Timing Belt

I got a Miata!

Though, this is sort of old news (as of May). Here it is anyway:

1995 M Edition MX-5 Miata in Merlot Mica with BBS wheels

Curious about the M Editions? I found this field guide to be enlightening.

I got mine at around 60,000 miles, which just so happened to be the recommended time to change the timing belt. Since the car had gone from its original owner to an auction to a private dealer to us, we didn’t have any of its service records, so we had to assume that it was still working with its original timing belt. After school was out, the plan was to change the timing belt with the presence of my dad for supervision and assistance (and a real garage and nice, organized tools).

Right after finals ended, Hayden and I headed down to Monterey for our first autocross in the Miata. I already loved this car, as I so enjoy telling people who talk to me about it. After autocross, not only do I love this car more than ever, I even love autocross more than ever! Hayden and I both have quite a lot of room for improvement with this car, so I’m itching to get back on the cone course. Unfortunately, the event was arranged so that Hayden and I were constantly swapping seats so that we could share the car, so we didn’t get any good photos with the nice camera we so thoughtfully brought. Anyway, here’s a picture of the Miata just sitting there at the event:

top down, wheel caps off, numbers on, ready to go!

After driving down to LA after autocross, my dad was nice enough to move things around in his garage so my Miata could sleep inside with his kit Cobra. So the Miata’s being a pest in the garage (kind of like me) while I’m in town.

Me taking up too much space, as usual.

Pretty much the moment my car arrived, my dad noticed an oil leak (ugh). Luckily, we were about to change the very parts that were likely leaking.

I purchased the Flyin’ Miata NA8 timing belt kit. My new favorite Miata maintenance YouTube channel, which I simply refer to as Party Miatas, has a great timing belt tutorial that wrapped my head around the whole process of dismantling (and reassembling) my car.

An online guide to timing belt changes warned us that the task was not for the faint of heart, and boy was it an arduous process, even with all three of us working at it all day. However, it was so worth it! I had a lot of fun getting to know my car (and cleaning up the engine bay). In order to even reach the timing belt, we had to remove the intake crossover tube, radiator, valve cover, spark plugs, alternator and accessory belts, and a bunch of other plastic covers and rubber hoses. I thought that the hardest part was getting some of the bolts un-tightened. My dad said that a gorilla had been working on my car, since some of those bolts were so darned tight.

Though the engine bay was still comparably clean, there was a lot of grime on everything, probably from oil leaking and getting sloshed everywhere. It seemed that the oil leak had been a known problem before the car’s sale — rather than purchase new gaskets, someone had just put a bunch of silicone around the valve cover gasket. Hayden and I spent a long time scraping all that silicone off the valve cover. We used popsicle sticks, tweezers, old motel key cards, you name it. Getting the timing belt out in the open was one landmark, which also marked time for lunch.

preparing to replace parts

Keeping everything in place was tough. In all, we replaced the cam seals, front crank seal, valve cover gasket, tensioner and idler pulleys, and of course the timing belt.

putting on the brand new timing belt

Except for the end when my dad accidentally slung a hose full of radiator fluid at my eye (and me running to a nearby sink for an unexpected eye wash), everything went pretty smoothly. It was good to have a couple extra hands (and muscles) to help me out.

about to throw away that ratty old timing belt

After filling the car back up with radiator fluid, I attempted to start the car up again and… it started! Whew. We finished just before it got too cold to not complain about it. It was a great success! The Miata still needs some other routine maintenance, but the big one is out of the way now.


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