Dear Tom and Ray:
I recently purchased a 2006 Mazda MX5 with 48,000 miles. When I test-drove the car, it seemed like a great car, and since I always wanted to own a convertible roadster, I bought the car. The problem is that after I bought it, when I drove it from San Diego to Los Angeles, I noticed that this car rides pretty rough. I mean, you can feel every imperfection in the road. Needless to say, my wife, who suffers from motion sickness, is not very happy and never wants to ride in the car again. I have taken the car back to the dealership, and they say that's how Miatas ride. I really don't want to get rid of the car, but I need to accommodate my queen. What can I do to get the ride to be smoother? I have 205 50 16 tires on it. - Pedro
TOM: Pedro, you dope! Haven't you ever heard of the "feel of the road"? That's what sports cars are designed to deliver. If you didn't want to feel the road, you should've bought a Buick.
RAY: Generally speaking, the things that make a car "fun to drive" make it nauseating to be a passenger.
TOM: There's not much you can do now. Little roadsters are designed to have very firm suspensions, so they stick to the road and turn sharply when you drive on those curvy mountain roads. That's the appeal of these cars.
RAY: And the reason they all have convertible tops is so that when the driver's wife needs to puke, she can just lean right over the side with no obstructions, like windows and side pillars.
TOM: You should, of course, check your tire pressure, because overinflated tires will harden a ride. But we're assuming that you or the dealer has done that.
RAY: And if you think a little improvement in ride comfort might be enough to create peace in your household, you can try replacing your tires with four "grand touring" tires, like the General Altimax or the Continental ContiPro Contact.
TOM: Tires that are designated "grand touring" concentrate on providing maximum ride comfort and minimal road noise, even at the expense of some cornering ability. That's the exact tradeoff you're looking to make right now.
RAY: But keep in mind that while they may help some, they're not going to transform the Miata into a Lincoln Town Car.
TOM: So, if you think that with a little improvement, your queen might approve of the Miata, try four grand touring tires. But if it's going to take more than little softening to make her happy, don't waste your money on the tires. Instead, put it toward your next car.
RAY: And this time, bring her with you on the test drive. Good luck, Pedro.