I’ve always had a soft spot for the Mazda3 hatchbacks – great value, handles like the BMW 3 series had before it got bloated, and the practicality of a hatchback. Add in Mazda’s glorious paint colors and I’m a fan.
This Mazda3 belonged to a very dear friend that just left the island. It had obviously been a beach-buggy for three years, as both the interior and exterior needed a good bit of love. The usual amount of sand, plus the RIDS and general paint damage you expect of a 10-year-old car with 130,000 miles on it.
Wheels and Tires
As usual, I started with wheels and tires. Meguiar’s D143 Non-Acid Wheel Cleaner and Tuf Shine Tire Cleaner are my two go-to chemicals. The wheels get the usual DI Brushes Wheel Wash Boar’s Hair Brush, Wheel Woolies, and the DI Brushes ATLASTA for the lug nuts. The Tuf Shine Tire Brush is my standard for tires; it does a great job.
She was already fairly clean on the exterior, so I did a rinseless wash with Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine.
The interior was typical of a Hawaii beach buggy – sand everywhere, with quite a bit of saltwater stains on the seats and seatbelts. About ten hours were spent with my trusty Ridgid shop vac, a carpet extractor, the DI Brushes Pet Hair Removal Brush (also works great for sand), and the DI Brushes Speedy Stone Pet Hair Remover (works great on the sand too, but is MURDER on plastic and other trim – be careful with it).
The paint had your typical defects that come with being ten years old, and add in Hawaii’s atrocious water spots. I’m constantly amazed at how far buffer pad and polish/compound technology have come in the past decade. My primary buffer is the Flex XC 3401 VRG, an absolute beast of a machine that hasn’t let me down. I recently replaced all my older Lake Country pads with their Force line, and couldn’t be happier. After several test spots, I settled on the Lake Country Force Grey Heavy Cutting Pads with Griot’s Garage BOSS Fast Correcting Cream. Five years ago I would have had to do a multi-stage correction with Meguiar’s M105 and M205 or Menzerna 400 and 1200 to get the same level of correction and finish as I was able to get away with from this more modern combo. It cuts beautifully, while still finishing down to a great shine.
The roof was a particularly troublesome area, as they kayaked frequently which meant saltwater would just sit on the paint. I wasn’t able to get 100% of the clearcoat etching out, but it was greatly reduced.
20 minutes with a rotary tool had the exhaust tips cleaned up.
To test out the capabilities of the Lake Country/Griot’s combo I settled on, I decided to wetsand and polish one headlight, and only polish the other headlight. I started with 1500 grit, then 2000 grit, then 3000 grit, and polished out the passenger side. I simply polished the driver side.
The verdict? Wetsanding was entirely unnecessary.
After polishing, I gave it a two bucket wash with a blend of Gtechniq W4 Citrus Foam, Chemical Guys HoneyDew Snow Foam, and Gyeon Bathe+. The Gyeon Smoothie is my wash media of choice, ever since my beloved Lake Country Wash Wedge finally gave up the ghost. Note to self: Ask Reece to start carrying the wash wedge. Gyeon’s Wet Coat finished up the job. I love how user-friendly Wet Coat is – no worries about dilution, it leaving weird residue, etc. I’m waiting on 303’s new graphene spray to see how it compares, and if it can knock Wet Coat off it’s current throne.
I’ve always lozed Mazda’s paint, so it was a joy to see this Mazda3 brought back to beauty.
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