I detailed in the ABOUT page how the 1994 Miata came to me. It was driven by a friend we call “PK” with me leading in my Chevy Cavalier. It was a scary drive back to his house with brakes barely working, he took extra care to allow time for the car to stop. When we got to his house all he could say was, “Brakes, brakes, brakes!”
I surmised he was telling me first order of business is put brakes on this thing. That actually did not become the first thing. First thing was this car smelled really, really bad.
The examination begins. Let’s find out what needs to happen to get it running, Let’s get rid of the smell and let’s figure out why the trunk is full of water. PK lives about an hour from me and our work schedules don’t allow much chance to get together and work on this car. But he proceeded anyway and chugged on through the mundane stuff. I feel a little like Marlon Perkins on Wild Kingdom pointing out all the things PK did but he is a good teacher if you want to learn and listen.
The water issue was likely the result of top down not under carport. First we thought it might be that the rain rail for the top was bad. PK bailed the water out and it did not fill again during the torrential rains we had afterward. That’s good news. Also the water hadn’t created any noticeable rust so it probably hadn’t been there long.
The fact the water hadn’t been there long was confirmed by the fact that behind the carpet there was an old mouse nest, usual lint and nest stuff and it wasn’t soaked. There were also nests under the hood, in the air intake tube before the filter, and behind the seats. The nature of farm life I guess. PK also removed these while I was still unable to get there to help out. Nice work PK!!!! Thank Ya!.
On to what is that smell? The smell…..how do I describe the smell? Well, it was a pretty bad ammonia smell from cat urine emanating primarily from the trunk and cabin area. It took a lot of baking soda for a long time to absorb the odor, and a lot of warm days with the car windows opened and the trunk open to even make a dent. Then a good cleaning to make the interior even hospitable to humans.
By the time I was able to get to PK’s place a couple months later fall had passed to spring 2010 and PK had the wet smelly cleanup out of the way. I still had not driven this car except for two test drives. The engine ran strong so we began the exam. What did we need to do to get it on the road and in what order?
We went back to “Brakes, brakes, brakes”. Brakes, and Oil Change and Windshield wipers were on the list, and cleaning the slightly fogged looking plastic back window.
Good brakes, and rotors rang in around $220.00. I had not changed brakes before and didn’t want to attempt this on my own, my life depends on this done right. PK did the work, I helped a little and watched and learned. I still can’t do it all by myself, but I learned a few things that I recall to be more assistance in the future.
We did the oil change and I discovered I won’t want to do it myself. Pk showed me the filter is not real easy to get to if you can’t raise the car enough to get it from the bottom or you don’t have spaghetti thin arms to reach it from above. Filter and oil rang in around $19.00, wipers approx. $12.00.
Soap and water worked well on the back window removing the grime. It wasn’t perfectly clear but it was 75% better than it was.
The car started again and still ran strong, a very good sign indeed. PK performed the test drive with me shotgun since he had driven the car back he would better be able to tell if some thing was wrong. It was. There was a strange vibration from the tires that had flat spots from sitting for so long, CHECK, no worries for now. We did see the check engine light was still on. That was going to have to wait for my next visit to PK’s as I was out of time this day.