I usually order from MX5Parts.co.uk, and I've never before had an issue with any of their parts, service or delivery. So naturally I had no qualms ordering the fuel filter from them. Especially since locally my only option was getting an OEM one made for almost 4 times the price at the old Ford/Mazda factory.
However it was the first time I imported since the South African postal service strikes last year, which lasted almost six months. Why the postal service? I don't have a choice. If the parcel is small and light, MX5Parts sends it via Royal Mail, and hence it arrives via our postal service. And to be honest I doubt I'll ever receive it - it's probably stolen, stuck or even lost at customs somewhere.
So after a month of waiting I jacked the car up, removed the old filter and took it to the local Midas parts store. They pulled out their catalogues and we started searching for a filter that will fit. There are no after-market fuel or air filters for the MX-5 available locally, only the oil filter. The catalogues' section for the MX-5 were literally only one line. What was interesting though was that, apart from the MX-6, all the other older Mazdas (323, 626, Astina, Etude) use the same fuel filter. It's not the same as mine, but not too different either, and the Astina and Etude has pretty much the same engine, mounted sideways for the FWD train.
Replacing the fuel filter on a Miata is super easy. Just pull the fuse so that the pump is disabled and then idle the car until the fuel line is dry. Undo the flap and pull off the fuel lines. Fitting this other Mazda filter didn't pose a problem, but because the filter's lines doesn't match exactly and because the rubber fuel hoses are very short, there was some bending necessary. So it's on, and it works, and it doesn't leak, but the hose on the engine side bends a bit too much for my liking and fitting it in the bracket would simply tear the fuel lines off. I'll try and get some silicone hoses at some point to replace these old line hoses with.
Or, here's hoping I still get the real filter delivered.
UPDATE So I did actually receive the ordered filter. It arrived a month and two weeks after shipping from the UK. The packaging was absolutely mangled, but fortunately the filter itself was intact. It's sitting on a shelf now for when I need it again in 30 000 km.
The detailing project I mentioned previously has been planned, budgeted and costed.