Should I Get an Oil Cooler?

If you track your 2016+ ND MX5, you should strongly consider an oil cooler. The ND runs the oil very hot. When I started tracking my car, I did some tests. Since the ND doesn’t come with an oil temperature sensor, I needed to check it myself. I installed a sandwich plate with an oil temperature sensor installed.

I ran my test in March 2018. I was in 57°F ambient. After 10 minutes of hard track driving, the oil temp climbed over 265°F. I had my gauge set to alarm at 265°. At that point it didn’t log temps anymore (weird I know) so I couldn’t tell how much higher it got but it took a FULL 2.5-mile cool-down lap to get below 265°. I figure it was well over 280°, maybe over 300° since it took so long to cool down. And that was at 57° ambient. The water temperature never got above 195°.

That test told me everything I needed to know. The ND MX5 runs the oil temperatures very high on track and the water temps don’t coincide with the oil temperature. If you think because your water temperature is at 200° your oil temperature is the same, you are wrong! I promptly installed a Mishimoto oil cooler. With the Mishi oil cooler, my hood vents and some other coolant tweaks, my oil temperatures hang steady at 245° whether it is 60° ambient or 100° ambient.

I won’t say you have to have an oil cooler to track your car. If you are just starting out, don’t let the lack of an oil cooler keep you from the track. You won’t be pushing really hard as a beginner. I think I put 500 track miles on my car before installing the oil cooler. Think of it as insurance. While you may get by without it, it decreases your risk fairly significantly. It also helps to cool the engine overall. Once the MX5 gets over 200°F in water temperature, the tuning begins pulling timing making you slower. Another reason to add an oil cooler.

If you decide to install the Mishimoto oil cooler, here are some photos I took of my install that might help you with yours.

As a side note, some people think the ND2 has an oil cooler. It does not. It has a method to increase the temperature of the oil faster when cold. That system does little to nothing to cool the oil.

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