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Discussion Starter #1
Didn't think this quite belonged in "Exterior" since it's not parts-related, but move if need be, please. :)

So basically, the Miata is in a state of perma-filth. It sat parked for 2 years while I tried to deal with it's blown motor, I got it together, washed the majority of the dirt off, and ran to California with it. In California, i blew the HG, the oil pump, and an endtank on the stock radiator, so it got parked at home, and didn't move again until March or so of this year. Since then i've been too busy driving it to really sit and detail it, but now it's so bad, i don't know what'll get it clean. . . it's beyond claybar time, and car wash soap doesn't do crap to the runoff down the sides of the car.

There's four pics attached showing the "trouble" spots of the car, that I've no clue how to remedy short of a paintjob. Anyone have any ideas for me?

The first area is courtesy of my catless exhaust. A temporary situation that's left some rather permanent looking problems. The whole passenger rear is black, and even the spots where i've tried to wash it away stay stained and very rough to the touch. The rear licence panel has been stained a slightly off color with rough feel since I bought the car in 2000.

The second area is generally... the sides of the car. from sitting, they got dirt, etc running down the sides, and as a result, even washing doesn't take off these brown streaks down the side.

The third is a relatively common problem... the wheels. I know this brakedust will come off eventually, but the wheels are painted and I'm afraid of screwing up the finish. I don't want to have to throw them in the blasting cabinet and then repaint them... what can I use to pull this off w/o killing the painted surface? These used to be WHITE for reference's sake. ;)

The last one is the one that really embarrasses me. . . the engine bay. I see these great bays with hidden wiring, and then I see mine. I really want to float the engine at some point, but with paint that won't even yield to OVEN CLEANER and a pressure washer, I'm out of ideas. Anyone have any for me?
 

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Your engine bay looks cleaner than mine. The P.O. had it sitting under a car cover for about a year and now every single part of the car that i cant get to (behind parts, in cracks, etc.) is covered with dirt/mold #-o . Let me know how you fare with cleaning the engine.
 

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I usually have a preofessional detailing once a year, and then try to keep it as clean as I can until the next one. It usually gets as dirty as yours by the time I get it to the detailer :lol:
 

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oh jesus...umm...

When I bought my e21, it was in similar shape, and I did a 22 hour detail on it. I was wore out, cross eyed, and sore at the end of it, but the result was incredible.

Started off with a basic wash, then used a rubbing compound on ALL THE PAINTED SURFACES. There is rust under the rear windows on that car, and that had caused the sides to discolor all the way down below the windows. Washing it did not remove this, I tried clay barring it for a few minutes, this did nothing, but the rubbing compound DID remove it.

Followed that up with a good polish using the orbital buffer. This filled in (smoothed out) all the scratches created by using the rubbing compound.

After that, a good coat of carnuba wax hand massaged in really finished the paint off. While the car is not in amazing shape, she's about 72134120938470123984 times better than before.

Also, clay barred the windows to remove the scratches there, and followed that up with some "Invisble Glass" made by Stoner products. That is my window cleaner of choice, always leaves windows looking great, and isn't too bad on the streaks side of things either.

Your wheels....Dupont makes a Teflon Wheel cleaner that I am absolutely in love with. It says, spray on, let sit, spray off and the dirt will disappear. But that's total bs. Spray on, let sit, scrub your fingers off, rinse, repeat. Hopefully, that'll take car of your wheels.

Your engine... Use plastic bags and cover ANYTHING ELECTRONIC, including but not limited to fuses, alternator, distributor, spark plugs, anything and everything. If you're not sure, cover it anyway, or this could turn into a costly mistake for you. Also, make sure you cover your air intake. Use an engine degreaser and coat everything under there. Make sure the engine is cool when you do this. Let it sit, try scrubbing some of the rougher areas, and then rinse it off. I suggest letting everything dry before removing the plastic bags, or your could have some cool smoke coming from your spark plugs when you try to pull the car back into the garage. (don't ask)

I hope this helps, and if you need me to go into specifics about any area, just let me know. Good luck, and don't be shy to contact me with any questions/comments/concerns.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So the car is clean, and it's kinda more fun to drive when you're not embarrassed to be seen in it. ;) Check the after pics vs the befores above.

I took Greg G's advice and found a good detail guy; Adrenaline Racing in Portland now has a full-time detailer on premises, and he does a really damned good job. The wheels are going to need blasting and repainting, but they've been unwashed and covered with dust for 3 years, so it's to be expected, but even so the car looks like a completely different car!
 

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