First Post--Hopeful Drive-along

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MattNA8
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First Post--Hopeful Drive-along

Post by MattNA8 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:48 am

Hey all! Well, I finally pulled the trigger and bought an MX-5. It's a '97 1.8 that seemed in relatively good shape for the price I paid. It definitely needs some general maintenance and an alignment (new tires wouldn't hurt either), but my initial impressions of driving the car is that it feels abnormally sloppy. It responds really strangely to throttle coming out of corners; it's not like a power-over kind of response, but more of a boggy, almost heavy body-roll feeling (difficult to describe). It's enough that my 2003 Forester feels like it's on rails compared to the little MX-5, haha. Right now I'm chalking it up to alignment issues, but I suppose I'll know soon enough once that's taken care of!

Anywho, I know I'm new here so this is kind of a shot in the dark--but I was wondering if anyone here would be willing to let me tag along on a quick ride in their MX-5 so I have something to compare my car to. I'd like to know what the car is meant to feel like when in good shape so I know when I have the car back to baseline after some maintenance work. Any help would be incredibly appreciated!

I'm in Palmy and would be happy to meet in a neutral place around town or anywhere in Manawatu for the matter, and I'll even throw in $15 for petrol. Thanks again for any consideration and potential help offered--both are very much appreciated :)!

Cheers,
-Matt

MrGrey
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Post by MrGrey » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:52 am

I am up in Whangarei so am a bit too far away to help but I would suggest getting an alignment and an even 32psi in each tire and see if that makes a difference.

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Post by Snapfrozen » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:37 am

What tyres does it have? How old do they appear to be?
What suspension is it running?
What petrol is it running, how many km's on it?

A few things to remember about the MX5. When you're leaving a corner you would probably want to be above 3000rpm. The car makes power up high, similar fashion to a Honda. Your forester is likely going to handle better as it's 10 years newer in design to your MX5.

Suspension, good tyres, good alignment, service. Then look into some frame rail braces like the Flying Miata ones. If you aren't bouncing off the limiter, you aren't making power ;)

If you're ever up in Auckland I'm happy to take you for a spin in mine.

MattNA8
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Post by MattNA8 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:55 am

Stock suspension (and not the nice Bilsteins), old tires (*wondering how they passed WOF*)--the car is running Mobil 95 at the moment and has done 137 K's. I already received a shipping quote from FM for their butterfly brace, sway bars, Racing Beat end links, and new bushings/bumpstops, haha. I also have my eye on some Ohlin's, as well as new tie rod and steering rack ends. I'm hesitant to invest in new tires for the stock wheels as I'm looking into some 15x8's in the coming months. The trick will be affording it all :P. My last car was a '94 RX-7, and I'm hoping to make this car every bit as enjoyable in the long run--preferably with a little more reliability and with a bit less money, haha.

Anywho, thanks for the offers and advice so far! It seems like a lot of this community is up north, so I'll keep that in mind next time I'm up there. Still graciously requesting help from anyone local-ish and willing! I could make the drive to anyone within a reasonable distance as well!

*edit* PS, I just saw your car featured in the Garage section MrGrey--seriously gorgeous. We have really similar taste aesthetically; hopefully my car can look that nice down the line!

Cheers,
-Matt

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Post by Angreal » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:05 am

I love the Ohlins in my car although I don't think my car would handle much like a stock car anymore :wink:

4A-GE
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Re: First Post--Hopeful Drive-along

Post by 4A-GE » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:49 am

MattNA8 wrote:It's a '97 1.8 that seemed in relatively good shape for the price I paid.
Is it the white one from te kuiti?

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Post by sprsta » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:21 am

First off, get a wheel alignment and some nice tyres,
it'll feel better, tyres make a huge difference on these cars. You may like to lower it at this stage too.

If you still aren't happy with it get a full suspension bush kit and it'll drive like a new car

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Post by WideOpenThrottle » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:12 pm

You cant compare an all wheel drive Forrester to a rear drive car...totally different feel!
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Post by Growler » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:52 pm

I would get a wheel alignment, check tyre pressures and check the tune of the engine. That would be the cheapest option and give you a good starting point. Then look at other options from there.

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Post by marcellarius » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:15 pm

I would hold off on throwing parts at it; on completely standard suspension the handling should be pretty good. They do have a bit of body roll, but I've found this affects the driver's grip on the car a lot more than the car's grip on the road ... ;)

Alignment and some good rubber. If you want more grip, a good set of tyres does wonders. The OE Enkei wheels are good, very light; I suspect most people get bigger wheels for aesthetic reasons.

As Snapfrozen mentioned: make it sing. If I'm on an exciting road, 3rd gear and really letting it rev really wakes the car up.

If your car has a Torsen LSD, I've noticed the way it responds to throttle through corners is fairly subtle. My car seems to like gentle throttle through the mid-corner. Trailing throttle through corners and coming on hard at the exit seems to just make the car feel unsettled.

MattNA8
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Post by MattNA8 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:58 pm

4A-GE wrote:
MattNA8 wrote:It's a '97 1.8 that seemed in relatively good shape for the price I paid.
Is it the white one from te kuiti?
That's the one, lol. Looks really clean save a good scrape on the front passenger-side fender and some dirty oil (waiting on a K&N filter before I change it).
WideOpenThrottle wrote:You cant compare an all wheel drive Forrester to a rear drive car...totally different feel!
I know they're very different animals. I was commenting more on the fact that I'd expect a sorted MX-5 to have less of a body-roll feel to it than the crossover. I've had RWD cars for years now--the AWD was a big change for me but suited our needs more :).
marcellarius wrote:I would hold off on throwing parts at it; on completely standard suspension the handling should be pretty good. They do have a bit of body roll, but I've found this affects the driver's grip on the car a lot more than the car's grip on the road ... ;)

Alignment and some good rubber. If you want more grip, a good set of tyres does wonders. The OE Enkei wheels are good, very light; I suspect most people get bigger wheels for aesthetic reasons.

As Snapfrozen mentioned: make it sing. If I'm on an exciting road, 3rd gear and really letting it rev really wakes the car up.

If your car has a Torsen LSD, I've noticed the way it responds to throttle through corners is fairly subtle. My car seems to like gentle throttle through the mid-corner. Trailing throttle through corners and coming on hard at the exit seems to just make the car feel unsettled.
Thanks for that. Yeah, even if I wanted to have the parts shipped tomorrow, I couldn't afford it, haha. I always like getting the feel for stock cars and addressing the issues I find with them with modifications after some time with them. I'm just fastidious with my cars and like to plan out expenses and parts in advance :P. I'm going to get the alignment done before the week's up and think about tires at that time. I suppose I'm in no rush for the 15x8's, as they were more of anticipatory purchase (with good-look benefits) for my 4 year goal of a turbo set up. Anywho, all besides the point, lol.

Based on the trim of the car, I think it's a Touring with an open diff. I'd really love a Torsen down the line--I hear they make an enormous difference. In fact, this is my first RWD without a LSD, so that could be contributing to the car feeling off to me.

As per everyone's suggestion though an alignment and tires are both first on the list. I also bought some oil for the trans, diff, and engine, as well as new coolant. I jacked the car up yesterday for the trans oil but the fill plug is totally seized in there, haha. After a lot of grunting and half a can of penetrating oil I just went ahead an ordered an 8-point socket for the damn thing.

I'll update with any significant improvements once all the maintenance is done!

Cheers,
-Matt

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Post by marcellarius » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:23 pm

Good luck with the fill plug!! What tool were you using? 12pt socket? Big adjustable spanner?

MattNA8
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Post by MattNA8 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:51 pm

marcellarius wrote:Good luck with the fill plug!! What tool were you using? 12pt socket? Big adjustable spanner?
Yeah, I couldn't find my 5/8'' 12 pt and the 16mm was just too big, so I ended up cranking on it for hours with an adjustable spanner to absolutely no avail, haha. I'll attack it with that 8 pt and a cheater pipe once the socket comes in the post, and hopefully that'll do the trick. I take it this is a pretty common problem than? Haha.

Cheers,
-Matt

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Post by Angreal » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:04 pm

Yes. All the guides for doing a change say check the fill plug hole first before touching the drain hole :wink:

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Post by SLYDIT » Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:25 pm

Don't just get a factory alignment.... It sucks.
Do a google for "lanny alignment" and you'll find some better numbers.
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MattNA8
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Post by MattNA8 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:23 pm

SLYDIT wrote:Don't just get a factory alignment.... It sucks.
Do a google for "lanny alignment" and you'll find some better numbers.
Cheers for that! I've been looking for some good alignment numbers. I'm always afraid of messing with toe angles due to tire wear, but 1/32 is pretty minimal. Hopefully the guys I take it to can get it dead on.

As for tires on the stock wheels, I'm looking at 185/60-14 Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Specs. I know they're an aggressive tire and that they don't do well in the wet, but does anyone have any experience with them? Traction loss in the wet isn't a big deal for me as I won't be driving it too much in the rain and rather enjoy rainy oversteer (safely). I figure if I'm going to replace them within a year soft rubber wouldn't be a bad choice, and hopefully it'll let me get maximum grip out of the narrow wheels.

Thanks again for all the help guys, it's all very much appreciated!

Cheers,
-Matt

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Post by warrior » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:43 am

Here are the alignment numbers I use from Keith Tanner (a mx5 expert)

I use the street setting in my wifes mx5 and the sport settings in my mx5, I find them both very good.

STREET

FRONT
CASTER + 5.0 DEGREES
CAMBER -0.7 DEGREES
TOE 1/16 INCH IN (TOTAL)

REAR
CAMBER -1.2 DEGREES
TOE 1/16 INCH IN (TOTAL)

SPORT

FRONT
CASTER +4.5 DEGREES
CAMBER -1.0 DEGREES
TOE 0 INCH

REAR
CAMBER -1.5 DEGREES
TOE 1/16 INCH IN (TOTAL)

I hope this helps.
warrior

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Post by marcellarius » Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:41 am

I've used Keith's street alignment, not bad. Be sure to take it to a good shop that will actually take the time to hit the numbers and get a print-out with the final measurements if you can.

Here's Lanny's alignment FAQ: http://www.hummingbirds.net/alignment.html

Ultimately the ideal alignment depends on how you use your car and what you like :)

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Post by SLYDIT » Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:07 pm

the 97 is the tallest and softest of all NA mx'5's . i'm not surprised your a bit dissapointed with the handling. once youve driven a "correct" height mx5 with some decent 15" wheels and tires, youll wonder how you put up with the stock 97 suspension.
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Post by MattNA8 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:57 pm

Thanks for all the alignment help! Definitely gives me some stuff to consider.

I was unaware that the '97's had a softer/taller suspension setup than previous NA's. I wonder how much that will affect how well the camber settings are translated to the road. Changed the oil/filter and did a radiator flush today--still waiting on that 8 point, lol. Also waiting on a new lower boot for when I switch out the turret oil. The 5-speed feels just a bit ambiguously stiff and notchy, so I'm looking forward to the trans and turret oil change for sure. Can't wait to get settled with the stock car so I can start thinking about improving it. If only the wheels and suspension bits weren't going to put me down significantly more than the car did, haha.

Cheers,
-Matt

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Post by jtsoldier » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:30 pm

MattNA8 wrote:Stock suspension (and not the nice Bilsteins), old tires [...]. I already received a shipping quote from FM for their butterfly brace, sway bars, Racing Beat end links, and new bushings/bumpstops, haha.
Sorry to be so rude as to be somewhat off-topic - particularly with what is (I think) my first post here, but what was - roughly - their quote?
I hear shipping for these things is notoriously expensive. Wondering if NZPost or Mainfreight might do cheaper rates via forwarding...

Cheers...

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Post by MattNA8 » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:24 pm

jtsoldier wrote:
MattNA8 wrote:Stock suspension (and not the nice Bilsteins), old tires [...]. I already received a shipping quote from FM for their butterfly brace, sway bars, Racing Beat end links, and new bushings/bumpstops, haha.
Sorry to be so rude as to be somewhat off-topic - particularly with what is (I think) my first post here, but what was - roughly - their quote?
I hear shipping for these things is notoriously expensive. Wondering if NZPost or Mainfreight might do cheaper rates via forwarding...

Cheers...
Hey no worries man, not rude at all. Shipping for all of the above was quoted at around $580 USD. Not cheap, but not incredibly expensive for the size of the box (a TougeRun front lip was included in the quote as well). I'm trying to consolidate as much as I can into a couple of large orders to cut down on shipping costs, so it's likely I'll hold off until I know more about what I want from the car and make that order a bit bigger. Keith and the team at FM are really friendly and quick to get back to you with international shipping quotes, so don't be afraid to shoot them an inquiry!

Cheers,
-Matt

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Post by WideOpenThrottle » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:02 am

And don't forget to add NZ import duty!

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