Mazda MX-5 Miata Soft Top Problems

jrobbinjrobbin Member Posts: 4
edited January 2014 in Mazda
Has anyone had a problem putting down the soft top on their mazda MX5 (Miata)? Mine sticks around halfway!


  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Let me think. I have an NA (1993) Miata, but converted the top to work like the NB models.

    When its cold out and the vinyl is stiff, I do have that stop-half-way problem. I reach back and pull that bar down, that helps it go the rest of the way.

    When its warm the vinyl is softer and the problem disappears.

    It's not a big deal for me - I can do the whole operation from my seat, without taking my seat belt off.
  • jrobbinjrobbin Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for that! I will have a look, but I think my problem may be caused by something else as it jams up in all types of weather! (and has been progressively getting worse). But as I said, thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You're welcome. Maybe also dab some lithium grease on the joints of the top's frame (very carefully).
  • manybmwsmanybmws Member Posts: 347
    I have the same problem with my 2006 GT and cloth top. I usually bring it forward then push back again. Would be nice to eliminate though.
  • jrobbinjrobbin Member Posts: 4
    I took the car into the garage and they showed me that if you push in at the point above the window in the middle of the roof as it is going down, it usually goes down quite easily! (it does sometimes need a little bit persuading, though!!).
  • manybmwsmanybmws Member Posts: 347
    thanks, I'll give it a try.
  • sownbysownby Member Posts: 1
    I found about gallons of water in my floor yesterday and was told by a dealer the drain holes were glogged. Not covered by warrenty.Can anyone tell me where the drain holes are and how to unglog them. :mad:
  • jrobbinjrobbin Member Posts: 4
    we had exactly the same problem - found out when car started to smell! drain holes being clogged were the problem, as you said. will send you a message later when can tell you exactly how to uclog them! (talk to my husband first).
  • pjhaynespjhaynes Member Posts: 1
    We just got a '99 SE. As top goes back, we lift the forward section of the top skyward and the top seems to fold down more readily.
  • ncrisisncrisis Member Posts: 1
    When (and if) you find out the answer to the "drain hole" problem, I'd sure appreciate hearing about it. Thanks!!!
  • wljwlj Member Posts: 2
    I am embarased to admit this, but I have a '91 Miata that I have had for years. I have replaced the top before, but someone else did it. I wanted to to it myself this time, since the cost was $1,000. I took the frame off in the Spring, did not take pictures, and now I am trying to re-attach the frame and I cannot get the holes to line up. I don't remember what it looked like when I took it off. Maybe there was another piece that attaches between the frame and the car? I don't have any extra pieces. Can someone help me? Thanks!
  • manybmwsmanybmws Member Posts: 347
  • mtlflakemtlflake Member Posts: 1
    I vacuumed about 3 gallons of water out of my car after a summer shower here in Florida (3 inches of rain!). Mazda has issued a service bulletin for care of the drains.

    Download the Service Bulletin from here:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Search in the Garage for instructions on top replacement - they include lots of detailed photos that show the frame.

    I've had to replace my top twice - once by a pro, and yes it is expensive, and another on my own.

    I think the pro cost me $900, the 2nd time I did it for $460 (but prices were up to $1100 for a pro). Took me 2 days and boy was I sore. It is *not* easy. Definitely the hardest auto-related task I've ever taken on.

    I think I'd hire a pro if I had to do it again.
  • wmccloudwmccloud Member Posts: 1
    The drain holes are in the sill or rocker panel. They are located at the jack points. You will see the 2 half inch long notches where the jack goes. Look closely and you will see a slight bump in the metal at the notch. That bump is the drain. Stick a small screwdriver in the hole to clean it out.
  • mrvfrmrvfr Member Posts: 6
  • lordelpuzlordelpuz Member Posts: 16
    Hi guys, I gave up on this one so I'm hoping somebody can give me some advise.
    I have a mk1 mx5 (eunos), it had a new hood before i bought it, with a glass rear window, some say its a mk 2 hood, quite probable but the problem is, i cant get the hood to go down fully, only about 3 quarters, the window is not zipped, its a fixed one, and the glass its self prevents the rest of the top going down fully.
    can anybody help? please.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I wonder if you have the wrong hood and the wrong top as well, perhaps the previous owner didn't know the differences between an NA and an NB Miata.

    I had a 1993 and got a Robbins top with a glass rear window. It had no zipper as well, but it required that I add a couple of nylon straps that bolt diagnocally from one of the top brakes to another, that helped the top slide down. So basically my 1993 top (NA) was converted to a 1999 style top (NB).

    I don't have that car any more, though maybe you could contact Robbins and ask them for instructions for the top that converts from a zipper to a non-zipper style. Unfortunately it was a very complex task. That wasn't the hard part, per se, but you would have to take the top half way off to fix that if it wasn't done.
  • lordelpuzlordelpuz Member Posts: 16
    Thanks for the reply, Please bare with me on this, I have only had the car a few weeks so i am not well up with.. NA and NB?, or Robbins, I guess its the difference in our countries, I am in the UK, You call it a Miata, here its a Eunos roadster, ok..same thing really a Mazda mx5 lol, but I'm lost with NA and NB, I only assume Robbins is the soft top makers?.
    All i know is I love the car, and hopefully one day i can get round this problem, but....Thanks for the reply!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    NA was part of the VIN that helped identify the model year. Decoding it for you...

    NA = 1990 to 1997 (there was no 1998 model, at least in the USA)
    NB = 1999 to 2005
    NC = 2006 to present

    Some people use NC1 for 2006-2008 and NC2 for 2009 and newer.

    Robbins is an aftermarket manufacturer that happens to make tops for our roadsters. Besides OE they're probably the best selling top in the industry.

    So yeah, see if you can get help from Robbins, I bet the previous owner bought a conversion top, like I did, and didn't do the installation properly, i.e. they forgot to install those two nylon straps.
  • lordelpuzlordelpuz Member Posts: 16
    Ah thanks a million for that, I understand it a lot more now, at least i know what everyones talkin about now lol.
    as regards the straps, hmm, i must take a look again tomorrow, i am pretty sure i saw one each side the hood.
    Thanks again!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The straps I'm referring to went from one of the top frame/braces to another, diagonally. I think you can see at least a part of them even when the top was up. They would basically pull one of the braces out of the way to let the top fold and make room for the big glass.

    Originally the NA models had plastic windows that you would have to fold in the middle or unzip to get down.

    So the straps are necessary for the later NB-style tops.
  • lordelpuzlordelpuz Member Posts: 16
    Absolutely brilliant, Ive been searching for a site and info like that for weeks.
    Thanks again, I have solved the problem now and the top comes down nicely.
    I have to thank everyone who helped, you are a great bunch of guys!

    lordelpuz (aka Keith)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear you sorted it out.
  • ceejay2005ceejay2005 Member Posts: 1
    Try butyl rubber caulk or clear silicone instead of "yellow death". U normally need an epoxy & u need 2 take the pressure off the canvas & clamp it alot..weatherstrip is ok 4 moulding etc.. auto glass
  • mikeozmikeoz Member Posts: 3
    WOW! After reading all those instructions, I think I'll pay somebody to put on a new top!!!
    Not for the faint of heart--or the impatient...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, 2 full days for me, and I was sore as anything for a week afterwards.
  • tikki01tikki01 Member Posts: 1
    I have 95 miata tan top/glass back window and the sitching is coming unraffled. Can I resew this back togather? And type of tread do I need? Pls help I can't afford a new top right now. Thank you!!!!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Call an Auto-Upholstery shop near you (check the Yellow Pages) for a repair quote. That's gotta be cheaper than a new top.

    I'm sure they use specialty threads, weather and sun resistant.
  • terceltomterceltom Allentown, PSMember Posts: 1,024
    Picked up a "91" Miata in mint condition/low miles. The old guy that sold it to me never put the soft top up, just kept the hard top on it all the time. So now I want to use the unused soft top and I think because it was folded up for 20 years without being used it might have shrunk. The top, like I said, is in brand new excellent condition, but when I try to put it up with the window zipped I need about two more inches to secure the front locks. I can get it to fit if I put it up with the window unzipped, but then I can't zip the window because I'm two inches short back there then. Forcing the zipper just makes it come apart. Any suggestions?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I would try it on a hot day with the top exposed to the sun, but even that might not be enough.

    Careful using any heat source because a top that old is likely brittle and tear-prone.

    Is it an original top? They usually only last 10 years or so, so it may be overdue for replacement.
  • terceltomterceltom Allentown, PSMember Posts: 1,024
    Thanks for the advice. The weird thing is that this top really looks cherry. I mean when I pulled it out it really looked brand new, not brittle at all, after being tucked away for 20 years. I sprayed some 303 Aerospace Protectant on it and it looked great. We had one really warm day (72 degrees) here in PA. so I thought I'd give it a try. Now here it is first day of spring and we had snow . . . . . . So when the weather finally warms up for good I'll leave it out in the sun and try again.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I replaced my top with a Robbins top and it included special instructions to leave the top up (closed) for a few days to let the vinyl stretch. They may never have done that.

    You could use heat but be very, very careful. Do you have a heated garage? Maybe try stretching it 1/2" at a time, slowly.
  • terceltomterceltom Allentown, PSMember Posts: 1,024
    Did you put that Robbins top on yourself ? Was it hard ? What kind of window did it come with ?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You can buy one in all sorts of colors, materials, and vinyl or glass rear window.

    I got glass as an upgrade. I converted it to an NB style top, so no zipper to fiddle with. I sort of regretted that - it's kind of nice to open it up but still have sun cover.

    Gotta admit, though, it was pretty hard. I worked alone, but it took 2 good days. About a half day to remove the old one, and a good 5 hours or so the next day to install the new one plus convert to NB style. I told myself I'd never do it again.

    Thing is, a pro install is a grand plus, and the top cost me $460. You also need a rivet gun and a good cordless drill. Search the garage for detailed instructions.
  • gregdollgregdoll Member Posts: 1
    Have a 1996 Mazda Miata M-Edition. Have used the hard top exclusively for several years. Getting ready to sell the car and recently took a few photos to post online for the sale. Removed the hard top for the first time in years in order to get some photos with the top down and with the soft top up. While the soft top was up, I tried to zip up the rear window. As I pulled the zipper up from the right side, it was o.k., but then as I zipped closer to the middle of the window, it would not zip, as the zipper opening was too wide to close. It's almost as if the window has shrunk. I'm guessing this has something to do with the fact that the soft top has not been used for years. Can this be repaired or stretched? Would prefer to fix this before putting the car up for sale, but also hoping to not have to spend money on a soft top replacement since I am getting rid of the car. Thanks for any help.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaMember Posts: 1,222
    Hi, gregdoll,

    There are a couple of posts further back in this thread that might help.

    ClaireS, Host
    Automotive News & Views | Coupes & Convertibles


    Need help getting around? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Tell everyone about your buying experience: Write a Dealer Review

  • snowallergysnowallergy Member Posts: 135
    '99 and 2000 are also often referred to as NB 1 and 2001-05 would be NB 2.
  • fast_philfast_phil Member Posts: 1
    Has anyone had "abrasion patches" showing up on the canvas top of their Miata? My 2008 Grand Touring has those "wear" patches on both sides of the top. Each one is located about 12 inches above the rear most upper corner of the side window. The fabric is scuffing with some loose threads showing. It looks like BIG TROUBLE over time. I will say the top remains down about 90 + percent of the time from mid-April to mid-November.
  • terceltomterceltom Allentown, PSMember Posts: 1,024
    Yeah, I got two small ones on the top of my "91". I have the original top on yet, overall it's in excellent shape, but mine isn't canvas either, it's the original Cabrio Grain Vinyl material.
  • neismanneisman Member Posts: 4
    Leaving your top down for longer than a few days is a bad thing. When a top is not up and latched, it shrinks faster than normal.
    It also provides a home for vermin and insects which will damage/stain the top.
    You should at least put it up if you are not going to use it for a day or so. If you use it with the top down every day, putting it up and latching it overnight a few times a week will help to prolong the life of the top.

    Karl at
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
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  • docot68docot68 Member Posts: 1
    Get ready! I have a 2006 Mazda MX5 & I'm already fighting with Mazda for another new top. This will be my third top on the car & the car has less than 27,000 miles on it. The straps on both sides, that attach the soft top to its fame, right above the head rests, rip right off! There must be a defect in these soft tops but it will be a cold day in hell before Mazda does a recall on them. I suggest you get to a Mazda Dealer before your factor warranty is up & have them replace the top. Good luck!
  • terceltomterceltom Allentown, PSMember Posts: 1,024
    That's too bad! I have a "91 Miata" and still have the original soft top on it; it's in excellent condition. I stole the car in 2011 for a thousand dollars, low miles and great condition. I don't think the previous owner ever took the hard top off.
  • kentnortonkentnorton Member Posts: 1
    i know this is an old post, but i found Miata dealers using inferior parts; maybe from china. the antenna i bought from them was 1mm smaller. they do not dowhat i ask and they break things. try the better business bureau or the district rep; you probably have it done by now, but i think i will sell rather than put up with inferior dealers; mazda is in financial trouble anyway; ford owns about 25%; which means fix or repair daily;
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Ford sold most of their shares, FWIW.
  • stormn1stormn1 Member Posts: 1
    My 2006 has problems with the frame burning the canvas top thru the fabric I live in Florida so it gets pretty hot. I don't see other model soft tops with this problem. I believe talking with my dealership I'm not the only Mazda MX-5 owner with this problem. any remedies It really looks terrible on a beautiful car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I've seen vinyl repair kits, but....I would leave this up to a pro. Try an Auto Upholstery place in the yellow pages, ask if they can patch it and make it look clean.

    Must be incredibly hot in there...yikes.
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