lithium grease going hard. (Don’t use any Molybdenum (CV or black grease) as there is a slim possibility of the moly migrating through linkages in to the gearbox and upsetting synchro mechanisms. Very unlikely, but why risk it). Putting it back is a little fiddly, you need to line up the locator dowels on each side and lower the bush into the cup. Go gently and it will fall into pace on the second or third attempt.
Once in place, fix with the three 10mm bolts.
I then put a smidge of grease on the left and right contact point on the plate.
Pull on the inner rubber and replace on the outer rubber. With the outer one, do not tighten the four nuts before you have pushed the hole over the gear lever down to its final position. If you do tighten the nuts, you will find that the whole assembly is air tight and it is like trying to push down a balloon. Be mindful of any wires you have routed in the area, and don’t pinch them with the rubbers. (in my photos you will see extra wires for running USB for my phone, parking brake cable for the head unit and wires for a powered DAB and FM antenna). Do not yet put the cable tidy back on the gear rubber bolt - you want the slack for reconnecting the switch.
Put the foam cylinder back on the gear lever.
Lift the console into place, over the top of the brake lever and down over the gear lever.
Now you can reach in and reconnect the Electric window switches. There is slack in the cable if you have not yet put the cable tidy on the turret rubber bolt to make your life easier. If you have pushed it on already, there is still room to get the connector back on, but it is not quite so easy. Picture below shows connector in place, and ready to push the cable tidy on to the bolt. It just pushes on, no cir-clip pliers needed to refit.
Lower the console back down into place, if you are sitting in the drivers seat, make sure the carpet on the passenger side locates correctly inside the console and is not trapped.
Put in the five screws. Screw on the gear nob. Refit the the handbrake surround. Clip on the coin holder and the rear trim. And drive to the shop enjoying the new smoother gear change, glowing with pride that you are now a fully qualified mechanic and buy yourself some well earned beer.
Just as an aside, I have found a big reduction in cabin noise by stuffing some acoustic absorbing foam in under the coin holder. If you use the cigarette lighter, this might not be the greatest idea. But it works for me.