1997 Miata

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Ive owned a 2010 audi s4 for almost two years now and it has been in and out of the shop for almost the whole time ive had it. I think it is time to get something else. I have been looking around and have found a 1997 mazda miata that I think would be a great replacement. It however has 158k miles on it. I was wondering from those who have owned, own, or know of people who owned them to share some info regarding whether the vehicle will be breaking down constantly, common problems, and if it’s expensive or not to fix things and how difficult it is to work on if problems arise.

Thank you much,

Any 22-year-old car could have lots of issues that we can’t see from here. Why not a newer one? There are plenty around.

Miatas are quite reliable, overall, but 22 years is 22 years.


Miata’ are pretty reliable and easy to fix BUT, as @texases points out, the car is 22 years old! And has 158K miles. Look for something newer. 100K miles on a well maintained Miata is no big deal.

Yeah, I agree with the other two. Miatas are great little cars, and I suspect you’d really enjoy a newer one provided you don’t need a lot of cargo space. But no car that old is going to be anywhere near trouble-free. I’d target a Miata that’s at least 10 years old or younger.

Let’s get straight down to business . . .

Is the Audi currently your daily driver?

Are you thinking of buying a 1997 Miata to use as a daily driver . . . ?

If the price is right, that should do the replacement job for the S4 nicely. Even at 22 years/160k you’ll very likely be seeing less shop time and expense with the Miata. As the condition of used cars vary widely, the recommendation here is to always secure a pre-purchase inspection by your own mechanic before agreeing to buy one. A failing thermostat is easy to fix; severe rust, not so much. Disclaimer: I’m not as adverse to older cars as some; both of my vehicles (Corolla and Ford truck) are older than the Miata.


The Mazda Mata has been very reliable for the owners i’ve known Any problems re really no different than other Mazda’s of the same era.

We had a 1990 Protoge that had a few age related issues at around the same age and mileage and were one time issues and then it wen’t back to only having to spend $300 at most a year on repairs, 194,000 miles in nineteen years with only normal wear items replaced.

Give the car a once over a couple times a year and you should be able to drive this for years to come.

Since this car is so small,it is very difficult to work on especially under the hood.You will need some kind of contortionist mechanic to reach some engine parts and labor cost could be a problem.There are some paint issues but realibility is pretty good according to carcomplaints.com.

It’s not my experience that the Mita is hard to work on. There’s room under the hood and because the engine and transmission is laid out the way engines are supposed to be laid out, front to back and not sideways, access is good. Parts are available. Nothing is needlessly complicated.

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Here’s another vote for something newer, like 5 to 8 years old. If you want a four seat car, the Mazda3 has that and is also fun to drive. Take one for a test drive and see if you like it.

There might be other cars on the market, even newer MX-5’s that might not be that much more expensive. At least moving into the early 2000’s cars with average miles.

A Mazda 3 would give much of the same fun factor while being more practical, not exactly the same but could work. I know several owners with over 200,000 miles and still going without major repairs, just normal services.

A lot depends on how you’re going to use it, hobby car or daily driver, your repair budget and how much work you can do yourself?

Practically every car that age and mileage will have wear and age (rusted nuts,dryed out rubber/plastic, etc.) related problems but the plus side is that they made a lot of Miatas and it shared a lot of components with other Mazdas so parts shouldn’t be a problem but if you have to take it to a mechanic for everything the costs will quickly mount up.

Look for rust on front and rear fenders by the rocker panels and the battery box and especially with any moderately priced sports car look for an unmolested car, preferably from an older owner and of course invest in a thorough mechanical evaluation .

As a huge fan of Miatas and a former and future owner, may I suggest that you start with the NC generation? Anything after 2007. It sounds like you are going to make this car a daily driver. Rollover protection, side airbags, stability control (which can be shut off) and many more reasons why the NC was a big leap over prior gens for those who drive the car in normal circumstances (rather than for two hours each Sunday). The latter NCs had some meaningful improvements. Good luck. Miatas are not great daily cars.

Patience is the key here. Seems like there are at least 3 Miata owner profiles - 1. daily commuter, 2. person who drives the crap out of it, monkeys with the engine to get more performance, and 3. casual pleasure driver who uses it for fun drives and leaves it in a garage a lot. The casual user will sometimes sell because they want a new toy, and those cars are often a good deal. Since I’m a casual driver myself my 2002 still has only 53,000 miles on it, the original top is fine, flexible and not leaky, no rust no accidents and I’m not selling. It would be a good purchase for anyone, but like I said, it’s not for sale.