My Favorite NB Miata Mods

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Stephen's Favorite NB Miata Mods


Disable the Key Warning Buzzer

I like to listen to the radio while I work on my car. But you need to have the key in the ignition for it to work. And if the key is in the ignition, the key warning buzzer will sound when the door is opened. This was the first thing I changed on the car when I got it. I documented the procedure in detail for the NA, and have updated it for the NB. Just do it!

Defeat the Defrost/AC Link

Locating the defrost/AC interconnect
Locating the defrost/AC interconnect
Securing the defrost/AC connector
Securing the defrost/AC connector

One of my least favorite bits of automation in the 2001+ Miata is link between the defrost vent position and the air conditioning. Whenever you turn the vent selector to either of the defrost positions (between 9 and 11 o'clock) the air conditioning compressor comes on. This happens whether it is 100 degrees out or 10 below zero. You might not think your 2001+ Miata has this "feature", but it does. The A/C light does not come on, but you can hear the compressor and A/C fan engage, and you can see your idle dip when it happens. Don't trust me about it, try it yourself!

Surprisingly, this "feature" is simple to defeat. All you have to do is disconnect a single connector behind the vent selection knob. Once it is disconnected, the A/C and defrost operate completely manually: Select defrost and the air blows on the windshield, and the A/C button controls the compressor manually. The hard part is reaching the connector!

  1. To easily access this connector, all you need to to is remove the radio!
  2. After the radio is loose, pull it out far enough so you can unplug the antenna (on the driver's side) and the other connections (on the passenger's side). The connector(s) have tabs you must press to release them from the radio. Once these are disconnected, set the head unit aside.
  3. Now you can reach the defroster/AC connector. Look at the connector with the red circle around it in the image at right. Push the lever at the front on the top and pull the connector off. Now fold the connector back and tape it to the wiring bundle behind it as circled at right in the second photo. You're done!
  4. Now you have to put everything back. Reassembly is the reverse of disassembly. Be careful to put the insulation back around the shfter just as it was. You will also have to reprogram the radio.

Polish Your Stalks

This mod has the best cost to coolness ratio of all! Sit in the driver's seat and look at the stalks connecting the turn signal and headlight levers to the steering column. Wouldn't it be nice if these were made of polished aluminum? Well, surprise, they are! Only they're not (yet) polished. That's what we're going to do!

Go to a good hardware store (not Home Depot or Wal Mart) and buy a sheet of 400 or 600 grit sandpaper. 400 will give you a brushed look, 600 will be more shiny. Now go to your favorite car-supply store and buy some aluminum polish. I used Mother's Aluminum and Mag polish.

Next, take off the steering column shroud to make it easier to work. Use a phillips screwdriver to remove the three screws under the column. The one in the middle at the back is different than the two on each side. Now pry the top of the column cover off and remove the top and bottom.

Now take your sandpaper and sand off the ugly black paint from the stalks. Be careful of surrounding parts, especially the plastic ends of the stalks. When you're happy with the color (it won't look too shiny at this point), stop sanding and wipe off any dust. Now use a tiny amount of the aluminum polish on a terry cloth towel to shine them up.

Put everything back together and enjoy your beautiful polished stalks! This works on all Miatas, both NA and NB. But surprisingly, no one tried it for more than a decade!

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