The Mazda


So twenty years ago this August I bought my first brand-new car, a 2002 Mazda Protege5. They only made this model for two years and I have no idea why because it is a kick-ass car. Cute, sporty, good mileage, handles well, pretty much everything you could want right here.

I drove it around for 14 years and then we sold it to a friend’s son who was 19 or so at the time. We bought a Subaru Impreza and then traded it in three years later for another Impreza. The second Impreza hugely disappointed us when it required new rotors at a mere 34k miles, so we decided to offload it. Apparently the calipers are wider in certain models and that lets gravel get into the brakes and if you can’t hear it to knock it out of the brakes, it will destroy your rotors. Subaru did a one-time goodwill gesture and replaced them for free, but I’m not especially interested in a 800 dollar repair on a regular basis, hence the decision to get rid of it.

We ended up buying a big ass SUV to pull our camping trailer with and I’ll be putting some time/money into my 1965 Chevy BelAir, but in the meantime I need a car. We mentioned this to our friend in passing and she said, “Well, Lucas got a truck so he’s selling the Mazda. Do you want to buy it back?”

So a few days ago we took a small pile of cash over and came back with my old friend.

Friends, this car has seen some USE. Lucas works in construction and between a) thrashing around in crawlspaces and b) being a teen/young adult, he introduced a metric shit-ton (this is a real thing, the internet says so) of filth into the car and rarely (never?) cleaned it out.

Oh plus it developed a leak into the spare tire well in the way-back. So it was moist. And damp. I used the wet/dry vac to suck about a gallon of water out of it and the driver’s side taillight. So that’ll be fun to track down.

So, I rounded up some basic car-cleaning supplies and started The Big Swill-Out. I started with the passenger front seat and environs.

Using my trusty carpet cleaner, I tackled the seat and footwell. The water came out dark brown. Ew.

I wiped down the inside of the door and the dash area. I cleaned around the shift lever console area and cupholders. With a toothbrush and toothpicks. Ew ew ew.

At that point I was out of time/energy so I closed up shop.

Today I assembled my brand-new Blastmaster-9000 pressure sprayer (ok, it’s the cheapest one from Harbor Freight, but my needs are modest) and sprayed the beast down. Then I tackled the extra-filthy wheels.

Originally this car had beautiful shiny wheels that were super pretty, but then one of them actually broke in half and we couldn’t replace it. Well, maybe we could have, but it would have cost as much for one as we could spend on getting all four replaced, and if we’d only replaced one, it would have been all shiny and new and the others would have looked funny compared to it. So we replaced all four with a relatively inoffensive (and not too hard to clean because I have been down that road) set from whatever tire place we went to that day.

Friends, I am doing an unpaid endorsement here. We bought some Dawn Powerwash spray at Costco a while back and that stuff will wash the butt right off of the cat. I tried to wash the wheels using your typical car wash liquid, to no avail. Then I just sprayed them with this Powerwash stuff and let them sit for a while, and it was as though a MIRACLE OCCURRED.

After! And I even got it cleaner than this on the second pass!

The car looks totally different with clean wheels.

Of course, they are chewed up from a teenage boy developing his parallel parking skills for six years, but at least they’re clean?

I also spent some time scrubbing gunk out of the various exterior nooks and crannies with a toothbrush. Because I’m anal-retentive.

Next up: Washing and waxing the exterior. The paint may be oxidizing/peeling, but it can be shiny and water-repellant once more.

Oh and several more episodes of cleaning the interior spaces, and finding the trunk leak and repairing it.

Tuesday it gets a new battery and cables, because the battery that’s in it is from 2013 and has started sending acid down the cables and corroding them. At least that’s the theory. Anyway sometimes it doesn’t want to start until you get out and jam the cables up into the housings on the battery so off to the shop it goes.

I’m excited to have my little car back.

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