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I received a call from the owner of this brand new BMW 128i about having the exterior detailed and discussed a good time to bring the car by so I could take a look at the condition of the paint. He was concerned about some hazing and holograms that were visible on the top surfaces and was afraid that it may have been from improper washing.


He stated that he had done lots of homework, researching what products to use and the correct way to wash and care for the car. He just couldn’t understand why he was experiencing these problems, since there was only 250 miles on the car and he had only washed it twice. As soon as I looked at the paint, it was evident that the car had been improperly buffed, which left a considerable amount of holograms and buffer trails. He mentioned that when he took delivery of the car from the dealership, there was some water-spotting on the top surfaces, so he brought the car back in to have them fix the problem. Now it was starting to make sense that the dealership had caused what he was seeing and was not from improper washing.


It was evident that the dealership must have used an aggressive compound with a wool pad to remove the water spots and ended up buffing the entire exterior, leaving excessive micromarring, buffer trails, swirl marks, holograms, etc.. Instead of refining the finish further, they just applied a glaze to cover it up. Most glazes contain silicon oils, polymers, oils, etc. and will make the finish look perfect, when in reality it is not. Over a short period of time, the glaze begins to wash off and the true condition of the paint is revealed. I inspected the car carefully and gave the owner an estimate. We set up an appointment for the following week.


The car arrived in the same condition as the week before and I expected to have the car finished in a day or two. I was hoping to get away with doing nothing more than a 2-step polishing treatment to get the car back in ‘like new’ condition. I have done lots of newer BMW’s and find them to have relatively hard paint, which I prefer, since softer paint can be finicky and difficult to correct at times.


Knowing that the dealer had applied some sort of glaze to the exterior, it was very important to strip all traces of it from the paint before any polishing took place. Most glazes contain silicon, which deeply embeds itself in the paint and can be very difficult to remove. I find it absolutely necessary to remove all traces of silicon from the paint in order to fully remove the defects. When there is silicon present on a paint finish, it acts as a lubricant and makes polishing near impossible. The silicon oils prevent the abrasives in the polish from cutting into the paint, which is necessary in order to correct the defects. As most of you know, a microscopic amount of clear coat is removed in order to level the paint when polishing. When there is silicon present on a finish that you are trying to correct, the buffing pad tends to ‘hydroplane’ above the surface, not allowing the paint to be leveled.


I was expecting the car to look a little worse once I was done removing the glaze from the paint, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into!! I started by giving the exterior a normal wash, cleaned the wheels & tires and rinsed down the engine compartment. Next, I spent a good amount of time trying to strip the paint free of all silicon oils.


The picture below shows the paint beading the water heavily, meaning there is some sort of wax, sealant, glaze, quick detailer, etc. on the paint.





To strip the paint free of any previous products, I used some industrial strength degreaser at full strength by spraying it into a new microfiber towel and scrubbing each section for several minutes. Whatever product that was on the paint was very difficult to remove and took about 4 degreasing steps in order to remove it.


The picture below shows how the water is beading heavily on the side that was washed with regular cars soap (left) and how the water is sheeting off the side that has been degreased (right). The water sheeting is a pretty good indication that the paint is completely bare.





I continued to go around the car and degrease every panel until the entire car was no longer beading water. This step along took almost 4 hours, since the product did not come off easily. After completing the degreasing step, I gave the car another quick wash with regular car wash soap to remove any residue left behind from the degreaser. I dried the exterior using a microfiber drying towel, blew out all cracks & crevices with purged air and wiped all jambs clean with a fresh microfiber towel. Once dry, I masked off all areas that could be stained or damaged from the buffer and gave the exterior a quick alcohol wipedown to ensure a perfect surface for polishing.


OK, this is where it gets ugly! While I was cleaning my buffing pads and getting my buffer ready, I decided to turn on the halogen lights to inspect the paint carefully before proceeding to any polishing. This allows me to see any and all paint defects that are not visible with the fluorescent lights. To my surprise, the paint was in much worse condition and was going to be way more work than I had originally expected.


These pictures below were taken after all of the prep was complete, before any polishing took place… Keep in mind, this car has less than 300 miles on it!


































 

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Usually when I give an estimate to a client, I know what to look for and have a pretty good idea how much work is involved. Sometimes a car will be a little worse than I had originally thought and take a little more time than expected. This is part of being in business, so I usually just suck it up and stick to my original quote, no matter how much time I have to invest to make a car perfect. Every car that drives out of the shop is a rolling advertisement of my business, so for me it is worth putting in the extra time just to make a customer happy. I knew just by looking at this car that it was going to be triple the amount of work than I had originally thought, so I call the owner right away and told him how bad the car was.


I told him that I was totally confident that the car would come out perfect, but I could not do it for the price I had originally gave him. I sent him pictures of the damage by e-mail to see how he would like to go about this now that the price was going to be significantly more. He told me to go about my business and make the car perfect, since there really was no other choice. Typically, new cars don’t always leave the dealerships looking perfect, but this was just totally unacceptable and unfair to the customer if he has to pay the bill for something that they did.


I told the owner that I would document everything and take pictures of the damage if he decided to ask the dealer to cover the cost of the detail. I decided to do a test panel to figure out what products worked the best and see exactly how much work it was going to be. After testing various pad / polish combinations, I realized that this car was not going to be easy and would require about 5 polishing steps to get the results I was looking for.


Below is a couple good 50/50 comparisons to show the difference in the paint after 5 polishing steps…







Now that I had my process figured out, Ryan and I started by polishing the complete exterior using a black Tuf-Buf lambs wool pad with Menzerna Power Finish to remove the heavier defects. It did a good job removing most of the visible defects, but left a considerable amount of RIDS (Random Isolated Deep Scratches) behind. After a second polishing session using the same process, we were able to remove all visible RIDS from the finish. Unlike most BMW’s we have worked on, this car had very finicky paint to deal with and took a great deal to make any progress. By the time we were able to remove all of the major defects and RIDS, we had already invested a considerable amount of time. This was definitely the most time consuming step and left the finish a bit hazy with very minor wool pad marring and buffer trails.


To further refine the finish from the previous polishing steps, we polished the complete exterior with Meguiars 105 Ultra- Cut Compound and an orange foam pad using the Porter Cable 7424XP, which really did a great job. For some reason, this paint did not polish out well using the rotary, so we decided to switch over to PC’s. After this step was complete, the car was covered in dust and had a good amount of polishing spatter in all of the cracks & crevices. We decided to give the car a much needed wash to remove any residue that was present to ensure the abrasives from the compound would not interfere when performing the final polishing steps. We did an alcohol wipedown and inspected the paint carefully before proceeding to the next step.


Now that all of the heavy correction work was complete and the car was clean, we moved on to the next polishing step. We polished the complete exterior with Menzerna Power Finish and a flat orange pad using to restore the gloss and clarity of the paint. This step really brought the paint back to life and left the paint ready for the final polishing step, which would ensure a perfect, swirl-free finish.


Ryan polished the complete exterior with Menzerna 85rd and a black foam pad using the PC to make sure the finish was 100% perfect. This step went quick and left the paint ready for the application of a sealant.


We chose to use Blackfire Wet Diamond sealant for the LSP and applied it using a gold CCS pad via PC to ensure even coverage. While waiting for the sealant to flash off, all door, hood & trunk jambs were wiped clean and the tires were dressed using Optimum Opti-Bond tire gel. Once the Wet Diamond was ready for removal, Ryan and I wiped down the complete exterior using fresh microfiber towels. We both looked at each other with a sigh of relief now that were finally finished. The car spent the night in the shop until the owner arrived the following day. We had some streaking issues with the Blackfire because of the high humidity, which you may or may not be able to see in the pictures.


Here are the final results!




























 

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wow that is terrible for a 300 mile car....what degreaser did you use to remove the silicon? would alcohol work or would it not be strong enough?
 

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By the term "improperly buffed" what do you suppose the dealer did to create all the deep scratches? An amazing repair job considering how deep many of the scratches were. :thumbup:
 

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AndrewBigA- Thanks Andrew!

I use halogens on all my correction jobs. If you can make a car look good under halogens, it's pretty much a guarantee that it will look even better outside. I just installed eleven T5 high output lights in my shop this week in addition to what I already have. So nice being able to see everything!

dreamdrivedrift- It sure was!

I have a few different degreasers I use to strip LSP's. I'm pretty sure I used Spray Nine on this particular job. Alcohol will remove some, but I have found it doesn't work nearly as well as a degreaser.

Alcohol works well to remove polishing oils when I'm in the middle of polishing a car and want to check if a particular polish is filling (hiding defects). I haven't found anything that works as good as a degreaser to strip waxes & sealants from paint.

xi_ter- Thank you!

Typically, dealerships aren't known for expert detailing, that's for sure! In this case, the owner of the car told me there was some water etching when he bought the car, so the dealer had their detail dept. "fix" it by buffing it before he took ownership. My guess is that they used a dirty wool pad (very aggressive) paired with a heavy-cut compound and went to town.

It is completely normal for a compound to leave a compound haze, but it is necessary to follow it up with a medium polish, then a final polish with a foam finishing pad in order to get a swirl and hologram free finish. To cut corners, they simply used an aggressive compound and then applied a glaze, which contains silicone and oils to conceal defects. This is only a temporary fix and only lasts a few weeks until the oils are washed away, resulting in a big swirly mess...

When a car is polished properly, it is a permanent fix and will last forever, as long as it it washed and taken care of properly after. A glaze is sort of like make-up and "paint correction" is like surgery in a way. I hope that makes sense...
 

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AndrewBigA- Thanks Andrew!

I use halogens on all my correction jobs. If you can make a car look good under halogens, it's pretty much a guarantee that it will look even better outside. I just installed eleven T5 high output lights in my shop this week in addition to what I already have. So nice being able to see everything!
..
i also use halogens on all my correction jobs. i work under 500-2,000 wats.
i think all those hand held lights are straight junk & inaccurate.

also, how efficient can your work be if you have to constantly stop what your doing to turn a weaksauce light on n off?

i should send you a pic of my portable halogen light tree that i made lol.
 

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i also use halogens on all my correction jobs. i work under 500-2,000 wats.
i think all those hand held lights are straight junk & inaccurate.

also, how efficient can your work be if you have to constantly stop what your doing to turn a weaksauce light on n off?

i should send you a pic of my portable halogen light tree that i made lol.
I agree! It's all about the lighting...

I do have a Brinkman that I use under certain circumstances, but use halogens when polishing. I would love to see your halogen light tree :D
 

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I agree! It's all about the lighting...

I do have a Brinkman that I use under certain circumstances, but use halogens when polishing. I would love to see your halogen light tree :D
i will take a pic for you :lmao:
 

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dreamdrivedrift- It sure was!

I have a few different degreasers I use to strip LSP's. I'm pretty sure I used Spray Nine on this particular job. Alcohol will remove some, but I have found it doesn't work nearly as well as a degreaser.

Alcohol works well to remove polishing oils when I'm in the middle of polishing a car and want to check if a particular polish is filling (hiding defects). I haven't found anything that works as good as a degreaser to strip waxes & sealants from paint.
That is good to know, I have always used alcohol but have felt at times that it did not strip off LSP properly and this confirms that feeling. How safe is it to use degreasers on paint/trim? Would Meguiar's APC+ work well enough and if not do you have any recommendations (perhaps OTC would be preferred)? Thanks!
 

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WaynesWorldc- Thanks!


dreamdrivedrift-Chris, Meguiars APC is a very safe degreaser, so that will work just fine. I usually perform a normal wash and rinse, then spray degreaser into a fresh microfiber towel and re-wash the entire exterior. Keep spraying the wash media with degreaser as you go. When you do the final rinse, the paint should not be beading any water. If it is no longer beading water, it is a pretty good indication that you have successfully stripped away all traces of protection. If it still beads water, perform the previous step until it no longer beads. I don't recommend spraying it directly onto the paint surface.

Good luck!
 

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I bet the dealer had that car for quite some time and it went through many regular wash cycles right there on the lot with air drying creating the water etching. Add in a dusty environement to aid in swirl/scratch creation perhaps and you have the recipe for this disaster.

Nice to see a happy ending. Great work.
 

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Nice work.

A typical dealership has what, 100 employees, and none of them have been curious enough to read up on how to properly treat clear coat?

Also, just my opinion, but a half-dozen good before/after pics is more effective than 4 dozen.
 

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Nice work. At least some businesses still have attention to detail these days.

Did the dealer end up covering the costs? That is a pathetic excuse of a dealer and a business in general. It's a brand new BMW and they f it up like that? A lot of people can't even afford one and this dealer just gives it a quickie. If it was my girlfriend trying to take care of the car, it'd be one thing, but the dealer??? I'm kind of curious as to which one it is...
 

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Thanks again guys!

After arguing with the dealer for 3 weeks, they finally agreed to pay for the detail when the owner of the car showed them the link to my write-up online.
 
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