How Fragile is Automotive Paint?
Today I am compelled to write about today’s paint systems. After seeing so many people who just do not know about the paint on their vehicle, I figured it would be a good time to educate on the subject. (especially seeing a car I had just corrected the paint on and saw evidence that the owner had taken it through an automated car wash). Paint is EXTREMELY fragile. There are variations of “softer” and “harder” paints, but they all are very easy to induce defects into. When I say defects I mean swirl marks, surface scratches, marring, etc… You would not think that it would be that easy to inflict damage, but even your own hand washing and waxing methods can be the issue. This can come down to the wash mitt you are using, two bucket method, drying towels, applicator pad, pressure, not doing a pre-rinse so all the dirt is then getting rubbed into the paint. Below is a 50/50 photo where the left side is corrected (how paint should look) versus the right, how most people’s paint looks.
This brings me to another point. Paint is paint to many. If it looks shiny then it looks great to most. Most detail shops will give the illusion of just this. They will make the paint shine, but go no further. Or in most cases will use what are called fillers to hide the actual scratches and blemishes that do reside on the surface. These fillers are full of oils that are easily washed out after a few washes. Ever notice how your recently detailed car suddenly does not look good at all? maybe even worse from someone using a rotary buffer improperly on your car? This can then induce such things as holograms in the paint. Here is an example of a hologram under LED lighting on the same vehicle from a previous detailer. Out in the sun it is particularly more noticeable and not pleasing to the eye.
All which can be fixed under the proper hands and care of a professional who is well versed in the area of paint correction.
There is a big misconception when it comes to paint. It is meant to look beautiful, not touched. Many people do the, “wow that looks great!” followed by running their hand or fingers along the paint. Well, you most likely just scratched or marred the paint in doing so. Yes, we want the paint smooth and clean in terms of eliminating bonded contaminants from the elements, but then let the aesthetics of it be the reward. There are now coatings available for your vehicle that are much more durable than a wax or sealant and act as a few micron added layer of protection to your paint. These are not particularly smooth to the touch either but that is not its intention as I am trying to get the point across on the subject. One should view paint as anything else in life that is fragile and to handle with care. I was just inspecting a car the other day that had fingernail scratches all over the door handle and trunk lid areas. You would think that paint would be resilient to these types of things but its durability is intended to hold up against things like the elements of ice, snow, rain. etc… Paint can be scratched using towels that are not soft and plush microfiber material. (even these can induce defects with pressure or contaminants on the towel). Dirt and grime can easily build up on your wash mitt so it is vital to constantly check your mitt and dunk the mitt after each pass into a separate bucket with water before adding more soap (two bucket method). Having an electric power washer can also help as it can remove the dirt without having to wipe or add pressure to the paint. There are a lot of little tricks and tips to yield a much more pleasing look to your automotive paint.
A few tips are to close your doors using an area that is not paint. Also, if you are going to touch the paint to let’s say open the trunk or close it. Just be aware of it and use the palm of your hand to gently close it. Also, automated car washes will heavily damage your paint. If you care about your paint, I would strongly advise against using them. (think about all the vehicles that go through them and how much dirt and junk is on their equipment. Combine that with high speed pounding against your paint and you can imagine the result. If you don’t have the time to educate yourself and do your own washes, I would recommend finding someone in the area who is knowledgeable and can perform the wash for you.
This is how paint should look in the sun! Direct reflection off the paint with no defects to take away from the pride and joy of your second biggest investment. If you would like some more information or tips on how to properly care for your vehicle I am available to lend a helping hand. And remember! paint is to look at! not to touch!