Humble Mechanic: Project Miata

Humble Mechanic

Our pal Charles Saville is a longtime VW tech and all-around grease monkey showcasing his work and giving advice through his social channels. He's partnered with Advance Auto Parts on some of his latest projects, and we're glad that he's on board; he's funny, engaging and knowledgeable.

The Humble Mechanic found a '99 Miata ragtop at a Pull-A-Part yard in the greater Atlanta area, and it's...tired. Yes, tired. This particular Miata, with around 163k miles on it, shows some signs of pretty rough treatment over the years (in addition to the collision that presumably put it in Pull-A-Part).

Charles' plan is to turn Project Miata into a street-class autocross car. And, on the upside, the car doesn't appear to show any frame damage or rust, and the suspension is more-or-less intact. Now, for the fun part, let's watch some videos:

Spark Plugs

The first Advance-sponsored Miata video is about spark plugs. Watch now to learn all about spark plugs as well as installation tips and tricks.


Charles goes in depth into why brakes squeal, how to troubleshoot and how to replace pads and rotors. Even if you are a seasoned DIYer, you'll probably learn a thing or two from his thorough video.

Digging Into The Unknown

If you've bought very many used cars, you know that it's always a roll of the dice in some ways, and the older/cheaper/rougher that used car is, the more it's a gamble. There's often no way of knowing how many times that car has changed hands or what kind of maintenance it had before it made its way to you, and that's going to be even more of a crapshoot when you're buying one from a Pull-A-Part yard. Learn how to handle unknown maintenance like a pro in the video below.

Oil Leaks

Does your vehicle smell like burning oil? Is your dipstick showing you that your oil is low when it should not be? If your engine looks like it was dunked in used oil and you don't know how to find what's leaking, you're in luck. Charles explains how to diagnose oil leaks on his very leaky Mazda Miata.

About the Mazda Miata

The Mazda Miata (officially known as the MX-5) debuted in the US in the early '90s as a fun, tiny roadster that was easy to toss around and had the solid engineering and build quality you'd come to expect from a Mazda. You can think of it as the '90s equivalent of something like an MGB, Alfa Spyder or a Triumph TR-6, except without the puddle of oil underneath and the innumerable electrical gremlins that always seemed to go with cars like that.

Have you undertaken any projects like this? Let us know in the comments.

Last updated February 11, 2021