2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Calm Down, It's Not Ruined
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on March 31, 2016
When one of my colleagues said I ruined the Miata, my response was, "Lemme see if the skills/equipment I've acquired will actually fix it first."
Yes, the nose of the car was pretty scuffed up, but the damage was limited to the clearcoat. In bright sunlight, it would look pink in comparison to the rest of the car and the black trim looked grey. But I was nowhere close to freaking out because I knew that the day I spent at Meguiar's learning how to detail our old Buick Grand National would help.
I started with a cleaning at our usual car wash, then drove to our shop/studio a few miles away. As the hood cooled off, I set up my work area with harsh lighting to see the defects. The first step was to use a fresh clay bar over the whole car. This is the most work-intensive part of the detail, but fortunately the Miata is small. The white clay was pulling up a fair amount of contaminants from the surface, as it should.
Next up was our dual-action power polisher with an aggressive compound pad loaded up with Meguiar's Ultimate Compound liquid. The result after two passes was impressive. The color was back to its darker red and the reflections were significantly sharper. In the photo below, you can see how the cutout for the marker lights (before), differ from the rest of the plastic bodywork (after).
I used the same techniques on the black trim and splitter, but I couldn't get into some of the crevices because I broke a few fingers last year in a motorcycle crash. I'll get to those at a later date.
I followed that up with a good coat of wax using the polisher on a slower speed setting.
At that point I called it a day because my fingers had locked up and my back was not cooperating. I did pop the hood and with a quick brushing with some gloved hands and a blast of compressed air got most of the sand off the engine. Getting the rest off would require pulling the spark plug wires, which I'll get around to later as well.
I packed up and pulled the car into the sunlight. From over my shoulder, I heard a guy from a neighboring business say, "daaaaaaaamn, that's cleeeeeeeean."
I think the paint is about 90 percent back to normal. Maybe after another detail, the damage will be undetectable. Next I'll get the headlights clear and try to get that front splitter a little shinier, too. Look for that in an upcoming post. So far, the only thing I consider "ruined" is the windshield.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 8,030 miles