WASHWORKS® Consumer Product Information
Clear Coat Paint Finishes
"I don't need wax on my car - it's got clear coat" This and many misconceptions have created a conflicting series of myths about today's painted surfaces on your car.
Clear Coat is "clear paint" - The primary purpose of painting a vehicle has always been to protect it from corrosion. The paint on a vehicle actually is a complex set of layers of different materials working together as a system to protect the body.
Today, most all passenger vehicles sold in the United States are finished with a paint process called base coat/clear coat. This means the top layer of paint is without pigment. It is clear paint. It has to be taken care of in the very same manner as the old style " single step" enamel or lacquer paint systems.
The three paint systems:
Conventional or single stage, which is multiple coatings of pigmented (colored) paint. The word "conventional" is used because all vehicles were painted this way before the 1980s.
Base coat/clear coat or two stage; which consists of a thin layer of pigmented paint over which a layer of clear paint is applied. Most modern vehicles are painted this way, although single stage is still used for some solid colors such as red, white, and black.
Tri-coat, pearl coat or three stage; which differs from the two stage system only in that there is a middle layer between the color and clear layers. This middle layer contains colored mica or metallic flakes. The combination of color, mica, and clear layers gives this paint system a pearlescent or iridescent effect. Treat this type of paint system like two-stage system.
The total thickness of the new clear coat paints i.e. undercoats, primers, etc. is just 4.5 mils.(one mil equals 1/1000th of and inch) about the thickness of a couple layers of cellophane on a pack of cigarettes!
Clear Coat is softer than paint.
Clear coat is free of pigment, and will often be softer (less damage resistant) than other paint systems. Therefore the waxes and cleaners are different than those made for enamel or lacquer paints.
Clear Coat is very thin.
Clear coat top coat is just two-thousandth (.002) of an inch thick. This coating will not tolerate a lot of repetitive removal of oxidation or other pollutants. The clear coat is placed on top of the base coat or color coat, a flat (non-shine) paint. Once the clear coat has deteriorated the surface will no longer shine, and it can not be restored except via a new clear coat application.
Clear Coat - Is not magic and does oxidize.
Clear paint will and does oxidize just as any other paint. It is somewhat more difficult to see the early effects and therefore most people only notice oxidation once the finish has dulled and they can feel the roughness of the oxidation build up on the surface.
Clear Coat - requires regular care to protect it.
Often people are told that clear coats do not need to be waxed or polished to protect them from the damaging effects of the environment. Clear coats will scratch, will oxidize, will spot due to "hard water" (sprinkler) or acid rain, will stain (tree sap or bird dropping) and it will dull. Regular maintenance of the clear coat is needed to protect it.
Clear Coat - Special Protection Systems
There exists no known single step application that will "seal" or "protect" or "enhance" or eliminate regular periodic care. We need to buff or polish and wax our vehicle's painted surfaces. Until the dentist advises you "no brushing" only needing an "annual coating" to protect your teeth, beware of "special" protection systems! THESE DO NO EXIST and these applications can permanently damage the painted surfaces of your automobile!
Appearance of the paint - Resale Value
The appearance of the painted surfaces on your vehicle is the single most important factor in determining the value of your vehicle, at end of lease or trade in. Unlike single step enamels or lacquers severely damaged due to neglect cannot be buffed away. The clear coat finish is simply too soft and too thin! To maintain the appearance, regular care is an absolute must.
Now for the good news:
Many scratches, oxidation, hazing, and surface build up can be quickly, easily, and inexpensively removed, with the proper materials and equipment.
Polishing - the procedure used to remove build up, oxidation, hazing with use of cleaners and buffers. This requires a polish or buffing machine.
Waxing - a layer of protective film on a clean clear coat to seal the surface from the elements and enhance the life of the top layer of paint. This can be performed by hand or with a machine.
Frequency - the frequency necessary for a particular vehicle depends on the exposure to heat, light and pollutants. The rule of thumb is 3 to 4 times per year. Your vehicle may require less. Washing your vehicle regularly will remove pollutants and prolong the wax on the surface.
Multiple Applications - Multiple applications can not be made one after another. The "wax" includes cleaners that prepare the surface and remove the contaminants. Applying a second coat of wax immediately upon completing the first would loosen it. Each wax application requires 24-48 hours for establishment of proper adhesion to the clear coat.
The information presented is based on published information by A. Craig Burnett research and development chemist with Mothers Polishes, Waxes and Cleaners in Huntington Beach, Ca., and Dave McCreery of the Colortec Training Institute, Saginaw, MI.
Treat your car with the care it deserves, by a professional.
Anodized Metal Care
The black window trim on new cars is often anodized carbon steel.
Today's automobiles use a material called Anodized carbon steel to outline window edges, door sills, wiper sills, etc.
These trim surfaces would, in the past, have been manufactured from ABS plastic and painted. They were serviceable and attractive for long periods of time, without any maintenance.
In an effort to reduce weight and costs manufacturers have universally adopted the ACS trim because of its lower cost and dull black appearance. This finish is not coated or protected and quite porous, as a result will deteriorate rapidly from exposure to U.V. light, airborne pollutants, acid rain, the oils on your hand and most cleaning agents.
Because the material is a thin metal it is also very susceptible to scratches from impact with keys, rings, pocketbooks or other hard surfaced items.
Anodized metal trim is easily dented.
The Good News - A light coating of wax or other protectant will quickly restore the original finish. The dents and scratched are unfortunately not so easily eliminated.