10 Ways to Ruin Your Paint

By: Mike Cardenas

Greetings fellow detailing enthusiasts! Judging by the many car events on social media and the fliers going around, it appears the car show season has officially begun. As Bill mentioned, boats have also come out of their hibernation and will be out soon on the lakes. We have been protecting watercraft with Ceramic Pro all winter long, so if cleaning your boat is too much of a chore, give us a call and inquire about Ceramic Pro Marine to give you more time enjoying your boat and less time cleaning it.

Maintenance on paint is crucial for everything from marine craft to aviation to automobiles. As a professional detailer, questions on exterior maintenance are some of the most frequently asked topics I get. In this edition I’m going to discuss the 10 most common ways paint can be ruined and how to counteract the problems.

1. Improper Car Wash Techniques or Automatic Car Washing: We live in a fast-paced world, and it’s easy to drive into a car wash and get our vehicles clean. Unfortunately, not all car washes are safe, and even washing by hand in the driveway does not ensure a safe wash. Friction is the biggest enemy of paint, so avoiding as much friction as possible is key to preventing swirls and scratches. Swirl-o-matics are a huge contributor to paint damage. On the driveway, always use a grit guard and proper washing techniques to avoid contamination on the paint surface.

2. Bugs and Tar: If not cleaned off properly and quickly, bugs and tar can cause damage to the clear coat finish, etching and sticking themselves with reckless abandon. I recommend Sonax Insect Remover or Stoner’s Tarminator to safely clean bugs and tar. Bugs contain acids that etch themselves, and they can’t be simply clayed or polished away once they leave their mark.

3. Automatic Sprinklers: Hard water leaves mineral deposits that, if left behind, will bond to your paint like nobody’s business. If you can avoid it, do so. But if you get caught in the mist of sprinklers or have hard well water to contend with, always dry water spots from the paint surface and use a detail spray to aid in the removal. Even if your vehicle is glass coated, the mineral deposits will still be left behind, so it’s always a good idea to wipe the surface down.

4. Fingertips: “You can sniff, but don’t scratch.” I’ve always loved those stickers, partly because the motto is true. The first thing people do is touch the car’s finish. Perhaps it’s a way of being connected or a way to feel how slick it is. On a dirty vehicle, it’s important to not touch the surface. I’ve actually had people show me a vehicle, take their finger and rub on a “scratch,” and leave behind a bigger mess.

5. Tree Sap: One of mother nature’s many glues, tree sap can be one of the most harmful things on a paint finish if the sap is not removed quickly. Keep some Stoner’s Tarminator handy; as a solvent cleaner, it does a great job of removing fresh sap from a finish.

6. Acid Rain: This is really common in large metropolitan areas. I’ve had many vehicles in from the East Coast for detailing, and the vast majority of them have some traces of acid rain on the glass and paint. It is extremely difficult to remove. Keeping the vehicle protected and cleaning it regularly are the best ways to help keep damage away.

7. Bird Droppings: Highly acidic, bird droppings are one of the largest causes of etched-in paint damage. Scratches are also possible when cleaning droppings, so be careful! Birds digest small pieces of gravel and dirt that are often the cause of scratches from bird droppings.

8. Soft Drinks and Coffee: It sounds silly, but pop and coffee are hazardous to a paint finish if not cleaned up quickly. Pop is highly acidic, and coffee often contains sugar that can lead to a sticky mess.

9. Road Paint: Warmer weather also means more road construction and routine painting of stripes and other road markings. Keep your distance and avoid freshly painted stripes when possible. Stay within the lines, just like the old kindergarten coloring days, and you’ll be in good shape. If you do stray and pick up paint, use something like mineral spirits immediately to clean off the paint with the aid of a high pressure sprayer.

10. Pumping Gas: I’ve seen many people simply spill gasoline onto their vehicle’s finish and drive away without cleaning it. Gasoline will stain, and if your car is not protected with something like a glass coating, it will get into the paint finish and ruin the paint.

Of course, there are numerous other things than can ruin a paint finish. Ultimately, boats, planes, and automobiles were created as modes of transportation, and things will happen on occasion. But being aware of some of the dangers that lurk in the most innocent of situations is a huge help to maintain a properly cared for finish for years to come. Until next time, take pride in your detailed ride!

Maintaining Marine Gel Coat

By Mike Cardenas

It’s been a busy winter here at SweetCars, and there are a lot of exciting things going on in the shop. We’re proud to be the host for the Ceramic Pro Installer Training Event. Detailers from all over the United States will be attending this special three day training event. SweetCars and Ceramic Pro will be hosting a free detail clinic for the public on Sunday, March 20, from 10:30AM to Noon, and we hope to see you there.

Speaking of coatings, SweetCars has now joined an exclusive group of 40 detailers who will become distributors and installers for Nanolex. This German brand has some exciting innovations, and SweetCars is pleased to now carry these high-quality products in our retail store. The WashCoat from Nanolex is an amazing product that gives literally instant protection during the wash process that lasts for up to a month! It provides beading and gloss that is unbelievable at an affordable price for the DIY detailer.

As Bill mentioned, SweetCars is now a member of the International Detailing Association. We’re proud to join this special group of like-minded detailers from all over the world, joining companies such as Rupes and Sonax among others. Our reputation for detailing is highly regarded as one of the best, and we are excited to be the featured detailer in this month’s issue of duPont REGISTRY. Be sure to check us out in newsstands everywhere!

The detailing operations at SweetCars are certainly busy all year, and some of the projects we see here pretty frequently are Marine projects, such as boats and jet skis. Although most are not brought to us as a chalky and dull mess, hard water and lack of protection can wreak havoc on the nicest gel coats without attention. In this issue of Shift, I’m going to give you some great tips for maintaining your gel coat or single stage paint for your vehicle.

Boats are painted with a gel coat, a tough clear coat that is designed to be more durable than the typical clear coat found on vehicles. However, this tough finish tends to be porous and allows oxidation and hard-to-clean dirt or water spotting to soak in. Anyone who has one knows what can happen when you don’t properly wipe and dry a boat after use. The same could be said about a single stage paint: if it’s not dried properly after a wash, or if bugs or bird droppings are left too long, the soft paint soaks up the stain and then it’s no longer going to simply wipe off.

One of the biggest reasons for the difficulty in cleaning such surfaces has to do with its surface tension. This means that if you were to apply a sealant to these surfaces, the surface tension would be such that the molecules in that sealant would create a barrier that would prevent water and contaminants from sticking. So by minimizing the amount of surface something can hold, you can eliminate some of the issues associated with gel coat and single stage paint. This means that protection is even more important on these surfaces because they act more like a sponge than a hard shell.

For protection, sealants are always going to be the better option than wax. Waxes simply lay on the surface and can be removed quickly with friction from water or the washing process. Sealants are recommended because they chemically bond to the surface and additionally provide a little more durable protection.

Of course, you can always go for something that lasts 10 times as long and works better in the long term. That is where Ceramic Pro is a great option because it creates a permanent bond with the surface and changes the surface tension to repel water, making it easy to dry and clean. The UV protection that will last for years is also a huge benefit of getting a boat or car coated with Ceramic Pro. Most sealants do offer some level of UV protection, so make sure to check the product you’re using to verify that this is also a feature.

Gel Coats and single stage paints can be tricky to maintain. The bottom line is to keep them protected to ensure the best gloss and finish possible, allowing easy cleaning and years of enjoyment. Until next time, take pride in your detailed ride!

SweetCars: Featured in March Issue of dupont Registry Magazine!

SweetCars is currently featured in the March issue of duPont Registry Magazine as the featured detailer and part of the duPont Registry Elite Detailer Alliance. SweetCars has been a proud member for the last 3 years and has gained both national and international recognition as a premier detailing studio in North America by duPont Registry magazine. The team at SweetCars has detailed vehicles at their studio in Fort Wayne, Indiana from California to Florida. With a commitment to quality, professionalism and customer service and a philosophy for doing the right thing, that’s the SweetCars Difference.  duPont Registry is available anywhere books and magazines are sold, pick up an issue and check us out!

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1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL Paint Restoration

Sometimes it makes sense to repaint a vehicle who’s finish is long far gone from ever being its former glossy look. Other times its to change a color from someone’s previous failed approach to restore a vehicle, and so a repaint to its original color is in order. In either case the finish in question has been determined no longer suitable or in bad shape. In this detailers opinion, no paint can create a skin crawling feeling and face of disgust like a chalky and dull single stage paint. Crazing, oxidation, water spots and failed wax on, wax off residue can make for quite an ugly sight. This brings us to the story of a very special 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL that was brought to us by a client.

The Mercedes painted in a once  shiny Signal Red, was bought brand new and was bequeathed to the son by the once proud owner. So with a vehicle that has basically been a part of the family for decades, and was still being enjoyed by the next generation in the family, the decision was made by the owners to see what could be done to revive the now lifeless looking SL. The owner called us at SweetCars and made arrangements to have us check out the vehicle to see what could be done.

When the vehicle arrived, upon inspection it seemed to appear as if all hope was lost for this Mercedes and a repaint was already being strongly considered by the client. But after close inspection and using my Delfesko paint gauge, I could see that there was much life left in this old family roadster. So after consulting the client about what could be done on our part to bring back the car to life, the work was agreed upon and the client was excited to hear that it could stay original without having to repaint. So it was scheduled for its transformation.

On this vehicle, the paint was of course thin on some edges and every precaution was taken to not take away too much, but just enough to reach our goal of restoring the paint finish while preserving as much as possible. Since single stage paint is notorious for oxidation and to avoid the vehicle from becoming a chalkboard once again, it was decided to coat the vehicle with 4 coats of Ceramic Pro 9H and 1 coat of Ceramic Pro Light. So I grabbed my trusty RUPES Bigfoot LHR21ES and began meticulously paint correcting the finish. My prognosis was correct, this Mercedes was in dire need of an intense correction and not a repaint, which would of cost three times as much. The other expense avoided that was much appreciated by the owner was replacing the driver’s seat. The bolster was badly worn and donning some old sticky duct tape. I contacted our good friend Ryan Lamson at Revived Interiors and he was able to repair the badly worn bolster with his magical abilities.

The results were a transformation that was truly remarkable and we were sure that we would get a positive response from the client. When the client finally came in to see it, he immediately welled up with tears and the smile on his face confirmed that we had succeeded in our goal. Overwhelmed with emotion and surprise of the transformation, it was great to hear that it looked just like he remembered it back in the 80’s.

Here’s some pictures of the Mercedes, enjoy! – Mike Cardenas


Gallery: Ceramic Pro Highlights at SweetCars

SweetCars is proud to an approved installation center for one of the most remarkable protective coatings ever, Ceramic Pro. With only about 2 factory trained and approved Ceramic Pro installers per state, we are part of an elite group of detailers that can install Ceramic Pro and provide Ceramic Pro’s warranty. All installers are required to maintain the highest level of quality in installations of Ceramic Pro and must keep up to date on the latest techniques and products.

This gallery highlights just some of the vehicles we’ve coated in Ceramic Pro over the last few years since joining the Ceramic Pro team. All of the projects featured are still looking as good as the pictures you see here. Once Ceramic Pro is applied, it requires very little maintenance from it’s owner aside from a proper hand wash. There’s no need for polishing, waxing or sealants once the coating is applied. These vehicles are ultra hydrophobic, anti-graffiti, chemical resistant, acid resistant, resistant to minor swirls and scratches, maintain a deep gloss and resist UVA/UVB. Wheels and calipers are easy to clean without the need of wheel cleaners and is extremely resistant to brake dust and road grime, permanently.

The proof is in the results. Once our clients experience Ceramic Pro on their vehicle, they are forever changed in how they maintain and care for their vehicle’s appearance. It’s easier, glossier and faster to clean, giving them more time to enjoy their vehicle than spending time and money maintaining to keep a glossy and protected vehicle. Many of our clients at SweetCars are referred to us by clients who we installed Ceramic Pro for them. We now have clients that are referrals, upon referrals, upon referrals and all due to the fact that Ceramic Pro works, and works exceptionally great. From vehicles, motorcycles, marine and aviation applications, we’ve used Ceramic Pro to protect and provide a durable glossy finish for decades to come.

Contact your Ceramic Pro representative at SweetCars today at 260-207-2277 or visit http://www.ceramicproamericas.com for more information


Lamborghini Huracan: XPEL Ultimate Paint Protection Film & Ceramic Pro Gold Package

When the Lamborghini Huracan was first made available to customers as the replacement for the Gallardo, many of us detailers were anxious to get the opportunity to work on the latest and greatest nimble bull from Lamborghini’s stable. A customer of ours in Michigan contacted us about scheduling his Huracan for XPEL Paint Protection Film and Ceramic Pro. So several months passed once the order had been placed for the Huracan and it finally arrived in the Spring, ready to undergo some extensive work at SweetCars. Delivered by enclosed trailer, we quickly began with prepping the vehicle for protection and gloss by performing paint correction and installing a full front clip in XPEL Ultimate. The coverage would include mirrors, full fenders, bumper, full hood and rockers which would be wrapped around edges were applicable for a seamless look. PPF or Paint Protection Film is always installed prior to any glass coating. By it’s design, Ceramic Pro does not allow things to stick to it as it smoothes out the hills and valley on a paint’s surface or “Anchor Pattern” to keep dirt, contaminants and even graffiti from adhering to the finish.

Once the XPEL process was finished, it was on to installation of Ceramic Pro. This Lamborghini was to receive a Gold Package which includes 4 layered coats of Ceramic Pro 9H, 1 coat of Light, wheels coated, exterior glass coated and the interior was protected with both Ceramic Pro Leather and Textile. Once the Huracan was corrected and donning its freshly installed XPEL film with Ceramic Pro applied to all surfaces, it was now ready and protected for years and years to come. Click on the images of the Lamborghini Huracan and enjoy the process!

Contact your SweetCars Detailing representative to book your appointment for XPEL Ultimate and Ceramic Pro on your vehicle for the perfect combination of protection!

Visit http://www.xpel.com and http://www.ceramicproamericas.com for more information

Aston Martin DB9 Paint Refinement & Coated in Ceramic Pro

For many years now, SweetCars has been utilizing some type of glass coating protection to our customers. But none have been as successful as Ceramic Pro. The abilities and performance that Ceramic Pro provides is world’s above what many other coatings can muster. The durability is hard to beat with a 9H hardness that provides a lifetime of protection against light swirls, UVA/UVB, environmental factors and a resistance to chemicals, graffiti and damage from water spotting. Our clientele has certainly experienced the benefits of having their vehicle protected with one of the most advanced coatings ever produced. After all, there is only one Ceramic Pro and their vehicle deserves the best!

This brings us to this of many vehicles we are going to feature on our blog from past projects we’ve done at SweetCars with Ceramic Pro. SweetCars is proud to be a hub location for it’s North American market and we are dedicated to providing the highest level installation possible for Ceramic Pro.

A client of ours in South Florida heard of us joining the Ceramic Pro team at SweetCars and when the opportunity arose to get one of his vehicles out to Indiana, he presented us with this beautiful Aston Martin DB9 for paint correction and protection with our Ceramic Pro Gold Package. The paint underwent intense paint refinement and was then coated with 4 coats of Ceramic Pro that were intensely layered before applying an additional coat of Ceramic Pro Light once the 9H had set for 12 hours. Wheels were removed and coated with Ceramic Pro 9H to provide easy cleaning and protection against harmful brake dust. All exterior glass surfaces were coated with Ceramic Pro Rain to give extraordinary hydrophobic properties and increased visibility. Interior surfaces were coated with Ceramic Pro Leather on the interior leather surfaces and Ceramic Pro Textile was installed on all carpeted surfaces. This makes the interior easy to clean against spills while providing long term protection as well. Here’s the finished Aston Martin DB9 in Ceramic Pro. Simply click on the images to see the results.

Contact SweetCars at 260-207-2277 and make your appointment today for Ceramic Pro!

Visit http://www.ceramicproamericas.com for more information