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Del Sol Common Issues


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#1 MChester

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 10:29 PM

During the process of searching for and buying my car, I found several somewhat to very common issues among Del Sols. Let's face it, these cars are getting up in years and as such can display some common "undesired features".



Rust on the rear quarters above the rocker panel and/or above the wheel well lip on both sides.

Rust on the door jamb at the spot welds for the door striker.

Center console doors don't operate and/or parts are missing. (Radio door, ashtray door, cup holder door, rear console doors/lock)

Drivers seat outside bolsters broken down and/or badly worn depending on how a person gets in/out.

Door armrest vinyl has shrunk and pulled away or cracked where people arms naturally rest on the door panels. Both sides.

Roof panel and door seals/rubbers are often not maintained well. They will show cracks, chunks missing, etc...

Trunk water leaks due to the seals on the rear sail panels or tail lights going bad. Pull the trunk liner aside if you can and look for signs of water sitting or a musty smell. Similar issues can happen with the 3rd brake light trim panel and water can leak into the rear cabin. You'll notice a smell if this has been happening long. Check under the trunk spare tire cover for rust while you are in the trunk. Pull the cover all the way out if you can. Pay close attention to the most forward part of the trunk floor where the cab meets the trunk floor. Rust here can be a big issue if allowed to get bad.

Antennas broken off seem to be common and it's a bit of a bear to replace because it's in a tight spot in the body, although not expensive through DS Tuning. Power antenna was an accessory that seems to be rare. Power masts are available seperately from the motor drive and can usually be replaced seperately if your motor still clicks when the radio is powered up/down.

Paint faded on Red and Black seems to be common and obvious to see.

3rd gear grind especially when cold is somewhat common on 5 spd cars where the transmission is either old or mistreated. Shift forks get bent from abuse. It's an expensive fix due to the labor involved.

Door triangle window frames, the black painted parts, seem to rust out from the bottom up on some cars.

Door lock mechanisms can get stiff and in need of lubrication and possibly rebending some rods that have "stretched" over time. You'll see the door lock pivot doesn't move easily and/or gets stuck partially closed/open when operating the locks via the power switch.

Door and trunk lock rod clips can get brittle and break causing the trunk lock cylinder or door handle to not open the trunk/door. Clips are very inexpensive and not very difficult to replace.

Fuel door and trunk open cables stretch over time and may not work consistently. I know the trunk cable has adjustment notches than can be used to tighten up the cable just a little. There are 3 notches. Mine is on the last and next step is a replaced cable. Fuel door MIGHT have the same adjustment, but I have not confirmed this.

CV joints go bad eventually on all FWD cars. If you can drive in a tight circle very slowly in a parking lot first to the left then the right, making a couple circles each way with the steering wheel turned all the ay to lock, you want to listen for clicking coming from the front wheel area. If it clicks when doing this, then the CV joints are on their way out. Might last for many more months or might go the next day.

Instrument panel or switch bulbs being blown is also common. These are pretty old cars. But relacing them is cheap and fairly easy if you are mechanicallly inclined at all. Caution, some switch bulbs have been discontinued BUT your local dealer parts person should be able to match up a similar bulb from another application.



I will elaborate on this list as I get information including photos and part numbers/diagrams where applicable. If anyone has additional information, corrections, contributions, etc... Please post up. The goal is to build something worthy of Pinning to the top of this Forum for the Del Sol owner or perspective owner to use as reference. It's not intended as a slam in ANY way of our cars. I love my Del Sol. It is intended only to inform and assist.

Edited by MChester, 28 October 2009 - 10:30 PM.


#2 diablo2dusk

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 10:58 PM

close and stickey :thumbup:

#3 mpearce1974

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 11:52 PM

You need to add that they are very hard to hold onto! Since I just sold my second one tonight! >_<

#4 airjordan223

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 12:43 AM

Oh the new guy steppin up big. Sticky for you sir.

#5 Xeryon

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 07:59 AM

In addition to your comments on roof seals. The 93 and 94 model years especially have an endemic problem with water leaking regardless of maintenance performed on the seals. Brand new cars were known to have been leaking while still sitting on the dealer parking lot. If you have an opportunity to look you should check the rust status of the foot wells under the front carpet.

#6 MChester

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 08:45 AM

In addition to your comments on roof seals. The 93 and 94 model years especially have an endemic problem with water leaking regardless of maintenance performed on the seals. Brand new cars were known to have been leaking while still sitting on the dealer parking lot. If you have an opportunity to look you should check the rust status of the foot wells under the front carpet.


I agee it'd be great to check footwells but most folks are going to get upset if you start pulling up their carpets. :o

#7 Xeryon

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 08:54 AM

You don't necessarily have to pull up the carpet to look, you just have to look under the seat. :wink:

Bolts and brackets that hold down the front corners of the seats will wick the moisture upward. Any car with significant water intrusion will have surface rust on, in and around the mounting flange. The flange just so happens to be on top of the carpet.

#8 MChester

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 08:00 PM

You don't necessarily have to pull up the carpet to look, you just have to look under the seat. :wink:

Bolts and brackets that hold down the front corners of the seats will wick the moisture upward. Any car with significant water intrusion will have surface rust on, in and around the mounting flange. The flange just so happens to be on top of the carpet.


I'll bet you are correct, though I've not seen that in a Sol yet.

For example, mine had some rust on the bottom of the outboard drivers side bracket, like you mentioned, but the floor is solid. No rust at all. I'm thinking in my case, given the wear of the carpet I am replacing, the PO used the car in winter without floor mats and the carpet got wet from snow/rain directly on the carpet and soaked up into the bracket. Just a thought, but it's the only thing I can think of to explain my slightly rusted seat bracket bottom. I can't understand how the PO took such good care of the car in every other way, but wore holes in the carpet due to a lack of floor mats. Crazy...

#9 That Coup3

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 08:03 AM

i rarely come across Del Sol's and when i do there in great condition but just riced out but really here in Florida all you find is faded paint jobs

#10 HDSLyss

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 12:33 AM

i have a 93 and yes it leaks big time cant avoid it when it rains but it may sound cheezy but i plasti dipped the edges and any black plastic i got a little too happy and did the ones just around the window and around it and it does the trick no leaks their yet ;) but of course i assume sooner or later ill have to see to it again try it

#11 Brooke Hamm

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:44 AM

>Hey guys thanks for the tips...I used to have a scion but im moving on to the del sols,ive always liked the body style and t he colors,...im looking at one now its a 95 with a 133k miles automatic(very hard to find these days)and lady kept.she just put a new paint job on it which in my opinion looks great.I should be in it by the end of the week if it passes inspection from my mechanic friend lol wish me luck,looking foward to being a new del sol owner.</li>

Edited by Brooke Hamm, 06 February 2012 - 08:47 AM.


#12 shak911

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:54 PM

good luck

#13 Senior Sol

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 10:43 AM

The bottom of the seat rails on my 95 Si are rusted AGAIN. They were replaced under warranty in 1997.

The car has been undercoated (Crown) multiple times, and has never been driven in the snow, or even rain....well maybe once or twice in an unexpected rain shower.

I lifted the carpet, and there's no sign of water intrusion whatsoever.

Any chance this rusting is caused by galvanic corrosion between two dissimilar metals?

I'm dremelling off the rust, painting the brackets with a rust-preventitive paint, and replacing the 8 seat bolts with stainless steel ones. May even fabricate 4 stainless corner pieces.

Cheers, Senior Sol

#14 Raley

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:52 PM

i think its just the pot metal they used doesn't support rust prevention very well...

#15 Senior Sol

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 09:25 AM

Tx Raley,

If you are correct, then a good dremelling, priming, and multiple coats of rust-preventitive paint should do the trick for me.

Cheers, Senior Sol

#16 Hondahunter

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 01:14 AM

Trailing arm bushings, as well as various other bushings tend to always need replaced. Let's face it, there's a lot of high mileage del sols out there

#17 Babu

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:40 AM

As a companion post to "my top flew off" I have another question:
The top rattled quite a bit when driving through Toronto's exceptionally maintained roads (say, like Detroit). Is this common loose body flex or an indication that there is something else at issue? The car already has a strut tube across the rear struts, which I assume was installed to deal withbody flex. Is the rattling common?

I moved "up" from my '90 Miata to the newer '96 VTEC Del Sol but find that the slickness of the Miata gearbox is just not there. Do I live with it or are there any "fixes" for that?

#18 Senior Sol

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 12:37 PM

Hi Babu,

The rattling of the top is often caused by lack of grease in the holes that the roof's stainless steel locking pins fit in to.

These holes are located near the top sides of the windshield. Pack them, and the rear ones, with Silicone grease, preferably Shin Etsu, available from Honda dealerships, and the rattling should completely stop.

DO NOT use Vaseline, as it is petroleum based, and will deteriorate the weatherstripping seals.

Can't be of any help regarding the gearbox, as I have never driven a Miata...................mostly looked at them IN MY REARVIEW MIRROR!

Cheers, Senior Sol