Working headlights in your Miata are an essential safety feature. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why they may not be working. We’re going to run through a few of the common problems and give you some pointers on how to fix them.
Headlights Won’t Pop Up
A standard feature on the first generation Miata (the NA model) is the “pop-up” headlights. There are a few reasons why your lights may not be popping up as they should.
- Debris build-up around the mechanism
- The fuse
- The relay
- The motor
If you check these in this order, you should be able to have the lights back to their usual condition.
Due to the design of the lights in this model, they are prone to getting stones and other debris caught in the mechanism. Before testing anything electrical, you should look around the mechanism and spray the linkages with WD-40 to free up anything that has gotten caught.
Checking the Fuse
The fuse that’s connected to the “pop-up” headlights is 30A and is labeled as “Retractor”. It’s situated in the fuse box under the hood. Replace this with an identical 30A fuse and check to see if this fixes the problem.
Checking the Relay
If the fuse doesn't solve the problem, the next step is to check the relay. There will be a relay box under the hood on the driver's side. Depending on the age of the vehicle, it will either be close to the clutch master cylinder or it will be located under the steering column. Once you have found the relay, you need to test to see if it is working. Engage the lights and see if there as a noticeable “click” noise from the relay. If there isn’t, make sure there's a current going to the relay. If there is, you may need to replace the relay.
Checking the Motor
If the relay and fuse are both working, the next step is to check the retractor motors on the lights. It’s very unlikely that both motors will have blown at the same time, so if you only have the one headlight popping up, the issue is probably with the retractor motor. The following is a simple way to test if the motor is working properly:
- Disconnect the battery.
- Disconnect the motor wiring from the harness and, using a screwdriver blade, push the retractor link from the motor arm.
- Connect an external 12v battery to the motor. Have the negative lead to the connector terminal at the top right and the positive lead to the top middle terminal. This should lift the headlight.
- To get it to retract, keep the negative lead connected to the the top right connector and connect the positive lead to the bottom middle connector.
If neither of these tests works, you may need to replace the retractor motor.
Lights Not Working
This applies to all model Miatas. Follow this guide if there is no light at all coming from the headlights.
- Check the Bulbs
It is possible that both bulbs have burnt out at the same time. If the bulbs are burnt out, replace them immediately.
- Check the Fuse
There is a 30A fuse that operates the headlights. Check to see if this has blown and replace if necessary.
- Check the Relay
If the fuse is good, check the relay. When you engage the headlights, there should be an audible “click” of the relay engaging. If there is no sound, check to see if the relay is getting power. If the relay is getting power but there's no sound, you may need to replace it.
- Check the Switch
If all else fails, you will need to check the selector switch for the headlights. This is a job best left to a professional mechanic.