Does Your Mazda Miata Have A Limited-Slip Differential?

Mazda Miata limited-slip differential

Over the weekend a friend asked me how to tell if a Mazda Miata has a limited-slip differential (lsd- and not the drug).  It got me thinking that there are some other people that might want to know this too.  Since it’s an important feature to have if you want to race your Miata. This LSD guide is an overview for the first generation Mazda Miata (1989-1997).

Back of my 1994 Mazda Miata with Hardtop
Back of my 1994 Mazda Miata with Hardtop

How to tell if your Miata has a limited-slip differential:

  1. Call Mazda Customer Service 1 (800) 222-5500. This is the simplest way, because all you need is the VIN number. But it’s not always guaranteed that they will know if it had the limited-slip differential option.
  2. Do a burn-out: if you see one-wheel peel, sorry you have an open differential.  If you see two skid marks you have a LSD. Some people like to do one wheel on grass and the other on pavement, and if you wheels spins in the grass you have an open differential.
  3. Or go here, this will show you every Miata year and the potential options that you could have had that year.
  4. Use the differential spotter guide.  This will show you the different differentials for each car, and how to spot them.
    1993 Mazda Miata Limited-Slip Differential (viscous)
    1993 Mazda Miata Limited-Slip Differential (viscous)
  5. Is it an automatic? No Miatas with an automatic transmission came with a limited-slip differential – sorry.
  6. Buy a 1994-1997, in those years a limited-slip differential was standard equipment with the A, B and C packages.  The 1989-1993 model years the limited-slip was an option and not standard equipment.

Caveat Emptor: the 1994-1997 model years came with a torsen lsd, but the earlier cars came with a viscous lsd.  The merits of either is its own discussion.

Happy Hunting!

There are multiples way to find out if your Miata has a LSD.  And don’t fret if you Miata doesn’t have a limited-slip differential. Having one or not having one is only a matter of a second difference on the autocross course.  And on that note, just go buy a  Miata and enjoy it.

1 comment
  1. 2. I don’t know, I managed to make a few elevens on the pavement with my open diff Miatas, so I wouldn’t rely on that as an indication. The car is so well balanced that equal traction on both sides can still permit both wheels to spin when you burn out. Hypothetically. In Mexico. So I’ve heard.

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