At Colour Mechanix, we understand that your car is an expensive investment and with the right care will provide you with many years of reliable service and a better return on your money when you sell. Advances in paint technology mean that weekly washing of your car isn’t necessary, however, like mechanical servicing, a program of maintenance for your car’s exterior is still essential.
WHAT IS PAINT
Paint is a mixture of chemicals and pigments. It is a protective coating that prevents metal from corroding and enhances the look of a car, as can be witnessed by the ever-increasing popularity of metallic and pearlescent colours.
Cars are painted with either enamel or lacquer paint. All car manufacturers use ‘baked’ enamel (2-pal) which means a hardener is added to the paint. Baked enamel hardens through a chemical reaction which is accelerated by heat, hence the reason for baking. Whilst baked enamel is superior to lacquer, any paint can be damaged through neglect.
WHY WASH YOUR CAR
- Washing is essential because paint is no guarantee against rust.
- Washing your car is the best method of removing contaminants from its paintwork.
- Regular washing will help you to extend the lifespan of its body.
WHY POLISH YOUR CAR
- Polishing provides a protective coating which shields your car from the elements.
- Polishing prevents further damage (dullness, weathering) from taking place.
- Polishing produces a high gloss shine to your car, helping it to look its best.
COLOUR MECHANIX RECOMMENDATIONS
- Wash your car at least monthly using a soft sponge and then dry it with a chamois. This method effectively minimises those annoying swirl marks on your paintwork.
- Avoid drive-thru car washes that use mechanical brushes and don’t use brushes or scouring pads. These are abrasive and will scratch your paintwork.
- Polish your car every 3 to 4 months. Polish after washing and drying your car. Don’t wait to polish after washing or dust will settle and scratch your paintwork. Synthetic polishes are generally easier to use than wax-based polishes.
- Remove all droppings, sap, bugs, egg, shaving cream, beer, soft drinks etc. as soon as possible. These liquids and substances can damage your paintwork.
- Touch up stone chips on your paintwork to stop any exposed metal from rusting.
HOW TO REMOVE/DISGUISE SURFACE SCRATCHES
With a little patience and the right materials, surface scratches can be disguised or removed.
The Scratch Test
- Assess the scratch using a fingernail. Run your nail across the scratch, if you can’t feel the scratch at all or you can barely feel it with your nail, then it’s likely the scratch is just a surface scratch.
- If your nail easily catches the scratch or metal can be seen, the techniques described below will not work. Long/deep scratches require a visit to the panel shop. The cost of repairing these scratches will usually exceed the cost of your insurance excess. Short/deep scratches may be touched up with touch-up paint which generally is more successful with solid colours or medium to dark metallics rather than light metallic colours.
Types of Polish/Compounds
There are two types of chemicals available for your car. These are:
- Polish – A protective sealant that maintains the gloss of your paintwork and provides a protective layer. Polish will not remove surface scratches. A quality polish can hide light swirl marks by the thin protective film it leaves on the paint surface. As the polish wears off the swirl marks will again become visible.
- Compound – An abrasive material. Compounds range from very fine to very course. Compounds restore or improve paint, as opposed to polish, which maintains paint.
How to Disguise a Light Surface Scratch, Sap Mark or Bird Dropping Blemish
Try disguising light scratches and paint blemishes. This technique generally works on medium to dark colours. Colour in the scratch with a similar colour permanent ink pen (I carry four colours – red, green, blue or black) and use a soft cloth and polish to remove the excess ink from around the scratch.
This technique does not always work, but when it does most people are happy with the results and it is certainly easier and less risky than trying to remove scratches. Alternatively, for lighter colours such as silvers, beiges etc., try using clear finger nail polish, as the clear lacquer disguises the white lines in the paintwork.
How to Touch-Up Stone Chips
Touching up stone chips is an effective way of maintaining the appearance of your car. Not only do stone chips look unsightly, they will also eventually rust if ignored. With a little patience, you can achieve an invisible repair when viewed from a reasonable distance. There are four steps to a good repair.
- If the stone chip has a brown rust stain on it, use a compound and some elbow grease to remove the stain prior to touch up.
- Prior to touching up, clean the stone chip with a wax and grease remover to ensure the best possible adhesion of your touch up paint.
- Ensure that your touch up paint is well matched to the colour of your car.
- Use a fine brush to apply the paint and only put paint on the chip (not around the chip).
The trick is to remove excess paint from the paintbrush prior to filling the paint chip. Do not use the paintbrush in a stroking or brushing manner or you will paint an area larger than the chip. Use the brush as a wick and allow the paint to transfer from the brush into the chip. If you are unhappy with the result, simply wipe it off with a clean cloth and try again. As the paint dries it will shrink into the chip and more applications may be required to till the paint chip to the same level as the surrounding paint surface.
To achieve a premium finish, pull a clean cloth tight over one finger, place some wax and grease remover on the cloth and rub gently over the chip to level the paint (this should be done about 10 minutes after the last application of paint, allowing the paint to sufficiently harden.)
If this process changes the colour of the touch-up paint, simply apply a very light layer of paint to the chip using the brush to return it to the original touch-up colour.