How Do I Keep My Cars Finish Looking Top Notch?
By: Jason Recroft
Jason sat down with one of our Collision Center Technicians, Bob Bartling, to find out how you can keep your car looking as new as the day it was purchased.
Having been in the body business for 25 years, Bob Bartling has seen more than a few cars and trucks during his career. Bob joined Midway in 2015, but his experience in the auto body industry began in 1990. So, I asked Mr. Bartling one of those age-old questions we hear a lot at the Midway Collision Center:
How do I keep my vehicle’s paint finish looking as good as it did when it rolled out of the factory?
“Keep it washed!” is Bob’s first bit of advice. “Dirt on your ride can have a profound effect on your finish because dirt contains contaminates and corrosives such as, nitrates and road salt. The sun is another detrimental factor. It can “bake in” the contaminants on the surface of your car such as bird droppings or tree sap. Also, keep your vehicle in the garage or shade when possible – it’s similar to keeping your skin covered from the sun.
What is the best way to keep you car clean, Mr. Bartling?
“Hand wash it instead of taking it through a car wash. The car wash brushes and chamois can get full of dirt and debris, translating into swirl marks on your paint job. Plus, handwashing lets you get up close and personal with your vehicles finish. Hand washing lets you see if you have any defects in your paint so if you see something that doesn’t look right you can get it fixed before it becomes a major headache.”
Here’s a list of some common defects Bob says to look for:
- Peeling. This is where your clear coat has broken and is peeling away, exposing your paint. It’s characterized by a flaky white area surrounding a hole in the clear coat. To fix it, Bob says, “That area will need to be sanded, re-painted, and clear coated. It’ll grow bigger over time if it’s not fixed.”
- Rust. Sounds obvious, right? Well, there’s the obvious rust, then there’s the rust that sneaks up on you. The sneaky rust is the type that starts underneath the paint or behind a body panel where there is no corrosion protection caused by dirt and water that build-up over time. If you own a pickup, Bob suggests cleaning out that area above the rear wheels. Take out your tail lights and shoot a high-pressure stream of water to blow out the dirt and mud that accumulates between the outer and inner panel.” The obvious rust is what you might see on a door panel, fender, hood, etc., typically caused by missing paint. Have a spot of rust just beginning to show? Apply some touch-up paint to the area and keep an eye on it. “If it gets worse, you guessed it, we have to refinish it.”
- Scratches. Sometimes scratches aren’t as bad as you think. “Take your fingernail and rub it across the scratch”, Bob says. “If your fingernail catches on the scratch, you’ve got a deep scratch in the clear coat or paint. You might want to start with a bit of touch-up paint on the scratch first to see how it looks. If you’re not satisfied with the touch-up paint, let us refinish the scratched area.” Otherwise, what you are seeing is on the surface of your finish and can probably be buffed out.
- Paint Chips. “Rocks and pebbles are natural born enemies of paint jobs, and you just can’t avoid them.” Pay special attention to your hood, rocker panels, and behind all four wheel wells.”You should also take a look for chips just above your windshield on the roof,” Bob said. Keep these paint chips from getting worse as soon as you can. “Dab some touch-up paint into those chipped spots right away.” Our Midway Parts Department can help you get a convenient bottle of touch-up paint that will be a perfect match to your factory finish. These touch-up bottles have brushes and marker tips built into the cap to make the process as easy as possible.
- Dents. We’ve all experienced some degree of shock and disbelief when we come out of the grocery store and the person that was parked next to you flung his door open without a care and put a nice long divet in your fender. What now? Bob says, “those dents can usually be pushed out from behind the panel using a technique called paintless dent repair (PDR).Casey, one of our Body Technicians at Midway, can do that. When he’s done you’ll never even know your car had a dent.” Sometimes the dent is too deep and has to be repaired conventionally. “If the metal is buckled or the paint is cracked, then you’re looking at repair and refinish, a.k.a. conventional body work.”
What about waxing? “I’m not a firm believer in waxing,” Bob says. “It doesn’t really preserve the life of your paint. The clearcoat already has a UV screen built into it, but if you really want to wax your car, please use a good quality wax, such as Meguiar’s.”
Still not sure what to do about the body damage on your car? Come by the Midway Collision Center and let us take a look. We’ll steer you in the right direction!
Do you have a question that you’d like to see answered? Email us at [email protected] today!