[MSCW list] 92 Miata 'clunk' noise

Steve Thomas spthomas1966
Fri Aug 5 20:06:46 CEST 2011

Hi all,

I'm looking at purchasing a friend's 92 Miata to use as a track day car.
When I test drove it last weekend, there was a 'clunk' noise that seemed to
come from under the hood when I reversed out of the owner's driveway.  The
noise occurred after only traveling about 6-10 feet and as I was rolling
back slowly (no gas, in reverse gear, clutch depressed) down the fairly
steep driveway.  The noise sounded to me like an A/C compressor cutting in,
but louder.  This Miata does not have A/C, by the way.

The owner commented at the time that the noise was "the power steering
kicking in", which of course sounds suspect.  Talking to him later about it,
he revealed that it's the same sound that the steering makes when turning
the wheels lock to lock, although I didn't notice it when I drove the car
out of the highway and around his neighborhood.  The only time I heard any
weird noises was when I reversed out of his driveway.  The owner claims that
the car has always made that noise as long as he's had it (approx 30000

So, I've Googled a whole bunch and it seems it could be just about anything,
from worn out suspension bushes, loose steering rack, broken/loose engine
mounts, etc., etc.  I was wondering if there's something peculiar to 92
Miatas that I should look at in trying to figure out what's making that
noise before I consider buying it.  Here are some details on the car, in
case it makes a difference:

5-speed manual trans
No A/C
Power steering
Approx 90000 miles
No LSD (as far as I can tell)
Everything on the car is OEM, except the wheels, which are 16x7 alloys

Other than that clunk noise, the car seems in pretty good shape for it's
age.  There is one patch of rust on the bottom of the sill/rocker panel,
just in front of the right rear wheel, which I believe is a common spot for
rust on older Miatas.  The rusty patch is about the size of a Quarter and
the area doesn't show any signs of previous rust repair.  Should I be
concerned given that I intend to take the car to the track?  Is there an
easy way (without dismantling the car) to see how extensive that rust is?

Thanks in advance.

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