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Old 03-17-2011, 03:28 PM   #1
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Default Pre Noob (buying car today)

Hi Everyone,

I say pre noob because I am buying the car this afternoon. I know cars and have a passion for them, but I am not not much of a mechanic. So please forgive my ignorance, I want to learn and this looks like the right place. I have been looking to buy a Miata for a couple years because it is economic and because of peoples enthusiasm for them, I had never actually driven one until the test drive yesterday. I didn't know until I test drove the car that it was a turbo. But I liked it.

The car is 1996, the engine has 74k miles and the turbo has about 40k, and looks like a DIY job. It also has a turbo computer on the dash, I have no idea what that does, but I know the car stays running for 30sec after it is shut off. It also has a switch to turn on a second fuel pump. It also looks like it had NOS at one time, but was taken out by the current owner. (guy got the car as a gift from his brother in law). The car drives real solid and the clutch feels nice and tight. I would be sketched out by the fact that I don't know the guy that installed the turbo and I don't know what he has done to it. But the installation looks clean and professional so I am going to take a chance. I am taking it to the mechanic in about an hour to make sure there are no major problems with it. I will also take pictures under the hood and post them when I get back.

What are some things I should know/ask getting into this?
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:34 PM   #2
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We need way more specific info and as many pictures as you can snap of the car/engine/turbo setup/etc etc etc for anyone here to make any type of recommendation on if its worth it or a POS. I hope your mechanic knows his way around a turbo miata or he won't be much help either.

Welcome.

Good luck
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:54 PM   #3
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Some picture would definitely help a lot.

Questions I'd ask:
What is being used to control fuel? (standalone ecu, piggy back ecu, or a fuel pressure regulator?)
What injectors are in the car?

Things I would look for:
Is there an intercooler or does the turbo charge pipe go strait to the intake manifold?
What, if any, gauges are in the car? (most likely a boost gauge, a wideband afr gauge is a very good sign)

It could be a great buy or it could be a major headache, especially if you're not accustomed to turning wrenches.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:04 PM   #4
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thanks for the tips. I am not much of a mechanic, but I am good with technical things. I really want to get better at it. I am buying the car as more of a hobby. Here are some pics, any insight on what I got would be a help.

[IMG][/IMG]
[IMG][/IMG]
[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:24 PM   #5
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It might help your cause if you stop giving us cell phone pictures.

The part on top of your steering column is a turbo timer. Unless you're boosting into your garage, it's generally a waste of space.

What other gauges do you have in the interior? What the hell is up with this "second fuel pump?"

The oil feed line tells me that the installer didn't care.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:29 PM   #6
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Sorry about the pics, I just had minute between classes. I will much better pics when i pick it up. It also has a boost gauge. Whats wrong with the oil feed line? Is that something I should upgrade? Again sorry about the ignorance. My knowledge is virtually nill. Am I getting in over my head?
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:10 PM   #7
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Yeah, oil feed shows a clear lack of attention to detail Looks like it has an EWG but not intercooler, wonder what kit thats from. Odds are its an ok starting place, but its probably a good idea to get a real EMS in there, I'm betting its band aid'd.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:22 PM   #8
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It's setup like garbage. You should expect to have a truckload of headaches.

Do a lot of research, you'll likely end up needing it.

See it as a learning experience, maybe? Stay positive.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nagase View Post
It's setup like garbage. You should expect to have a truckload of headaches.

Do a lot of research, you'll likely end up needing it.

See it as a learning experience, maybe? Stay positive.
im with nagase on this one
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:41 PM   #10
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If you get it, megasquirt and intercool immediately. I bet they spent just about as much for that half-assed silicone piping as they would have for a DIY intercooler kit.

Nevermind, that looks like metal... They could have atleast cut things down to where it fit correctly. Also, that oil line makes me cry. How long until that rubs through the hood?
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:01 PM   #11
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$5 says the step up connector in the middle of the charge pipe was bought at home depot. Is there paint missing from the blue pipes where the oil line goes across them?

Find out what it has for fueling and make sure it has something that works properly, also get an intercooler kit, $200-300 on ebay.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:52 PM   #12
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Get us some high quality, in focus, pictures of the turbo manifold. I'm worried.
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:05 PM   #13
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I think you best bet would be to meet up with someone here on the forum and have them go over the car with you, I dont know of anyone in santa barbra but there are a lot of guys in socal I'm sure you can find someone.
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:08 PM   #14
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I'll be honest: it looks like crap. Id say that turbo "setup" is worth no more than 1000 total and that's being generous.
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18psi View Post
I'll be honest: it looks like crap. Id say that turbo "setup" is worth no more than 1000 total and that's being generous.
bullshit, unless his turbo is made entirely out of inconel
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:41 AM   #16
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As long as you keep it in low boost (6psi ish) it should be alright. But yah, I would put an intercooler in there ASAP, get some proper engine management, and do some tuning. Could you try to take a pic of the turbo manifold and the downpipe? (the piece that holds the turbo and the piece that connects the back of the turbo to the exhaust).
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:04 AM   #17
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I'm on base in Pt Mugu. If you want to bring it down here this weekend and let me look it over, I'd be happy to... give you a good excuse to get it out on the road and to take me to Neptunes for lunch.
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Old 03-18-2011, 11:54 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inferno94 View Post
$5 says the step up connector in the middle of the charge pipe was bought at home depot.
Don't hate... I used them for a little while, lol.


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Old 03-18-2011, 01:00 PM   #19
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If you're good with technical things and want to learn, then I wouldn't shy away. I do agree, the install looks like doodoo. But, you're going to fix that, right? My thoughts:

1. Use SamNavy. He's knowledgeable. He will also school you on how to be a proper noob. He certainly did me.
2. Does the car come with its original parts? Those would be a great thing to have. In fact, my recommendation for a first project would be to return the car to stock. That will let you start learning the car and understand what turbo parts you have. In the meantime, hang around here to learn, plan and finally do a proper install.
3. Don't do this if this is your only DD car. No problem as a second car.
4. As a CA car, I'm assuming the body's in good shape? The mileage sounds great.
5. Start looking at build threads on this site. Lots of great ideas.
6. Start poking around the Megasquirt areas of this site. That's the way to go . . . and, again, lots of great ideas.
7. Have fun. Miata's are great. Durable and rugged. Even if they've been abused, they're often still a safe bet.
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