The brilliant simplicity of the suspension on a Mazda Miata has been made even better with the use of the new Penske shocks. We highlighted how to assemble the new shock packages in the March 6 release of Speed News. You can find that story HERE.
In this installment, we will highlight how to install them on the car. Like most jobs on a Miata, you’ll need a 14 mm and 17 mm sockets and spanners and a torque wrench. You’ll also need some 21 mm wrenches for the upper control arm pivot bolts, but we’re probably getting ahead of ourselves.
One of the items we always reinstall is that thin, clear plastic gasket that goes between the shock hat and the chassis. OEM engineers decided it should be on all Miatas, and it’s not clear what it’s for, but every car comes with them, so they must be there for a reason.
First, a few words on preparing the car for the installation. On the front, you will need to remove the upper control arm pivot bolt and slide it far enough forward that it gets out of the way of sliding out the upper control arm. That’s what the 21 mm wrenches are for. You don’t have to remove it, but sliding it forward is essential for being able to get the old shock out and a new one in. You’ll also need to detach the front sway bar end links at both ends so the front lower control arms can droop enough to remove the shocks from the opening in the upper control arm.
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For the rear, you don’t need to remove the sway bar end links, but you do need to remove the fuel filler and evaporative hoses on the left side to be able to access and torque the bolts on top of the left rear shocks. For the front and the rear installations, you should have a floor jack on hand to be able to jack up and hold the lower control arms in place so you can thread the lower shock-mounting bolts.
If your shocks are already assembled, the job will probably take only an hour or so to complete, and the torque specs we cite are from the factory service manual. Here’s how it goes together.