Step one – What are you working with?
Paint is paint right? WRONG! The detailer’s first job is to figure out what kind of paint job is on the vehicle…
There are loads of different types of clear-coat (top coat) out there, 2 vehicles from the same manufacturer, from the same year but manufactured in different plants will have varying top coats.
Recently companies have tried “self-healing paint” (Infinity – turned out to be disastrous and was discontinued!) and “cerami-clear” (many European manufacturers e.g. BMW and Mercedes – Very, very tough paint) amongst many others. Each of these coatings has different properties which means they react differently to different techniques. Knowledge is power here.
Many “old heads” of the detailing industry still use old techniques such as “going hard” on the paint with aggressive pads, compounds and buffers. These techniques are out of date (in 99% of cases) and often leave vehicles covered in holograms, buffer swirls and more like in the picture below (courtesy of http://www.autogeek.net).
Not to mention we also have to figure out if another "detailer" has worked on the paint before, have they applied protective products? Have they removed alot of clear coat etc etc
Ok so we have found out what we are working with….
Step 2 – Prepare the paint.
This is a step that pretty much all shopping centre/cheap fixes skip – just look at their price list, they often have a clay bar separate to a cut and polish, the clay bar is an essential part of the cut and polish process!!!!
Step 3 – Correct the defects (the cut and polish)
Correcting paintwork is an art form requiring a lot of knowledge and patience. A detailer’s approach is made up of three parts;
MACHINE --> COMPOUND CHOICE --> PAD CHOICE
Rotary Meguiars or Menzerna? Lake country CCS or Hex?
Dual Action Heavy Cut Yellow
Medium Cut Orange
Light Cut White
Finishing Polish Black
This is a tiny fraction of the options available, there are many more brands than meguiars or menzerna, many more grades of compound/polish and hundreds of pad companies/structures out there. Each and every single combination will have different attributes and results. Then it is a matter of trial and error (with a certain approach) to find the best results, this might take 1 combination or even 4 or 5 combinations one after another.
When correcting paint we are REMOVING clear coat, now clear coat is a protective layer over your base paint so we obviously don’t want to remove too much. (real) Detailers will live by the motto “Least aggressive first” – this means finding a combination to remove as little clear coat as possible to fix the defects and no more. Of course we could just blast your car with the strongest cut and polish it up to make it look pretty but this would leave you with less clear coat (and therefore less protection) than we need to. Thus increasing the risk of clear-coat failure and the need for an expensive respray (see below)
It’s time for Step 3 – Protect the paint.
The key to longer lasting protection is to add a sealant before the wax, these are formulated to bond with the paint and offer longer lasting protection (6 months+) from UV rays, bird droppings etc etc.
The real detailer will then follow that (after letting it cure) with a quality wax to add the depth and gloss to the paint, they may even add numerous coats after curing.
Does this sounds like a long process? IT IS! It’s very hard to do a proper cut and polish in less than 8 hours, unless you get very lucky with nice paint to work with and not too serious defects. If you ran a company would it be viable to do that for $200 (AND do the interior aswell? - in 4 hours?!), I think you can agree it definitely isn’t……
In this industry you definitely get what you pay for….
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job…… Wait until you hire an amateur”
- Red Adair