If you’re looking for an affordable, high-quality sports car, then look no further than the Mazda Miata. Since it first hit the market in 1989, the Miata has been loved by car aficionados of all sorts.
In fact, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is the best selling two-seat convertible sports car in history.
Buying a used Miata can be an excellent way to get your hands on a great ride for not a lot of money. But sometimes, a deal on an old Mazda Miata is too good to be true.
How do you know if you’ve got a car worth buying or a dud on your hands? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know when buying a used Mazda Miata.
Mazda Miata’s are low cars. And because of that, it’s easy for their undersides to become damaged. When you go to check out an old Miata, bring a flashlight with you.
Get down low and check out what’s going on underneath the car. You want to look for any damage or leaks that might be going on. This would mean a big no.
You also want to inspect the exhaust pipe and see if it’s rusted out. Also, check out the car’s shocks and make sure that they’re not leaking.
Look at the differential as well and make sure its seals are good and there’s no leaking going on there.
Sometimes, it can be hard to spot a dent. By getting behind the car and looking straight down the body, you can look for any ripples or hard-to-find dents.
If the car has been in an accident before, there’s a good chance that its body panels won’t align. You’ll find a different sized gap on one side of the trunk and one side of the hood.
You also want to check the taillight. You’re going to want to see a nice, even gap all around. You don’t want anything to be pushed in at all. That’s a good indicator that the car’s been hit from behind before.
Look in the wheel wells at all and see if you can find any signs of overspray. Ask the car owner if the car has been repainted. If they tell you no, and you see traces of overspray, that’s something you’re going to want to ask about.
Also, check the wheel well to see how the brake pads are doing. You don’t want to buy a car and then have to replace the brake pads a week later.
Do the same thing with the tire treads. If you just do a superficial look over a car, you could very well end up buying something that you’re going to have to pay a lot more for later on to keep it working.
Take a look at the trunk. Try to look at it gutted, if possible. You’ll easily be able to tell if it’s been rear-ended before.
One of the most fun parts about driving a Mazda Miata is lowering the top. So you have to make sure that everything is in good working order here.
If you’re buying a Miata from the 90s, realize that it’s getting to close to being 30 years old. Retractable tops can deteriorate over time. They can end up getting cracked, worn down, and damaged.
You definitely want to put the roof up and down a few times before you decide to buy. The window zippers should be intact as well as the roof’s latches. And if the seals look really weathered, they could actually leak when it rains.
If you get a Miata with a bad roof, you’re going to have to account for the cost of replacing it.
The car should startup pretty easily whether it’s cold or hot. And it should find idle rather quickly.
The engine should also rev free and easily without any sort of hesitation.
Going through the gears should be pretty easy. As long as you’re not slamming them hard, you shouldn’t get much resistance.
As you get up to speed, you’re going to want to listen for any kind of whirring or grinding sounds. Those sounds could mean the car has bad wheel bearings.
You also want to feel for any bounciness in the suspension.
And if you’re not familiar with the car, it might be hard for you to tell the difference between suspension that’s just stiff and suspension that’s bottoming out.
If the Miata’s on stock suspension and you’re not getting harsh bounces but wavy-feeling ones, then that means you’ve got worn shocks.
Also, while you’re driving, don’t be afraid to go through the gears once or twice. You want to make sure that the engine is pulling strong.
The Miata has a pretty flat torque curve. So it should pull fairly consistent throughout the power band.
You can also brush up on important Miata specs by reading this buyers guide.
If you plan on buying an old Mazda Miata, part of the process involves common sense and part of it involves knowing a thing or two about Miatas. If you find a car for very cheap, it probably won’t be in perfect condition.
But you can still use the guide above and check everything out as best you can in order to make a smart purchase. Seeing the car in person and test driving it is the best way to know if it’s a car worth buying.
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