Replacing the Speakers in an MX5 (Miata) Mark 3

Written by Paul

Here’s how to replace the speakers in a Mark 3 MX5. Note that there are a bunch of pictures after the break, so it may take a moment for everything to appear. Each image links to a (much) larger version, as I know how helpful a really close look can be sometimes.

First, some “thank you’s”. I learned how to do this from Glasgow Dave’s excellent post on fitting speaker bezels. And the recommendation for hardware was from pjr on the MX5OC forum.

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • An MX5 Mark 3. I imagine other versions are similar, but you might want to do some more googling.
  • Some replacement speakers. I used these Pioneer speakers based on pjr’s recommendation, and am very happy with them, but because of the way the mounts work most 6”x8” or 5”x7” speakers should work.
  • A pair of connectors like these. It’s possible to get by without them by using bare wire, but it’s so cheap and makes it so much easier that you really should get a set.
  • A few cross-head and flat head screwdrivers. As well as undoing screws you’ll use these to lever off some pieces of trim. If you have something similar made out of plastic (often called ‘spudgers’) that’s even better as it will protect your trim, but so long as you’re careful I wouldn’t bother buying a spudger specifically.
  • Dental floss or thin string
  • Bike brake/gear cable or thicker string.

Let’s get started.

You should have a door that looks like this:

MX5's door card

If it looks like this but the other way round, don’t panic, you’re just on the other side of the car. Note that this is the driver’s door, which is slightly more complicated than the passenger’s door as it contains the electric mirror adjuster.

To remove the door card (the panel that covers the internals of the door) we need to remove three screws. The first is behind a cover inside the door handle. The cover comes off quite easily if you use a small flat-head screwdriver or similar to lever it off as shown:

Removing the door handle cover

Under the cover you’ll find a cross-head screw that you can undo:

Under the door handle cover

Next is the cover on top of the door pull. You should see a seam around the top of the pull; use a small flat-head screwdriver to lever the cover off at this seam:

Removing the door pull cover

Here’s what the cover looks like when it’s removed:

The door pull cover

And here’s the screw you then need to undo:

Under the door pull cover

The final screw is inside the door cup holder and has no cover on it:

Cup holder screw

Here’s what you should have so far:

The door screws

Now you need to remove the door handle mechanism from the card. Start by levering it with a thin screwdriver blade or similar at the front. In the picture you can see some tape to protect the door card; I’m not sure this made any difference. And yes, I know the screw is still in there, learn from my oversight:

Removing the door handle - getting started

The mechanism is a little tricky to get started, but fine with a little persuasion.

Removing the door handle

The door card won’t come away unless you twist the door handle so it will fit through the hole:

Twist the handle to remove

With that done you can start levering the door card off. Begin on the outside edge of the door, where with luck there should be enough room to get your fingers in the gap between the door card and the rubber seal (if not, start with a sturdy screwdriver).

Pulling the door card

Work your way down and around the door. You should pop 8 plastic retaining clips in the locations shown:

Location of retaining clips

Once you’ve gone all the way round the bottom and both edges go back to the bottom and and pull it further out to free the connector in the middle of the card. Note that some of these connectors may have come free already, so you may not feel a pop every time.

The door card hooks over the top of the internal door frame. Pull the card up and away from the door a couple of inches:

Removing the door card, carefully

There are still two wires holding the door card to the door. First is the tweeter. Undo the two screws and let it hang from the door.

Disconnecting the tweeter

The second wire is for the electric mirror adjuster:

The electric mirror connection

You should be able to disconnect this by squeezing the clip on the connector:

Disconnecting the electric mirror connector

Those last two pictures were rather blurry (I really needed three hands for those shots) so here’s a picture of the connector showing the clip you’ll need to squeeze:

The electric mirror connector

Now you should be able to put the door card to one side, leaving you with a door that looks like this:

The naked door

If your replacement speakers have a built-in tweeter (like the ones I bought) you should remove the tweeter completely. If you forget (like I did) or don’t want to remove more than you have to don’t worry about it, they produce surprisingly little volume and don’t seem to throw off the overall tone noticeably. If you do want to remove them there’s a clip you can undo:

The tweeter clip

Now remove the old speaker, starting by undoing the four screws:

The screws for the old speaker

The speaker is also lightly glued to the door, so with the screws undone you can prise it away using a flat-head screwdriver:

Removing the speaker

Once you’ve freed up the speaker it should pull out easily, with a wire still attaching it to the door:

The freed speaker

Here’s a look at the retaining clip on the connector. Push it down using a small screwdriver and the connector should slide off:

Connector retaining clip

Another check, here are all the screws you should be trying not to lose:

Screws, Part 2

This is the rain guard covering the (old) speaker. It’s normal for some water to get in to your door, so make sure you reinstall it this way up to keep your electrics working:

The rain guard

The rain guard is attached to the speaker with some pretty good adhesive. I used a small screwdriver to lever it off, though you might want to run a stanley knife around the edge first to loosen things up (I can’t be trusted with sharp things, so didn’t). The guard should come free from each section just as you’re thinking “I wonder how hard I can twist this before it snaps”:

Removing the rain guard, carefully

This is the new speaker with the rain guard installed. The glue still attached to the guard should be enough to seal it to the new speaker.

Rain guard installed

Here’s what the new connector looks like. You can see the two different widths of the connectors at the end of each wire:

Your new connector

The dangly ends of the new connector you bought push-fit onto the new speaker. You’ll see that the two connectors are different widths; make sure you match them up to the projections on the new speaker. Once connected they should look like this (note: connect them before putting the rain guard in place, it’s much easier!):

Connecting to the speaker

This is the female end of the connector:

Close-up of the connector

Connect the big end of your new connector to the cable connected to the door:

Making the speaker connection

Here’s the speaker wired up. Note the blue tape holding the connector to the frame of the speaker to stop it rattling:

Speaker wired up

At this point you should turn on the electrics and make sure that noise comes out of the speaker. Once you’ve confirmed that place the new speaker in the cutout for the old one. The foam wrapped around the speaker cable keeps the edge of the door from cutting through the cable. Make sure it’s trapped between the speaker and the door, in the small cutaway:

Correctly trapping the foam

Here’s the speaker in place. Use the four screws you removed earlier to fix it to the door.

The new speaker installed

That’s it for the installation, now you just need to reassemble all the bits you’ve got lying around.

Start by installing the retaining clips in the door card. Some will probably already be in there, but it’s likely that some will have stayed attached to the door. These can be a nightmare to get out. What worked for me was starting with dental floss wrapped around the back of the clip and pulled tight:

Using dental floss to free up the retaining clip

Once you’ve freed up the clip a little using the dental floss switch to something sturdier. I used some bike brake cable, which seemed to work great, but some decent string should work just as well. wrap it once around the base and pull the two ends apart, and the clip should pop out:

Using brake cable to remove clips

Not a great picture, but here’s what one of the retaining clips looks like, to give you some idea of your enemy:

Know your enemy!

Once you’ve got them out of the door you should put them back in the door card in the positions shown:

Where the retaining clips fit

Hang the door card back over the top of the door frame, then work your way around giving each of the clips a firm smack with the side of your fist to pop it into place.

That’s it! Take it for a test drive (because you needed an excuse, right?) with the stereo off to listen for any new rattles, and then with it turned up loud because you deserve it.

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