Should I buy this used Miata?


I have a co-worker that I’m friendly with that wants to sell his 99 Miata. It was a second car for him (at a second house) and was only driven every 2-4 weeks. Therefore, it only has 14k miles on it. I asked him about the maintenance done, and he said “a couple oil changes”. The car essentially looks new and drives great, but I’m concerned that he didn’t change the oil more frequently as advised here:


My one other concern is that he drives the car pretty hard, taking it up to redline (“how the car was intended to be driven”).

Should I just pass on this car, or would any issues as a result of the above concerns be detectable by a decent mechanic on a pre-purchase inspection?

Thanks for any advice,


If the price is reasonable I think you have nothing to worry about. An oil change each year would be nice, but as long as it’s had a “few” in 14K miles it should be OK. If the current owner has records to back up his claims of oil changes, that would be better.

Miatas are, indeed, meant to be driven, and I can’t imagine having one and not taking it to the redline once in a while. If it helps, a friend of mine bought a used Miata with over 100K miles on it, and proceeded to make it into a track car. He did NO modifications to the engine, and he is now racing the car, meaning it spends LOTS of time at or near redline. It has not given him any trouble.

Miatas are known for being nearly bullet proof. If you like the car and the price is acceptable, go for it. You are aware, aren’t you, that you MUST use premium gasoline in a Miata? If you aren’t willing to pay for premium (currently about $3.49 per gallon in my area), then don’t buy a Miata.

Thanks for the reply. I hear for the 99 and 2000 Miata Mazda only recommends 87 octane. In 2001 with the higher compression engine they suggest premium.


that’s incredibly low mileage for an 8 year old car. You’re a lucky guy to find a Miata with such low mileage.

Think of it this way - any problems caused by “not changing the oil often enough” are probably going to be less than the problems on a 120,000 mile Miata with regular oil changes.

I’d check the owner’s manual. I’m under the impression that ALL Miatas, regardless of vintage, need premium fuel. It’s a SPORTS CAR! It has a high-performance engine! It needs premium, in my opinion.

If the owner’s manual says “91 octane is recommended,” then you need 91-octane.

The engine might “run” on regular, but you don’t want to know what the long-term damage will be. Or maybe you do. You can search this board. We had a nice discussion about this issue just a few days ago.

“I’m under the impression that ALL Miatas, regardless of vintage, need premium fuel. It’s a SPORTS CAR! It has a high-performance engine! It needs premium, in my opinion.”

Mine, did not, it was an early model. I believe the newer ones do. It should be in the owner’s manual.

BTW a great reliable really fun car.

A Miata like this one is a rare find.

Usually, when a car this old has so few miles, it is because the owner made only short trips. This is the worst possible service for a car. If it is true that the current owner drove it at intervals of two to four weeks, it has been on 100 to 200 trips in its life. Dividing that into 14k miles gives an average trip length of 70 to 140 miles. This is more like “highway” mileage.

It doesn’t hurt to drive a car hard now and then. Actually, it helps blow out carbon deposits which can cause problems. As long as he didn’t do that all the time, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The car probably has its original tires with plenty of tread left. However, you should consider replacing them because of their age.

Although this car seems to be a jewel, it is imperative that you take it to a qualified, trustworthy Miata mechanic for a thorough inspection. If the current owner hasn’t had the oil changed in the last 12 months, offer to have that done at your expense. And ask the mechanic to look at the condition of the old oil. If he gives the car his blessing, don’t hesitate to pay top price. It will still be the bargain of a lifetime.

Sports car means it’s for drives in the country on some winding roads where you have to choose the gear you drive in from a manual transmission. The convertible top helps you enjoy the fun of a leisurely drive on moderately challenging, somewhat narrow roads. Since the previous owner admits racing the engine too much, that is a negative thing. The mileage is a sort of positive. If you don’t need and can do without a tiny, uncomfortable car, you can pass up this one. It depends on how much you dislike the negatives or feel that they are too much to overcome. Most Miata’s aren’t bought because of any kind of necessity.

Lest he forgets the timing belt as well. It needs changed regardless of miles.

A mechanic I used to know had a first genertion Miata as his one and only car. He was over 6 feet and 200 pounds. I never heard him complain that the car was tiny or uncomfortable.

Buy it, drive it, you’ll love it, and people will talk to you about it. I loved mine.

The car will likely be fine.

However don’t get tainted by low miles. Remember this car is 8-9 years old and the demise of a vehicle is due to time and miles.

Don’t overpay.