Before we left for Philadelphia, our Mazda started making a really crazy noise when you went faster than about 15 mph. It was embarrassingly loud and lucky me got to drive it to work for the two weeks I was still in Utah and Sean was in Pennsylvania. I took it to a mechanic to see if he could diagnose the problem. Well, that nice man told us he was "certain" it was a bearing on the clutch that needed to be replaced. I stuck it out with the noisy car and decided Sean could deal with it (since it is his other true love) when we got home. Thinking we're being proactive, Sean orders a new clutch and it arrives on our doorstep the day after we get back to Utah. We had the clutch replaced. The noise didn't go away… in fact it was worse.
We took the car to another mechanic for another opinion. This one says he's "sure" it's the transmission and proceeds to tell us for a mere $1200 he will replace it. Um, no thanks. Instead, we made a memorable trip to a pick-and-pull yard out in the boonies west of Salt Lake and picked up a used transmission for $250. Note: I thought it might be a fun little adventure to go to the pick-and-pull yard—WRONG. We stood in a greasy "reception area" for 45 minutes and listened to employees tell dirty jokes in Spanish. I told Sean I would rather saw off my own arm then go back.
So we got the transmission replaced with the used one we bought. We're all stoked to go pick it up and have two cars again. Yeah, would have been cool if the transmission was the actual problem! The mechanic scratched his head and says, "It's a mystery. We just don't know what's wrong." Thanks buddy—really helpful information. Probably good we didn't PAY YOU THE $1200 FOR A NEW TRANSMISSION THEN!
At this point I was ready to blow up the stupid car and tried to convince Sean to buy himself a truck. I knew getting rid of it would be hard for Sean since this car has been his little project (turbo, suspension, exhaust, etc.), but I didn't want to keep paying for people's guesses of what might be wrong. Miraculously, Sean found a guy in Ogden (we'll call him the 'blessed one') who had a lot of knowledge and experience with Miatas. After driving the car for about five seconds he told Sean the problem was the differential (don't ask me what it is because I don't know). He offered to sell us one at a much lower price than anything we could find online, and knowing my hesitation about paying for more car parts we don't really need, he even said he'd buy the part back if it didn't fix the problem. When we picked it up, he taught Sean how to replace it himself and told him to call with any questions or problems. Now THAT is an awesome mechanic!
So like I said, we've been down in the garage for the past few weeks. I set up a beach chair and read a book (I told him he can't be under the car by himself for obvious reasons) and Sean wrenched away. Luckily, with the help of some friends (Sam, Rob) and my brother, the car is finally put back together… and… and... wait for it... the NOISE IS GONE! Can I get a Hallelujah people? The Miata lives on!