by Mark "Gunga" Diels


After seeing all the great after market install articles in each issue of Miata Magazine, I though I would share my experience. I purchased a set of PIAA 1200 55W Clear ION Driving Lights from MM Marketing for my Red 94. These lights are round, very small, and fit just great into the grill opening. They look better than the factory units. The instructions from PIAA are printed on the back of the box, but are very general. MM Marketing sent alone a one page addition that helped somewhat, but could have been better. After reviewing some letters in the magazine and on the Internet about light installation, I decided to write down a detailed install procedure. Installation will take between 4 and 5 hours if you do it alone. A good helper could cut this time by about 1 hour. A bad one could add an hour.

Please review all instruction prior to starting installation.

Tools Needed: Wire cutter. Duck Tape. Phillips Screwdriver. Ratchet Wrench with long and short extensions.11mm & 14mm sockets. Open-end 14mm wrench. Heavy coat hanger. Continuity Tester. One wire splice.

  1. For easy access place the front of your Miata on jack stands or wheel ramps. You can do the install with the car on the ground but it’s harder on your back. Before starting, lay an old rug or a couple of towels under the bumper. If you drop something you can find it, and you may save the cost of a broken lens.

    First, Remove the Tie Down hooks. These are not tow hooks and have no value unless you are trailing you Miata. The lights will look better, fit better, and be positioned farther apart, with their removal. There are three 14mm bolts used to attach the Tie Down Hooks. They are all behind the body work. First remove the front bolt of the three, this is not the one you see from the front of the car, look behind. You will need an open-end 14mm wrench for this one. Then remove the two back ones. They will require the 14mm socket and extensions. After all three bolts are out, pull the Tie Down brackets out from the back.
  2. Where the Tie Downs were positioned you will see cutouts under the bumper for the Factory lights. Clean the Black plastic with a non-wax cleaner. Next, attach the enclosed adhesive pads to the driving light mounting brackets, removing only one side of the protective film. Position the light and mounting bracket into the body cutout, but do not attach. The front edge of the mounting bracket should be just under the edge of the bumper. Now make sure that the enclosed Allen wrench, used for adjusting the lights can be easily inserted and removed from the outer side of the light. When you have the placement correct take a piece of Duck tape and place it on the inside edge of the mounting area as a re-alignment strip.
  3. Now using the Allen wrench, remove the lights from the mounting brackets. The attached mounting pads will hold the brackets together. Let the mounting pad protective film on for now, you can remove this after you do the final alignment. Position the mounting bracket back into the selected area. Using a sharp nail or the point of your continuity tester, start a hole in the black plastic for the enclosed mounting screws. Position the holes in the center of the mounting slots, leaving room for adjustment. Attach both mounting brackets under the bumper with the screws. Do not tighten.
  4. Re-attach both lights to the brackets. Feed their connectors through the small holes right behind the lights. Next, lay the enclosed wire harness along the left side of the engine bay. Feed the two White connectors through the small opening on the top end, driver's side, just in front of the radiator. Attach the connectors to the lights, and using one of the wire ties, attach this portion of the wire harness to the power steering tube in front of the radiator.
  5. Now go under the dash. For easy access under the dash, remove the lower left screw from the panel under the steering wheel. This panel will then swing out of the way. My 94 has a pre-wired connector for Factory/Dealer installed lights. I believe most Miata’s have this connector. I found it hanging loose under the dash just behind the dimmer switch. It is a 6-point connector. Using your continuity tester, check this connector. I found that the solid small Red wire gave me power when the headlights were on both in the High and Low beam setting. . Strip back about two inches of the tape warped around these wires. Now you know where you have to get the other end of the wire harness to. NOW REMOVE the positive wire from your battery.
  6. Back under the hood. Feed the harness wires from the radiator back through the maze under the hood so it looks neat. Now you will have to feed the end of the wire harness, i.e., a Black ground wire, and the connector with two White wires through the Fire wall. Do this by taping them to the end of a heavy coat hanger using some Duck tape. The wires have to be feed through the inside or around the outside of the group of wires that go through the firewall on the lower left side. They go through a Gray grommet. Push them through from the right side, not the fender side. Once through, pull most of the wires through leaving about a 2 foot selection before the large under hood connector block. This will leave you with just the one White wire running through the firewall. BE PATENT, IT TAKES A WHILE.
  7. Going back under the dash, attach the Black wire you pushed through to a proper ground. Splice the loose White wire (with the Black stripe) to the Red wire on the factory installed connector. Attach the new enclosed light switch to the connector you pushed through. Just let the switch hang lose for now.
  8. Back under the hood, find the Blue Tester Connector on the left side about 8 inches behind the headlight cover. It has a Blue plug with a cap on it. Strip back about 2 inches of the tape wrapped around the group of wires inside. Find the large Blue positive lead from the ignition. This wire will give you power to the driving lights whenever the engine is running, but they will go on/off with the ignition. On the wire harness, find the White wire with the O-Ring connector coming out of the fuse. Cut the O-Ring connector off and splice this to the positive lead Blue wire. Connect the two Black ground wires to a proper ground, one of the mounting bolts in this area will work just fine.
  9. Re-attach your battery cable. Start the engine. You don’t want to drain the Mini battery in your Miata while you test and adjust the lights. Check all your switches, and connectors making sure that the lights go out with the engine off. To attach the driving light switch to the dash. I recommend using a piece of two-face tape instead of the Velcro that is sent along. You will not be moving it, or even using it much. Tidy up the wires under your hood with the remaining tie-downs, and re-attach the cover under the dash.
  10. Temporary align your you new driving lights on a garage door or wall. Cover the headlights with towels to get a better image on the wall. Be carefully, the driving lights get HOT. Tighten up the mounts and drive around for a few days and nights to make sure you are have them in the right place and are not blinding oncoming drivers. When you have them aligned correct, make a mark on the garage door or wall showing their location. You can now loosen up the mounting brackets, remove the other adhesive pad protectors, and reattach without the screws if you want. For extra protection from theft, you may want to go to your local fastener supplier and get some fastener that are not easy to remove. THEN JUST ENJOY.

People always ask me why I bought my Miata. My answer is simple. “IT PUTS A SMILE ON MY FACE”