So I answered Steve’s last email:
There are a couple of plugs/sensors back there, not sure which is which, but both connectors seem intact and the wires look OK.
Worth trying to swap that Engine Temp sensor back there? What other signals is the ECU relying on to actuate the VVT system that might provide a cheap troubleshooting method?
I don’t really believe the VVT stuff is tied to the temp sensor, just that if it were out of whack, it may default to some other map. Do you have a scan tool? It would show the timing advance real time if it’s a decent one.
Well of course I don’t have a scan tool, so I asked the MMC and I got several replies, but the first one was from my new best friend David. He had one and seeing as he was going to be in the neighborhood this afternoon he would drop it by my house. And that’s right, it is the same David who tried to give me the muffler off his back and made a trip to see me to let me drive his car to see what a real NB2 Miata should drive like. I think I need to add a codicil to my will and cut him in on some of that Bogardus thousandaire wealth in the event of my demise.
When I got home, sure enough, there was an Innova scan tool in between the storm door and the front door. I opened up the carrying case and David had thoughtfully included the manual. I read through it real quick to see how I go about recording some data, thinking I had it down, I backed the Emperor out of the garage and promptly spent the next 5 minutes idling in the driveway to get to the right spot on the menu. I backed out and headed to the 4-way stop at the end of my street, turned right, then took the next right and I was on a street with a half mile straight that has only two horse racing tracks and one driveway on it. Perfect, all I could do was scare a couple horses, so I stopped the car and launched it. Shifted at more than 6000 RPM in both 1st and 2nd gears before easing to the stop sign. I turned the corner, found a spot to do a u-turn and got back on my nice straight away to repeat the run in the opposite direction. Pulled back into the driveway and hit a couple buttons to go see my live data. “No Live Data Stored.” Hmmm.
The small guide included with the scan tool’s case was not much help, it told me how to get to the Live Data Recording menu and how to choose from one of the three styles of data collection and how to start recording, but was vague on how to stop the recording. It did tell me that if I went to innova.com I could get the full manual. So I did. It was a lot more in depth and after reading its section on Live Data Recording I was sure I had it, I needed to hit the return key instead of the LD/M button. Re-ran my same course, returned home hit the return key a second time and it still continued to record frames. Huh? Pushed the LD/M key to get out and sure enough, “No Live Data Stored.”
Back to the manual. This time I read the Live Data Recording section forward, backward and upside down. It said it records 100 frames several times in that section, I thought that meant it could record up to 100 frames, but as it turns out it needs to record 100 frames before it considers itself through recording. So back on the road I go. This time instead of u-turning after the first high speed run I turned right and ran thru 1st & 2nd again with anger before cruising to the stop light. I check the frame count on the display and it reads 48. So I do the u-turn before crossing the road in front of me and head back while repeating the way too loud and too fast for regular street driving towards home. As I cruise into the garage the Innova 3130c beeps on the passenger seat. Success!
Inside the house I start to review the data I just recorded. Because I recorded using the default settings there were like 50 data points per frame. But because the small display shows only a half dozen lines it takes awhile to read all the info by scrolling, and there are 99 more to go. Obviously the folks who made this know that this is not acceptable, they make it easy to download the info to your PC. All you have to do is download a program called “Innova_V02.03.12_PCLink” and install it. In less than a minute I am double clicking on the .exe file. Not so fast pardner, to run this program you also need to install “Microsoft SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP ENU” & “Microsoft SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP x64 ENU”, still, in short order the link program self starts and a window opens mid-screen with a fancy graphic background and two buttons grayed out.
The left button reads disconnected, so I use the supplied USB cable to hook it into the computer and the unit turns on and the button shines with the word Connected. The right button lights up with the word Diagnose, so I press it. My browser opens up to the home page of Innova, the same place that led me to the manual and the software. I’ve seen this sort of behavior before when you run a program for the first time, so I close the window. Nothing else happens. So I hit the diagnose button again, and the browser opens again. Oh, this is rude, they are going to make me register to download this data.
Oh, well, after all the work it took to get the data I’d like to see it, what’s one more login and password? So I fill out the form with name, address, phone number, email and make up a password. I am informed to check for a confirmation email. Its there, I click on the activation link and I’m back on the Innova website saying thanks, go ahead and sign in, I do and I end up at some sort of dashboard. I now go back to the PC Link software and tap the Diagnose button again, another browser tab opens and before I can go further I am presented with another form to fill out (which you can’t bypass, I tried.) The first thing they want is the year make and model of the car(s) you’ll be using the tool with. I select 2003 and Mazda, but there are only four models listed, none of which are a Miata! So I pick one at random. I use the same strategy for the next few questions by selecting random radio buttons, so when I hit submit this time I’m advanced to the next page. This one has three more blanks that need filling out and one of them is the VIN number. I don’t remember what the other two are because right here is where I decided I didn’t really want that data after all. I closed the browser and uninstalled the software.
The data is still in there and if David wants to read it he can have it. The Emperor hasn’t thrown a CEL in a couple weeks and after changing the last Cam Position Sensor it feels like it is running right. It still sounds crappy at higher RPMs with your foot heavy on the gas, so I wonder if John (Clunk) Haff would still let me try out that stock midpipe and muffler?
Started up, went down, back up, back down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 06/25/15: 185