The Worst of Ask Bob

My Father passed on some sage advice to me which I have taken to heart; it is far better to be thought of as a smartass than an dumbass. And as American Humorist Robert Benchley (1889-1945) noted, "no matter how well-intended, any reply to a dumbass question will inevitably appear smartassed". - Bob Hall

Bob Hall, the "Father of the Miata", has volunteered his valuable time to answer your questions about Miata history, design, other general automotive questions that are in his area of expertise. Despite the fact that we've clearly posted guidelines about what is an appropriate question for Bob, we regularly receive questions that clearly make no sense to ask a guy who lives in Australia.

We've selected some of the more ridiculous questions to post here. If you ask a question that is anywhere near this dumb, at best you'll get a sardonic reply from Bob with a link to this page. At worst, you'll be publicly ridiculed. But most likely, you'll be ignored - something for which we at take no responsibility.

Note: All question are unedited and are presented complete with the original grammar and punctuation (or lack thereof.)

Hi, Bob. I was just wondering why you seem to answer some questions in a very arrogant and dismissive manner, I read the entire section today, and found several cases of that attitude. One in particular was a person asking about the 2001 Miata, and whether it has rollover protection built into the seats. This is a very good question, If you have ever seen a new Miata next to an older one, the difference in the seat back hight is considerable, one might assume since it is much higher than the other, that something might actually be in there. I know that there isn't, and you do to. But the person writing obviously doesn't. And it IS your job to give out that information, if you can't do it without being rude to people mabye you should stick to something your good at like designing cars. Just a suggestion. Thanks

Ken, Cincinnati, Oh

So noted.

To correct a misconception, providing information is not my job, it is volunteer work. Inasmuch as the former traditionally includes a paycheck, there is a difference. Roughly 600 "Ask Bob!" questions a month - each of which (perhaps foolishly) I have promised myself will be answered directly, regardless as to how many times they may have been asked before or how questionable they may be - get to be balanced with my real job, family and free time. Though not necessarily in that order.

Now a cheerful suggestion from this side, if I may; keep at those grammar ("your" applied incorrectly) and spelling ("hight") studies Ken. Just a suggestion. Thanks


Looking for a hard top for my 95 Miata. Can paint if necessary. thanks ...Jim

James , Ottumwa Iowa

I hope you find one. Those painting skills must sure come in handy.


hi bob i'm trying to have my miata hauled back from burbank and i was wondering if you knew who i should talk to thanks

jeff , memphis

Finding somebody with a trailer might be a good place to start. Do they have phone directories in Memphis? We've got 'em here in Australia and they're astonishingly useful at finding stuff like that.

I'm sure somebody from the Sydney directory might be able to help, but I doubt it'd be much of a bargain after you shipped their truck/trailer gizmo up from Australia to the 'States at your expense. Maybe there's somebody in the 'States - perhaps even in Tennessee - who can do the work cheaper. But that's just a guess on my part - nothing concrete to go on.


I have a 1999 Miata and recently purchased a replacement top from Cabrioworld. I need installation directions and have looked all over the Internet and can only seem to find installation directions for a 97 and older.

Windy, Houston, TX

You bought a replacement top from a supplier who didn't supply installation instructions? I suspect you sent this e-mail to the wrong person or you've mistaken me for someone who works or may have worked at Cabrioworld. I'm afraid I fall into neither category.

Given the fact that tops were being installed on cars before there was an Internet, maybe an e-mail, letter or - gasp - telephone call to someone at Cabrioworld would be more appropriate, if not more logical.


I just need to know how much trunk space does the miata have. I'm planning on getting one. thanks a million

Mutt 83, Gardena/Ca/US

Just about enough for two people who pack judiciously in an NA, a little more than just about enough for people who pack judiciously in the case of an NB.

If you are indeed planning on getting one, why not do the unexpected and take a look in there yourself. Most dealers will allow prospective customers to open the trunk, usually at no charge. A radical idea, but car purchase sometimes demands extreme measures.


How long do you think it will take for Ford to ruin Mazdas Image and product line if they havent already ? I currently own two Mazda products a 96 miata and a 98 - 626. I am seriously skeptical about making any further
Mazda purchases due to the Ford factor.

kgoedicke, keene NH

About 314 years. Give-or-take a month. However if the next-generation Miata is fitted with Firestone Wilderness AT tires, it'll happen in 296 years, three months and eight days. Precisely.


I have a 90 miata and I am looking to upgrade the exaust. I chose the greddy sp cat back and muffler but everywhere I look, it says it is only made for 91-97 miatas. If I get it, will it fit my car or am I wasteing my money.

Nate, Collegeville, PA

Not keeping track of the aftermarket much beyond that whch interests me, I cannot tell you as to whether the system you mention wll fit or not (contacting the manufacturer of the non-Mazda hardware seems like the logical place to start, but then what do I know?).

However, there were NO CHANGES AS REGARDS THE ENGINE INTAKE SYSTEM BETWEEN 1990 and 1991 Miatas, so you should be able to draw your own conclusions from that one.


My 90's windshild wipers seem to hae only one speed. Kind of slow! Otherwise they seem to be ok. Thanks

Kurt , Virginia

Thank you for the review.


93miata, needs a new fan (drivers side) could not find one at auto parts store went to dealer, got one $275.00 says it is the right one but it does not fit, now he says he can not find one? shouldn't these parts be readily available? Thanks for your assistance

Linda , tulsa, Oklahoma USA

Yes, I sure think that the part should be available from Mazda (though I doubt any dealer would have one in stock). While there is a possibility that the part is out of stock or was altered over the car's lifespan, it seems logical to assume that there would be a possible substitution somewhere in the system. This is SOP with car companies when running changes introduce new componentry and older ones are removed from the parts system.

Given the reticence of the people at the parts department of the dealer you've been going to, circumstances imply venturing to the parts desk of another Mazda dealership might be in order. Along with a call to Mazda's US customer service people.

Well, at least that's what my wife said.


How do you tell an MX5 from a standard miata convertible?

Len , Syracuse, NY

All Miatas are MX-5s, but not all MX-5s are Miatas. Miatas (with 'MX-5 as a suffix) are sold only in the United States and its territories and Canada. MX-5s (without 'Miata') are sold all over the rest of the world EXCEPT Japan.


Bob, I was wondering if it is possible to put 15" subwoofers in a miata. I have two of them. Can i fit them in the trunk. If not what is the biggest i can fit with two subs?

doug, rogers, ar, usa

I'm afraid I can't tell you Doug, as my background is all in cars and I'm quite ignorant - by choice - of any and all car radio stuff. Above and beyond the fact that a car should have have one, that is.

Despite my general ignorance, I have a feeling that if a misguided soul can put a Ford V8 under the hood of a Miata, with enough money putting some sort of audio equipment somewhere in a Miata should be a piece of cake. However I couldn't even begin to tell you where you might start. maybe there's a website called '' with an "Ask Sparks!" column which might prove enlightening. Once you get away from the headrest speakers of the NA-series cars, I'm afraid when we did the Miata the development team was focusing on things like chassis dynamics, top articulation, weight control, gearchange feel, weight control and exhaust note rather than anything with the audio. We just selected the lightest, best looking radio for the car. The headrest speakers were the sole things we spent any time on when it came to the radio. And that was primarily how big they'd have to be to fit the seat design and how to incorporate the wiring into the car's electrical system.


I have a 89 miata. on the passenger side, the window sounds like its raddling,are they pads or anything there the might get worn out after a while and make the window make noices?( i have power windows) Also stupid as it sounds, were is the fuce box in the car?

Alex, Ny,ny, usa

This is a rhetorical question, so no answer is required, but have you ever heard the adage about the straw breaking the camel's back?

There are guides within the door which can wear out through age, the effects of the windows being cycled up and down as well as by environmental factors such as ozone content (e.g. air pollution). Plus any combination of the previously mentioned conditions. Given your car's vintage, they may indeed need replacement.

The fuse box is right where the owner's manual says it is. No owner's manual? Go to a dealer and buy one. No dealer? There are links in the vendor area of (the 'Marketplace') to places like Roebuck Mazda who will be happy to sell you one.

To return to the oft-mentioned straw and camel vertebrae; for a few weeks now I've been considering whether or not I should initiate a policy which will allow me to stop serving as a substitute for common sense. Now seems as good a time as any to put it into action. Thank you for the inspiration.

Enjoy your Miata.


where the hell is the fuse box, im trying to hook street glow up to my 91 miata and i cant find it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

nick, penn

Sorry to be so brief, but I'm late to the dentist. Check the owner's manual. No owner's manual, call a dealer. You can call me but the charges to Australia will be a helluva lot more expensive than ringing across town.


I need to replace my A/C unit in my 90 MX5.
When looking under the car, I see multiple bolts holding in the unit. Some of these must be part of the housing that hold the unit. What is the proper procedure for removing the A/C compressor.
Not to worry about the lines etc. Just the compressor.


Jerry, USA

I don't know, but then since I'm not a mechanic my livelihood is not dependent upon my knowledge of that sort. However when I play inept amateur as I work on my own cars, it's always with a copy of the factory service or workshop manual on hand to guide me.

In addition to telling me what procedures must be followed (and in which order) for a given task, it also lets me know if any special tools will be needed as well as giving me an idea as to whether the job is within my limited scope of capabilities. If you intend to do more than change fuses with a Miata (or any other car) a factory manual is a Godsend.

Product development and vehicle repair have numerous common threads, mainly in the fact that both involve cars. But effectively they're about as similar as forest management is to newspaper publication, both of which involve trees. While I'm reasonably certain I can figure out how to design a door and then come up with a way to get a class-one finish on the skin after only three draws through a die better than the best factory-trained mechanic can, I'm positive that she or he would be far better versed than I at determining the cause of and then righting something that's gone wrong with the same car I helped develop. My job was focused at conceiving and building 'em as right as possible, but when things don't go according to plan a different lot of folks put their skills to work.

This is why I'll do some general maintenance on my own cars (as well as those of hapless victims in the form of family members who insist), but normally I leave the work to George, my trustworthy mechanic of many years. If it's something I've come across and fixed (or couldn't then let George do it), I can relay any and all information on the subject, but I tend to focus on primary systems and steer clear of ares where my knowledge base (in terms of theory and the development aspects as well as hands-on ineptitude) is stronger and avoid ancillaries such as audio, body electronics and the HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system. Part of knowing my few strengths and many limitations, I suppose.

Sorry I cannot be of more assistance Jerry.


do you know where i can get a body kit for my 90 626 hatchback please help

jason , rochester n.y usa

Not off the top of my head, and a Miata body kit won't fit a 626 - of any vintage - very well. You might check with the vendor area at (since a few of the outfits might sell parts for other cars), but beyond that I suspect unearthing one will depend upon how much time you are willing to invest in searching to find a body kit suitable for 626 (circa 1990). Any such investment will be a direct reflection on how much you want one. Good luck.


do you know were i can find a lower control arm?? i got into a car wreck two days ago and bent it =(


Any Mazda dealer will be able to get one from a regional parts warehouse if they do not have the part in stock. In fact, you can get almost any OE part for a Miata from the parts department of a Mazda dealer in the USA or Canada. Why in addition to selling you a complete Miata, an authorized dealer could - in theory, at any rate - sell you an almost complete Miata effectively in kit form. Admittedly without instructions. Painting and assembly required.

Alternatively, you could go cruising through a few junkyards and see if you can find a Miata written-off in an accident which didn't damage the suspension. I suspect it would be cheaper than the apparently incomprehensible route of getting one from a dealer, but you might have to do a lot of hunting to get a nice, unbent one. The priorities (time vs money) are all in your court.


hey bob i have a stock miata and am building it up i am in the market of buying an md ignition dis 2 but notice that miata sells there own version on the msd ignition for cheaper is it any good thanks

michael, san leandro ca usa

Uh, if you'd mind explaining what an 'md ignition dis' is, I might be able to help you. Inasmuch as it's nothing I've ever heard of, my reply is effectively the written equivalent of a blank stare. I'm presupposing when you state "miata sells there own version" you mean that Mazda sells a version of this item - or something similar - via their own parts system.

Please be forewarned that since my work on the Miata - like everybody else in the development team - was focused on bringing the car to production, I wasn't able to delve as deeply into the aftermarket as perhaps I would have liked to. Therefore my knowledge is most closely focused on items I (or the inner circle of Miata nutcases I hang out with) have first-hand experience with in our own cars. From a manufacturer's standpoint, there was - by corporate edict, no official or sanctioned involvement with third-party companies.


i really love my car, but recently things have been happening in my life that have changed my outlook. my question for you bob is how socialble is a car like the mx5, or is it just a babe magnet? ...can a you drive a car like the miata/mx5 and still be at one spiritually (i.e. christianity)?
i want to keep my car!

kevin , sydney/nsw/australia

Maybe it's a reflection of my own attitudes, but a car isn't inherently sociable or anti-social. At least no more than a fridge or open-ended spanner as all are nothing more than tools. And as a tool how it is used will determine how it - and the user - will be perceived by others. So what counts is the operator and his or her comfort level with the car as well as other individuals. As individuals we all have different viewpoints and perceptions, one of the wisest gifts ever bestowed upon humankind.

So as to whether you can drive an MX-5 and still be at one spiritually, that depends upon the person and their own strengths in the beliefs rather than the car. That's a question that only you can answer and one which ultimately the MX-5 (or any other car) will have no effect upon.


what roll bar go into miata 2001, but dont [expletive deleted] the top and most tall to the seat?

thank you
Paco, san juan puerto rico

Beats me. Every one I've looked at has compromised raising and lower the top in one way or another. Then again I think they all look like crap, and every person I know who's put one in a Miata is a brainless wanker and oxygen thief. Of course I don't like them in the first place but that's because I'm not quite stupid enough to roll a Miata.


I just got my shift light and the people who was suppose to install it couldn't figure out how to work it. can you give me a step by step instructions on installing a shift light on a 99 miata so i can print it out and show it to them?
thank you

Lawrence , newhall/ca/usa

The manufacturer should have instructions available, so I'm surprised they didn't supply any. For what it's worth, there's no reference to a 'shift light' anywhere in any vintage of Miata factory service manual I have, so it appears you're on your own if the manufacturer cannot supply installation instructions.




As odd as it may seem, the best place to find a set of new eyeball vents is probably the parts department of the local Mazda dealer.

You should be honored, since your question is the very last one I'll ever answer from someone unfamiliar with the operation of a caps lock or shift key. You'll be famous throughout Congratulations!


What is the factory gap for the spark plugs? Many thanx in advance.

Richard , Hoboken, NJ

Whatever the shop manual says. Inasmuch as I'm not driving a Miata right now, mine is in storage. To be honest, I have never looked at part of the manual as I leave tune-ups and other regular maintenance - oil changes excepted - to my mechanic for whatever I drive.

If you are doing work on your Miata, you do have a service manual, don't you?


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