Mazda MX-5: hunting for rust | Inside Track

16 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Mazda MX-5: hunting for rust | Inside Track

Mazda MX-5

: hunting for rust

Things have been quiet on the Mazda front recently, mostly because I’m freaking out worrying on all the corrosion it might be hiding. Finally, some clear weather over the weekend meant I actually had the chance to take a look#8230;

Finding the red stuff meant removing the wheelarch liners, which aren’t so much liners as dirt traps on mk1 MX-5s, so out with my brand new jack and up on my brand new axle stands it went. Following an abortive attempt the week before where I discovered a) the jack doesn’t fit under the car (not an unusual MX-5 problem) and b) the scissor jack that’s usually standard fitment is missing from the boot (not an issue really since the spacesaver spare will soon be banished, too), I borrowed a second smaller jack from Dan and got cracking.

Foresight and a lot of reading of various owners/workshop manuals meant I’d already applied some Ferosol to the bolts to unseize them. This didn’t stop one from snapping at the bottom of the wing, but fortunately the remains were locked only into a replaceable clip. Lucky.

You can see how grimy the front is here. Excitingly, loads of dirt and other rubbish collects in the bottom of the wing panel ahead of the door – the arch liner is supposed to prevent this and instead just holds it in place. Unbolting the wing from underneath and clearing it out is a job for next weekend.

Weather permitting.

Getting rid of the grime in order to see what’s really happening looked like a nightmare. However, the Bilt-Hamber Winter Care Kit I bought last year (and haven’t used yet) includes five litres of something called Surfex HD.

Bilt-Hamber Surfex HD is a water-based, environmentally friendly degreaser. Car cleaning ‘bufties’ (code word for geeks) the internet over go absolutely nuts for this stuff; I stuck it into a 99p hand sprayer from a local DIY superstore and squirted it on neat. This was probably overkill – it is effective even diluted – but the car was seriously grubby.

This is the result:

Much better, and all done using nothing more than a paint brush (bought for the purpose) to agitate and a pump sprayer to rinse. Watching it go into action, I was blown away by just how quickly and effectively the Surfex worked; if only I had the luxury of a pressure washer – even the stubborn gunk would probably be history.

As you can see, the Surfex has revealed a fairly limited amount of rust at the front – well, limited considering the car is nearly 20 years old and notorious for this sort of thing. The rear inner arches are quite a bit worse (not a surprise), and there is some heavier soiling still to remove. But even here I’ve been lucky again: the underlying metal still seems totally solid.

Once the arches are clean and clear, next steps are to treat the rust, then recoat with some anti-stonechip paint and high-tech new underseal. Once that’s all done (ha!) it’ll be on to replacing the knackered suspension. And finally, the MX-5 might be fun again.

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