Carlsbad Car Detailing 101: The endless pursuit of impenetrable, indestructible paint is ongoing, but progress in the past few years has been significant. As clear-coat technology advances there are some that worry about the future of car detailing. These new clear-coats are able to prevent scratches, miraculously eliminate them in some minor cases, and prevent accumulation of dirt. However, they are not perfect yet and detailing will be needed for the foreseeable future. With that in mind let’s explore the different aspects of this technology to better understand how they work and how to work with them.
The history of protectants is filled with the usual ups and downs of creating something new. If they protected against scratching it usually meant they couldn’t deal with changing weather conditions. If they were softer they would hold up against weather conditions better but wouldn’t be able to handle scratching. Through trial and error though many of these issues have been resolved.
I’m not going to bore you with the complex chemistry associated with clear coats. Suffice it to say, substances (with big, fancy, scientific names) are combined with heat and other important factors and a paint protectant is born. Some are made up of different forms of plastic, some utilize ceramics, and others use a form of silica. Many of the plastic based coats are able to correct minor scratches on their own when subjected to the sun. When it comes to the ceramics and silica a hard outer surface is created that is difficult to penetrate.
I don’t care how much of a car freak you happen to be, you can’t tell the difference between clear coats by just looking at them. And auto manufacturers don’t make it any easier. They have multiple plants in multiple locations. In many cases they are all using different brands. They aren’t interested in the plight of the detailer who is trying to maintain the customer’s vehicle. If the clear coat meets the manufacturers standards for scratch resistance its used.
This may require some detective work on the part of the detailer or at least a general understanding of some key aspects of the clear coats in use today. One benefit to the detailer that is worked into the clear coat technology is the color of the scratch. Lesser scratches will not be white and many times the chemistry in the clear coat mixed with sunlight will be enough to correct the deformity. So often if you come upon a white scratch on the vehicle you will be using common buffing techniques and is some cases wet sanding because otherwise it will not be taken care of on it’s own. As always, caution is needed when working on unfamiliar surfaces and careful trial and error will lead to a better understanding of how to deal with these protectants. On the positive side they generally make the cleaning of the car much easier by providing a harder surface and preventing the accumulation of persistent dirt.
As clear coat technology continues to advance it will inevitably get better and better. This progress will help to protect against the innumerable hazards perpetrated on our beloved cars on a daily basis. This will require diligence by the detailer to stay informed about the ways to treat cars with advanced protection. However, when considering all of the ways a vehicle can be marred it is safe to say that a professional detailer will be needed to keep our most prized possessions in tip top shape.
This article was summarized from a post on: http://www.carwashmag.com/pdf/feb-2010/detailing.cfm
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