Sunday, 31 May 2015

Paint Surface Scratches (Cause & Effect) Repair

Types of Scratches

The less you physically touch the paint surface the less likely you are to cause scratches. Most surface scratches are caused by improper washing or drying, or by using unsuitable media. Avoiding paint scratches (as much as is possible) will lessen the need to use an abrasive polish along with the subsequent loss of clear coat

 Scratches in the clear coat or its sub-surface, that is to say any form of damage that is in the top layer of the paint surface, which includes; marring, swirl marks, scratches, stone chips, water spots and acid etching. The most common form of sub-surface damage is caused by road thrown stone chips, particularly on the front ends of cars. Surface scratches are invariably caused by grit being trapped between the paint surface and the applicator and being moved across the surface under pressure

Most scratches on a paint surface are V or U shaped, being caused by a small sharp object (fine sand or grit) and a slightly blunt object (belt buckle, button or zip) so an abrasive polish and pad are more readily able to polish the sides and smooth the points where the top of the scratch meets the surrounding paint's uppermost surface (paint levelling).

What makes a scratch visible is that it makes the paint surface two-dimensional and the light reflects from the microscopic peaks and valleys differently from the rest of the paint surface. When you abrade an area with a machine and foam pad these abrasions form a uniform pattern (the machine /foam pad applies an even and consistent pressure) and light reflects from its surface evenly without any two-dimensional reflectance giving the impression that it’s been ‘removed’

The perfect, mirror-like reflection of light from a surface, in which light from a single incoming direction is reflected into a single outgoing direction the best example of spatial reflection is seen when reflected from a flat level surface.

If the surface is perfectly flat, light will be reflected to produce a mirror image of the surface. But if there you have matte paint or are imperfections such as swirls, surface contaminants, orange peel, or oxidation (dull, opaque or unlevelled paint) light is refracted and the reflected light becomes distorted, diffuse reflection, which mutes the shine.

Technically we have different types of scratches because of the different ways they are introduced into the paint.

·        Surface marring –could be in either in the paint surface or wax /sealant, the shallow surface marks often caused by the incorrect use of a micro fibre towel, improper washing methodologies or the scratch pattern caused by a dual action polisher. Surface marring is actually made up of tiny scratches, which can easily be remedied by using a very light abrasive one-step polish

·        Halo-scratches - (swirl marks or spider webs) which, when the light reflects off the raised edges of the scratches, appear to be circular but in reality they are made up of numerous straight line random scratches which are caused by washing, drying and everyday wear and tear. Some are surface marring, whereas others can be deep into the clear coat.

·        Holograms - (also called buffer marks or buffer trails) which again are scratches but these scratches are micro-fine patterned scratches which are caused by a high speed polisher and an operator who doesn't know how to properly finish down their work. They take on a 3D effect and if the car is moving or you move around the car they seem to "flow" through the paint.

·        Pig-tailing - caused by dried compound residue lodged in the fibres of a wool pad

·      Etching - is a type of paint defect that can vary in depth and frequency, but creates a unique pattern dependant on how it is created. Etching is caused by chemical reaction (Acid Rail, IFO, Bird excrement, bombs, and the residual minerals found in water) on that paint’s surface that dissolves the surface, creating depressions.

·      Deep Scratches- a surface scratch that will `catch' your fingernail is approximately 0.04 Mil (1.0 µ) deep will usually require wet sanding

·      Haze - this is usually caused by using a pad / polish combination that is too abrasive for the paint surface to finish without leaving very fine scratch marks. Paint exhibits a general lack of gloss, this could also be caused by harsh detergents, solvents, or hardly perceivable hairline scratches or even a paint protection or polish that is not properly removed, all of which leave behind a dull surface that doesn't reflect light.

·      Surface scouring – this is usually caused by abraded paint residue not the pad or the polish used

·        Swirl marks - Swirl marks (buffer trails) ribbon-like abrasions, the things that cause swirl marks are varied; an unnecessarily aggressive pad or abrasive, excessive speed or pressure used or too stiff a backing plate are just some of the many reasons for this type of surface defect. Even scratch-resistant and ceramic clear coats are susceptible to swirl marks if polished incorrectly.

·      Stone chips - and other minor damage are not only aesthetically displeasing they look unsightly and once they begin to accumulate, especially on dark coloured car. But worse still, because the stone chips, scratches and scuffs have penetrated the clear coat, you car will be prone to rust

Cause and Effect

Too ensure a near perfect paint surface blemishes need to be removed. However there are some things to be cognizant of as it is possible to actually make things worse by using improper methodologies.

Proceed with this in mind; always choose the least intrusive product, it is preferable to polish 2-3 times to restore the paint film surface than to use an unnecessarily abrasive machine polish / foam pad combination. Before commencing polishing do a test panel on the car, once you have achieved the desired results with your selected polish / pad combination then proceed to polish the rest of the panels

·        Foam pad - using a foam pad that is too aggressive or is not  suitable for the polish selected

·        Polish - select an abrasive polish to match the scratch you are trying to remove; by using  the least abrasive combination of polish / pads to remove the defect,  before moving up to a more abrasive combination. It makes no sense to use a very aggressive polish, that will remove most scratches but to the detriment of the clear coats thickness. Know your product and its capabilities before using it

·        Dirty pads - will become more abrasive, as will pads that are simply sitting in a dirty or dusty environment. Even microscopic dirt and dust on a pad can lead to swirl marks

·        Cross contamination- do not use the same pad to apply differing products as cross contamination; i.e. a pad that was used with a polishing compound may have traces left and if the same pad is use for polishing it will cause scratches. However if you thoroughly clean pads right after use you shouldn't have any problems with contamination from different grades of polishes or compounds

·        Backing plate - a hard and inflexible backing plate will affect the performance of a foam pad; by making it slightly more aggressive (stiffness) and may cause swirl marks. The inflexible plastic on many backing plates has zero give and therefore will not adjust to the contoured body panels. The exception would be a plate bonded to a thick layer of dense cellular foam

·        Speed - using too high a speed will not necessarily get the job done faster as there is a risk of instilling swirl marks or strikethrough, which will need to be corrected to remove

·        Pressure -  excessive pressure  will make the pad / polish combination more aggressive, this has the effect of increasing kinetic energy (friction heat) which may result in a strikethrough,  a friction paint burn or paint delamination from the substrate.  Increased surface friction will also cause swirl marks

·        Heat - excessive heat and a combination of excessive pressure (surface resistance) speed and an aggressive pad / polish combination will rapidly generate surface heat, this will soften the paint and may cause delamination from the substrate, surface hazing, strikethrough and greatly increase the chance of swirls

·        Pad angle – ideally a pad should be operated flat to the surface; this provides the correct contact surface area along with sufficient surface lubrication from the polish oils. By turning a pad on an angle you reduce the surface are contact, increasing pressure and reduce the amount of surface lubrication available. Incorrect polish techniques will lead to swirl marks

·        Insufficient product - without the polish lubrication oils, dry buffing will cause delamination from the substrate, surface hazing, strikethrough and greatly increase the chance of swirls

Common causes of scratches

         Improper methodology / tools used when washing or drying a paint surface. This is the most common cause of surface scratching / marring) and accounts for as much as 75% + of surface marring

         A large proportion of all paintwork scratches are caused by automated car washes. Minute particles of hard materials, such as road dust and sand, become lodged in the rotating brushes and etch scratches into the paint surface. These “hair-line” scratches are particularly noticeable in darker paint shades.

         Using an unsuitable applicator or brush to clean the vehicle or remove snow etc
         Using cheap micro fibre or terry cloth towels or some wash sponges will scratch the paint as these materials are hard and unforgiving, inflicting scratches without the need for grit particles
         Placing or dragging an object across the boot lid
         Jewellery (rings, bracelets, etc) coming into contact with paint (i.e. rings abrading door handle recess)
         Using too much pressure with a car duster on a dusty / dirty surface
         Pulling a car-cover over a very dusty / dirty vehicle or dirt /grit on the inside of the cover
         Wiping a dry surface with a dry cloth
         Infrequent rinsing of brush or wash mitt when washing vehicle
         Using a dirty towel (dirt / grit trapped in fibres) and / or applicators that contain polyester (plastic) threads
         Using a towel or cloth that is unsuitable for paint film surfaces
         Not thoroughly rinsing road grime before drying
         Using a car wash concentrate that doesn’t suspend grit / dirt before it gets rinsed away
         Improper use of a water-blade (i.e. not rinsing blade surface after each pass)
         Wiping a spot of dirt / dust with your hands to maintain a ‘pristine’ look
         Using an unnecessarily abrasive automotive detailer’s clay and / or insufficient lubrication

Paint Surface scratches

         Visible damage-if the scratches show a black, grey or white colour it probably means that it's compromised the paint system through to the primer. They can usually be rectified by thoroughly cleaning the affected area, then apply a rust preventative primer before the application of both a colour and clear coat with a solvent or a slightly abrasive pre-wax cleaner or polish. Re-apply a protective polish and sealant after the repairs have been affected and the paint has had time to cure.

         Visible abrasions- dragging an object across the top of the trunk lid often cause this kind of surface damage, or careless use of the car keys or even fingernails around the door handles. They can usually be rectified with a slightly abrasive pre-wax cleaner or an abrasive polish.

         Surface scratch (or marring-) most probable cause is by automatic car wash or poor cleaning techniques. The marring looks like thousands of tiny single directional uniform scratches that cause light to refract instead of reflect, this kind of damage is usually confined to the clear coat, and can usually be rectified with a pre-wax cleaner or polish.

Deep Scratches
A surface scratch that will `catch' your fingernail is approximately 0.04 Mil (1.0 µ) deep will usually require wet sanding and the clear coat refinishing Removing a scratch requires removing the layer of paint that contains the defect; you need to level the paint to the lowest point of the scratch.  

Removing more that 0.3 mil (8 µ) of clear coat will cause premature paint film failure as UV protection percolates to the top of the clear coat. Check paint film thickness with a Paint Thickness Meter (PTG) before you attempt to remove clear coat scratches

As you go over a deep scratch, the abrasives round off the edges of the high spots of the scratch. The result is a shallower scratch (when no full correction can be made) rounded edges don’t  reflect light the same way a sharp edge will and is therefore less noticeable.

Unfortunately a more and more common form of deep scratch are those inflicted with a sharp object i.e. a key. It may be necessary to carry out some localized wet sanding to facilitate full removal of any deep scratches, once again, paint thickness must be checked, and if the paint is too thin wet sanding should not be considered


Clear coated paints show minor swirls and scratches more readily than pigmented paint (single stage) due to an optical effect called backlighting. Light penetrates the clear coat and is reflected from pigmented paint (colour coat) which in turn reflects any imperfections in the surface of the clear coat, making them highly visible. 

As you drive towards the setting sun or oncoming headlights on a rainy night, every speck of dirt, smudge or smear on your windshield is suddenly very obvious. They are much more noticeable when sunlight or oncoming headlights back-light them.

Removing surface scratches with a machine-
Removing a scratch requires removing the layer of paint that contains the defect; you need to level the paint to the lowest point of the scratch. The dual action of a random orbital motion will require more applied pressure to work the compound into the scratch as opposed to the singular action motion of a rotary spinning with less applied pressure. Due partly to its indirect application of pressure; it removes more clear by putting an uneven pressure on the abrasives

a)      A dual action polisher’s orbital’s operating action (throw or offset) is not as efficient at transferring the energy required to create the kinetic friction required, because t puts an uneven pressure on the abrasives. It spins on a double axis, resulting in a pretty much "random" motion of a single point on the pad. This simulates the "random" motion of hand application of polishes.

The downside of this is that you cannot abrade the clear coat either to remove scratches. The PC pretty much just smoothes over the tops of the scratches, not really sanding away any measurable clear coat. To remove scratches you have to make multiple applications to see a visible improvement. So for these reasons a random orbital polisher removes more paint than a rotary circular polisher to remove the same surface defect

b)      With a high-speed rotary polisher - you will be removing a certain amount of clear coat and actually levelling the surface. This is good because you truly remove the scratches, not just making them less refractive to light, as the PC does. The problem is that you only have about 1.5 or 2 mil of clear coat to work with.

A rotary polisher requires less pressure and its circular motion is a more directly applied force is very efficient and will remove more paint for each polishing step, which is usually 2-3 to remove surface defects. Its rotational action is able to focus kinetic friction on the high spots the paint more efficiently.

c)       Using a moderate to light polish; and utilizing a rotary polisher will remove approximately 0.000025 - inches (0.635 Microns) from the paint surface (they are many variables such as polish/compound and speed / pressure used that may affect the paint removed) You seriously have to make a judgment call about whether any defect is so severe that you cannot live with it and therefore it is worth risking clear coat failure to remove it with the rotary

d)      Block or wet sanding (finishing paper and a sanding block) is the most efficient process for paint scratch / defect removal. A polish or compound applied by the sanding block with constant pressure applied to maintain a flat even surface contact. Because of its linear process you abrade the paint surface until the scratch or defects are removed. 

1.      It is preferable to polish 2-3 times to restore the paint film surface than to use an unnecessarily abrasive polish / foam combination

2.      Wool pads are not recommended for random orbital machines (Porter Cable 7424, etc) as wool pads nap / fibres works more efficiently with a centrifugal motion Foam cutting pads tend to be much’ stiffer’ than wool fibres and thus will transfer the movement of the machine to the paint surface more efficiently than a comparable wool pad on an orbital polisher

3.      Natural wool is most aggressive - 50/50 wool/acrylic blends intermediate - lamb’s wool the least aggressive
4.      Always use the least aggressive product first, and then evaluates the surface, then only if necessary `step-up' to a more abrasive product and / or pad.

Levelling paint

When a detailer uses the term "levelling paint" it really means that they are going to be abrading the surrounding paint area that that contains the defect (scratch, swirls, surface marring, etching, pitting, etc.) So they are not ‘removing the imperfection’ just making the surrounding edges of the scratch flat. It is possible to remove a scratch by using a high-speed rotary and abrading the clear coat to a lower level then the base of the scratch, which will remove clear coat, just be aware of how much clear coat you remove, as you don’t want to compromise the paint systems protection.

Removing more that 0.3 mil (8µ) of clear coat will cause premature paint film failure as UV protection percolates to the top of the clear coat, there is UV protection all the way through the paint, but the majority of it rises to the top with the thinner solvents and particles. 

As a point of reference a sheet of copy paper is 3.5Mil (89µ) a surface scratch that will `catch' your fingernail is approximately 0.004 Mil (0.01µ) deep will usually require wet sanding and refinishing.

Modern clear coat paints are formulated from polyurethane, applied as a microscopically thin ‘elastic’ film, 1.5 – 2.0 Mils, too much friction heat will cause it to expand, driving the scratches deeper into the paint surface. Always be aware of paint surface temperatures (localized paint (spot) temperature should be limited to 110.oF.

 In accordance with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) study a temperature of 115.oF< will cause the paint to soften), and thickness, i.e. how much of the surface are you removing (See also Paint Thickness Gauge)

Light Surface Marring

The light surface marring that result from wiping down with a towel or the scratch pattern caused by a dual action polisher  Surface marring is actually made up of tiny scratches, which can easily be remedied by using a very light abrasive one-step polish (Menzerna FF4500) and a protective wax and/or polymer sealant.. This way you’ll maintain the original paint’s integrity for decades, with allowance only for environmental erosion.

1.      Wash the paint surface
2.      Bonded contaminants on the cars paintwork should be removed using a detailer’s clay bar to leave a smooth surface ready for machine compound or polish.
3.      Throughout all stages of the polishing process the cars trim adjacent to the area being worked on should be carefully protected using painters tape to mask it to avoid damage. Protect sunroof seal, headlight covers, lighting rubber seals, windscreen surround, pant edges, vehicle emblems and model identification numbers, etc
4.      Whenever you’re removing painter’s tape from automotive paint, always pull back on the tape at an angle as a safety precaution.
5.      Start the polishing process with a diagnosis of the paint finish and then proceed with the least aggressive polish / pad combination on a ‘test section’ panel, once you have established a suitable polish/pad combination proceed to polish / refine the paint surface
6.      It may be necessary to carry out some localized wet sanding to facilitate full removal of any deep scratches, once again, paint thickness will be checked, and if the paint is too thin wet sanding should not be considered.
7.      Finally use a polish to remove any surface imperfection and then a fine polish / pad to burnish the paint surface
8.      Carry out a wipe down process to ensure all oils and surface defects have been removed. 
9.      Re-wash to remove any polishing dust and  / or debris
10.    The final step could be to use a glaze, pre-wax cleaner or go right to protecting your paint with a sealant and/or wax.

I would like to think that these articles become an asset to anyone who is new to detailing and to professional’s alike, as well as industry experts who seek to advance their knowledge.
I hope the above article was informative. By having some understanding of the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ as well as the ‘How’ along with a little science to help you understand how the chemicals we use react, you can achieve the results you desire.

I would appreciate it if you would share this article as it helps other detailers further their knowledge.
Questions and/ or constructive comments are always appreciated.

Copyright © 2002 - 2012 TOGWT® (Established 1980) all rights reserved

About the Author

The Bentley 4½ Litre is a British sports car built by Bentley Motors. Its supercharged variant is also known as the Blower Bentley. Famous for his statement "there's no replacement for displacement", Walter Owen Bentley upped the displacement of the Bentley 3 Litre in 1926 to produce the 4½ Litre. Upon taking control of the company, the "Bentley Boys" went in search of even more power and developed the supercharged model in 1929 at Henry Birkin's racing workshops in Welwyn Garden City. A 4½ Litre Bentley raced at Le Mans in 1927 but crashed. Another claimed victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928 with drivers Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin at the wheel.

This is the car author Ian Fleming first chose for James Bond. It is featured in three of the 007 Novels, Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker. In the book, Bond drives one of the last blower Bentleys built, a battleship grey Convertible Coupé, with French Marchal headlamps and an Amherst Villiers supercharger. Interestingly, Ian Fleming himself owned a 'blower' from whence the inspiration for Bond's car came. Even more interesting is the fact Fleming bought the car from Amherst Villiers after it was produced for him by Bentley. The car was recently to be seen in the Yorkshire Motor Museum, Batley but since the museum's closure it has passed into a private collection.

The naked Scientist promises to strip car care chemicals to their bare essentials, biotech, nanotechnology, chemistry and the chaos theory are also involved. And this being doctor Jon, you’ll require certain items, a syringe, a microscope, possibly something designed by NASA

Timeline - five decades plus; but detailing has never my prime source of income, Chemical Engineering is my chosen profession. I detailed Concours d’élégance vehicles at week-ends and school holidays. While at university I had a  job at the Connolly™ Leather Company in Wimbledon  (1960-1963 summer jobs while at college)

I detailed my first car in 1958 at the age of fourteen and worked on the preparation of Concours d’élégance vehicles most weekends. I gave up hands-on detailing in 1995. Since then I have written books and articles for motoring magazines (often as a ‘ghost writer’), I run a website as well as a Blog (all detailing orientated) and I'm an active contributor to various on-line detailing forums as well as Facebook and Wikipedia

Born in London, England in 1944, I studied at London University (Bartlett College) and received a BSc Architectural Engineering, then studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc) Business Management, after graduation I joined the RAF and attended Royal Air Force College at Cranwell, Officer Cadet training graduating as a Flight Lieutenant. I then gained a position in the Oil Gas, Hydrocarbon Exploration sector working for a British Oil and Gas Exploration Company, a few years later was granted a scholarship, and studied at Imperial College, London graduating with a Doctorate (PhD) in Chemical Engineering

My Engineering career spanned some thirty years culminating as a Projects Director Coatings Division R and D, working in the Commercial, Aerospace and Defense sectors, which allowed me to work in some of  the most sophisticated laboratories (NASA, Oak Ridge, Sandia National Laboratory,Los Alamos National Laboratory, etc.)

I began detailing Mercedes-Benz / BMW helping out at my Father’s dealership where we would spend three or four days or more detailing vehicles. As well as his Jag collection back in the late 50's, which he used to enter in Concours d’élégance events (detailing to another level) and as such I'm used to a large number of high-end new and used cars. The one thing I learned (and still have that last 98% to learn, mind you) way back then still holds true today “ It’s the surface preparation that makes the difference, not the product”.

I detailed my first car when I was fourteen (a mere five and a half decades ago) it was a 1929 Bentley  Production 1926–1930 (supercharged model from 1929) 720 produced (cost today £2M) that belonged to my Father's friend Brigadier John Dix of Kensington, London. If, as they say, "God is in the details," then a 1929 Bentley is truly a religious experience. I knew then that detailing would become a passion and my metier

Detailing has always been a relaxing pastime for me and while at college I had a part-time business detailing classic vintage cars. From there to Concours d’élégance entrant then judge, and then on to writing car care articles /instructions, then writing this book on my favourite subject. I have tried virtually every top product on the market ever since using the arm-breaking Simonizeâ as well as T-Cut polish and Chelseaâ leather cleaners

With a thirty year background in the physical and chemical sciences and decades in the advanced synthetic polymers and silica coating industry I've always believed in empowering my reader’s with facts based on knowledge, experience and scientific facts as opposed to marketing hype and letting them make their own logical decisions. Because I’m passionate about what I do and care about making sure detailing is a safe, fun and rewarding experience for the enthusiast and professional detailer            

 Le Mans Racer- 4.5 litres Bentley
Production 1926–1930 (supercharged model from 1929) 720 produced


Having been involved in detailing some of the world’s finest classic and high-end exotic and luxury automobiles for five decades TOGWT®  is the first place both Professional and Enthusiast detailer’s look to for an  uncompromising level of unbiased  technical and scientific knowledge. Working closely with the industry’s leading-edge product manufacturers from around the world means the best technology and product advice is available to enable you to care for your automobile.

The old grey whistle test (TOGWT aka Jon Miller) is the author of “Automotive Detailing; Inside and Out”, a knowledge base for the perfectionist and a 180+ articles that form the series “The Technical Detailing Papers” (before a software upgrade on the website – TOGWT Detailing Wiki)

When I first started writing these detailing guides I realized that it would be very detailed (no pun intended) because of my penchant to include not just “How it works, but also “Why” it works, as well as an explanation of the scientific terminology. With that in mind I probably respond with more detail than some think is necessary. But try to write in a way that helps the reader to understand not only "How" to do something, but "Why" they are doing it. I then considered how I could simplify things; however the only way to accomplish this would be to omit necessary information and that didn’t feel right to me

Reading these articles will not improve your detailing skills, lead to a successful business or change your life. Applying what you learn from it, however, will. That's where your commitment comes in - you need to make a commitment to yourself right now that you will take action on what you learn.

Chances are you own a fine automobile, maybe even an expensive one and you want to give it the best care.

Our harsh environment isn’t concerned with how fine an automobile you own, but these tips are mythologies are written for those who do. A well maintained and cared for automobile not only looks good but also worth much more when the time comes to sell it. Regardless of how neglected or soiled the vehicle has become you will find the methodology and products in this book to restore that ‘as-new’ look again.

Every weekend you'll find people washing and cleaning their vehicles, some doing the bare minimum and some who find it therapeutic; washing away the stress of daily life (some have even called it their ‘golf’) By using the right tools, methods and products, a simple car wash can be achieved in very little time; using very little water Optimum No Rinse (ONR) and a just detailed look with Quick Detailing (QD) For the person who wants a more thorough cleaning or the perfectionist you’ll find a range of products and methodologies to produce an ‘optically perfect shine’.

Car cleaning done the wrong way can be at best disappointing, and can do more long-term damage to the various vehicle surfaces. The purpose of this book is to show you various ways, utilizing various skill and experience levels, how to retrieve the original looking finish to your bodywork and interior and how to maintain it. Although it is divided into separate elements for vehicle detailing, the approach taken is the assumption that you are giving your vehicle a complete detail, even if you take it one element at a time. The order in which the various sections are arranged to enable you to do the various detailing steps, in the most time efficient manner and is the adopted procedure for trained professional detailers.

There are also sections explaining various components, detailing tools and products, and chemicals as well as an A-Z of detailing terms and methods to enable an understanding of the “why” as well as the “how” of detailing (also includes cleaning tips and professional tricks)

This section has been expanded to help you deal safely and effectively with virtually every car care detailing situation you might come across, and you can do so with the knowledge and peace of mind that the products recommended and the application methods have gone through an amazing amount of real-world testing on many different marques and their paint film systems.

The proper way to find out what works and what doesn't is to read the label or relevant MSDS and find out what it contains; a combination of knowledge and experience will guide you the rest of the way.

As a Chemical Engineer I would like to help detailers reach an intelligent and logical understanding of the many chemicals used in detailing. Improperly used chemicals can cause damage to the person using them and to surface they are applied to (sometimes irreparably) because the detailer was not educated regarding the chemical make-up of the products they used.

Conversely I also want to tell you that it's a waste of time to dedicate too much time and attention to them. All that is required is that you learn some basic chemistry i.e. what pH values mean, what chemicals will safely remove stains and what detailing chemicals to avoid or the precaution to take if you do choose to use them.

If a product is not working for you, experiment until you find one that’s suitable for your needs. After reading these articles, you should have a basic understanding of the chemicals used in car care products along with some simple generic definitions of the chemicals used. Enthusiast grade products are the cream of the crop and are only available through limited distributors both locally and online.

Professionals typically don't use these products because of time restraints and / or there price point. Whether you have a daily commuter, a concourse show vehicle or you just want to protect what has now become an expensive automotive investment. Most of the answers to maintaining an ‘as new’ condition can be found here. Unbiased advice without any exaggerated claims or marketing hype.

As a detailer, you already face an enormous number of product choices in the market, and every few months, the next "greatest" detailing product attempts to capture your attention long enough to score your dollars. Over-complication is often used in marketing to give the illusion of a more research-oriented manufacturer. The opposite of the very successful approach to product selection KISS (keep it simple stupid)

The products recommended are easy to use, following the stated methods, gentle towards the many different material automotive materials and finishes, safe for both you to use and the environment. This is not a short cut guide, but a list of recommended methods / products to provide maximum protection for your vehicle, so you will enjoy maintaining the vehicle in an as-new (or better) condition for as long as possible.
I didn’t invent detailing, nor did I invent many of the techniques used in these following articles. I do however; use these processes and techniques, all of which have proven them to work effectively, providing consistent show-winning results. As a long-term regular contributor to the online detailing community

I openly recommend products that I use (I test many products and only endorse those that work (i.e. they do what it says on the box) and try my best not to use ‘hype’ terms. I strive to take an ethical stand on testing vendor products, especially those ‘donated for testing. Thus allowing readers to know the difference between editorial content and advertising; it's only my recommendation no matter what products you use the recommended methodology will apply.

I don't know it all, but detailing and making cars beautiful is my passion. I've probably made almost every mistake and have seen just about every problem, when it comes to detailing mistakes teach you what not to do. I have spent enjoyable times as Concours d’élégance judge and at various car shows (as both a ‘Best of Show’ judge and entrant, winning and/or placing in many) making cars beautiful is my passion.

I have always tried to learn from other people, and keep an open mind on new ideas, new products and new techniques. It really does all come down to Process over Product; 85% preparation, 5% application methodology, 2% knowledge of paint finish and  5% product suitability, the balance is the ‘emotive reaction’ of the beholder. A manufacturer is free to place any claim of excellence he wants on his product to make it sell, I only endorse a product that I have personal experience of by using it, rather than personal preference, brand loyalty or emotions.

After five plus decades of detailing vehicles what is left is experience, and experience unshared is knowledge wasted. I hope that you too enjoy the learning process as much as I do and with the help of the techniques and methods in this book your vehicle will become something to have pride in, or perhaps even become a “Best of Show” Concours d’élégance winner

The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know. Then at some point, I hope to have learned enough to realize, that I know nothing at all [We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master] [Ernest Hemingway] I have always tried to find out not just “How it works, but also “Why” it works. With that in mind I probably respond with more detail than some think is necessary.

When the Old Grey Whistle Test went on air (BBC Television, England) in 1971 it was unique, in a world accustomed to Top of the Pops, here was a show on which the bands performed album tracks and were interviewed after they had played. This was before the days of miming, the music was live and, since the idea was to air new sounds, many of the bands were making their first television appearance. The title’s opening sequence featured an animation of a man kicking a star. He was to become affectionately known as The Starkicker.

Presenter Bob Harris (whispering Bob) recalls how the show's name was inspired by the doormen (in grey suits) who worked at the music publishing houses in London's Denmark Street, known as 'tin pan alley':

"It was a 'tin pan alley' phrase from years ago. When they got the first pressing of a record they would play it to people they called the old greys. The ones they could remember and could whistle having heard it just once or twice had passed the old grey whistle test".
 My adaptation:

The old grey whistle test infers that the blokes with a little grey in their hair have tested these products or tools in real world situations, on many different car marques and various automotive paint system’s, they are recommended as they have been found to do what they were designed to do, usually more than adequately.

~The Keys to Success~

·     PRACTICE ~ learn ‘how to’ use tools
·     PREPARATION ~ the final finish can only be as good as the prepared surface it’s applied to
·     PROCESS ~ learn what products really work and in what order to apply them
·     PRODUCTS ~ what’s available and what ‘fixes’ a given paint condition
·     PATIENCE ~ it’s the journey not the arriving, so enjoy
·     PRIDE ~ in a job done to the best of your ability

Thank you for spending the time to learn from this book. I've made every effort in providing you with as much information as possible to enable you to obtain results that are without equal.

I have learned a lot from various detailing forums, most noticeably Autopia and the various contributors who are prepared to share their knowledge and experience and they are in large part the inspiration for this book, 

I would also like to make a special mention to Bill Doyle and others from Autopia for their suggestions and for proof-reading. I would be remiss if I did not also give recognition to the following Autopia members for their inspiration; Accumulator, BlgZ28conv, DETAILKING, DavidB, Ron Ketchum (Grumpy), MPhillips, The other PC, Scottwax, et al

This is not a product vendor’s catalogue, nor a vendor pretending to be an educator, as there are a lot of companies that are now writing online books and DVD’s on detailing and preaching that only the product they sell or manufacture are suitable. In reality they are just advertisements, with the appearance of educators as opposed to mere salesman. Those who have something to sell can be very persuasive, often using marketing facts (i.e. blurring the distinction between science and fiction) to make a great case while completely ignoring meaningful points, like their product adds nothing of real value.

 Commercialism brings with it concerns of honesty and true representation. In other words, it’s difficult to know what is true when someone is motivated by income, i.e. directly targeted at product sales, more so than an unbiased opinion.

I think that the more real facts you know the better. I don't set hoods on fire, or subject paint to a laser beam, nor do I pour acid on the paint. Detail products work on their real merits, not on smoke and mirrors. It is my intent to educate and pass on five decades of experience to my readers in not only the “How it works’ but “Why it works”. Because I’m passionate about I do and care about making sure detailing is a fun and rewarding experience for the enthusiast

I have no affiliation, professional or otherwise with the listed companies, or their products. I use and recommend them as they do what the manufacturer says they will. There are many other products in the marketplace that may be equally suited to the tasks listed, however I have used the products listed and found them satisfactory for my use.

The advent of materials like detailing clay, micro fibre technologies and finely milled micro abrasives suitable for ceramic hard paint are examples of why it’s so important to monitor the industries new products, chemical technologies and ideas that are constantly being introduced, as are the techniques for applying them, hence this e-book will be up-dated and revised on a regular basis

Detailing combines chemicals, equipment as well as a knowledge of vehicle surfaces, ‘Chemicals’, refers to the cleaning and protection products used, ‘Equipment’, refers to the tools used, for example, random orbital polishers, high-speed rotary polishers, extractors and power washers, to name a few. ‘Vehicle Surfaces’, requires a basic understanding of chemistry and how to rejuvenate and protect each of the many and varied material surfaces, regardless of its specific surface composition making objectives observations based upon the results obtained, and adjusting the techniques used as necessary

Detailing also takes willingness to experiment, which usually means deviating from the product manufacturer’s directions, making objectives observations based upon the results obtained, and adjusting the techniques and products used as necessary, always keeping an open mind on manufacturer’s claims for their products.

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