On both the front and back of the Miata are a pair of (ugly) hooks. These hooks are used when Miatas are transported on ships from Japan to the States. The cars are secured by the suspension, and these hooks are used as backups to prevent the car from bouncing around a cargo ship should the primary hold downs fail. These are not tow hooks, and according to the factory, using them to tow the car can damage the bodywork/frame of your car. However an analysis performed by Lance Schall proves that the car would not be damaged. Still, your Miata will look a lot better for it. The mounting holes for the rear tie down hooks are frequently used for mounting a trailer hitch or bicycle carrier. Some competition sanctioning bodies (SCCA) consider the tie down hooks standard equipment and may not allow their removal in Stock classes. (Unless you trophy at a National Event, this probably isn't a big problem. Keep them just in case though!)
Cindy Paloma firstname.lastname@example.org
There are 3 bolts per side. Need 14mm open wrench. No need to lift car - most bolts can be accessed from the front or from underneath. Approximately 10 minutes per side for Miatas without ABS or A/C. The hooks should wiggle free, or drop out through the back. Note: Mike Cantrell points out that a friend with very large arms may be required as well! Also, you may want to keep a supply of Band-Aids around.
On Miatas with ABS, access to two of the bolts on the drivers side is partially obstructed by the windshield wiper fluid reservoir (I used a 14mm nutdriver to start the back bolt from under the car, and removed the other difficult front bolt with a 14mm open wrench between the two prongs of the hook.)
On Miatas with ABS and A/C, WARNING! There may be difficulty removing the driver's side tiedown hook once all the bolts have been removed if it cannot drop out the back because of copper A/C tubing. It may be worth having the dealer remove this hook (one list member was able to have this done for no cost), but for very patient and persistent DIY-types, manipulate or remove enough of the plastic around the hook until there is enough room to pull the hook out.
Contributed by :Scott Seifer
3" & 6" extensions
Regular & short Phillips screwdrivers
Small needle-nose pliers
1/2" ratchet w/3/8" adapter (optional)
Big piece of cardboard to lay on (optional)
First of all, I should state that this procedure is not difficult but it *is* substantially time consuming. Figure atleast an hour. The problem is removing all of the bolts and screws that hold the plastic front engine cover and the plastic intake support so there will be unobstructed access to the tie-down hook bolts from underneath the car. This was the objective because it eliminated any possibility of tearing things up by accessing the bolts through the air intake.
After the front of the car is in the air, it will be necessary to unscrew the three small phillips head screws that hold attach each of the front inner fender liners to the bottom of the air intake. It is not necessary to remove the fender liners themselves, just the three screws on each side so you can move the liners out of the way to access other bolts.
Then remove all of the 10mm bolts that hold the plastic front belly pan to the car. There are three bolts and a nut on each side. The nuts are towards the front and you may have to pull the fender liners back to get to these. There's also three 10mm bolts that attach to the plastic intake support at the front, the one that ultimately has to be moved to get to the 14mm tie-down bolts.
After you get the plastic belly pan off of the car, it's time to start working on the inner air intake support. In addition to the three bolts you've already removed, there's one 10mm bolt on either side. Once again, you have to pull back the fender liner. You'll have to use the extensions and the universal-joint adapter to get to these, also.
There are two plastic body screws at the top of the air intake. These are the only fasteners that are reached exclusively through the air intake and not from below the car. Use the short phillips screwdriver for these and be careful.
The toughest part at this point is getting the three triange shaped push-in fasteners at the bottom of the intake removed. I used the needle-nose pliers from underneath to compress the plastic tangs, then used my free hand to push up on them with a screwdriver at the same time. Getting the pliers on the tangs is not easy, and simultaneously pushing up with a screwdriver compounds the problem, but once you get everything right, they just pop right out.
Once all of the fasteners are removed, it is *not* necessary to completely remove the air-intake support. I don't even know if it would have been possible to do without completely taking the air intake body work off anyway. It just has to be maneuvered to one side. Once that is out of the way, it's a simple matter to use the 14mm socket and extensions to reach the tie-down bolts. You'll have to use the universal joint adapter for one of them and I also used a 1/2" ratchet with a 3/8" adapter to get more leverage.
Finally, I was just careful when removing the last bolt by holding onto the loose tie-down hook from outside of the air intake so that when all the bolts were completely removed, it wouldn't flop down onto the intake body work.
It was then just a simple, but time-consuming, matter of re-attaching all of the bolts and fasteners that held the air intake support and plastic belly pan in the reverse order that they were removed. That's it.
I know some might consider this 'the hard way' to pull the M2's teeth but with the close proximity of the A/C radiator and body work, and the relative inaccessability of the bolts, it was just too easy (for me) for the ratchet to slip off and damage stuff while in the process of removing the bolts through the air intake.
And one more writeup on the '99 tie-downs from Greg Thirloway:
I have a/c and the passenger, which was made to sound like the most difficult side to do, is actually the easiest of the two, much easier actually. With a ratchet, a long extension and a universal joint attachment you can access all three bolts from behind the tie down without ever even going through the air intake...again this is passengers side only. You look through the air intake to see what you're doing but you reach underneath and behind the tie down to quite easily access all three bolts...So if you take your time there is no danger of scratching anything, remember to breathe and think happy thoughts, but, if you are still concerned about a little fumbling use some masking tape and an old towel to protect the air intake opening. Now the drivers side is different, not hard necessarily, just different. Here you will be going through the air intake opening. Good thing you taped that old towel in place. On the drivers side all that is needed is a 14 mm open end wrench, a ratchet with 14 mm socket and some patience. Remember working on anything especially your Miata should be enjoyed, it's kind of a Zen thing, so breathe. Granted the access is tighter on the drivers side but it's simple. Slow going? Absolutely (about 10 minutes to remove 3 bolts) but definitely simple. The front 2 bolts I could only access with the open end wrench, but, the rear one I could access with my ratchet and socket (without an extension). Again, it's a good exercise in the virtue of patience but there is no reason to remove any other nuts and bolts other than the ones holding on the tie downs.
Contributed by Phil
First thing is that the rear ones aren't removeable. They're welded in place to something that looks fairly sturdy so I just left them. The only tools needed to remove the front ones were a #2 Phillips Screwdriver and a 14mm open end wrench. On the passenger side, there is a hole underneath, just in front of the wheel that you can reach through and take out all 3 bolts with the 14mm wrench. On the driver's side, you need to remove the three Phillips head screws holding the fender liner in place, then you can reach through there and remove the 3 bolts holding the drivers side tie-down in place. On both sides, after the bolts are out, the hook just slides straight out through the front.
Contributed by Steven Tate
I had to do a little more work to remove the tie-downs on my 2003 as compared to the removal instructions provided by Phil Gowl in the garage section (They did help a lot though). What follows is a little more detailed description of the job for those of us who aren't mechanically inclined. This job was completed without jack stands or a lift while lying on my garage floor with my wife laughing at me.
Tools Required: 8mm, 10mm, 14mm wrenches, and a small Phillips Head screwdriver.
I started on the passenger side. First, I attempted to reach through a hole underneath in front of the wheel with a 14mm wrench as suggested by Phil. That didn't work well. This method was very awkward and I couldn't get enough leverage to loosen the bolts. It was also hard to see. I then decided to remove the fender liner. It is held in place by small bolts and grommets.
First remove a 10mm bolt deep inside the wheel well. Next, take out 5 Phillips head grommets inside the fender. Lastly, remove three 8mm bolts from underneath the front bumper. Turn the wheels to get them out of your way during the process. With all fasteners free, the liner comes out completely with no fuss.
Now, there is an unobstructed view of the three 14mm bolts securing the tie-down. Remove the bolt closest to you first and work your way back toward the center of the car. The last bolt is in a tight spot and thus a pain to remove. Have a friend hold the tie-down and slide it free as the last bolt comes loose.
Repeat instructions for the driver's side.
I hope these instructions help those of you out there who are gun shy. If I can do it anyone can. The struggle was worth the effort and my Miata looks much better without the tie-downs.
P.S. A 14mm gear wrench may be the perfect tool for this
project but I didn't have one available. In hindsight, I should have borrowed
or bought one.
Contributed by John Lefcourte
1/2" Breaker bar
1/2" Swivelhead socket wrench,
(a ratcheting 14mm box wrench may work in place of the swivelhead)
14mm socket, 1/2" drive.
Estimated time 45 minutes
I found that all three bolt heads, per hook (eye), can
be accessed from the front of the car through the grill opening. Just be slow
and careful. Use the 14mm socket on the breaker bar to loosen all three of the
bolts. Then use the swivel head socket wrench to completely remove the bolts,
ratcheting two or three click at a time. Keep your hand around the handle to
act as a buffer from hitting any of the internal parts behind the grill opening.
The eyes can then be withdrawn to the front through the grill. Surgical gloves
or mechanics gloves, if your hands aren't too big, will keep you from getting
any scratches. You need the breaker bar for the extra leverage to break the