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The Flyin' Miata Techline
Checking and replacing shifter boots
Some days it's really tough to think of tech tips for such reliable cars...
Anyway, here's a common problem with an easy solution. Quite often the rubber boot under the cosmetic shifter boot will dry rot and crack. The symptoms of this happening are increased heat, noise and perhaps fumes in the car's interior. If your car is older than about 1999, it's pretty much a given that this boot will be shot. To access the boot on a 1990-1997 car, unscrew the shift knob, remove five Philips head screws holding the center console in place. One on either side in the front, one hiding under the ashtray and two back under the armrest. Once you have the console off, you can see the boot. If it's really bad, you can also see the transmission and perhaps your driveway.
While you're in there, check the little boot sealing the shifter to the transmission. This one rots at about the same rate as the big one, so plan on doing both. There are two different versions of the smaller boot, with the break coming somewhere in 1993. Have your VIN# ready when you call to order so you get the right one.
Just cut the old boot off the shifter and pitch it. We get a lot of calls asking what to take apart to get the new boot over the shifter. Nothing needs to come apart, you just need to lube the boot with some silicone spray or soap, etc and stretch it over.
Don't forget to add some trans fluid to the shift turret while you're in there. I usually add enough to come to the top of the little block that the shift lever plugs into (in more technical terms, the end of the shift shaft).
Hope this helps somebody!