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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm now the proud owner of a 2003 spyder with 120 k miles. Previous (only) owner has kept up all the maintenance till now. A pre-purchase inspection showed no problems. But at this age and mileage certain parts will need replacement. Where do I start? I want to use this car mostly for relaxed weekend driving with a passenger (60%), spirited driving by myself on back roads (25%) and occasional commute if another car is in the shop (15%), total not more than 5000 miles a year.

No luck getting a mechanic to gut the precats, telling me that the fine for this type of change is a risk they don't want to take. Another mechanic remembered the ordeal trying to get the bolts off and having no interest doing this at temp of 95. Any tips on getting this done?

I checked my tires and they only have 5/32 left (bridgestone potenza 040). I was wanting to have all season tires and selected 185/55R-15 Kumho Ecsta 4X for front and 205/50R-16 Kumho Ecsta 4X for rear. I'm willing to sacrifice some dry cornering for winter and wet road handling. Is this a good choice?

I expect that the struts are still original. Is it better to go with Toyota struts or are the KYB Excel G a better proposition? Or are Konis worth the upgrade considering my driving.

There is some rattling in the front and near the windshield when I go over railroad tracks or potholes. Is this normal or is an extra bracing needed (before they get sold out).

Also, the rear mirror keeps on dropping. Any way of tightening where it connects to the mirror?

I have not driven it much at higher speeds but noticed a less stable ride driving faster then 75 MPH. This obviously is not a highway cruiser but the sound and road holding makes me think that I'm going 100+ MPH.

Well, any other issues I should pay attention to? Thanks.

Is it reasonable to assume that all belts, filters and spark plugs were replace during recommended maintenance by Toyota dealer?
 

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Welcome and Congratulations on your purchase ....

The Spyder's suspension is stiffer than a regular passenger car so rattles and vibration are common. Most could be fixed but not necessary unless something is hanging by a thread.

You should at-least inspect components that needs or needed schedule maintenance. its your car and you are liable no matter what the previous owner said.

Inspect your precats to be sure you are not in any immediate danger.

Take some pictures and post it here if you can. ENJOY
 

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I wouldn't worry about the precats on an '03.

Do get new tires. I'm not familiar with the ones you mentioned. I replaced my struts with the KYBs. They're fine.

My car is rock solid at 100 mph. If, after replacing tires and struts, yours is not, something is wrong.

I wouldn't make any assumptions about the maintenance. Replace all the fluids: coolant, transmission oil, and brake fluid. Probably change out the serpentine belt just for peace of mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Too many questions all at once!
Have you bothered to look around the site?
Have you tried out the search function (even though it sucks)?
The answers are here, but: Read First; Ask Later.
I reviewed the posts regarding buying a used Spyder (I guess that was your post!), regarding tires, and bracing. Been looking for a few months actually, and I thought my questions were to the point considering that I'm not so much into racing and many posts regarding coilovers and tires seem more aimed at autox or high performance oriented drivers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I wouldn't worry about the precats on an '03.

Do get new tires. I'm not familiar with the ones you mentioned. I replaced my struts with the KYBs. They're fine.

My car is rock solid at 100 mph. If, after replacing tires and struts, yours is not, something is wrong.

I wouldn't make any assumptions about the maintenance. Replace all the fluids: coolant, transmission oil, and brake fluid. Probably change out the serpentine belt just for peace of mind.
The maintenance records came from carfax and were confirmed by the dealer who did the inspection, so it seems a reasonable assumption. I could get more details what they mean with belts replaced, recommended maintenance performed etc.. (Records show consistent patterns of maintenance by toyota dealer at recommended intervals since original date).
 

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I'm not an auto-cross member. Some weeks my car is a daily driver, some weeks it is not. We enjoy taking weekend trips in the Spyder and enter about 3-4 car shows a year. Except for a few minor appearance mods, my car is a stock 2003 mt but with only about 35k miles. Last year about this time, with the help and encouragement of some very kind and informed members here, I chose the yokohama S-drives for my car and I have been very happy with them. (I'm on vacation with only my cell phone for access so I cannot link you to thread I started in May last year asking for tire advice, but you may want to search for that thread) The fastest I've ever had my car was 105 and my wife who was with me at that time had no idea we were doing anything over 65mph -- that is how steady this car is at a higher speed. For the record, that is the fastest I've ever driven and for safety sake, I don't ever need to do it again (although it would be fun) :lol: Welcome aboard. I hope my little share is helpful. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.
 

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I have not driven it much at higher speeds but noticed a less stable ride driving faster then 75 MPH. This obviously is not a highway cruiser but the sound and road holding makes me think that I'm going 100+ MPH.
Congrats on your purchase!! It's definately not an ideal highway cruiser and can feel nervous needing frequent steering corrections. Mine vibrated on the highway when I purchased it but I had a slightly bent wheel, once I realized this got it fixed and wheels balanced it's now great. Love the light weight feel when accelerating, a large car with lots of power doesn't give the same feeling.
 

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The windshield area rattling is also called "cowl shake" and can be calmed down with Corky's Breastplate. I'd go OEM struts. I would gut the precats myself. Plenty of "how-to" articles here for that. No licensed shop can do it for you legally so DIY.

An owner here, Dev, sells a tool and DVD to assist with a bushing overhaul, and at your car's mileage a complete suspension bushing replacement is probably a good idea.

Swap out all fluids.

Stick with the Potenzas. Going with a cheaper tire significantly degrades the handling of the car.
 

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The mirror is an easy fix:


  • go to a fast food drive through
  • buy a drink
  • take the paper off of the straw
  • rip a one inch bit of the paper off
  • pop the mirror out of it's hole
  • put the paper against the hole
  • pop mirror back in
  • mirror solid as a rock and adjustable too!
  • drink the drink
 

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I believe KYB makes the OEM Toyota strut. There is also an upgrade KYB, I installed Koni's and like them. Some bracing added will reduce flex in the body. Nervous at speed may be tires, shocks, alignment or loose parts. Someone here just changed the front bearings and it got the feel back for him. Personally I would go with better tires for summer and rain. For winter I drive a pickup truck. Mine is a daily driver 3+ season. I made no assumptions but had no records of maintenance so items got taken care of.
 

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Stick with the Potenzas. Going with a cheaper tire significantly degrades the handling of the car.
I just purchased the same size Kumho 4x tires original post mentioned and will be replacing my factory original 2003 Potenza's that have 52k on them now -- the fronts would most likely get me through the summer... the rears are probably 2k over where I felt they needed replaced.

I know people on here have said the Potenza's don't last -- in my case they seemed just fine. (but I always seem to get great life out of tires -- one car I got just under 80k with only rotating them 2 times)

I will report back with a "not super high performance - just enjoying my roadster" type of driver perspective for the handling of the Kumho's after I get them installed (most likely sometime next week)

ps. I wanted to have matched tread patters... so choices in matched OE size for '03-'05's are I believe limited to only Potenza's (and supply of them seems to be getting slimmer) - I went with the Kumho's because I'm mostly doing highway driving and didn't feel the Potenza's are worth $180/tire front and $250/tire rear (per tirerack, compared to $80 / $90; plus Kumho's have a higher traction rating (even though this could be fudged by mfg)... and better reviews all around... figured it's worth a shot -- if they are total garbage I will order some Potenza's and treat it as a learning experience, but I'm guessing I won't have a problem.)
 

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Im not a fan for all seasons on a sports car, but you will probably get better life out of them. The stock Potenzas although pricey are the best tire IMHO for this car, though you can find cheaper summer tire alternatives. If you have 2003 it came with the 15/16 setup so forget about rotating them.

At 120k miles, if you know what dealership they took it to for maintanence might be worth a trip to see what they did on the car. (though dont be surprised if they try to wrangle you in there) The precats on 03 were less of a problem but if yoour paranoid like me I would suggest you just DIY. Not a very hard job and plenty of write ups on it.

Suspension wise: Not a bad idea to change the bushings (Dev sells a kit). Stock struts should be fine for you it seems with your driving style. Konis would be the next best thing.

Spark Plugs: I change them whenever I buy a used vehicle vehicle. They arent that expensive. Again if you have the maintenance records they might have done it, but if your not sure I would change them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I have contacted Dev about the bushing set he supplies. While replacing the struts, any other suspension wear items I should consider replacing? I know sometimes it is better to do all this type of "renovation" before "you move in" as it otherwise will never get done. Thanks for the comments so far.
 

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At 120k your car prob needs new tie rods, inner and outer, and ball joints. Do a through check. Its simple. People will tell you to get new tires but new tires will mask these issues. Yes tires are important but address your suspension issues as well.

Jack up your front end completely off the ground. With your hand at 9and3 o'clock shake your wheel. If there is play, small movement in or out, then you have tie rod issues. They are cheap so I would replace both inner and outer. If you can't then take off your wheel and determine if it's the outer or inner.

While the wheel is on place your hand at 12 and 6 o'clock and shake. Movement means bad wheel bearings.

For ball joints I find that there is only one true way to make sure besides visual inspection and it is to unbolt it from the assembly. If you can move the ball joint with no pressure then it is bad. People on here say the Spyders ball joints last along time but I don't buy it. My cars was shot and most cars on the road do not last beyond 100k. I think most do not check because if you have to replace it you will have to buy the entire arm. And that's expensive. I have an extra set that I will try to source replacement ball joints soon.

Lastly check alignment.

With good suspension parts you should feel that the car tracks straight and true for speeds up to 100. After that I feel the end lift due to lack of front aerodynamics.
 

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I wouldn't worry about the precats on an '03.

Do get new tires. I'm not familiar with the ones you mentioned. I replaced my struts with the KYBs. They're fine.

My car is rock solid at 100 mph. If, after replacing tires and struts, yours is not, something is wrong.

I wouldn't make any assumptions about the maintenance. Replace all the fluids: coolant, transmission oil, and brake fluid. Probably change out the serpentine belt just for peace of mind.
This + 1 and maybe the hoses, the car's almost 10 years old . . .
 

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If you are not burning oil I would not worry about the precats. I would check the suspension ft and rear for wear before anything is added. RE-040 tires are very expensive, you can find better cheaper tires or much cheaper tires like the Yokohama S.Drives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
suspension parts, any brand better

Looking at different suspension parts, I come across brands like MOOG, Beck/Arnley, and IMC. Any brand more reputable? Or is it just you get what you pay for?
 
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