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australia, ocean

Detours off Britta Blvd

www.britta.com

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long live the Briata...?
briata
brittadotcom
Monday started out well, with new baby news for Nathania & Kevin, I ran a couple errands at lunch, then left right at 5pm in hopes of getting to Stanford to see the new baby before choir rehearsal. I backed out of my packing space fine, got on the freeway even passing a truck, slowed down in the 92-280 traffic backup, but as I was able finally to accelerate, I got to 4000 RPMs..."it should have shifted by now"...6000 RPMs..."it DEFINITELY should have shifted by now!"...all while I was going through the tunnel to 280 South. When it was safe to pull over, I did, tried other gears, but I only had park & drive, I suspected 2nd gear by the way it sounded, with reverse & neutral acting just like park. I had already checked my overdrive button a couple times, and I restarted the car, still no luck. I called my dad in case I was missing anything totally obvious, but I wasn't, and he warned me not to go over 4000 RPMs, so that was a fun long drive on the freeway, watching my tachometer closely with my hazards on, only able to get up to 60mph going downhill! Needless to say I didn't make it to see the baby that night, and just had enough time to get home, figure out how to park halfway across my driveway so no one would block me since I couldn't reverse, transfer my stuff to my Honda and get to rehearsal on time. I had called my Mazda guy while I was driving home, and I brought it in first thing yesterday morning, but they were booked so couldn't look at it until today. After a day of hoping it was related to the accident so wouldn't be my expense, I found out this afternoon that solenoid A that controls first gear/reverse/neutral had shorted electronically, which was due to old age, not the accident. You could replace only one solenoid to be cheaper now, but most likely B & C would start failing soon after as a chain reaction, so instead of replacing it piecemeal over time at over twice the cost, just replace the entire transmission now. Of course this is NOT what I wanted to hear, and I quizzed him a long time about what else could possibly happen to my car now that almost everything has been replaced over time!

Setting the emotional aspects aside about how I really enjoy my fun car, I weighed this logically, and even my dad agrees, and he can't even fit in that car. ;) The Briata has exactly 130,000 miles right now. Aside from needing a new soft top because of a wear & tear rip ($1400 which I thought would be at least twice as much), and the engine has never been opened but I've been told by Miata owners and service people many times the engines are solid and should easily last 200K miles, after the transmission is replaced it is practically a new car by now with everything that has been done, mostly in the past 3 years, some just since the accident. At least the rest of what could break are $1500 or less each, mostly less than $500, and would develop as problems, not leave me stuck on the freeway or limping home. Since I can't stand the new Miata design anyway, I would have to buy a newer used Miata, get it custom painted, and still have unknown problems that would develop over time and not be under warranty, and I couldn't do all that or even get a different brand new car for the $3500 the new transmission will cost me. Not the first expense I was planning on for 2008, but let's consider it an early 10th anniversary present for the Briata, whose "birthday" is April 10th, and this way should be able to last several more years of fun driving. Every nice evening when the workday sucks and I can get into my car with the top down and the breeze in my hair, life immediately gets better. :)



  • front & rear brakes new Oct 2007
  • radiator new Oct 2007
  • rear axle new Oct 2007
  • differential new Oct 2007
  • battery new Apr 2007
  • alternator new Apr 2007
  • 120K major maintenance was done in March 2007
  • emissions system not new but "well-cleaned" in March 2007
  • carbon deposits removed from intake on the engine Jan 2005
  • AC condensor & compressor & one line new in 2002
  • timing belt & water pump replaced at 82600 miles

    Upcoming & possible future costs:

  • 20K miles until the timing belt is due, will do with next major maintenance
  • $1400 new vinyl top includes new metal frame window seals back window - he can get me a deal for special customers at the shop around the corner
  • shocks acting fine, should notice problems before needing to replace, all 4 about $1500 if need replacing
  • front axle should last life of car, ~$200 a side if bearings need replacing
  • front catalytic converter would be $1000, could last life of car, passed smog fine last March so should notice trouble passing smog before it goes bad
  • back catalytic converter only ~$450, could last life of car, passed smog fine last March so should notice trouble passing smog before it goes bad

  • Miata engines are solid & well-balanced, which is why I can go up to 6000-7000 RPMs, easily should last 200K miles, maybe more
    if developing problems, engine will start to feel less oomph, use more oil between changes, harder to start on cold mornings even overnight in garage
    engine compression test wouldn't tell much now since engine is acting fine with plenty of power right now
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    wish I still had my prelude...

    (Anonymous)
    I know the feeling when it comes to fun cars. My first brand new car was a Honda Prelude Si. Flip up headlights, peppy engine, 5 speed, drove smooth and fun to drive. This was the first generation Prelude before they rounded the corners and made it "bigger". To this day I wish I still had that car.

    -Kevin C.

    Re: wish I still had my prelude...

    I know what you mean. My ideal situation would be for my second car to be my old teal Plymouth Neon instead of the Honda Civic...The Neon had lots of room inside, 4 doors for plenty of passengers, nice & zippy, and it was the first new car I ever bought. Unfortunately I totaled that one after only 2.5 years of owning it, and if I hadn't crashed it, I would never have been able to afford the Miata in the first place...but I'd trade the Civic for that Neon any day! :)

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