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Tender Rubbing Care Newsletter
Vol 1 Issue 1
Table of Contents
• Why care about your car’s appearance?
• Common Paint Problems
• I need your help
Tender Rubbing Care LLC.
1123-3 Cedar Creek Dr. Modesto, CA. 95355
Why care about your car’s appearance?
By Jim Pyatt
Some people feel, “All I want is that my car gets me safely where I want to go. It’s not silverware. Why sweat over keeping it shiny?” That’s okay. It’s a free country. Different folks have different values. But I will give even these “I just want to get there” folks a very good, very serious reason why they should follow my advice. What is the primary purpose of a car’s coat of paint? You think it’s to make the car look pretty? Think again! It’s to keep the car from rusting. Take a brand-new car, never driven. Ship it by truck to an organic apple orchard in Washington State where you let it sit off the road in the open exposed to summer heat and winter snow and everything in between. If the car had not been painted, it would be so badly rusted in a year that it would not be safe to drive, and extensive rust would keep it from passing inspection.
Ah, you may be thinking, with the new, improved, long-life paints, with no exhaust fumes from traffic, with no shocks to the whole structure from hitting potholes, with no nicks and scratches from loading it with groceries and attaching a bicycle to its roof, with no dents from careless people in parking lots, wouldn’t it still be brand-new perfect after five peaceful years? The answer is absolutely no. Without regular treatment–washing, drying, adding sealant, polishing, waxing–it too would start rusting away, more slowly than the unpainted car, but the metal would be rusting nonetheless, and the paint oxidizing and flaking. The lifetime no-maintenance seal hasn’t been invented yet. Given the nature of oxygen, of paint, of water, of metal, it is most likely that such a seal is outright impossible. This book will teach you how to keep your car looking factory-new to the naked eye for five or ten years of regular driving, and that, in turn, will protect your car’s body from the hazards and the decay of everyday exposure to the elements and to man-made pollutants.
Understanding Common Paint Problems
Commonly found paint problems fall into two categories: contamination on the surface and damage that goes into the paint.
layers. Surface paint problems include environmental fallout, ferrous-oxide deposits (rail dust), paint overspray, bug and tar splatters, and water spots.
“Environmental fallout” is a generic term that refers to all of the particulate crud that is floating around in the air. This stuff settles down onto the paint surface of the vehicle as it sits outside in the open air–it involves things like dust, jet fuel, paint droplets, industrial particulate, including sanding and grinding debris, and any number of atomized chemicals released from industrial operations.
Most of this stuff by itself is not a problem for the paint, but when combined with water from precipitation or dew, most environmental fallout becomes fused with the surface of the paint. In the extreme case, like acid rain, the Combination of fallout and water combination actually etches into the paint, creating a subsurface problem. We’ll talk about this later.
Ferrous-oxide deposits are a specific form of environmental fallout. They consist of tiny iron particles that come from industrial operations. You may have heard the term “rail dust,” which refers to the ferrous-oxide particles that come from railroads. As the trains run along the rails, the contact and friction between the steel wheels on the train cars and the iron rails causes small, almost microscopic pieces of iron to spit out and float away in the air.
Ferrous-oxide particles can also come from other metalworking industries such as shipbuilding. They appear as small brown nibs on the surface of the paint. Sometimes, especially on white vehicles, there is a brown ring surrounding the particle. The total width of the ring is less than 1/32 of an inch. On darker vehicles, the iron particle might be surrounded by an iridescent ring.
Water spots are left on the surface when water droplets are allowed to dry on the vehicle’s surface. The spotting is caused by leftover minerals and other solids that are contained in most tap water. As the water dries, the minerals settle onto the paint surface, leaving rings the size of the original water drops.
All of these surface contaminants cause the paint surface to feel rough, even after waxing. The remedy for minor surface contamination is to use detailing clay before polishing or waxing. Heavier concentrations of surface contamination, especially deposits of ferrous oxide, may require using acid-washing techniques before applying the detailing clay. The acid wash removes most of the particles and the remaining particles are loosened so that detailing clay quickly removes them.
Removing bugs and tar can be accomplished with one of the many chemicals designed just for these contaminants. If the contamination is light, simply pour the chemical on a microfiber and wipe the affected area. If the contamination is heavier, it may be necessary to use a nonscratching scrub sponge to help agitate away the tar or bugs. Always apply wax to the cleaned area, as most of these chemicals will remove any existing wax.
Subsurface paint problems occur when the damage goes below the surface of the paint. Such damage includes oxidation, scratches, chips, staining, and etching.
Oxidation is simply the result of the drying out of the paint. Paint starts as a liquid that is sprayed onto the car. The paint quickly dries to the point where it feels “solid.” But the paint never stops drying out. The liquids that made up the paint before it was sprayed onto the car continue to evaporate, albeit at a slower and slower rate, over time. Without regular waxing, and after many years or heavy exposure to heat and sunlight, the paint will dry to the point that it becomes dull. This dullness or chalkiness comes from oxidation.
In single-stage paint systems, oxidation can be mostly removed by compounding or polishing the paint surface, which removes the “dead” paint. Assuming that the paint is thick enough to begin with, the remaining paint can sometimes be made to be almost as shiny as when it was new. It is most noticeable on single-stage paint systems. On clear-coat paint systems, oxidation appears as cloudiness in the clear coat. Unfortunately, clear-coat oxidation begins deeper in the paint and is virtually impossible to remove. Waxing makes it look a bit better and helps slow the process, but there is otherwise little that can be done to correct oxidized clear coat. If the problem persists, the clear coat will eventually begin to separate from the base coat. A body shop can apply a new clear coat to the infected areas.
Scratches are essentially small gouges into the paint. Scratches can fall into one of three categories: microscratches, moderate scratches, and deep scratches. Microscratches are superfine scratches caused by normal washing. Some people call them “cobwebs” or “spider webbing.” Swirl marks, caused by inappropriate high-speed polishing, are another form of microscratching.
Moderate scratches are those that can be removed or at least made to look less noticeable. These are often caused by accidental contact with the paint, like rubbing up against a side panel with a gym bag or sliding a box onto the trunk. Deep scratches are those that go are down to the base coat or primer. Unfortunately, they cannot be removed, nor can they be made to look less noticeable using standard detailing techniques. Some deep scratches, however, can be made to look less noticeable by using professional paint touch-up techniques.
Scratches can be filled in with glazing products, but this is only a temporary fix. The fill material will evaporate in a matter of weeks, exposing the scratch once again. To remove scratches completely, the paint must be removed around the scratch down to the lowest point of the scratch. The problem is that removing too much paint can cause problems later on. So a good compromise is to sand down the scratch only part way, and then fill the remainder with a glazing wax.
Other subsurface problems include staining and etching, which can be caused by acid rain, bird droppings, and engine fluids. Etching occurs when the surface contaminant eats away at the paint. Bird droppings and eggs are famous for causing this problem. It is difficult to repair etching, especially if it goes deep into the paint. The best solution is prevention by regular waxing or by the application of sealant.
Paint chips or nicks are caused by sharp impacts of rocks or keys or other car doors, and the like. Some nicks can be improved using remedies similar to those used for scratches. Chipped-off paint, however, cannot be improved using standard detailing techniques. Instead, professional touch-up paint techniques can be used to fill in the chip, making it less noticeable.
Paint can become damaged in many ways. Often, there are several types of damage that, combined, cause the paint to look dull and old. By understanding the types of damage, and then using the correct chemical, equipment, and technique to correct the damage, you can go a long way to making most cars look great.
Watch for my book in April 2007
Tender Rubbing Care
Ultimate Auto Detailing Guide
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