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Mazda MX-5 mk.1 headlight bulb replacement guide

It’s remarkably dangerous to drive with one headlight out—not necessarily because it reduces your vision, but because it reduces your visibility to other road users. It’s all too easy to look like a motorcyclist, and hence a much narrower hazard, to a tired driver, with potentially lethal results.

It’s therefore wise to get a blown headlamp bulb changed as quickly as possible. On the Mark 1 Mazda MX-5 (Miata in the USA, Eunos Roadster in Japan), while it’s not as straightforward as on some cars, it’s nevertheless not a difficult procedure, as the following guide will show. I’d recommend the purchase of the Veloce Mazda MX-5 1.8i enthusiast’s manual (if you have the 1.6i, this version of the manual is preferable), which assisted me along the way. As for the replacement bulb itself, you need a 12V 60/55W bulb, such as this Lucas LLB472 bulb. I obtained one from my trusty local mechanic (thanks Gary!), who was even kind enough to drop it off at my house.

  1. Turn the lights off, and raise the headlights using the centre console switch.
  2. Remove the four screws, two on each side, on the sides of the headlight. These hold the plastic headlight surround in place. Be careful when removing them, since they each have two small washers on them.
    One side of the headlight assembly

    Mazda MX-5 headlight
    The other side of the headlight assembly

    One of the four screws to be removed. Beware of losing the two washers on each screw
  3. Lift the headlight surround away.
    Remove surround
  4. The screws that hold the headlight unit should now be visible. Be careful: there are three that hold the headlight in place, and two others that merely adjust the headlight beam. Don’t touch the latter, and be careful with the others, as I’ll explain.
    The screws to be removed are highlighted by green circles. Don’t touch the two screws marked with red crosses.
  5. You need to loosen, not remove, the three that are spaced roughly 120 degrees apart. When I first did this, I didn’t realise that I didn’t need to remove them, and indeed it’s quite tricky to remove them all, due to their positions. Just loosen them enough to allow the shiny headlight retention ring to rotate slightly, causing the screws to line up with the larger holes in the ring. Have WD-40 at the ready to lubricate them.
    One of the three screws to be slackened, in the locked position

    With the screw slackened, the ring can be rotated to this position.
  6. Rotate the retention ring and remove it. In my case, it had become stuck to the headlight unit, so I ended up removing the unit at the same time, as described in the next step.
    Remove retaining ring
  7. Carefully start to remove the headlight unit.
    Remove unit carefully
  8. The wiring loom will be connected to the back of the unit: disconnect it to release and remove the unit completely.
    The connector

    Disconnect connector
  9. Pull the dust boot off. Note any damage: if it’s no longer sitting snugly over the assembly, you’ll need to replace it soon.
    Remove dust boot
  10. Undo the bulb clip.
    Clip holding the bulb

    Unclip bulb
  11. Remove the bulb carefully.
    Remove bulb
  12. Install the replacement bulb, making sure you don’t touch the bulb with bare fingers—this can leave a residue on the bulb that leads to the bulb’s premature destruction. Clip the bulb in.
    Insert new bulb
  13. Reassemble carefully.

With your new headlamp bulb thus installed, you’ll be all set to get safely back on the road.

Mazda MX-5 mk.1 spark plug lead change

Misfiring between 2000-3000 rpm suggested all was not well below the bonnet of my 1996 Mazda MX-5. On one journey, fortunately close to home, the misfire was so bad that it was reluctant to move above 3000 rpm at all, necessitating a gear change to force the revolutions up.

I had a new set of NGK BKR6E-11 spark plugs sitting around waiting to be fitted, but they didn’t seem to make any difference, so the next things to look at were the spark plug leads (also known as high tension leads). If the spark plug leads didn’t make a difference, the next thing to look at would be a coil pack; at over £200, this would be getting costly. So, at about £30, it made sense to try changing the ignition leads first. Again, MX5parts provided the spark plug leads at a reasonable price.

As usual, changing them was a simple task, but here are the photos anyway. If you need further guidance, you might want to consider buying the Veloce Mazda MX-5 1.8 enthusiast’s manual, or alternatively the 1.6i enthusiast’s manual, should that be more applicable.:

Spark plug leads ready
1. Spark plug leads ready
2. Old spark plug leads in the engine
2. Old spark plug leads in the engine
3. Remove electrical connectors; twisting them may be required
3. Remove electrical connectors; twisting them may be required
4. Grip tightly and remove each lead from engine
4. Grip tightly and remove each lead from engine
5. Reverse the process with the new leads
5. Reverse the process with the new leads
6. Step back and admire the new leads
6. Step back and admire the new leads

You can probably see from the last picture that the leads are a touch on the long side for the MX-5; I suppose that’s the result of buying budget leads.

As far as performance goes, however, the engine seems much happier. Not had any misfiring yet, and the engine is a lot happier at low revolutions, allowing me to stay in a lower gear. That, I believe, is having a positive effect on my fuel economy: by my calculations, since changing the leads and plugs, I managed over 30mpg from my 1.8i for the first time. And that’s without any motorway cruising, albeit a bit of dual carriageway driving.

Your mileage may vary, quite literally; let me know how you get on!

Mazda MX-5 mk.1 1.8i (1840cc) air filter change

When it comes to servicing one’s own car, the air filter is normally just about the easiest thing to change. Despite this, it’s often overlooked by lazy owners. Having a clogged air filter can increase fuel consumption and reduce power: it really makes sense to change it regularly. Fortunately, changing my Mazda MX-5 1.8i Merlot’s (also known as Mazda Miata in the U.S.A., and the Eunos Roadster in Japan) air filter was extremely straightforward.

My Veloce Mazda MX-5 1.8 enthusiast’s manual (you may want the 1.6i enthusiast’s manual instead) recommends inspection of the air filter every 6,000 miles. It should apparently be changed every 27,000 miles or 3 years. Armed with the workshop manual and a £12.77 brand new genuine Mazda air filter from MX5parts, I set to work.

Chances are that you could figure it out yourself, but on the off-chance that you’re somewhat timid or cagey about fiddling with your own car, here’s a step-by-step guide. (Usual disclaimers apply.) Apologies for the poor-quality camera-phone pictures.

1. Unplug the electrical connector
1. Unplug the electrical connector
2. Release the clamp
2. Release the clamp
3. Detach the trunking
3. Detach the trunking
4. Undo the four screws of the air filter casing
4. Undo the four screws of the air filter casing
5. Lift the casing up
5. Lift the casing up
6. Remove the air filter and any debris
6. Remove the air filter and any debris
7. Insert the new air filter
7. Insert the new air filter
8. Put screws, trunking, trunking clamp, electrical connector back
8. Put screws, trunking, trunking clamp, electrical connector back

That’s it! Drive off laughing like an idiot, enjoying the happier engine—and the consequently restored power.