New Car Protection treatments have been on offer for many years now, yet there is still a significant percentage of the car-buying population who remain in the dark as to what this involves.
The owner of this brand new Ford Mustang however, was well informed – that’s why he booked it into the UF’s Brands Hatch based Detailing Studio in Kent. Having purchased it from a nearby dealership, the Mustang didn’t have too far to travel, yet the Kentish weather had been less than forgiving, throwing a torrential burst of rain onto the roads prior to the car’s arrival. Not that the challenging conditions were an issue for this modern muscle car! The new Ford Mustang Fastback has unmistakable road presence and Ford themselves describe it as ‘A Legend Redefined’. A long, downward flowing bonnet slices through the air, deflected through front splitters to keep the nose firmly grounded whilst the subframe controls body roll through corners. Choosing from four drive modes, Normal, Sport Plus, Track, and Snow/Wet, allows the driver to confidently enjoy the driving experience, whatever the road conditions.
Prior to any protection the Mustang was due to receive, decontamination, pre-cleaning and washing was required. UF complete these process’s using non-contact methods to minimise the risk of inflicting swirls or scratches into the paintwork. This is particularly important when the car is covered with potentially harmful contamination which was prolific: wet roads deposit dirt, grime, grit and diesel residues onto the car’s surfaces. Additionally, brake pads shred when the discs are applied, causing tiny hot particles to become airborne and land on the surface, bonding as soon as they come into contact. These hot particles can quickly begin to oxidise, swelling as they do. Left in place, they can cause permanent pitting in the clear coat lacquer. Scrubbing at them with a wash mitt is ineffective and carries the risk of damaging the paintwork. To safely remove them, Gtechniq W6 Iron & General Fallout Remover was sprayed onto the bodywork and wheels and allowed to dwell. W6 shrinks the iron particles, causing them to break their bond with the lacquer and allowing them to be rinsed away with a pressure washer. Diesel splatters and road grime were eliminated with a solution of Gtechniq W5 Citrus All Purpose Cleaner with care taken to ensure the space under the wheel arches was also thoroughly cleaned. To facilitate this, the four corners of the Mustang were raised in turn using a trolley jack, creating additional space to facilitate through cleaning.
The windows had acquired white spot marks where rain water had evaporated leaving behind chalky deposits which quickly bond and begin to etch into the glass. To remove these, Kamikaze Collection Water Spot Remover was applied to dissolve the white residues.
To remove the larger particles of dirt and grit, Ultimate Snow Foam was applied. The thick foam clings even to the vertical surfaces of the car, lifting dirt and grit away and encapsulating them within the foam. This can then be rinsed away using a pressure washer. W6, W5, Water Spot Remover and Ultimate Snow Foam have removed the majority of the contamination, and all before a wash mitt comes into contact with the car’s paintwork!
The next stage was to safe wash the vehicle using separate wash and rinse buckets both equipped with Grit Guards, an Ulti-Mitt Merino Wash Mitt and Gtechniq G-Wash. Once clean, the suds were rinsed away before an Aqua Gleam De-ionising Water Filter was attached in-line with the water supply to deliver a final, pure water rinse. The Mustang was then carefully dried using ultra-soft microfibre drying towels and brought into the studio for appraisal.
Once the car’s surfaces are completely clean, it is possible to examine the paintwork closely for signs of damage. For close inspection, high-intensity lighting is used. This highlights any areas of concern which are noted on the Vehicle Appraisal Form for future reference.
Dirt and contamination mask paintwork defects, so it’s essential to get the car completely clean before inspection. Additionally, the dealership will probably have polished the car prior to handing it over to the customer, and many cheaper polishes contain fillers, so even though the paintwork appears pristine, washing it will remove those fillers. With a clean car inspected using bright LED lighting it is much easier to get a true picture of the condition of the paint. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
In this instance, wash swirls covered the paintwork and there was significant micro scratching on the piano black section of the boot lid.
Unfortunately, it is quite common to see brand new cars already exhibiting signs of damage. Wash swirls are one of the most common forms as they’re so easily incurred if careful wash protocols are not employed. Generally, dealerships don’t take as much time and care over preparing a car for hand over to the customer, and hurried wash techniques are a leading cause of wash swirls. Using a ceramic sealant without removing the swirls first isn’t something we would do – the sealant can last for years, so you want the paintwork to be as pristine as possible before a protective layer is applied. It was clear I would need to machine polish the paintwork to restore the clarity first. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
Prior to machine polishing, a paint depth gauge is used to measure the thickness of the paint in microns. This can vary between panels and also deliver uneven readings at different locations on the same panel. As a result, multiple readings are taken from each panel and recorded on the Vehicle Appraisal Form.
Varying paint depth readings can occur for a number of reasons – there may have been an issue on the production line or a quality concern with the original paint resulting in a smart repair or even a respray. When a section has consistently thicker readings this may be an indication of previous damage. Whatever the reason, as machine polishing involves the removal of an albeit very small amount of clearcoat, it’s essential to know how much you have to play with. Measuring the thickness is essential to ensure the machine polishing stage is carried out safely. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
Using a FLEX PE14-2 rotary polisher, a Kamikaze Collection Banzai Dynamics Black Finishing Pad and Menzerna Super Finish 3500, the swirls on the paintwork and piano black trim sections were removed. Super Finish 3500 contains diminishing abrasives with just a small amount of cut and has been designed for scratch-resistant paintwork such as the finish on the Mustang. Water-based, 3500 does not contain fillers, so it’s possible to achieve a true result without drop back, which occurs when fillers are removed from defects they’ve hidden rather than eliminated.
Prior to the additional polishing required on the piano black trim, the finishing pad was cleaned of excess product using a pad brush.
Once the paintwork was refined, each panel was treated with Gtechniq Panel Wipe. Containing a blend of alcohols and aromatic solvents, Panel Wipe acts on polish and silicon residues and flashes off the panels, removing the residues. The result is a perfect clean panel, free from any deposits which may interfere with the bonding of the sealant to the substrate.
Once residue free, the temperature of each panel was taken to ensure they were within the optimum range to facilitate the bonding of the sealant to the clear coat.
Ceramic sealants form a chemical reaction with the paint’s clear coat to become the uppermost layer. In order for the chemical reaction to occur, for the coating to spread evenly and to maintain applicator mobility over the panel, the temperature of the panels must be between 5 and 30 degrees Celsius. If the panel is too cold, the chemical reaction won’t initiate, too warm and the coating won’t cure. Panel temperatures are measured using an infra-red thermometer; the beam is aimed at the panel and the temperature reading displayed on the handset. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
Humidity too is an important factor as an excess of moisture in the air will interfere with the application of the coating, affecting its clarity and ultimately its performance. As with all nano-coatings, Crystal Serum must be applied in tightly controlled conditions: Sensitivity to water means relative humidity should not exceed 45% in order for the coating to remain optically clear and to cure effectively.
The owner of the Mustang had opted for a ‘Gold’ sealant upgrade, specifically requesting Gtechniq Crystal Serum Black (CS Black). This includes a layer of Gtechniq’s flagship nano-coating, Crystal Serum overcoated with EXO v3 Ultra Durable Hydrophobic Coating.
Crystal Serum is applied as one layer but actually cures as two. The lower layer cures to a hardness of around 7H (on the pencil scale). This provides a flexible layer which can rebound from impact. The top layer cures to around 9H, the better to withstand swirling, acid rain etching, oxidation and UV damage. The two layers combine to provide a tough yet flexible surface secured with a chemical bond that will last for years. Using EXO over the top provides an enhanced level of gloss and hydrophobicity. When water lands on the car, whether from wet roads or as rain, it will contain environmental and industrial contamination. The hydrophobic barrier encourages water to roll into beads and blow away, carrying the contamination with it. As a result, surfaces remain cleaner for longer and any contamination that does remain will not adhere to the surface in the same way it would on an untreated surface. Cars are therefore easier to clean during the weekly wash, negating the requirement for the use of harsh chemicals. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
Due to the requirement for tightly controlled conditions and a high degree of preparation, Crystal Serum is available only as a service through Gtechniq-approved detailers. However, with these conditions met, Gtechniq is so confident in the performance of Crystal Serum, they guarantee it for seven years.
After the initial layer of Crystal Serum had been applied it was allowed to cure for an hour before EXO v3 was applied. This allows enough time for it to harden but not to fully cure which would make the application of EXO difficult.
As Crystal Serum cures it becomes ‘grabby’ which becomes evident when you apply EXO. The protective properties of Crystal Serum repel contact from other coatings – it’s one of the reasons it’s so effective. However, one hour is enough time for Crystal Serum to harden without fully curing and after this time EXO is easily applied over the top. The vehicle must then be kept out of the elements for a minimum of twelve hours to allow the sealants to fully cure. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
Whilst the two layers of sealant were curing, the wheels were cleaned using Panel Wipe before Kamikaze Collection Stance Rim Coat was applied. Specifically formulated to withstand the unique conditions wheels and brake callipers face, Stance Rim Coat is heat resistant, hydrophobic and oleophobic, so dirty water, oil and diesel splatters are repelled. Brake dust particles do not bond as quickly to treated surfaces. The combined effect makes wheel much easier to clean during the weekly wash.
The windows were cleaned inside and out using Meguiar’s Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner before being wiped with Gtechniq G2 to eliminate residues. The glass was then coated using Gtechniq G1 ClearVision Smart Glass to provide a hydrophobic barrier, dispersing rainwater easily whilst driving.
The interior fabrics were protected with Gtechniq I1 Smart Fabric, a nano-sealant which coats the individual fibres with hydrophobic protection thus preserving the flexibility and texture of the material. The plastic trim was cleaned with Nanolex Interior Cleaner. The leather was cleaned and then protected with Colourlock Leather Shield to provide an abrasion-resistant, UV resilient barrier.
With dark leather interiors such as this, fading as a result of sunlight can be a real issue. The dark colour absorbs the ultraviolet rays causing the pigment to break down, leading to a bleaching effect. Additionally, UV rays cause the natural oils in the leather to evaporate and the leather becomes dry, causing it to crack. Using a leather protectant with a UV inhibitor is essential to prolong the health and colour. – Matt Back, UF Detailing Studio
New Car Protection involves more than just the application of a sealant. Specific processes must be carefully followed, ensuring paintwork is in the best possible condition. This, along with an in-depth understanding as to how a nanotechnology-based coating works are essential to the performance of the coating and the preservation of the car’s appearance.
The Ford Mustang personifies performance and refinement, now with professionally applied products specifically designed for each different substrate, it is going to stay that way for many years to come.
UF Detailing Studio – Award Winning Detailing. Call 0333 800 8004 to discuss your requirements.