Tag Archives: mazda

Major PDR and Other Updates

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Hi All. I’m checking in here and kicking away the tumbleweeds that have accumulated in my absence. I’m still chugging along at work and home projects. Lots of improvements on both cars have been ongoing as well. I’ve focused a lot of attention on the 6i to get it as close to showroom fresh as I can within financial reason. Well, financial reason may be a bit too conservative. I think obsessive may come to your mind.

First off, I scored a brand new OEM factory painted spoiler which dressed up the rear of the “i” a bit. Most 6’s with the sport package of this era came with a spoiler, however there was a spoiler-delete option which we had here. That’s never been to my liking, so this fixed that.

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Next, you may have noticed that I don’t show many photos of the driver’s side on here and on my Instagram. That’s been on purpose as there was some rather significant damage to the driver’s door which didn’t show well in photos. The damage was there when I acquired the car and it looks like someone had baked directly into the door. I believe this happened on one of my grandpa’s voyages. Though most of the scuffs and paint damage buffed away, we were left with many dimples and stretched sheet metal. Here’s what I’m referring to:

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Even though this light color hides the damage in direct sunlight, my OCD kept nagging me to fix it. I explored many options such as your traditional body shop process of re-skinning, painting and blending or purchasing a replacement door and having it painted. Either of those options most likely wouldn’t yield the results I’d be looking for though. I intend to keep this car as original as possible. I even considered buying this local 6, swapping doors, and reselling.

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Even if the paint matched perfectly, I’d have the issue of the black window and belt line trim mismatched from both cars being in different environments for the last 14 years. So, my last hope was contacting my tried and true PDR (paintless dent removal) go-to, Dent Specialties of El Paso, TX. For well over 10 years, I’ve been taking my cars to their lead tech (or “wizard” as he should be called), Eric. If you’re ever in the area, pay them a visit!

After some coordination over text, I decided the best action plan would be to take the door off and leave it with Eric for a week.

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Ready for transport. It BARELY fit in the trunk of the gray 6!

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This challenging project was showcased on their social media.

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After a week, it was done, and here’s the magic he was able to perform. His 20 hours of work gave some really impressive results!

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I was so stoked. Pictures don’t do this justice, but here are a few before and afters:

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So, that made for another successful fix for the “i”. A few months later, I returned to Eric to have the remaining door dings removed from the entire body.

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Next, I tightened up some panel gaps on the passenger side (pardon the filth).

Before:

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After:

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Oh, we aren’t done yet! Next, I stripped off the old faded window tint and had my tint guys install some fresh 20% film.

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The factory painted door handles’ clear coat was starting to fail, so I will replace these as well.

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Now, the final touches. I’ve been wrapping up the mini restoration process by giving every single nook and cranny a good cleaning and detailing.

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I’m currently finishing up a complete paint correction/restoration. The process consists of a clay bar cleaning, compounding on the bad areas, two-stage polish, then sealer.

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Some of the results:

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The product of choice has been Wolfgang. I find their products very easy to apply and tend to yield a nice deep gloss.

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When I’m finished with the entire car, I’ll top coat with this $70 Wolfgang Fuzion carnauba wax to give the greatest depth and make the metallic flake pop. This won’t be a concours-level paint restoration, but a huge improvement.

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It’s been a rather expensive project. When the “i” is complete, I’ll be sure to post some high resolution photos. I also didn’t forget about the gray “s”. I swapped out the troublesome aftermarket Depo headlights for some black bezel OEM 2006 Mazda 6 headlights. What’s this, the fourth time I’ve replaced these?

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I feel like these work better with my dark/smoked theme.

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The last mod is a gloss black window trim to replace the faded and cracked factory vinyl.

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While we’re on the subject of the gray 6, this month is actually the fourth-year anniversary of ownership. How does time fly by so quickly?! I’ll compile some data to share in a future post on that. I think I’ve bored you all with enough photos for now. Catch you all later!

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Douglas, AZ; Mogollon, NM; and a Quarter Million Mile Milestone

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Happy Friday! Hope you all are enjoying the warmer weather. Here in Las Cruces, NM, we have been consistently in the triple digits with no sign of relief in the near future. Nothing else to do but embrace it, I guess. Since I’ve been MIA for a while, I have a few adventures to catch up on:

Douglas, Arizona:

Back in late May, I made a day trip to meet up for lunch with my friend, Tyson. Despite living nearly 400 miles apart, we traditionally have met at a midpoint for day trips. This time, it was the small border town of Douglas, AZ.

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At just over 16,000 residents, this town sits along the border of Mexico and is one of the more popular international crossings in this area. Incorporated in 1905, the town got its name from James Douglas, a mining pioneer. The most significant landmark the town offers is the Gadsden Hotel. Built in 1907, then destroyed by a fire, it was rebuilt in 1929 and most of what you see today has been preserved from then.

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This was the perfect meeting point for lunch. I met Tyson here in the 6 while he was driving his tried and true ’92 Integra GS-R. Both of our cars are well over 200,000 miles, but neither of us questioned bringing them to a small town hundreds of miles from any major service facilities.

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Stepping inside the hotel, we were greeted with an elaborate interior. Detailed woodwork, massive stained glass murals, marble for days, and a grand staircase sitting at the base of a towering foyer make you feel like you’re in something very special.

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Lunch was at the hotel restaurant, Casa Segovia. We dang near had the place to ourselves and was given the red-carpet treatment from the staff. Chicken Enchiladas Verde hit the spot.

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After lunch, we did our usual exploring with a few car photos.

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Thanks, Tyson for meeting up!

250,000 Miles and Mogollon, NM

Since the Douglas meet with Tyson, we had entertained the idea of doing another drive where both our cars would turnover 250,000 miles at the same time. His Integra was only a few thousand miles behind the 6 in reaching that milestone. However, both of our busy schedules didn’t allow for that, so maybe at another milestone later.

I took advantage of a work related assignment in Silver City and drove north from there into the Gila wilderness to get the 6 to 250,000. The historic ghost town of Mogollon was exactly the distance I needed (~240 miles). This makes my second visit to Mogollon as I first visited the town back in 2015.

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Misty rain, cloud cover and virtually no traffic was just what the doctor ordered! A major relief from several consecutive days of 100+°F.

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The winding road leading up to Mogollon turns into a single lane. Watch out around those blind corners!

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My dog Charlie accompanied me on this drive, and we would make occasional pit stops to stretch his legs.

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Switchbacks galore.

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Lots of deer and elk spotted along the way.

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Arrived!

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Lots of infrastructure improvements have been made since my last visit. To prevent flooding from future storm events, NMDOT improved the roadway significantly with a large channel and other drainage facilities.

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Check out the difference from 2015…

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Most of the town was closed so I didn’t stay long. Back to my mission and on the way back down the mountain, it happened…

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Quarter million miles, baby! Complete with matching trip odo reading.

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Thanks for coming along for the ride. Until next time!

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Made it to the Moon

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Okay, I admit it. That was click-bait. I’m not on the moon today, but at just under 240,000 miles, the 6 “S” has covered an equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon. If we’re getting technical here, I’m actually about 800 miles over that. Once I hit 240,000 miles, which should happen this weekend, that will equate to 9.6 times around the earth. Not bad. However, not as impressive as other high milers around, so I have some driving to do in the coming years. 300k is the next target.

December is already here and I like it. I like the rush of the holiday season in both personal experiences and at work. I won’t have much time for traveling this month, but I do have some nice plans shortly after the New Year. Hint: “Aloha!”

Various improvements for the 6’s are planned, but since it’s a little chilly this time of year, I probably won’t get around to them anytime soon. Before the cold weather hit this week, I made sure to give both 6’s thorough washes. Here are a few Fall photos from Thanksgiving…

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The “i” got a little personal touch by my grandpa when I visited a few weeks ago. I had him sign the dashboard with a silver Sharpie to add a little character. It takes a special signature for me to allow conspicuous permanent ink on any of my cars. Only seemed fitting to have grandpa’s on here.

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Also did a full leather conditioning

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Speaking of silver Sharpies, my inner trunk lid on the “S” is starting to populate nicely with listings of memorable drives and signatures of significant people who have driven or ridden in the 6. It’s starting to look a little hippie, and I love it!

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That captures the important highlights of late. See you next time…

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New Acquisition: 2004 Mazda 6 i 5spd

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Sometime in late 2002, I was a Junior in high school and I got my December, 2002 issue of Car in Driver in the mail. I saw this article of a replacement for the Mazda 626…the Mazda 6. My eyes popped, and I remember thinking, “That’s a Mazda?!”

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I never really paid much attention to Mazda prior to this article. My dad at that time had a trusty 1986 B2000 pickup 5spd with 184,000 miles, and that was about all I knew and cared about regarding Mazda. The original NA Miata wasn’t even on my radar at the time. The styling of this new 6 just took my breath away, and I shared this with my grandpa joking that this should be our next car. I never would have thought that 15 years later, I’d have two of these in my garage. Yes, I am now an owner of two 2004 Mazda 6’s.

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This Mazda 6 “i” (“i” being the 2.3L 4cyl model) used to belong to my grandfather and it’s a car that I nagged him to get ever since that Car and Driver article. It’s been a pretty special car to us, and I am so thankful to take the keys, and keep it in the family.

Here’s a little history:

Before this 6 was purchased new in 2004, my grandparents drove a 2000 Ford Taurus which was not quite as satisfying a daily driver as they’d originally hoped. It was problematic, handled like a boat, and the interior felt like it was held together with Elmer’s glue and hope. One free weekend came, and I suggested to my grandpa that we should “just go look” at one of those new Mazda 6’s and there happened to be a nice one with a manual in Farmington, NM, only 120 miles away from home. Finding one with a manual was tough at this time, so this was a rarity…especially in New Mexico. Grandma and grandpa agreed surprisingly, and we made a day trip of it. I remember walking into the dealership with grandpa and being approached by a friendly sales guy, Dean, and he directed us to this Pebble Ash Metallic 6 i 5spd on the showroom floor. It was loaded to the gills with the Sport package which means 17-inch wheels, electroluminescent gauges, titanium colored switch panels, fog lights, sport cladding, and oval exhaust tips. It also had the Comfort package, which included heated seats and exterior mirrors, leather upholstery, a power sunroof, a Bose audio package, homelink, and side and curtain airbags.

We instantly fell in love with this car at first sight. Despite not being a car person, even grandma did. She especially liked it for the sunroof. The whole “running the numbers” feeler process took place and soon we made an agreement on a price–yeah, we came to just look. Before signing the papers, grandpa and I happened to glance over to the back lot and saw a Blazing Copper Metallic Mazda 6 V6 being unloaded off of a shipping truck. Grandma could sense we showed interest and immediately gave us that look, “Don’t even think about it.” Metallic orange wasn’t her first choice in color, so Pebble Ash it was. We drove the 6 home with just 668 miles on the clock, somewhat high miles for a new car, but we were having too much fun to care. Today, it has 186,600 miles and 95% of those were all grandpa.

This has been a special car to all of us. It’s been one of my grandpa’s all time favorite cars he’s owned. It’s the car that rescued me when I crashed my Nissan Sentra. It’s the car that dropped me off for college, the car that took my grandma to hospice where I last saw her. It’s the car that grandpa and I took on a 9,000+ mile drive to the east coast and Quebec when I graduated college. It was a therapeutic drive for both of us after grandma passed away. It’s been coast to coast, border to border several times. And do you know how many times grandpa had to open the hood? Zero. Unscheduled repairs? Zero. The only finicky issue was a thermostat misbehaving intermittently at about 150,000 miles. Everything else has been absolutely bullet proof. Even the clutch and brake pads are original.

Grandpa has now handed the keys to me, and I plan to keep the legacy going. Grandma is still with us in spirit, and I know she’s still enjoying the trips from the passenger seat.

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Here’s a little chronological photo stream of the history of the Pebble Ash 6:

The day we picked her up from Performance Mazda in Farmngton, NM. Unfortunately, there no longer is a Mazda dealer in Farmington.

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Pulled it out of the garage for some photos the next day. First order of business was taking off that front plate bracket.

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Only 789 miles after arriving home.

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First road trip was a 300 mile drive to El Morro National Monument and the Large Array near Socorro, NM.

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Back when I tried rockin’ over sized sneakers, baggy clothes and “anti-glare computer” glasses. *cringe*

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Soon we displayed grandpa’s POW plate and his 91st Bomb Group frame.

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Tucked away in the garage next to my stock RSX at that time.

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Grandma and the 6 at Williams, AZ.

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Outside Modesto, CA

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Oatman Pass, AZ

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Arches National Park, UT

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Getting chilled in Colorado

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Rescuing me after crashing my Nissan Sentra.

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Testing out the traction control during one of those heavy snows. So much snow slid off the roof, we couldn’t get into the garage.

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Northern Rockies in British Columbia

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Gettysburg, VA

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Oregon

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Montreal in Québec

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Louisiana

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Texas

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South Dakota

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Washington State

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Newlyweds: Grandpa and Delia outside of Colinga, CA. We were very pleased Grandpa met Delia. They keep each other young, giggling all the way. Note grandpa is wearing the same hat as in the day we bought the 6 new!

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There was rarely a time when the front end wasn’t covered in a few layers of bugs. Grandpa is quite the traveler.

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Mileage when I first took ownership.

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First time bringing her home to Las Cruces and meeting the grey 6 stable-mate.

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Remember those OEM chrome alloys I had on the grey 6? I felt they were more fitting for this color.

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Custom “5SPD” plate.

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Interior is still minty fresh!

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Aside from a few OEM accessory add-ons (sunroof visor, those chrome alloys, rear chrome trunk trim), I plan to keep this car stock and as original as possible. It’s never had any body or paint work done, and the rubber and plastics are still like new from living in the garage. The grey 6 will still accumulate most of the daily miles, but I’m excited to bring aboard another steed to join us on future adventures. Stay tuned as I have the first drive with this car coming up!

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Taking the 6 to New Heights: 14,000 ft+ in Colorado Part II

Welcome to Part II of the Colorado Drive. Let’s begin:

The next day we made our way to Pikes Peak, just 30 miles west of Colorado Springs. First stop along the way was Garden of the Gods. This public park just west of Colorado Springs offers nice views with hiking and Segway tour accommodations. Since we wanted to be mindful of the time, we chose to just drive through.

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Wait. Did we stumble upon another planet? More amazing views.

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Cheesy photo by “balanced rock” in the park.

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Pikes Peak:

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Now let’s get to the good stuff. Making our way to Pikes Peak highway was an easy drive. Upon arrival at the tollgate, a rather lengthy line of cars were awaiting their turn to pay the entry fee to continue onward. It wasn’t the cheapest at $30 ($15 per person), but trust me…all was worth it. Pikes Peak is regarded as the most visited mountain in North America, and only second in the world next to Japan’s Mt. Fuji. At 14,115 ft above sea level, this is the 31st highest peak out of the 54 in Colorado. The Pikes Peak Highway from the base to the summit climbs 7,400 ft over just over 12 miles!

Four major events take place on this mountain each year, Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Pikes Peak Challenge and the AdAmAn Club New Year’s Fireworks display. Best part for me is simply enjoying the views and crossing off another bucket list item.

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Making our way up to the summit. We are now beginning the 7,400 ft climb. THIS GETS STEEP!

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…and steeper (at timberline here)

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…and steeper! (now at alpine level) It’s certainly an odd feeling being nearly eye-level with the clouds.

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Nah, you don’t need no stinkin’ guardrails here. Some areas you would fall to certain death if you got a little careless with driving.

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Some views midway.

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The views were quite intoxicating, and most curves were perfectly banked for some decent fun.

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Mostly though, we just took our time at a steady pace. After a little under an hour which included many photo stops, we made it!

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We checked out The Summit House which was the only facility at the summit. Stuffed full of endless souvenirs and a small cafe, you could get lost in there for quite some time. A small burger and milk shake sure hit the spot and I did manage to buy a few items.

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Outside the Summit House, you’re free to walk around with no barriers, fencing or other obstructions and take in the scenery.

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When it was time to start the descend, I was surprised that 1 – 2nd gear and 4,000 rpms were all I could use to comfortably control the speed. Rain started to come down which made me even more cautious.

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Midway down the mountain, there was a mandatory brake check where a nice lady actually checked each vehicle’s rotors and pads with a temperature gauge. If your brakes were too toasty, you have to pull aside to let them cool before proceeding. This was serious stuff here. Luckily, we sailed on by with no issue.

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That covers it! Apologies I couldn’t offer up some more excitement in the mix. Saying “Two dudes drive an old Mazda up two mountains without incident” doesn’t exactly make for an exciting read. However, if you stuck around long enough to read this, I thank you for joining the ride. Until next time…

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Three Year Anniversary and 100,000 Miles

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Hey All,

Several months have past since my last update…for shame! Well, today I actually had a few free minutes at work to get out a short little post here. Yesterday (November 7, 2017) marked the third year of owning the 6, and I couldn’t let that go too far without a post to celebrate the occasion! Who would have thought that I’d keep this a freakin’ three years?!! I did say in my one year post that I have enjoyed every mile. To date, I still feel the same.  She’s still not the prettiest, fastest, and not exactly dripping with the latest tech, but this rickety little 6 just keeps on purring regardless of what gets thrown at it.

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Well, somewhat. This past year hasn’t exactly been the cheapest, nor the most trouble free if I’m honest. Here’s a list some rather costly maintenance items and repairs which far exceed the value of the car:

  • Early January, 2017: Fuel system cleaning, OEM O2 sensor, spark plugs, valve cover gasket, coolant and manual transmission fluid flush | $1,200
  • Late January, 2017: OEM Alternator replacement | $975
  • June, 2017: OEM Fuel pump replacement | ~$500 w/ a DIY install
  • July, 2017: Front passenger OEM control arm | $950
  • August, 2017: Alignment | $80
  • September, 2017: OEM coil replacement | $75 w/ DIY install
  • October, 2017: New front rotors and pad | $725

That’s a total of around $4,505! That alternator was the most painful as it was my first official breakdown. Thankfully, AAA was there very quickly to save my butt.

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Just for fun, I ran a Kelly Blue Book value check for a dealer trade-in (don’t worry, I’m not even entertaining that idea). I was quite shocked! The Private Party value wasn’t much better. The mileage really makes a dent in the value.

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With that said, I plan to make that high mileage even higher. As of today, I  achieved a pretty significant milestone: 238,954 miles. Why does that matter? That’s exactly 100,000 miles since the day I drove this car home from Phoenix back in 2014!

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Think I should go for another 100,000? We shall see. I haven’t done as much traveling this year as I wanted to (partly from home renovations and just a heavy load at work), but I do get out once in a while. Here are a few photos outlining the past year:

Hauling whatever would fit for those home remodeling jobs.

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Actually have been using the 6 quite a bit in job related functions.

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Road trip with Dad to California

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Finally got to see by buddy, Tyson, and his new digs in Phoenix.

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Gila Wilderness

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Lots of random exploring around Doña Ana County where I live.

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I performed a major interior detail and refresh for the first time since the Alaska trip last year. New headliner is finally completed as well.

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Two big road trips did happen, however I won’t spill the beans just yet. They will have to be their own post.

Cosmetic Updates:

The 6 had a bit of an identity crisis of late thanks to me. I recently grabbed a set of OEM chrome accessory wheels off of eBay for a decent price and decided to try them out.

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I ended up not liking them, so back went the faded stock ones. I also decided to try out the OEM sport grille again to give the front end a little refresh.

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…and finally, I performed a complete badge removal. That included the little “V6” emblems as well as the “Mazda6” in the back. So far, I’m pretty happy with the results. What do you all think? This could be the updated look for the next few years…or more?

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Oh, and one more thing…I added a new custom vanity New Mexico plate!

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That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by!

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One Year Anniversary with the 2004 Mazda 6

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This past Saturday (November 7, 2015) marked my one year anniversary with the 6. It doesn’t seem like it’s been long enough, but who can argue with the calendar? It was this day that I drove my 2004 Mazda 6 home from Phoenix, AZ where it had lived for several years. It succeeded my beloved 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD and it has been my daily driver ever since. I still remember discovering the Craigslist ad while on my lunch break at work.2014-10-31 08_26_16-2004 Mazda 6 Manual 5speed -Well Take Care Of3

I posted of my experience of bringing it home last year and since then, I’ve accumulated 34,535 miles. Without hesitancy, I can say I’ve enjoyed every mile. The 6 isn’t the quickest, quietest nor the most luxurious car I’ve owned, but I can confidently say it’s been the most fun. Yes, my RSX and TL were up there in the fun factor (and they got significantly better numbers on the skidpad), but there is just some sort of crazy witchcraft going on in the suspension and steering of the 6 that makes driving this car addictive yet not tiring day to day. Vague enough for you? The struts/shocks remain original as does the clutch and transmission. Let’s see how far they can go!

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Here are a few fun facts:

  • 34,535 miles covered
  • 1 recall (Tekla airbag…not yet addressed)
  • 1 accident (repaired)
  • 3 major wear & tear repairs
  • Total cost of maintenance, repair and modifications: ~$2,300
  • 4 states visited
  • 7 Oil changes with roughly 5K mile intervals
  • Total breakdowns: 0
  • Total unexpected trips to the dealer: 0
  • Longest distance traveled in one day: 750 miles from Page, AZ to Las Cruces, NM.
  • Longest trip: 2,100 miles round trip Bryce Canyon National Park.
  • 1 Major hail storm survived

My future plans for it:

  • Powdercoat OEM wheels
  • HID retrofit
  • Bose Sound System Upgrade

Here’s a photo from November, 2014 when I picked it up in Phoenix. My buddy Tyson Hugie generously stored the car at his place until I could get it.

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How she stands today.

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Warning: photo overload coming up!
Here are some memorable moments from the past year: 

Tijeras, NM Musical Road

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Antelope Canyon, AZ / UT

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Mogollon, NM

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Mt. Taylor in northern NM

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Acoma (Sky City), NM

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Million Mile Lexus Drive (Chiricahua)

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My favorite modifications: 

Chrome “mustache” grille

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Smoked side markers

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New headlamps

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Leather interior swap and MazdaSpeed 6 aluminum pedal covers

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Heaviest load: 11 bags of 50lb landscape mulch

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And here are some mileage milestones…

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Today, she currently sits at 175,800 miles and is still rolling smooth and strong. That said, this is not a minty showroom example. There are a few known issues that will need sorting out soon. I have an annoying check engine light that likes to come on and go out for no apparent reason, the headliner is in need of reupholstering, and I have a little timing chain cover oil leak that drips on the manifold thus giving off a lovely burning oil aroma. I also suspect I’ll have to get the A/C recharged next season as it just doesn’t quite have that cold kick it should. I want to be brushing icicles off my nose.

Aside from all of that, I wouldn’t hesitate to drive this across the country and back again. So, what’s next? This 6 was originally supposed to be a temporary ride while I got finances in order, but I just got too attached to the dang thing that I guess I’ll keep it for another year or two and see what comes then. 200,000 miles is right around the corner! I’ll see you then…

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