Automotive clear coat needs clayed on a regular basis to remove environmental fallout and pollutants that get embedded in the clear coat and if not removed, they will eventually work their way through the clear coat and into the base coat causing permanent damage. Auto Detailing Clay will cleanse the clear coat and remove rail dust, environmental fallout, brake dust, paint overspray, acid rain deposits, etc. These contaminants often contain metal particulates, which accounts for the ease with which they penetrate the clear coat to attack the paint below. These contaminants then oxidize, and they allow rust to spread beneath the clear coat. This is why removing these contaminants regularly is so important and also necessary to keep the paint healthy and vibrant.
Clay not only prevents clear coat failure and cleanses the paint leaving a much more vibrant color, but it also ensures that any protection you put on the vehicle will bond as strongly as it can, making it last as long as possible. ALL of our Exterior Details and Full Details include claying the paint as well as the glass to keep your car in the best condition possible.
Protecting the paint on your vehicle is something that should be done on a regular basis to not only keep the vehicle looking good aesthetically, but also to prevent clear coat damage and eventually failure. Many people think (or have been incorrectly informed) that clear coat is a form of protection for your vehicle. This is not the case. Clear coat is paint that is sprayed on top of the base coat on today’s vehicles to give the dull base coat a gloss.
The Basecoat/Clear coat paint system was developed and introduced in the late 1970’s in response to the EPA mandating that car manufacturers come up with a more environmentally friendly way of painting cars. The lacquer and enamel paint systems were releasing too many fluorocarbons into the atmosphere, increasing the hole in the ozone layer.
The Base Coat is the pigment color which is dull and the Clear Coat is clear paint that provides the gloss. Wax and Sealant protect this top layer of paint from bird droppings, acid rain, environmental fallout, rail dust, etc. When any of these contaminants land on the vehicle, the wax or sealant acts as an invisible barrier and the protective layer of wax or sealant gets penetrated instead of the vehicle’s clear coat. (The vehicle must be washed regularly to prevent the contaminants from going through the layer of protection and onto the clear coat and wax and/or sealant will need re-applied periodically throughout the year depending on the product)
Providing additional protection for your vehicle in the wintertime is extremely important when it comes to maintaining your vehicle’s paint, wheels, and glass. Snow, ice, and the scraping it takes to remove them, can be extremely rough on your vehicle. Salt used to de-ice the roads can also de-paint your vehicle if you’re not careful! We recommend having your paint and wheels sealed – and this, along with regular maintenance hand washes, will get your paint finish through the harsh winter months.
It is always a good idea to have heavy-duty winter mats (rubber or vinyl) that can take the bulk of the beating that winter can inflict on your floor mats and floor boards. However, no matter what mats you have, there is a good chance that you will get snow, sludge, and salt on your carpeted floor boards or floor mats. To prevent permanent damage and staining, and to make clean-up easier, we recommend having your seats (if upholstery), carpet, and carpeted floor mats sealed with a fabric protection. This will close the carpet fibers and prevent anything that lands on the carpet from penetrating the carpet fibers if wiped up within a reasonable amount of time.
Are you washing your car, or are you actually damaging the paint finish? Most of the swirl marks that show up in automotive finishes are usually caused by poor washing techniques. Thorough weekly washes and careful hand-drying can be the best care you can give your vehicle, however doing this improperly will cause unsightly swirls and scratches in the paint that requiring compounding or polishing by a professional to correct. You can eliminate these problems and save yourself extra work by following a few simple tips when washing and drying your vehicle.
Weekly washing is good practice because contaminants can quickly do serious long term damage to paint if they are not removed. Bug splatters, bird droppings, and brake dust are all contaminants that should be removed as quickly as possible to prevent permanent damage to your vehicle. Bugs are very high in protein and quickly latch onto any surface they land. A good wax or sealant will make allow you to wait a few days before removing these contaminants but on unprotected paint, these will instantly start to penetrate into your clear coat. The longer they are left there, the farther into your clear coat they will get and eventually they will work all the way through the clear coat and into the base coat. This will cause weak spots in the clear coat and make your vehicle susceptible to corrosion and discoloration.
When washing your vehicle, it is always best to do this in the shade and not in direct sunlight. It is also very important to use supplies and chemicals that are not going to cause more harm than good when you put them on your vehicle. Wash mitts and sponges that have a deep nap are better than flat weave towels or dense sponges because they will be able to pick up and remove debris from the vehicle as opposed to moving the debris around on the vehicle’s surface resulting in scratching. It is also important to keep your wash mitt clean and rinse it frequently throughout the process of washing your car.
Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitts are what we prefer to wash with here at Unique Auto Finishing. Microfiber’s combination of polyester and polyamide make it capable of scrubbing the paint without scratching or swirling. It traps dirt and grit within the fibers rather than leaving them on the surface of your vehicle. It is best to rinse the mitt frequently to release these dirt particles and we prefer to use the 2-bucket wash method of 1 bucket with soap and water and another bucket for rinsing the mitt prior to getting more soap (explained more in step 2 of wash procedure).
Drying your vehicle after washing is necessary to prevent water spots. Water spots are caused by mineral deposits that etch the outline of a drop of water into your vehicle’s paint. All water has minerals, whether it’s from the hose or the sky, and as the water evaporates, the minerals remain on the surface and they will eventually create water spots. (Again having a good wax or sealant on your vehicle will elongate the amount of time that can pass before these minerals work their way into the clear coat.)
You can dry your vehicle in a variety of ways, but you want to make sure you do it quickly. The fastest way to remove excess water (what we do here at Unique Auto Finishing) is use a Jelly Blade. This is a “paint-safe” squeegee that you can use to remove most of the water from your vehicle. They are made of soft, medical-grade silicone so they will not scratch your paint or glass. If you use a Jelly Blade you may still need to use a towel to wipe away drips from around windows and mirrors. If not, you will need a towel to remove all of the water. We recommend using either a synthetic chamois or a microfiber drying towel (we prefer the Microfibers). Microfiber is more absorbent than terry cloth or chamois, and it lasts longer. You DO NOT want to dry your vehicle with a Terry Cloth Towel or Bath Towel because these towels are not soft enough to dry without scratching. The fibers in Terry Cloth Towels can become matted and hard after repeated uses, they shed lint, and they increase the chance of swirls.
Most vehicles produced since the late 80’s come equipped with plastic headlight lenses made from molded polycarbonate plastic. This is a type of clear plastic that is very durable and can take a considerable beating, making it a perfect choice for the front of a vehicle. The negative side to this material is that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can and will break down the top layer of plastic and cause it to oxidize over time. Polycarbonate headlights will become yellow and cloudy making it harder for light to pass through creating unsafe driving conditions at night; not to mention the fact that they severely diminish the overall appearance of the vehicle!
Many states have chosen to regulate the amount of light that must pass through headlight lenses for the vehicle to pass inspection - due to poor visibility causing several accidents on a regular basis. The good news is that even if your headlights have become oxidized, are yellow, or are cloudy, they can be fixed. We offer a 10-step headlight restoration process that will remove all of the oxidation from your lights, restore clarity, and make them look like new again! Not only will we make them look like new, we also apply a UV-protective coating on the headlight that will give protection from the sun and will leave just about the same amount of protection as the headlights had originally when they were new.
To prevent your headlights from oxidizing in the first place or after they have been restored, we recommend waxing or sealing your headlights on a regular basis the same way that you would wax or seal your paint. This will provide protection from the sun, reduce the exposure to the UV rays, and prolong the time it takes for the headlights to oxidize.
The two most common choices when it comes to paint protection are: Carnauba Wax or Synthetic Paint Sealant.
Carnauba Wax is the preferred car wax of collectors and concourse enthusiasts because it creates a rich, warm glow. It doesn’t appear to sit on the paint. It transforms the paint into a deep, liquid pool that shimmers under changing light conditions. The more carnauba wax, the more shine. Carnauba wax is produced by the Brazilian Tree of Life to coat its leaves. This wax provides protection from the sun and it sheds water so it falls to the ground and then absorbed by the tree’s roots. The carnauba wax is breathable since oxygen is released through the leaves of this tree which makes it great for paint protection on vehicles.
Carnauba is rock hard in its natural form. When the leaves of the Tree of Life are harvested, the wax flakes off as the leaves dry out, or they are put into a machine that removes the wax. It comes off in hard flakes. Car Wax manufacturers have to blend the wax with oils, petroleum distillates, or a solvent called naptha (commonly used to thin wood varnishes and paints) in order to make the wax workable. The very best carnauba-based car wax is only about 1/3 natural carnauba.
Carnauba protects the leaves of a palm tree from the intense heat and humidity experienced in Brazil. The carnauba car wax repels water and, consequently, most contaminants. When applied to any surface, carnauba retains these characteristics. Therefore, an application of a carnauba-based car wax to your vehicle will protect it from UV rays, heat, moisture, oxidation, and environmental contamination.
Carnauba Wax will usually last about 3-6 months on a vehicle depending on how the vehicle is used and maintained. If the vehicle is garage kept and not driven daily you will probably get 6 months of protection (if washing properly). If the vehicle is driven daily and kept outside, you will probably get closer to 2-3 months of protection.
Paint sealants are man-made unlike Carnauba which is a natural product. Sealants last a lot longer, they are easy to apply, and there’s nothing natural about them. Paint sealants are made up of polymers, which are composed of tens of thousands of synthetic particles that are linked together. When a sealant bonds to your vehicle’s paint, it forms a rigid shell. The sealant becomes part of the paint through a bonding process called molecular cross-linking. Paint sealants sit on top of the paint like a transparent chain metal suit.
Paint sealants are consistently increasing in popularity due to their durability and their ability to bond to the paint leaving long term protection. A good paint sealant will last 9-12 months (again depending on how the vehicle is used and maintained).