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Fluid level checks Mazda MX-5 1989 - 2005 Petrol 1.6

OnDemand step-by-step maintenance & repair BETA

Mazda MX-5 1989 - 2005  | 1.6 Fluid level checks

  • time 5 to 30 minutes
  • difficulty 1

Underbonnet check points

1.6 litre engine A Engine oil level dipstick B Engine oil filler cap C Coolant expansion tank D Brake fluid reservoir E Clutch fluid reservoir F Screen washer fluid reservoir
1.8 litre engine (2000-on shown) A Engine oil level dipstick B Engine oil filler cap C Coolant expansion tank D Brake fluid reservoir E Clutch fluid reservoir F Screen washer fluid reservoir

Engine oil level

1 • Make sure that the car is on level ground.
2 • Check the oil level before the car is driven, or at least 10 minutes after the engine has been switched off.
HINT: If the oil is checked immediately after driving the vehicle, some of the oil will remain in the upper engine components, resulting in an inaccurate reading on the dipstick.

The correct oil

3 Modern engines place great demands on their oil. It is very important that the correct oil for your car is used.
Engine oil grade 10W/40 multigrade semi-synthetic or synthetic oil to specification ACEA A3/B4

Car care

4 • If you have to add oil frequently, you should check whether you have any oil leaks. Place some clean paper under the car overnight, and check for stains in the morning. If there are no leaks, then the engine may be burning oil.
5 • Always maintain the level between the upper and lower dipstick marks. If the level is too low, severe engine damage may occur. Oil seal failure may result if the engine is overfilled by adding too much oil.
The dipstick top is sometimes brightly coloured for easy identification (see Underbonnet check points for exact location). Withdraw the dipstick.
Using a clean rag or paper towel remove all oil from the dipstick. Insert the clean dipstick into the tube as far as it will go, then withdraw it again.
Note the oil level on the end of the dipstick, which should be between the upper maximum mark and lower minimum mark. Approximately 0.8 litres of oil will raise the level from the lower mark to the upper mark.
Oil is added through the filler cap. Unscrew the cap and top-up the level; a funnel may help to reduce spillage. Add the oil slowly, checking the level on the dipstick often. Don’t overfill (see Car care). If you need to renew the oil and filter, click below
- Close + Open

Engine oil and filter change

1 Frequent oil and filter changes are the most important preventative maintenance which can be undertaken by the DIY owner. As engine oil ages, it becomes diluted and contaminated, which leads to premature engine wear.
2 Before starting this procedure, gather all the necessary tools and materials. Also make sure that you have plenty of clean rags and newspapers handy to mop-up any spills. Ideally, the engine oil should be warm, as it will drain better, and any impurities suspended in the oil will be removed with it. Take care, however, not to touch the exhaust or any other hot parts of the engine when working under the vehicle. To avoid any possibility of scalding, and to protect yourself from possible skin irritants and other harmful contaminants in used engine oils, it is advisable to wear gloves when carrying out this work. Access to the underside of the vehicle will be greatly improved if it can be raised on a lift, driven onto ramps, or jacked up and supported on axle stands. Whichever method is chosen, make sure that the vehicle remains level, or if it is at an angle, that the drain plug is at the lowest point.
3 Slacken the drain plug about half a turn (see illustrations) . Position the draining container under the drain plug, then remove the plug completely. Renew the sealing washer.
Engine oil drain plug (arrowed)
Renew the drain plug sealing washer (arrowed)
4 Allow some time for the old oil to drain, noting that it may be necessary to reposition the container as the oil flow slows to a trickle.
5 After all the oil has drained, wipe off the drain plug with a clean rag, then clean the area around the drain plug opening and refit the plug with a new sealing washer. Tighten the plug to 35 Nm (26 Ibf ft).
6 Move the container into position under the oil filter, which is located on the right-hand side of the engine.
7 Using an oil filter removal tool if necessary, slacken the filter initially, then unscrew it by hand the rest of the way (see illustration) . Empty the oil in the old filter into the container.
The oil filter is located on the right-hand side of the engine
8 Use a clean rag to remove all oil, dirt and sludge from the filter sealing area on the engine. Check the old filter to make sure that the rubber sealing ring has not stuck to the engine. If it has, carefully remove it.
9 Apply a light coating of clean engine oil to the sealing ring on the new filter, then screw it into position on the engine (see illustration) . Tighten the filter firmly by hand only – do not use any tools.
Lubricate the sealing ring with clean engine oil
10 Remove the old oil and all tools from under the car then lower it to the ground (if applicable).
11 Withdraw the dipstick, and remove the oil filler cap from the cylinder head cover. Fill the engine, using the correct grade and type of oil. An oil can spout or funnel may help to reduce spillage. Pour in half the specified quantity of oil first, then wait a few minutes for the oil to run to the sump. Continue adding oil a small quantity at a time until the level is up to the MAX mark on the dipstick. Refit the filler cap.
Engine oil quantity:
  1.6 litre engine 3.7 litres
  1.8 litre engine 3.8 litres
Engine oil grade 10W/40 multigrade semi-synthetic or synthetic oil to specification ACEA A3/B4
12 Start the engine and run it for a few minutes; check for leaks around the oil filter seal and the sump drain plug. Note that there may be a delay of a few seconds before the oil pressure warning light goes out when the engine is first started, as the oil circulates through the engine oil galleries and the new oil filter before the pressure builds-up. Where applicable, refit the engine undershield.
13 Switch off the engine, and wait a few minutes for the oil to settle in the sump once more. With the new oil circulated and the filter completely full, recheck the level on the dipstick, and add more oil as necessary.
14 Dispose of the used engine oil and filter safely. Do not discard the old filter with domestic household waste. The facility for waste oil disposal provided by many local council refuse tips generally has a filter receptacle alongside.

Coolant level

Warning: Do not attempt to remove the expansion tank pressure cap when the engine is hot, as there is a very great risk of scalding. Do not leave open containers of coolant about, as it is poisonous.

Car care

6 • With a sealed-type cooling system, adding coolant should not be necessary on a regular basis. If frequent topping-up is required, it is likely there is a leak. Check the radiator, all hoses and joint faces for signs of staining or wetness, and rectify as necessary.
7 • It is important that antifreeze is used in the cooling system all year round, not just during the winter months. Don’t top up with water alone, as the antifreeze will become diluted.
The coolant level must be maintained between the FULL and LOW marks on the coolant expansion tank.
If topping-up is necessary, wait until the engine is cold. Unclip the expansion tank cap.
Add a mixture of water and antifreeze to the expansion tank until the level of the coolant is just below the FULL mark on the expansion tank. Refit the cap and tighten it until the arrow marks align. Should you need to replace the coolant, click below
- Close + Open

Coolant replacement

Warning: Wait until the engine is cold before starting this procedure. Do not allow antifreeze to come in contact with your skin, or with the painted surfaces of the vehicle. Rinse off spills immediately with plenty of water. Never leave antifreeze lying around in an open container, or in a puddle in the driveway or on the garage floor. Children and pets are attracted by its sweet smell, but antifreeze can be fatal if ingested.

Cooling system draining

1 With the engine completely cold, cover the radiator cap with a wad of rag, and slowly turn the cap anti-clockwise to relieve the pressure in the cooling system (a hissing sound may be heard). Wait until any pressure remaining in the system is released, then continue to turn the cap until it can be removed.
2 Position a suitable container beneath the radiator drain plug, then completely unscrew the drain plug and allow the coolant to drain into the container (see illustration) .
The radiator drain plug (arrowed) is accessible through an opening in the engine undershield
3 Once all the coolant has drained, tighten the drain plugs securely.
4 Note that if the coolant hasn't drained from the expansion tank, use a syringe or poultry baster to remove the old coolant.

Radiator flushing

5 Disconnect the top and bottom hoses and any other relevant hoses from the radiator.
6 Insert a garden hose into the radiator top inlet. Direct a flow of clean water through the radiator, and continue flushing until clean water emerges from the radiator bottom outlet.
7 If after a reasonable period, the water still does not run clear, the radiator can be flushed with a good proprietary cleaning agent. It is important that their manufacturer’s instructions are followed carefully. If the contamination is particularly bad, insert the hose in the radiator bottom outlet, and reverse-flush the radiator.

Cooling system filling

8 Before attempting to fill the cooling system, make sure that all hoses and clips are in good condition, and that the clips are tight. Note that an antifreeze mixture must be used all year round, to prevent corrosion of the engine components (see below).
9 Place the heater controls in the maximum heat position.
10 Remove the radiator cap, and fill the system by slowly pouring the coolant into the radiator to prevent airlocks from forming.
Coolant quantity (all models) 6.0 litres
Anti-freeze type Ethylene glycol based antifreeze
11 If the coolant is being renewed, begin by pouring in a couple of litres of water, followed by the correct quantity of antifreeze, then top-up with more water. Periodically squeeze the radiator top and bottom hoses to help expel any trapped air in the system.
12 Fill the expansion tank to the MIN or LOW mark.
13 Refit the radiator pressure cap, then start the engine and allow it to idle until it reaches normal operating temperature.
Caution: If the temperature gauge indicates an overheating condition, stop the engine and allow it to cool completely, then recheck the coolant level.
14 Once the engine has warmed up, increase the engine speed to 2500 rpm and hold it there for 5 minutes, then increase the engine speed to 3000 rpm for 5 seconds and allow it to return to idle.
15 Repeat the procedure in Paragraph 13 four times, then stop the engine and allow it to cool completely.
16 Top-up the expansion tank if necessary. Note that the system must be cold before an accurate level is indicated.

Antifreeze mixture

17 The antifreeze should always be renewed at the specified intervals. This is necessary not only to maintain the antifreeze properties, but also to prevent corrosion which would otherwise occur as the corrosion inhibitors become progressively less effective.
18 Always use ethylene-glycol based antifreeze of the specified type.
19 Before adding antifreeze, the cooling system should be completely drained, preferably flushed, and all hoses checked for condition and security.
20 After filling with antifreeze, a label should be attached to the expansion tank, stating the type and concentration of antifreeze used, and the date installed. Any subsequent topping-up should be made with the same type and concentration of antifreeze.
Caution: Do not use engine antifreeze in the windscreen washer system, as it will cause damage to the vehicle paintwork. A screenwash additive should be added to the washer system in the quantities stated on the bottle.

Brake fluid level

Warning: Brake fluid can harm your eyes and damage painted surfaces, so use extreme caution when handling and pouring it.
Warning: Do not use fluid that has been standing open for some time, as it absorbs moisture from the air, which can cause a dangerous loss of braking effectiveness.
Warning: The fluid level in the reservoir will drop slightly as the brake pads wear down, but the fluid level must never be allowed to drop below the MIN mark.

Before you start

8 • Make sure that your car is on level ground.

Safety first!

9 • If the reservoir requires repeated topping-up this is an indication of a fluid leak somewhere in the system, which should be investigated immediately.
10 • If a leak is suspected, the car should not be driven until the braking system has been checked. Never take any risks where brakes are concerned.
The MAX and MIN marks are indicated on the side of the reservoir. The fluid level must be kept between the marks at all times.
If topping-up is necessary, first wipe clean the area around the filler cap to prevent dirt entering the hydraulic system.
Unscrew the reservoir cap and carefully lift it out of position. Inspect the reservoir, if the fluid is dirty the hydraulic system should be drained and refilled.
Carefully add fluid taking care not to spill it onto the surrounding components. Use only DOT 4 fluid;mixing different types can cause damage to the system. After topping-up to the correct level, securely refit the cap and wipe off any spilt fluid.

Power steering fluid level

11 • Park the vehicle on level ground.
12 • Set the steering wheel straight-ahead.
13 • The engine should be turned off.
HINT: For the check to be accurate, the steering must not be turned while the level is being checked.

Safety first!

14 • The need for frequent topping-up indicates a leak, which should be investigated immediately.
The reservoir is located near the front of the engine compartment. Wipe clean the area around the reservoir filler neck and unscrew the filler cap/dipstick from the reservoir.
Insert the dipstick into the reservoir (without screwing on the cap), then remove it. The fluid level should be between H and L.
When topping-up, use Dexron II type of fluid and do not overfill the reservoir. When the level is correct, securely refit the cap.

Clutch fluid level

Warning: Hydraulic fluid can harm your eyes and damage painted surfaces, so use extreme caution when handling and pouring it.
Warning: Do not use fluid that has been standing open for some time, as it absorbs moisture from the air, which can cause a dangerous loss of clutch control.
Warning: The fluid level must never be allowed to drop below the MIN mark.

Before you start

15 • Make sure that your car is on level ground.

Safety first!

16 • If the reservoir requires repeated topping-up this is an indication of a fluid leak somewhere in the system, which should be investigated immediately.
17 • If a leak is suspected, the car should not be driven until the clutch hydraulic system has been checked.
The MAX and MIN marks are indicated on the side of the reservoir. The fluid level must be kept between the marks at all times.
If topping-up is necessary, first wipe clean the area around the filler cap to prevent dirt entering the hydraulic system.
Unscrew the reservoir cap and lift it out of position.
Carefully add fluid taking care not to spill it onto the surrounding components. Use only DOT 4 fluid; mixing different types can cause damage to the system. After topping-up to the correct level, securely refit the cap and wipe off any spilt fluid.

Screen washer fluid level*

18 * On models with a headlight washer system, the screenwash is also used to clean the headlights
19 • Screenwash additives not only keep the windscreen clean during bad weather, they also prevent the washer system freezing in cold weather – which is when you are likely to need it most. Don’t top-up using plain water, as the screenwash will become diluted, and will freeze in cold weather.
Warning: On no account use engine coolant antifreeze in the screen washer system – this may damage the paintwork.
The screen washer fluid reservoir is located at the left-hand side of the engine compartment.
Unclip the cap. When topping-up, add a screen wash additive in the quantities recommended by the manufacturer.
- Close + Open

Wiper blade replacement

Check the condition of the wiper blades; if they are cracked or show any signs of deterioration, or if the glass swept area is smeared, renew them. Wiper blades should be renewed annually.
To remove a wiper blade, pull the arm away from the screen, then rotate the blade, compress the retaining clip …
… and side the blade from the arm.
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