Auto Detailing and Paint Correction
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Paint correction is a term that is now commonly used by both professional car detailers and car cleaning enthusiasts worldwide to describe the process of restoring and rejuvenating the paintwork of a vehicle, mostly through the elimination of surface imperfections, that dull, oxidize, or haze the surface by reflecting light off in various directions, therefore detracting from a true and proper, clean, sharp, reflection. These imperfections include things like swirl marks & fine scratches, bird dropping etching & acid rain etching, hologramming & buffer trails, and random isolated deep scratches (or RIDS).
Before any paint correction is undertaken, a thorough wash and decontamination of the vehicle is performed. Paintwork is properly washed and cleaned to remove any loose dirt and debris, then after the wash process is clayed with a specialist automotive clay bar, which safely removes any bonded surface contaminants such as tar spots and industrial fallout.
It is important these contaminants are removed before the paint correction process because if they were to become dislodged and caught up in the pad of a polishing machine, they could easily inflict damage onto the surface very quickly. It also helps to leave the surface very smooth, which in turn, allows the polishing machine to move freely over the surface, reducing the possibility of hopping or sticking occurring. Lastly, claying the paintwork helps you to properly observe the progress of the correction process because you can see the true condition of the surface as you are working.
The polishing is usually a multistage process as a range of different grades of polish are used, ranging from heavier cutting compounds, which remove the surface material, to finer products which then remove any marks that the heavier products may have inflicted and generally refine the finish. During the paint correction process it is common for a paint depth gauge to be used.
This measures the thickness of the paint on the metal panel and is used before, during and after the process to monitor how much material is being removed and ensure an excess is not removed which could leave the paint too thin or even cause irreversible damage such as a strike through the paint. Specialist halogen or LED lamps which replicate the effect of direct sunlight on the surface are also used during the process to check the condition of the paintwork and see how successfully the surface scratches and imperfections are being removed.
Some scratches or imperfections may actually be too deep or severe to safely remove without risking removing to much surface paint or clear coat and so are minimized and reduced as best as possible using techniques with the machine polisher and polish products that round off the edges of the scratches and make them far less apparent in direct light.
After correction, the panels are wiped down with an isopropyl alcohol which removes any oils that may have been left over from the polish and reveals the true finish, including any areas that may have been missed or require a little more work. Once complete, fully corrected paintwork will shine brilliantly and produce stunning reflections because there are now no longer any scratches and imperfections to scatter and reflect the light rays off in different directions.
Auto Detailing on the other hand involves cleaning and reconditioning the interior and exterior of the car. The aim of this is to restore the paintwork by eliminating scratches or swirl marks to make the car look almost brand new like it did when you first drove it out of the shop.
Steps in Auto Detailing
A thorough car detailing consists of two main phases: interior detailing and exterior detailing. We are going to break down each phase so you know exactly what to expect when you get your vehicle detailed. Feel free to ask your technician if you have any questions about the process, as most of them love to share their art of detailing with others.
Exterior Car Detailing
We begin with an exhaustive exterior wash to remove as much dirt as possible. By allowing the soap to foam, dirt and mud are softened and lifted off the surface.
Next, using special brushes and wheel cleaning products, the detailer takes off all the dust and filth from the wheels; brake calipers, lug nuts, etc. The wheels are usually the dirtiest parts of the car!
After the wheels have been cleaned, the paintwork is washed and dried from top to bottom using washing mitts and soft microfiber towels. The paintwork is then clayed using automotive clay bar that removes the tightly bonded dirt of the surface of the car, which is your car’s clear coat.
If required, the paint is polished to eliminate any light scratches, oxidation, and swirl marks. The paint can be polished by hand or by a polishing machine. This can be the most time-consuming part of the detailing service depending on the car and the state of its paintwork.
Finally, the paint is waxed to give it an additional protective layer using high-quality carnauba based paste wax. This added protection results in a noticeable shine too, the kind that you saw when you first bought it!
The remaining exterior parts, like the windows and other rubber parts, are then polished and methodically cleaned, adding the finishing touches in all the corners of the car’s body and exterior trim to make the entire car sparkle.
Interior Car Detailing
All of the upholstery inside the car is thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed to remove stains and dirt. If the car has leatherwork, this is often conditioned and scrubbed to remove dirt that is deeply ingrained. Plastics and vinyl are also properly cleaned and dressed.
Lastly, the interior glass is also cleaned and polished.
What are the benefits of getting your car detailed?
A complete car detail will bring your car to its best condition. You can then perform mini details to keep your car looking as good as new.
– Car Value
Keeping your car in good condition will help maintain or restore the value of your car. This is particularly true of older or classic cars, especially if you’re looking to sell your car in the future. You simply cannot get the same results from car washes. A good detailer will bring your car to its original beauty and increase its resale value.
Another benefit of auto detailing is the added protection against the elements. When a wax coat is routinely applied to the exterior painted surface, it protects the finish from contamination and oxidation (rust).
– Attention to Detail
Since detailing is an incredibly thorough process, you can expect the detailer to meticulously assess every crevice of your car to suggest customized solutions. You will not get this kind of personalized service at a car wash.