Maintenance for competition type driving
copyright 2021 Traksport LLC
If you drive your car with a helmet, that's competition style driving
Every single part of every car ever made is a consumable. That means at some point, everything will wear out or break including the actual chassis structure. For most street cars the lifecycle of maybe 95% of the car is decades. “Forever” in other words. For a car used in competition style driving, that plummets down to perhaps 70-90% over a 1-10 years. That means up to 30% of the car may last less than 10 years. Some parts, a lot less. An example is a subframe that we assume to last “forever” on a street car but develops cracks after a few years years of autocross. This concept is often met with resistance from drivers who have not spent any time around race cars or aircraft and their servicing requirements. No one puts their daily driver on the hoist to go over the whole car with a fine-toothed comb once a month, but this is something that professional race teams do after every event weekend. Like science, frequent inspections and early replacement is like science, true whether you believe it or not. This practice is also Standard Operating Procedure in commercial marine, industrial, and aviation environments. Commonly referred to as “timing out” parts, replacing at specifed intervals along with frequent inspections.
This may seem like overkill but just like you don’t expect to crash in normal street driving, you still wear a seatbelt and have insurance. Beyond the obvious personal risks of component failure on track it’s the loss of an expensive weekend of entry fee, hotel, fuel, and everything else you sacrifice to strap that helmet on and go for it. Regardless of what brand and model of car or how well prepped it is, if you hammer it seeking low lap times and trophies on the weekends, consider it a “racecar”. These are the items we recommend inspecting after every weekend of competition style driving:
- Underside, underhood, body panel attachments, visual electronic inspection
- Bolt check. Check torque on all undercar fasteners, particularly if that component was recently serviced or replaced.
- All rubber components. Torn, missing, deformed.
- Control arms, subframes. Cracks, bends, corrosion.
- Shocks. Dents, cracks, leaks, corrosion.
- Wheels. Cracks, bends, dings
- Any suspension parts with bearings (ball joints, end links, etc). Play, torn boots.
- Seals. Leakage
- Exhaust. Dents, cracks, leaks.
- Battery. Hold down clamp(s), bulging, corrosion.
- Aerodynamic components. Cracks, mounting point integrity.
- Hubs & hub flanges
- Driver safety equipment. Fasteners, harness condition, fire supression, helmet.
Miata specific concerns
90-05 NA – NB MX5 Miata
- OEM style front hubs. Bearing play, cracked flanges. The higher quality OEM front hubs typically last 50-100 hours depending on use.
- OEM style rear hub flanges. Cracks. These should be swapped out about every 100 hours even if they look fine.
- Clutch slave cylinder. Leakage
- OEM plastic radiator. If faded brown/green/yellow, it’s a time bomb. Replace.
- OEM exhaust hangers. 25 year old rubber exhaust hangers like to break in high G maneuvers. Replace all if ancient OEM parts.
- OEM 15″ 5 spoke NB wheels. Cracks.
2006-2015 NC MX5
- OEM Coolant expansion tank. Replace with new or HD aftermarket.
- OEM front hubs. Replace with RX8 front hubs
2016+ ND MX5
- ND1 (2016-2018) transmissions were engineered for a 1.5L engine and prone to failure under had driving with the 2.0L engine. If it breaks, put an ND2 transmission in.
- Replace diff and trans fluid frequently. Both run hot. Tiny capacity quickly overheats and breaks down lube, particularly in the diff.