NB Miata (1999-2000) Starter Cranking When Clutch Depressed

This was a fun one. Leaving work one day, rounding the first corner, I depress the clutch and a loud grinding noise happens. Try again, happens again. Took a couple time, but realized that the starter was trying to engage.

So I stop, check if anything looks crazy under the hood (it doesn’t), notice I don’t have any tools to disconnect the starter, and investigate a little further inside the car.

While inside the car, I get some electrical burning smell, just enough to know it’s from the inside, but not sure where. I make sure the fire extinguisher isn’t too secure next to me.

I also notice it only happens when the clutch is fully depressed, meaning it’s depressing the clutch switch to start.

I hobble the car home, making sure to only press the clutch in just barely far enough to disengage, but not press the clutch switch.

My first hunch is the ignition switch. It’s the only thing that should be controlling the starter and the only thing caring about the bottom clutch switch. I rip open the steering column, and while looking at the ignition switch, when the car is turned on, you can see a spark, followed by glowing red spot, inside the plastic.

So replace the ignition switch, try again, and no glowing red burning. And no more starter cranking with the clutch depressed.

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