This article will cover the replacement of a water pump on a 1996 miata. This is generally done when the timing belt is being replaced. You should start off by following this link to a Timing Belt replacement. Then come back to this article to finish. It is always recommended to replace the water pump when the timing belt is replaced as it saves alot of labor. If you do not need to replace the timing belt you can use the plastic tie strap method which will make things go much faster. This picture shows the water pump pulley located in the center of the picture. The four bolts will need to be removed and the pulley taken off. The thermostat housing bolts (arrows) will not need to be removed.
Many cars today use timing belts instead of timing chains that were used in the past. Most import automobiles use them and some new domestic autos are switching to them. There are advantages and disadvantages to using timing belts. Timing belts are more quiet than a timing chain. This is good for high performance applications that use knock sensors to detect detonation. The lesser noise minimizes the background noise caused by a timing chain. The downside is that the timing belt should be replaced every 60,000 miles. A timing chain will generally never need to be replaced. Many times people will wait past 120,000 miles and their belt will break. If the timing belt breaks the car will stop wherever it happens to be. Depending on what type of car you own the timing belt breaking can be very costly.