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Discussion Starter #1
In my searching I've been going round and round, never being able to zero in on an answer to my main question:

1) No, it's not refinishing black panels

2) Yes, we're talking about the gray panels on my '04 E

3) I just completed a 2000 mile road trip where it seemed there was a continuous cloud of moths/butterflies that blatted yellow into my car, constantly. I gave up cleaning my windshield when I filled up because within 10 minutes my windshield would be covered again

4) The front of my E looked like I'd painted it yellow from all the bug splats.

5) Here's my question: is there some spray that I can pre-soak these now oily looking spots to help clean them off? And, if it would work out that way, get my panels looking gray again? Thanks.
 

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Simple Green?
Simple Green should work OK. On the really bad spots on the panels, and since they are textured, you can speed up the process with a medium bristle scrub brush.

Once you've got the panels as clean as you can, follow it up with some Mother's Back To Black. It did a great job of waking up the appearance on mine.

May is the worst month of the year here for those dreaded love bugs! I better go get busy on mine!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, I did the Simple Green/bristle brush therapy and it worked. I was afraid these stains-from-hell would just spread out but they "seem" to have been lifted out of there. I like simple solutions.

Of course, the gray panels look every bit the 15 years old that they are so I guess my next step is maybe the Mother's Back to Black mentioned above. It would be more confidence inspiring if the label read "Back to Gray" but there you go.
 

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Well, I did the Simple Green/bristle brush therapy and it worked. I was afraid these stains-from-hell would just spread out but they "seem" to have been lifted out of there. I like simple solutions.

Of course, the gray panels look every bit the 15 years old that they are so I guess my next step is maybe the Mother's Back to Black mentioned above. It would be more confidence inspiring if the label read "Back to Gray" but there you go.
Yeah, I too was a little concerned about that before I tried the Back To Black. But, Fear Not! There's no black dye or anything like that in it. It kind of looks like hand lotion or something. But it does bring the original color back very nicely.

Leave yourself a good block of time to do the whole car though. It took me a good 4 hours to make it look good! I used 2 old white cotton socks; one as an applicator and the other to wipe off the excess. And there wasn't much excess! The panels had gone without attention for quite awhile, and were drinking that stuff up! I had to keep going over certain spots to eventually get the color right. But in the end, it looked nice!
 

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Yeah, I too was a little concerned about that before I tried the Back To Black. But, Fear Not! There's no black dye or anything like that in it. It kind of looks like hand lotion or something. But it does bring the original color back very nicely.

Leave yourself a good block of time to do the whole car though. It took me a good 4 hours to make it look good! I used 2 old white cotton socks; one as an applicator and the other to wipe off the excess. And there wasn't much excess! The panels had gone without attention for quite awhile, and were drinking that stuff up! I had to keep going over certain spots to eventually get the color right. But in the end, it looked nice!
Here's a picture of the finished product.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, mine looked pretty bad before I did the BTB too! But it was well worth the 4 hours I spent on it. Really woke up the appearance of the whole car! : - )
What kind of prep work did you do on your gray trim before you applied that magic goo?
 

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What kind of prep work did you do on your gray trim before you applied that magic goo?
Just a simple wash with Dollar Tree car wash soap; and then I cleaned a bit of tar off the lower part of the panels with mineral spirits, and then on to the Back To Black.

Just working in the Back To Black was the lion's share of the labor. Like I mentioned before it needed multiple applications in certain spots to get the color consistent. I just kept rubbing it in until it looked right. No magic, just work!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just a simple wash with Dollar Tree car wash soap; and then I cleaned a bit of tar off the lower part of the panels with mineral spirits, and then on to the Back To Black.

Just working in the Back To Black was the lion's share of the labor. Like I mentioned before it needed multiple applications in certain spots to get the color consistent. I just kept rubbing it in until it looked right. No magic, just work!
How long does it last?
 

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How long does it last?
I did it right on 1 month ago. It still looks pretty good; except the front bumper cover needs another cleaning because of those [email protected]#% Love Bugs! (Part of what I don't love about FL!)

Some guys say after a heavy rain, it will streak; like it's been partially washed off. But mine still looks pretty much the same as when I first did it, and it has been rained on 4 - 5 times.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So, I just put MB2B on my '04 E's gray panels and bumpers. I blew it out in 40 minutes. I didn't have four hours to do it perfectly, I'll just touch up the spots I missed and all the nooks and crannies that only I know are there.

It just felt like a temporary beautification procedure, like it will all wash off the next trip to the car wash. We'll see. For now, yeah, it looks great. I didn't need to go twice over much because it had soaked in and needed more.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So...I've been walking around my E touching up spots I missed and hard-to-reach spots that I'm taking the time to reach. All in all, it was super-easy to do all of my gray panels and bumpers. Still looks good, almost new if I can say so, not bad for a 15 year old E. (Except for all the scratches and azzhat-keyed gouges). My Element is 15 years old. We've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of stuff together.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So...I've been walking around my E touching up spots I missed and hard-to-reach spots that I'm taking the time to reach. All in all, it was super-easy to do all of my gray panels and bumpers. Still looks good, almost new if I can say so, not bad for a 15 year old E. (Except for all the scratches and azzhat-keyed gouges). My Element is 15 years old. We've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of stuff together.
So it's rained a few times and, yes, it does run but it's only noticeable running down from the trim bordering the roof and only if you look real hard. As far as the main gray panels down below, no, it's not like there are run marks.

Everyone's tolerance for stuff like this varies. Me, it doesn't bother me too much, the nicer look of the panels trumps the little bit of running.
 

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When you get tired of the B2B washing away there are 2 other products to try.

Aerospace Formula 303 is what I used on my 2004 EX until it got totaled in Nov 2014. I applied it 2-3 times a year and my panels never faded.

The plastic roof trim of the 2008 I bought to replace the 2004 was badly faded. After cleaning it and the rest of the car I accidentally got some Maguiar's Paint Protect on the trim. It immediately looked like new, so applied it to all the trim and the bumpers. To apply the MPP to the entire Element took 30 minutes.

That was ~4 years ago. I never reapplied it to the trim and I'm still waiting for it to fade. :grin: I'm getting ready to do the annual MPP application to the paint.
 
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