My Misbehavin’ Miata

The hot summer’s finally showed up in my state – despite the government’s concerted efforts to thwart it – and I figured it was time to fire up my Miata for some top-down cruising along some twisty out-of-the-way country back roads…

…that is, until the car showed me the dreadedAIR BAG” light.

Now, to say the Miata’s a great car would be a gross understatement: Since it’s release in 1989 it’s been the least-expensive way to achieve the true sports car experience, despite Mazda adding more horsepower, size, and testosterone to each redesign. It’s no surprise the MX-5 Miata is the most popular two-seat sports car ever produced.

And, although my Miata has been an absolute joy since I’ve owned it, Miatas aren’t perfect for at least three glaring reasons: (1) replacing the airbag system’s SRS Module (or heater core) requires removing the interior, (2) Mazda’s Anti-Theft unit appears to prevent theft by effectively draining the battery*, and (3) you need to be a contortionist to replace the oil filter.

Hypothetically, one could simply tape over the “AIR BAG” light to remove the distraction, or just take out the airbags and add some electrical modifications to fool the light… but, those “fixes” won’t help in the states requiring a functioning airbag light during startup (including my state).

So, after sourcing a replacement SRS Control Module, grabbing my tools & camera, and cognizant of my Catholic upbringing (airbags are explosive devices, so it’s prudent to request some divine protection), I dove elbow-deep into my Miata’s dashboard, with predictable results:

Before: A Tidy Dashboard

Now it's a dashboard...

After: Sans Dashboard. it's a parts bin.

(BTW: For those unfamiliar with Miatas, the SRS module is the triangular item just above the large white heating unit in the photo)

After about 8 hours of careful disassembly and reassembly – with plenty of breaks for photographs, parts labeling, refreshment, and conversing with curious neighbors – everything’s all back together and the airbag system now reports all’s well.

If you’re curious to perform this on your own Miata, here’s a couple of Step-by-Step Guides to add to those already out there on the interwebs (thanks to Pintwin1 for putting these together!):

Wait a minute… Do I hear a slight ticking at startup?  Is that a tiny bit of oil seeping out right near the Cam Angle Sensor?? And, is Dice-K ever going to be healthy before his BoSox contract expires?!?

Summer’s waaaay too short for these kinds of problems: I want to drive the car before my interior East Coast neighborhood becomes exclusive beachfront property. And besides… I need a couple of projects for this Fall ;-)

*(Which is probably why Mazda only offered it on the 1996 Miata).

Thanks for reading!

This entry was posted in Computers, Ramblings, Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Why ask?