top install instructions - M1
These are general instructions for installing
most Miata Tops. Your top comes with a five (5) year warranty covering workmanship
and materials on a pro rated basis. Please see Warranty for details. We
strongly recommend professional installation and therefore, won’t accept
responsibility for any problems caused by improper installation.
Note: Please click inside the picture box
to open the picture.
Before You Get Started
*Note if you have a 1990 Miata some early models
need to be updated by adding B-pillar retaining clips (binding guard). These
clips keep the top material from binding on the body when being put up.
Mazda part number NA01-R1-272 (right side) NA01-R1-271 (left side). The clips
cost around each at my local Mazda dealer, but you might get a better
price from another source that offers factory parts. There
are pictures of these retaining clips in the instructions.
If your Rain Rail is damaged it is recommended
that you purchase a new one. It will come attached to the new top and save you the hassel of having to transfer your old one.
The following instructions are for leaving
the top frame on the car while replacing the top material. Some folks like
to remove the entire frame from the car to remove/replace the top on a large
table. I prefer to keep the frame on the car.
your Miata and the work area
1. Open both doors as far as they will go
and turn off you interior lights.
2. Place a towel and a large blanket on the
trunk. This will serve as a place to set your tools while working on the
car. If you have a fixed antenna you will need to remove it.
3. Push your seat bottoms all the way forward
and then recline the seats all the way back.
Removing the old top
4. Remove the rear carpet. Use a pry tool
to remove all the carpet fasteners. These push type retainers are fragile.
Try not to pry them out by putting all the pressure on the head of the tack.
5. Remove the frame stops and remove the carpet
from the car.
6. Place a towel over the rear tray area to
keep the carpet adhesive from sticking to everything and to protect the window
of the new top until you put the carpet back in.
Remove the three metal rails that hold the rain rail to the car's body. Remove
the 10mm nuts. Remove all three pieces and place them in order on the carpet.
Place the 10mm nuts in a bowl and place them with the rails.
8. Pull the rain rail away from the body studs and leave it loose.
9. Remove the header bow at the front of the
top. Remove the 7 screws. Also remove the 2 screws (each side) from the rubber
seals. TIP - prop the top half way up for this step and it will go a lot
faster. I use a car duster as a prop.
10. Remove the window seals. Just pull on
them by hand and they come right out of the metal rails. Place them in the
foot well of the side of the car you removed them from. This will save you
a lot of heart ache later when you for get which side of the car these seals
came off of. The rearward seal has two push type connectors that hold them
to the frame. Try the pry tool to get the fasteners out of their holes. Be
careful not to rip the rubber.
11. Remove the metal strips that held the rubber seals. Unscrew them and
pull them free of the mild adhesive.
12. Here is a close up of the dreaded B-pillar
retaining clips, also known as the binding guards. Removing these can be
the toughest part of the job if you can't find the right tool to get at the
screw that holds this part in place. I found that most screwdrivers are too
difficult to use in this tight space so I used a universal tool (like a pocket
knife) with the Phillips head extended. Later as I did more and more tops
I bought a jewelers tool at Ace Hardware that has a 90-degree, small Phillips
head that ratchets.
13. Drill out the 2 (each side) rivets holding the top material to the
frame. You might need to use the pry tool to keep the rivet from spinning.
14. Remove the top material from the front
of the frame. Just pull on the top until it separates from the adhesive.
15. Drill out the rivet holding the tension
cable. Be very careful not to break the plastic head of the cable when removing
the rivet. You will be re-using the cable on your new top!
16. Drill out the "phantom" rivets
(2 each side) that holds the window panel. It may be easier to access these
rivets with the top up and the window down. I have seen tops installed without
these rivets used. If you were replacing the back window panel only you
would need to remove these rivets.
17. Continue to remove the top material from
the frame listings. Use a screwdriver or a pry tool to open up the metal
retainers a little.
18. Remove the tension cable screw. I place
the screw back in the hole after I remove the cable to keep from misplacing
19. Remove the top material from around the
frame. There are two push type fasteners on the extreme ends of the rain
rail. As you pull the remaining material, make sure to release these fasteners
by pulling on them by hand.
20. Lay the old top on the ground next to
your new top. Next transfer the tension cables from the old top to the new
one. Your new top should have string threaded through the holes already.
Use the string to pull the cable through the holes. Make sure the spring
goes toward the back of the top.
Installing the new top
TIP - Before you install the new top place a wash cloth (1 each side) over
the drain holes in the forward corners of top area. This will keep you from
dropping screws down the rain rail drains. If you do manage to drop anything
down these holes you can get the item back by looking under the car for the
drain tube and pushing a screwdriver up in it to push aside the flap and
release the item.
TIP - If you are installing a Tan cloth top, wash your hands before you start
handling the new top.
TIP - Before installing the new top, vacuum up all the metal shavings from
1. Prop the top at the front away from the windshield frame - about 2
feet. This will allow you enough room to get the new top material around
2. Place the top on the frame and work the
top material around the B-pillars.
3. Attach the tension cable screw by pulling
the top material back to expose the screw.
4. Rivet the top material to the frame (2
each side) and rivet the two "phantom" rivets (2 each side).
5. Attach the top to the rearward listing
(cross bars of the frame). This is the only one that Velcros together.
6. Attach the top to the middle and forward
listing by feeding the material into slot and pry the metal tab toward the
bar. I do this just by pushing on it with my palm.
7. Rivet the tension cable to the forward part of the frame. Drill out
the hole of the tension cable end. Make the hole just slightly larger. I
use needle nose vice grip to hold the plastic end piece while I drill out
the hole. Pull the entire top frame toward you to line up the cable end
and the hole it is being riveted to. This is a good place to have some one
help you steady the top while you push with the rivet gun.
8. Use rubber cement to glue the forward part of the top to the frame.
Test fit the top material to where you will glue it and note the alignment
of the material to the top. I only glue the edges and not the entire front
of the top.
9. Reinstall the metal seal retainers for
the rubber seals around the windows. The larger edge goes toward the inside
of the car. Note that you can see impressions were the screw heads were.
Try to align the screws with those marks.
10. Reinstall the B-pillar retaining clip.
I have found that the three holes (one for the screw and 2 for the push fasteners
of the rubber window seal) don't line up once the top material is behind
the retaining clip. What I used to do was cut the material to make the holes
larger. Now I use a regular hole punch to make the holes larger. Be very
careful not to trim too much material away. You just want to make the holes
slightly larger and then check the alignment. Install the one screw that
holds the retaining clips in place.
11. Install the rubber seals on the metal
retainer. You will not believe how easy this is. Start at one end and make
sure the channel in the rubber lines up with the larger lip on the metal
retainer. Just use the palm of you hand and push/slap along the length of
the seal. If it isn't going right on with ease you are doing something wrong
or have something backwards.
12. Reinstall the header bow metal plate. This is the long thin metal
that goes on the forward portion of the top. Install the 7 screws and the
4 (2 each side) screws that secure the weather seal. Install the 7 screws
holding the metal plate lose until you can get all the screws lined up with
their respective holes then tighten them all.
13. Put the top up and push the rain rail
on the studs around the back of the top.
14. If you are installing a top with a glass
window use a paper towel roll to prop the glass up out of the way. I also
use masking tape to keep the top material out of my way while working on
the next few steps.
15. Reinstall the rain rail retainers. Start
by installing the sides first. Only hand tighten the nuts. Installing the
middle rain rail...you will notice that the middle rail doesn't want to fit
correctly between the 2 other retainers. Now, tighten down the smaller outside
retainers. The middle retainer still doesn't have enough room between the
smaller retainers. Here is what I do: start on the left of the middle rail
and attach the nut to the stud and tighten it down. Move right attaching
the nuts to the studs. Do about 3 to 4 nuts and check the fit of the rail
to see if it will now fit over to the right. You may need to push the rail
hard by hand to get it past the other rail. Once you have all the rails in
alignment, loosen all the nuts on all 3 retainers so that they are hand tight
for the next step.
16. On the outside of the top where the belt
molding meets the back of the top there is a rubber lip that needs to be
pulled out so it is laying on the top material. This lip keeps most of the
water out of the car. Water that bypasses this molding enters the rain rail
and is channeled over the sides into the drains.
17. Now the rain rail nuts may be tightened in the order shown on the
rain rail installation instructions.
18. Reinstall the carpet. Make sure the top
material is also attached to the rain rail retainers behind the carpet.
19. Last step is to adjust the top latches. Open the latch and pull the
plastic cover down off the middle hex shaft. Rotate the hex shaft so that
the latch is adjusted all the way out (loosen). The new to material will
be tight and you might have to help the top into a position to latch it.
Take it slow and let the new material stretch.
Note - Make sure when putting your top down that you position the top material
by hand so that it folds neatly onto itself. Look for the material to form
an "S" on the ends, or you may get creases that will show when
the top is in the up position.
Note - If the tension cable is binding while the top is going up and causing
a "pull" area just above the driver/passenger glass you may have
to reach under the top material and feel around for the cable in the area
of the "pull" and help
it into proper position while you are putting the top up, especially the
last part when the top goes forward toward the windshield. This may be a
necessary procedure until the top material has had some time to stretch and
doesn't bind the cable. Enjoy your new top and never miss an opportunity
to tell someone you did it yourself!