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Hi all, new to the forum. We're not owners yet, but likely by tomorrow. I work from home, so I don't need a car so much as I just want one available after we turn in our end of lease car. We have another car that DW uses to commute, and that will handle most or all of our winter driving.

This is an unconventional choice, but a 2003 Spyder came up for sale locally, at a really nice price, 100k miles. Good maintenance record on the Carfax. It was leased for a few years, then was a Toyota certified sale to present owner, who has driven it about 6K miles per year with records of annual service. I think from scanning the pinned comments and various threads that many of the known issues for 2000-2 seem to be non-issues for 2003 and after, such as the precat issue, headlights, oil. We saw the car this afternoon. Engine compartment is clean, engine sounds great at all speeds, shifting is smooth. Cornering is crazy fun. Softtop in good condition. We have the garage space. Is there anything else I should be looking for? We love the car, and unless something pops up, expect to buy it tomorrow afternoon. It's a private transaction (taking place in a bank, straight cash, notary public even.)

Of note, I'm not mechanically inclined (didn't get that gene, darn it!), though I'm almost competent, having done basic work on my own cars when I was younger.

Second. what the heck do I do for winter tires? Should our regular car run into issues, I want the Spyder winter-capable. I am ready to spend on good tires to handle winter driving, should it be necessary to take it out in the snow. I've done searches on line by car type and nobody seems to stock the original sizes... so I'm curious what people run. Should I be searching for the individual tire sizes? (185/55/15 and 215/45-16). I found a lot of old threads on tires, but I'm not particularly tire savvy, so I'm not sure how to adapt that advice to 2019, when there doesn't seem to be anybody making winter tires in that size. Appreciate any help y'all can provide, thanks!
 

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Finding any tires for 2003 and newer Spyders is a challenge, especially snow tires. In most cases, the limitation is the rear size, and you may be limited to 205/50 rears. The following have snows in those sizes

Michellin X-Ice Xi3
Falken Eurowinter
Hankook Winter i Cept
and others


You mayhave a bit better luck with all-season tires if you don't need to go in deep snow, such as

BF Goodrich Advantage T/A Sport
195/55-15 front
205/50-16 rear

Kuhmo Ecsxta PA31
185/55/15 front
205/50-16 rear

General AltiMAX RT43
185/55/15 front
205/50-16 rear

Goodyear Assurance All-Season
185/60-15 front
205/50-16 rear

All of these won't be great in the dry, but would be OK for winter. A couple Spyder owners have used the Kuhmo with good results
 

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For winter, just get a second set. a cheap square setup that accommodates cheap winter tires, then you won’t be paying to mount/balance each season.
 

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... I want the Spyder winter-capable. I am ready to spend on good tires to handle winter driving, should it be necessary to take it out in the snow...

... Should I be searching for the individual tire sizes? (185/55/15 and 215/45-16)...
Rear engine cars respond very quickly, and when you are in snow, you may have very little margin of error before losing control. You may find driving in snow to be very tedious, even if the car does not handle badly.

No. Do not mix tire models front and back. That can result in very unpredictable handling, and the car could potentially become violently unstable when you wouldn't expect it. Look for sets in the same model. 185/55-15 and 205/50-16 will have several options, both summer and all-season, and will put the speedometer exactly on. If you want to try extreme summer tires, then 195/55-15 and 225/45-16 fit just as well.
 

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rmeller, i don't think he means different brand nor model. just different size.

for winter tires i found these which have close to the right 15 and 16 inch sizes online (then again i don't really keep tabs on speedometer accuracy):
Yokohama Iceguard iG52C
Yokohama Iceguard iG53
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
Continental VikingContact 7
Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT (only one 15" size tho kinda pathetic selection)
Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02
Michelin X-Ice XI3

I do recommend having two sets of wheels so you don't have to dismount tires when season change. and you can also change modes at home as you please.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Rear engine cars respond very quickly, and when you are in snow, you may have very little margin of error before losing control. You may find driving in snow to be very tedious, even if the car does not handle badly.

No. Do not mix tire models front and back. That can result in very unpredictable handling, and the car could potentially become violently unstable when you wouldn't expect it. Look for sets in the same model. 185/55-15 and 205/50-16 will have several options, both summer and all-season, and will put the speedometer exactly on. If you want to try extreme summer tires, then 195/55-15 and 225/45-16 fit just as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Refirendum, Rmeller, Beachbum - between all of you that settled some things I was confused about. My own research left me confused; I found the right size for the front in one type of tire, but not the back. Go to another brand, and I found the back but not the front. I assumed I wanted to stay in one particular tire type, blizzaks for example - but I wasn't sure how people did that and maintain specs.

Net of inputs:
  • it seems it's not possible with current offerings to create an optimal setup that matches all 4 tires to original spec, but the best (close to optimal) solution is to use 205's for the rear tires instead of 215's. Awesome, I feel good knowing that it's an approach that has worked for folks.
  • Also, to buy separate wheels and mount the snow tires on the wheels. Now a newbie question: are replacement wheels pretty basic to identify, or will I have to make some compromises there as well? I'm not sure if the wheels are relatively universal?
Thanks everyone for your help!
 

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If you are getting extra wheels, then you have a good deal more slack in your choices. 15 inch at both ends will probably be easier to fit.
 

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Thanks Refirendum, Rmeller, Beachbum - between all of you that settled some things I was confused about. My own research left me confused; I found the right size for the front in one type of tire, but not the back. Go to another brand, and I found the back but not the front. I assumed I wanted to stay in one particular tire type, blizzaks for example - but I wasn't sure how people did that and maintain specs.

Net of inputs:
  • it seems it's not possible with current offerings to create an optimal setup that matches all 4 tires to original spec, but the best (close to optimal) solution is to use 205's for the rear tires instead of 215's. Awesome, I feel good knowing that it's an approach that has worked for folks.
  • Also, to buy separate wheels and mount the snow tires on the wheels. Now a newbie question: are replacement wheels pretty basic to identify, or will I have to make some compromises there as well? I'm not sure if the wheels are relatively universal?
Thanks everyone for your help!
your hub/wheel bolt pattern is 4x100, and offset is around +45.
so between +30-+50 offset at stock diameters of 15 or 16 and a width of 6 or 7 inches, you will be fine. there are a lot of wheels to choose from, or you can find used OEM spyder wheels if you don't want to make such decisions. the stock hub bore is 54.1mm so if you buy wheels that aren't OEM, be sure that they state a hub bore diameter equal to or larger than 54.1mm. You can then use hubcentric bore adapter rings to keep the aftermarket wheels centered on the hub (lugcentric is suboptimal and puts more stress on the studs).

the way to search for these is to go bolt pattern, then diameter x width and then offest amount. lower numbers of offset stick out wider, higher numbers bring the wheels in narrower towards the body.
Example:
4x100 15x6 +40
4x100 16x7 +45

then check the specs to see what the hub bore size is.

just don't get no-name ebay junk for wheels.
 

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As for your winter set, tire rack currently has 2 wheels offered for less than $80 each (close out) in 16”. For 15” you have to spend over $110 each.

Good thing about tire rack is that they are very conservative with fitment, so if you’re searching using your year/make/model, you know the wheel will fit.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
your hub/wheel bolt pattern is 4x100, and offset is around +45.
so between +30-+50 offset at stock diameters of 15 or 16 and a width of 6 or 7 inches, you will be fine. there are a lot of wheels to choose from, or you can find used OEM spyder wheels if you don't want to make such decisions. the stock hub bore is 54.1mm so if you buy wheels that aren't OEM, be sure that they state a hub bore diameter equal to or larger than 54.1mm. You can then use hubcentric bore adapter rings to keep the aftermarket wheels centered on the hub (lugcentric is suboptimal and puts more stress on the studs).

the way to search for these is to go bolt pattern, then diameter x width and then offest amount. lower numbers of offset stick out wider, higher numbers bring the wheels in narrower towards the body.
Example:
4x100 15x6 +40
4x100 16x7 +45

then check the specs to see what the hub bore size is.

just don't get no-name ebay junk for wheels.
Great summary! I owe you a case of beer for that. We just bought the Spyder (2003, red) and drove it home. So slick.

Thanks for the warning, I agree, wheels and tires are no place to chintz.

There are some relatively cosmetic things to fix, but the engine and transmission are so smooth, and the automatic clutch, well, its the first autoclutch I've driven, but it feels like it's doing exactly what it should with no hesitation. I'm already getting used to it, as well as the tiny throw in the shifter.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As for your winter set, tire rack currently has 2 wheels offered for less than $80 each (close out) in 16”. For 15” you have to spend over $110 each.

Good thing about tire rack is that they are very conservative with fitment, so if you’re searching using your year/make/model, you know the wheel will fit.
This is good stuff, I appreciate the guidance. That's really going to help as we price out what we want to do and when.
 

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Welcome to The Spyder World. The cars are fantastic as long as you can keep the maintenance up. Also I think every year from 00 to 05 needs the pre- cats removed so plan on doing that ASAP. Whoever does the work you need to inspect the pre cat before it’s destroyed to make sure it’s intact and not starting to come apart. Also it’s hard to read the oil dipstick on theses cars but checking the oil is important. If you change it use synthetic. Some folks notch the dipstick to help read the level.
 

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Ah, I see you have the SMT (Sequential Manual Transmission)
important detail. SMT's like strong batteries, and some of the parts that operate the hydraulics that do the autoclutching and shifting will need eplacement over time. they don't last forever. Particularly, the sensors and sometimes the actuators or pump.

I'd recommend having someone check that all the sensors are in good condition (old plastics will sometimes get more brittle and crumble easily. just a visual check). and then visually inspect the high pressure unit to make sure there's no leaks.

Lastly, when you open the door in the morning to get in, wait and listen to the car's HPU pump whirring. if it is going for more than about 10-15 seconds, it may be on its final stretch as it's may be struggling to build hydraulic pressure.

I actually bought a 95k mile 04 red spyder 6-speed SMT when i was searching for my right spyder. it had an HPU failure when it warmed up. this particular spyder's pump, when warm, couldn't maintain pressure and then got stuck in whatever gear it was in when the pressure dropped off and wouldn't shift or move.

(i considered manual-converting it but i was about 1.5 hours' drive away from home buying this thing so i returned it to the dealer)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Welcome to The Spyder World. The cars are fantastic as long as you can keep the maintenance up. Also I think every year from 00 to 05 needs the pre- cats removed so plan on doing that ASAP. Whoever does the work you need to inspect the pre cat before it’s destroyed to make sure it’s intact and not starting to come apart. Also it’s hard to read the oil dipstick on theses cars but checking the oil is important. If you change it use synthetic. Some folks notch the dipstick to help read the level.
Hi Jtrown, I appreciate the advice. My first priority is to decide on a local mechanic (my current one is good and fair, but I'm not sure how well they might deal with the Spyder. I'm barely competent with car repair, but don't enjoy it and def don't have time for it.) That's a sure thing on the synthetic oil; step two is oil change and fluid check, general check; including the sensors, thanks.

I had thought the pre-cat was not an issue with 03+? I've seen that asserted in a lot of places. I was hoping i had avoided that issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Refire,

The car has 99K miles on it. The engine and transmission and the auto clutch seem super smooth. I haven't noticed any issues, but will check the HPU (and other parts). I admit also that the SMT sounds like it can be more troublesome than I realized, that a lot of mechanics don't know what to do with them if anything goes wrong. My SMT seems to be working perfectly, so I hope we got lucky there. If it does go bad at any point, well, swapping for a manual seems like a good fallback position. The good thing is that the car was inexpensive, so a total loss wouldn't be an issue. We did take something of a leap of faith with this purchase.

We took it out to see the leaves changing in the mountains this weekend, it was an absolute blast... but we will likely use it only a few times per month over the winter, and not in snow or slush. I was thinking of making it winter worthy, but then had second thoughts. Snow just is not a good place for it; I can live with that - and I have other transportation options.
 

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Hey Flying Robot, how is the spyder?

When you have time I recommend monitoring your oil level for the first month. I know the 02 1zz has the most issues but my 03 1zz I purchased with around the same mileage did drink some oil. One of the main reasons I went 2zz.


Thanks Refire,

The car has 99K miles on it. The engine and transmission and the auto clutch seem super smooth. I haven't noticed any issues, but will check the HPU (and other parts). I admit also that the SMT sounds like it can be more troublesome than I realized, that a lot of mechanics don't know what to do with them if anything goes wrong. My SMT seems to be working perfectly, so I hope we got lucky there. If it does go bad at any point, well, swapping for a manual seems like a good fallback position. The good thing is that the car was inexpensive, so a total loss wouldn't be an issue. We did take something of a leap of faith with this purchase.

We took it out to see the leaves changing in the mountains this weekend, it was an absolute blast... but we will likely use it only a few times per month over the winter, and not in snow or slush. I was thinking of making it winter worthy, but then had second thoughts. Snow just is not a good place for it; I can live with that - and I have other transportation options.
 

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I will say this:
my 03 1zz has 201k miles on it and it barely drinks any oil. i think the precats are still there, but haven't checked

SMT fluid is a specialty fluid, and oem stuff is hard to come by. i forget what fluid it is that it takes, but once it starts having issues, you might as well convert due to cost.

The conversion doesn't require replacing the transmission at all, but rather hooking up an OEM manual shifter and clutch assembly to the existing transmission. it's not as expensive as you'd think while tracking down SMT issues and replacing parts can get very pricey. Manuals... there's not as many variables to diagnose, so the repair costs down the road are easier on the wallet.
 
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