99 mazda miata mx5

Hello there. A shop did a ‘routine’ radiator repair (aaa owned, car was towed there) a year ago.
The mechanic who worked on it forgot to put things together right, car overheated first day back. Shop acknowledged the error, replaced fan and another item that were ruined because of the error. One year later, brake shop notices ‘leak’ where hose clamps onto radiator (the main one to left of cap). It leaks out on my parking at home after return 5mile trip, from radiator, not hose. Under warranty, aaa shop says they will redo the clamp and replace with new radiator (bad crimp, the new plastic radiators). I drive very few miles a year. car was not driven half the year. Two weeks later, needle goes up, after less than 50 miles total driving (2 miles here, 5 miles there, no long trips). Overflow and radiator bone dry, dried fluid has sprayed all over interior and out front grill. Splay in front of cap on radiator. Radiator cap ‘was on’ meaning I did have to push down and twist to open it after it cooled off. What in the world would cause that? I hate that they are the warranty shop, as this is twice they have endangered or damaged my pristine restored babied '99 mx5. I am worried they have damaged something as I drove downhill 8 miles, and then on the last 2 miles saw the needle inching up, it went to hot as I slowly crossed the parking lot to where I immediately stopped. I think my other drives were so short and slow the needle/heat did not go up. But clearly the coolant splayed out. (I put in 48oz? of fluid after, but it is sitting awaiting tow truck, decided not to try to limp home.)

Any ideas what could cause this to blow out in less than two weeks, less than 50 miles (probably more like 30). What type of collateral damage could have occurred. Arizona vehicle. How can I test for what they may have destroyed again? And how long should they be responsible for ancillary repairs? aaa has a two year warranty period. But I read lots of horror stories about seals, hoses, warping, cracking. I am so very sorry my car ever ended up at that shop.
Thank you in advance. I have always loved this program on the radio!!! Happy to have found this site.
(My brother was a mechanic, he passed away very young, so our family no longer has his and our dad’s advice, also very mechanically inclined.)

Have the car towed to a local (to you) mazda dealer and tell them what you’ve told us.

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Yes, but, if this is put into writing for the dealership, it would be advisable for the OP to use paragraph breaks. A gray “wall of text” is off-putting to most people, and the result will be a lack of attention to details that could be prevented by simply making the text user-friendly.

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Agree with the other posters. This AAA shop doesn’t deserve any more chances with your car, warranty or no.

Bute the bullet and take it elsewhere. A Mazda dealer or a well regarded independent shop. They will check for additional damage.


Hi, all. Thank you for these replies. I was informed by AAA corporate that I can file a complaint claim form, and pursue payment back to me from a different shop’s charges, based on my concerns.

However, that sounds like I front the money, they ‘should’ reimburse me… They said the AAA 2year warranty is only covered by the ‘original shop.’ Now, the manager did admit to the initial error last year - BUT it was kind of obvious and unavoidable really. I am heartsick and worried about my ‘Esmerelda’… beautiful restored emerald green, new leather seats, top, and all maintenance.

I am trying to get an understanding of why fluid leaked out on a ‘new radiator’ from a week or two ago, less than 50 miles. (splay right in front of cap, which was seated) dried fluid splay behind radiator and out on front grill area lower front bumper ish area)

Clearly the shop has issues. They actually have a mechanic who has a 2000 Mazda Mx5, but he never works on mine?

Appreciate any idea what ‘failed’ No bleed? Connected radiator improperly again? Random bad new radiator? (seems unlikely)

And collateral damage to now assess? I heard warping, cracking, or ancillary seals/hoses?


hope you love the



I will google where a mazda dealership is here in Tucson.

I will also contact our Miata Club. I do not know them but hear we have one.

Just trying to have any info going in, because… frankly… shops run all over short little old ladies (okay, not that old, but I am short)

thank you to all

They may have over tighted the clamps cracking the radiator neck but that is speculation. Wait until the shop finds the problem.

A Miata club is a great way to find a good, Miata friendly shop. Maybe the best way.

Overheating can damage head gaskets and warp heads but I doubt that happened as you shut it off quickly. A good shop will check all that out.

In any event you need your car fixed. If AAA reimburses the cost, great.

thanks millions

much appreciate the insights


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No one can give you those answers without having eyes and hands on the car.

general ideas welcome

i do understand a pro needs to assess

i am at ground zero as far as mechanical insight


Get it to a dealer, then tell us what their thoughts are, and then we can comment on that.

thank you

yes, I look forward to being able to post some progress and follow up information soon

it will get towed tomorrow I believe from where I had to leave it

danke schoen

Without seeing the car first hand, so are we.

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i have photos at the scene

I do not see a way to attach photos here

I did attach photos to an email I could do that to anyone who thinks that might be beneficial it basically just shows where the spray went

oh and the top hoses

@miaflowerpot_171505 The thing is that you can’t do the repairs yourself. You don’t want to tell a shop what to do from web replies because that will just cost you money and might irritate the shop that really wants to solve your problems .

You just need to accept that you need this thing repaired properly and it will not be cheap .

Photos will not help because there may be damage from the overheating so after the shop looks at it ask them to get your approval before any work is done . It could be more money than you want to spend.

I have a 2002 Miata that is also in fine shape, although that’s because I’ve owned it for 16 years now. As the only person who has ever worked on this car I can tell you that the cooling system parts you are dealing with are not terribly expensive (a new radiator is about $100) and getting to them to do repairs is quite easy. This should not be major surgery.

My first question is - Is the radiator cap new or the old one? If it’s the old one, just replace it. Your friendly neighborhood car parts store will be glad to sell you one. RockAuto.com will get less than $5 for a new cap.

You could try filling the system, driving a bit until things are heated up and then stop and open the hood. Look at the area where you think it was leaking and see where it’s coming from. Do your looking with your hands in your pockets, as that way you won’t stick your fingers in a moving part. If you have long hair, tie it back. Sometimes a running engine will leak a little but the same engine will leak a lot after you turn it off while it’s hot. The key thing here is to look with your eyes, not your fingers. DO NOT LOOSEN the cap while the engine is warmer than stone cold.

I would document your troubles so far and tell the shop that you have discussed this with AAA and will continue to fill them in on the situation. They don’t want to lose their registration. Your State may also have an agency that licenses shops and they may well have a grievance office.

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Well hopefully the problem was due to a failed radiator cap or loose hose connection. The only other things I can think of that would cause what you said happened is a bad thermostat or a very bad head gasket leak.