Soft-top drain filter(s)

drain filter grasp

courtesy of nasara

[UPDATED 5/5/2019, 7/18/2019]
The drain tubes for the convertible top well (allows rain/car wash water to drain out the underside of the vehicle so that it won’t otherwise collect and eventually seek it’s way under the carpeting behind your seats or in the trunk) in our 124 Spiders (and the ND MX-5) are each protected by a dual filter system

  • upper – the filter cap screen (as shown in the photo above) and
  • lower – an underlying foam filter

so that the tubes should never need to be snaked out, unlike the unfiltered tubes in the previous generation (NC) Miatas.  One potential issue that Mazda may have forgotten about with the foam filter is that a water-logged “sponge” could freeze in the cold winters, which can result in thawing snow on the vehicle not being able to exit out the drain tubes as intended.  It may actually be a good idea to remove the foam filter for the winter season, especially if the vehicle is left outside in the snow.

Although the owner’s manual recommends cleaning these filters (they are symmetrically placed on both sides of the vehicle) annually, as the owner, you should be familiar with how much debris (leaves, pine needles, bugs, etc) your vehicle has been exposed to, and only address these filters when you suspect that they might actually need cleaning.

In my case, I’ve never parked my car underneath a messy tree, and I park the vehicle in my garage nightly, so I am confident that for now, this difficult maneuver would be a waste of time.

Karatou-Oyaji produced a YouTube video that although is in Japanese, shows how to access the filters for removal and cleaning without removing any panels.  I don’t know if he was viewing his camera while locating the filter for removal and re-installation, but I like djwhiplash2001‘s comment:

When I do this, I’m going to stick a GoPro to my rear window and view it on my phone – that way, I can see what I’m doing (hopefully).

Raptor5244 offered this advice (which is demonstrated in the photo above) in the Miata forum:

I found it easier to get to the drain filters if I stood outside the car and reached my arm down there vs. sitting in the seat. The trick to getting them out is to use you index finger front knuckle pressed on the tab, and then use your thumb and middle finger to pinch/grab the filter [foam-covered pull tab, (shown in the photo below)] to wiggle it free.

It took are a few tries but figured out a way that works best for me. To orient where they are, look through the back window and look for the foam around the base of the filter.

yorksboy also provided me some feedback and photos on 5/5/2019.  In order to better view the drain filter placement for some photos, he removed the cover behind his RHD driver’s roll bar:

drain filter exposed John Coe1

click to enlarge

It seems like Mazda should have incorporated some kind of texture on the release tab surfaces.

Another video

[added 7/18/2019]
I have discovered another video posted by ProfRobBob that shows a much easier method of accessing the drain filters , by removing a trim panel hiding the seat belt retracters.  This results in being able to see the filters, as shown in the photos directly above.  Just be aware that he doesn’t check the foam filter element (at least not in this segment of the video), and that is the most important part of this process.  I would have avoided this method, as do others, had I not seen the video, thinking it would be more tedious than it actually is.


Here is the procedure from Mazda’s Service Manual [with additional edited comments suggested by James Hebert 10/24/2017 and yorksboy 5/5/2019]:

Drain Cover Cleaning

Clean the drain cover using the following procedure.

1. [Open the top about 1 foot away from the windshield header (as shown in the diagram), and standing alongside the vehicle facing forwards], reach in behind the bow to locate the filter cap [(you are working entirely by feel, as you cannot see the filter while reaching for it):

  • LHD driver’s side cover: you need to use your right arm
  • LHD passenger side: you need to use your left arm
drain filter exposed John Coe3

photo courtesy of yorksboy

2. The photo of the passenger side/right hand filter below ⇓ shows the referenced release tab in the upper left, but what is not seen in Mazda’s diagram is the foam covered “pull tab”.  While grasping the pull tab,] press the release tab in the direction of arrow (1) shown in the figure, move the upper drain filter in the direction of arrow (2) and remove it.

drain filter exposed John Coe2

photo courtesy of yorksboy

drain filter procedure

drain filter grasp2

photo courtesy of James Hebert

2. Remove the lower [foam] drain filter.

drain filter procedure2

foam filter

photo courtesy of XtremeRevolution

3. Clean the removed parts.  Hopefully it doesn’t look quite as dirty as littletone101’s…

drain filter black

4. Install in the reverse order of removal [and jiggle the filter cap, to insure that it is securely latched. Tobias adds:

For re-assembly, I found that just jiggling the cage wasn’t enough. Mine even made a nice clicking sound but still wasn’t properly secured.  Pressing the cage’s release tab towards the outside of the vehicle is what did the trick for me.]

 

 

7 thoughts on “Soft-top drain filter(s)

  1. I was thinking the same thing as Lou… you could likely engrave a few lines with a Dremel tool to assist in grabbing. Or even potentially contact cement/epoxy some sort of grip to it (taking great care not to bugger up the functionality in the process). I’ll have a peek tomorrow to see what I can do with it. As always, thanks for the tips…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a 2017 Fiat 124 Abarth Spider, which is mostly Miata. My dealership wanted $1300 to do this because they told me the entire rear of the passenger compartment neede to be removed and it took a long time. I accomplished the task in about 1/2 hour and it will be quicker next time.

    Like

    • Sean,
      I just viewed a video by ProfRobBob (link added in my article), showing how easy it is to remove the trim panels that allows much easier access to the drain filters, proving that the dealer lied to you (which you’ve already concluded as well).

      Like

  3. I found a video by ProfRobBob, showing how easy it is to remove the trim panel that allows much easier access to the drain filters, and I added a link to my article.

    Like

  4. Hi Dan,

    thanks for always providing this information, put some change into your coffee fund.

    Just back from cleaning my filters.
    I used this method you posted and it worked pretty well:

    1. [Open the top about 1 foot away from the windshield header (as shown in the diagram), and standing alongside the vehicle facing forwards], reach in behind the bow to locate the filter cap [(you are working entirely by feel, as you cannot see the filter while reaching for it):

    LHD driver’s side cover: you need to use your right arm
    LHD passenger side: you need to use your left arm

    One additional piece of advice I’d give is that people should try to feel for the foam covered tab, since this is pretty distinct in the whole area.
    Also I found it way easier to not pull back the softtop. I only had it unlatched.

    I think that once you know the way around you can do the whole job in less than 10 minutes.

    Also used a wet paper cloth to clean the channel under the filters. A bit of dirt still gets past them.

    For re-assembly, I found that just jiggling the cage wasn’t enough. Mine even made a nice clicking sound but still wasn’t properly secured. Pressing the cage’s release tab towards the outside of the vehicle is what did the trick for me.

    After ~2.5 years there was a only a bit of dirt inside the basket and the top of the filter sponge was still clean. But its bottom was rather well covered with dried mud. My vehicle spends most of its time in our garage but has to sit outside at work near a somewhat messy tree. It’s also driven in winter, although the past one was with the hardtop mounted.

    So cleaning the filters every year or so seems to be good advice.

    Liked by 1 person

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