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Old 09-04-2007, 12:15 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Miami,FL/Austin,TX
Full Name: John
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"solution” for melting/sticky rubber-plastic interior pieces

I stumbled across a “solution” for the melting/sticky rubber-plastic problem that I’ve been having on my 2001 360. It’s not a fix per se, but I think it’s about as close to a convenient fix as there ever will be.

At least for my 360, I found that 70% isopropyl alcohol (I chose to use B-D brand alcohol pads that you can find anywhere) will basically dissolve away the melted/tacky rubber-plastic instantly and leave any good surfacing underneath alone.

http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/cvs/gatewa...?prodid=619809

In my experience, it was quite amazing. When I say instant, I mean instant. Wipe on, wipe off a couple times and it’s over. The great thing about isopropyl on the melted rubber-plastic is that it lubricates the surface so it’s easy to wipe off the gunk.

My door handle and release were very tacky and my ashtray cover was worse… it looked like smudged liquid tar. It took about 60 seconds to remove all the tackiness leaving a smooth tack free finish that is holding up a month later. I’ve also tried this on some knobs that were slightly tacky (worked there too). The only tacky piece that seemed resistant was the panel that has the hazard switch and side mirror controls. For whatever reason, that piece, while not bad, still remains slightly tacky so this 70% isopropyl alcohol didn’t bat 100 for me, but I’d give it an A+++ regardless.

Anyway, on the first shot, I gave a good rubdown on all my tacky/melted interior pieces… I got most of what I wanted to done in a couple minutes. It’s been a month now and I haven’t seen any deterioration so I feel safe in recommending this method now. From what I’m seeing, I’m guessing that removing the melted gunk is slowing down/preventing the depolymerization/melting of the good rubber-plastic underneath.

Thoughts:
1) B-D and high quality swabs are the way to go, they have thick pads that can absorb a nice amount of the goo. If you go for cheaper store brand swabs, they tend to be thin and papery.
2) If you wipe down with the pads and let things air-dry, you will probably leave some hazy swirls on some of the pieces. You can prevent this by having a damp 100% lint-free cloth-like paper towel ready to quickly wipe the pieces down before they air dry from the isopropyl. Be careful here... this step might not be worth it if you don’t have the right towels. Even though the isopropyl will be taking the gunk off on the surfaces, there are inevitably going to be tiny crevices and edges where you can’t get at unless you remove the part from the car. What I’m trying to say here is, if you’re not careful and use normal paper towels, you’re going to have non-tacky surfaces with little lint pieces stuck on the crevices and edges where you couldn’t get good rubbing with the isopropyl pads.
I’d recommend using these cloth-like paper towels or something close. http://www.officedepot.com/ddSKU.do?...g=true&An=text


OK, I guess I’ll end it here with a couple pics. The 2 pics you will see are the touchup job pics where I go do touchup jobs on the door handle and ashtray cover 1 month after the initial cleanup. I wish I took pics on the original cleanings 1 month ago, but I did this isopropyl thing more on a whim and was surprised/amazed at how it was working. Basically, it was in a dark parking lot before going to dinner, I had about 3 minutes and brought down a bunch of pads and it worked on everything it touched. I did it in the dark so it wasn’t an ideal situation to do a complete job.

Picture1:
For the door handle “BEFORE” pic, notice the left edge where it took it down to the metal but left alone the surrounding good rubber-plastic. Also notice the door handle cup area circled on the right side, see the hazy mess at the bottom. That hazy mess is actually the goo/tacky substance that initially covered the whole door handle/release lever. 1 month ago, on the initial cleanup, I didn’t pay attention to cleaning out the bottom area of the door handle cup so it left a good opportunity for a before and after picture today.

In the “AFTER” pic, the goo is gone and the surface is non-tacky like the rest of the door handle. Please note, the AFTER color in the door handle cup is pretty uniform to the eye. The color difference you might see in the pic is more due to the front area of cup was “wet” with isopropyl at the time of the pic. When dry, everything was uniform. Also, the yellow window shows some B-D swabs after wiping off the goop.

Picture 2:

In the “BEFORE” pic, focus on the red rectangle in the top right corner of the ashtray. It shows a tarry smudge on a spot I missed on the initial cleanup. On the after pic, it’s gone. Also, in the after pic, I did a pretty good job of wiping the piece down after the isopropyl to reduce the overall hazing that you see in the Before pic. However, in the after shot, there’s a little hazing I missed this time around right in front of the grab lip for the ashtray lid.

I’ll make this post here and in the techncal Q&A.. I’d like to make this post in the 355 area too, but I don't want to spam this post everywhere, although this melting issue affects a lot of different models and I think people who are affected will really want to see this post. Please pass this info around and please only post questions to me in the 360 forum. Good luck --- John

P.S. I was surprised to see my JL Audio subwoofer that I keep behind the driver’s had speaker surrounds that crumbled to the touch. I wonder if it underwent the same “stress” as the rubber-plastic in the interior. JL Audio is an elite brand and I had the sub for 4.5 years. The speaker was blown, but what was interesting is, when I pressed the speaker cone foam surrounds, they crumbled like damp cornbread with a very light touch. I have to believe this is not normal for a 4.5 year old JL audio sub. I wonder if this melting issue has nothing to do with UV nor cleaning chemicals (Which the subwoofer was never exposed to). Maybe it has more to do with something universal like exhaust gases that filter into the cabin? Ie. maybe people who experience the worst problems either have more leakage or maybe after a drive, they have their windows rolled up and the engine running for a bit before shutting off. I would tend to believe an explanation like that more now after seeing the subwoofer.
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Last edited by gjockey; 09-04-2007 at 12:23 AM.
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  #2  
Old 09-04-2007, 07:46 AM
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Great write up. I was told by JL a few years back that the detonation of the foam was due to 3 things UV, humidity and lack of use (sitting).
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:27 AM
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I'm not so sure I'll be replacing any more rubberized pieces as their failure rate is awfully high. As they "tar" I'll be wiping them down. My passenger door is like tar too, so I'll be giving it the treatment. I already wiped down the pull handle stays and I believe they look better anyway. Anyone wanting to buy these cars from us at some point will certainly understand and probably appreciate the effort. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't care if the entire car had been "tar-less" when I bought it.
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:00 AM
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Full Name: Lou Menditto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duskybird View Post
Great write up. I was told by JL a few years back that the detonation of the foam was due to 3 things UV, humidity and lack of use (sitting).
I had a pair of Infinity home speakers with the same problem. Always been inside, climate
controlled. Though did go through long periods of non-use after the kids were born.
I had a local speaker repair specialist rebuild the foam surrounds for low dollars.
Been good for many years since.


Lou
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