Headlight Fixed!

The headlight is working again.

After taking off the front bumper and removing the driver’s side headlight, I had to completely disassemble the headlight itself to change out the ballast. The ballast itself was accessible via a panel on the bottom of the headlight, but the part which plugged in to the bulb wouldn’t fit between the reflector and the body of the headlight.

I needed to remove the lens off the front, which was mainly secured by silicone sealant. to loosen the sealant, I baked the headlight in the oven at 220 degrees for 8 minutes. I could start to get it loose at that point, but it required two more sessions in the oven, 2 minutes each, before I got it off fully.

Completely disassembled headlight

The reflector was held on by the adjustment screws which are used to align the headlight. I recorded the position of the bottom screw, but by the time I realized what they were for, I had already moved the top screw. I think I’ve gotten them back to close to the original position, but eventually I want to perform the full calibration procedure from the service manual.

The worn-out ballast.
working headlight
test, just before reassembling


Going down the onramp onto US60, I was getting on it … hit redline in first gear, shifted to second, continued at full throttle. Power dipped, the check engine light started flashing! I let off the throttle, and the check engine light stopped flashing. Seems to be running fine now; probably a misfire. It’s time to replace the spark plugs anyway …

Won’t Start

After leaving the Phoenix International Auto Show, the RX-8 wouldn’t start!

We went and had lunch, then bought jumper cables. When we went to hook up the jumper cables, we realized the negative battery cable was loose! I didn’t do a good job re-tightening it after trying to fix the headlight.

I returned the jumper cables. I’d like to buy a trickle charger someday.

Headlight Burned Out?

The driver’s side headlight stopped working. Oddly, for a brief time it worked sometimes but not others.

Without stopping to think, I ordered new headlight bulbs.

Once they arrived, I removed the driver’s side wheelwell and reached in to change the bulb.

reaching in through the wheelwell
I disconnected the battery before starting this.
Behind the warning panel: The plug with the NASA-looking cable is connected to the now-infamous ballast
Ballast unplugged, you can see the back of the HID bulb
Uh ... this bulb doesn't really look burned out
Bulb removed

After putting in the new bulb, the headlight still didn’t work!

I put the old headlight back in and ordered a new ballast. The service manual calls it the “Discharge headlight control module”. I think it produces the 25,000 volts needed by the High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulb.

Taking the wheelwell out is a major pain; mainly because the plastic fasteners used are easily broken. I think I broke 3 or 4 of them.

New tires, replacement wheel

Bought a wheel on ebay to replace the wheel I hit with a curb. I also ordered
some new Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 tires yesterday. The current wheel looks bad
but is still functional, so I intend to keep it, with the tire on it, as a
spare. hopefully I can get a large wheel bag to put it in and keep it in the
utility room, out of the heat, so it won’t get dry-rotted.

Hopefully the wheel will arrive before the tires!

Engine Swap

Last Thursday I was getting on the highway, accelerating gently up the onramp, w
hen I heard a loud “Pop!”. Then the car had no power and the tach started slowly
sliding lower and lower.

The battery light flashed once.

Then the check engine light came on and stayed on.

By this time I had coasted to the shoulder.

Turns out I had lost at least one apex seal in rotor #2.

Fortunately, I was at about 90,500 miles and the powertrain warranty had been extended by Mazda to 100,000 miles.

So I’m getting a Mazda-remanufactured engine installed at Berge Mazda.

Took a few pictures in the middle of the swap.

front wheels off, hood off, engine and transmission on barrels
The grisly tableau greeting me this morning, with engines and a transmission up on spikes! (or barrels anyway)

engine bay with no engine
Awful empty in there!

new clutch. orange.
spiffy new clutch I just got in August

dirty old engine, new orange clutch
old engine; accessories waiting to be moved to the new engine.

front of the dirty old engine. all belts still on, even
Front and Driver's side of the old engine.

intake and exhaust still attached to the old engine
Passenger's side of the old engine; you can see the intake tract and the exhaust.

13B Mazda
New engine! yep, it's a 13B

spark plugs
Front and Driver's side of the new engine. You can see the spark plugs sticking out the side.

Rear and passenger's side of the new engine. You can see the flywheel, the intake ports at the top of the side, and the exhaust ports along the bottom. Also, along the top you can see the oil injection ports.

Close up of the intake ports (upper row), and exhaust ports (lower row) on the new engine.

antimatter chain reaction required
Why does my transmission remind me of the doomsday machine from the old Star Trek so much?

New wheels and tires

bought an extra set of wheels with factory bridgestone potenza RE040s. can’t
decide if I just got some tires for cheap for the street, want to put race
tires on the extra wheels, or if I should re-sell them and just get some nice
tires to use for both street and autocross.

I ended up selling the wheels and tires individually on ebay for a tidy profit,
and using the proceeds to buy some Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 tires. These tires
rock, they are by far the best tires I have ever had on any car I have ever
owned. I bought them from Carrol Shelby, who is a sponsor of my local SCCA