Tag: Paintwork Correction

UV Damage & Oxidation

“Modern clearcoat paint doesn’t fade!” is an urban myth. Modern Acrylic-Urethane Clearcoats do suffer fading, oxidation, and UV damage from the harsh sun in the Southern Pacific. We see a lot of newer cars, trucks, and motorcycles that are experiencing UV damage to their paint, trim, and interiors at Car Clean Hawaii. In this article we’ll talk about why new vehicles are UV damaged, how we go about fixing it, and how we help to mitigate it in the future. 

Why Does My Paint & Trim Look Faded? 

Effects of UV Damage

     Well, it’s pretty simple. The Ultraviolet (UV) and Infrared (IR) radiation from the sun is breaking down the polymer structure of the paint and trim on your vehicle in the presence of an oxygen atmosphere, and gradually converting the surface layer of glossy polymer into a dull and chalky looking oxide byproduct. It’s physically destroying the molecular bonds of the polymers in the matrix of your paints, plastics, vinyl, coated leather, rubber, etc, and turning what’s left into something else. Something else, that looks really bad.

In parts of the world with a really high UV index, and high surface temperatures from IR (Like Hawaii.) this damage is going to occur at an accelerated rate versus places in the world with lower UV and IR values (Places that are cold, grey, and rainy all the time. Like Scotland.). 

In the past, with the single stage Lacquer and Enamel paints, and rather primitive sorts of plastics used on classic cars, toxic pigments and chemicals were used to stabilize them. As such, some colors lasted better under the sun than others. However, in the 1980’s, many of these substances were banned from automotive paints due to the danger they represented for the people who worked with them, and we went through a really bad couple of decades where paint was falling off cars, and coated leather/vinyl cracking after just a few years. Then, modern Benzotriazole UV Inhibitors were perfected, and for the past 10-15 years we’ve been enjoying paint and trim materials that are far more durable under the sun than those we suffered during the 90’s, and very early 2000’s. 

However, those UV Inhibitors do get ‘Spent Up’, and the more they’re exposed to the less time you have before the paint, vinyl, leather, rubber, or plastic on your vehicle will start to crack, break down, and eventually fall apart. How fast that happens depends upon the climate, and the quality of the paint, plastic, or other material in question. 

Paint from a top-tier company, like BASF’s Glasurit (Sometimes found on Porsches, Bentley’s, Koenigsegg’s, and other top tier cars.) typically has a high enough volume of UV inhibitors to help protect the paint from critical failure for at least a few decades – whether it is single stage or clearcoat. They even have specialty clearcoats, made specifically for vehicles used in climates where the sun is very harsh, which contain extra UV inhibitors. However, cheaper paint brands, and cars sold by lower-end companies often scrimp on the UV inhibitors, causing their paint to start to fade and break down far faster than those from better paint producers. The same thing happens with plastics, and other vehicle trim materials. Some companies cheap-out, and as a result, the vehicle starts to degrade faster. You may only get a few years out of the cheapest paints and materials, before they start to irrevocably degrade. 

‘Fading’ (The paint on your car becoming cloudy, losing its gloss, becoming discolored, and rough to the touch.) is simply an early warning sign. The UV inhibitors on the very surface are starting to become expended and let the paint break down. One day, the polymer matrix of the paint will lose integrity, and start cracking, before losing adhesion, become brittle, and eventually fall off. The same thing happens with modern plastics, vinyl, and rubber. 

One interesting feature of Benzotriazole UV inhibitors, is that they tend to float or migrate to the surface of the material while it is curing. So, the top 7-15 microns of your paint, has more UV protection than the next 7-15 microns below that. Once that top layer of paint is polished away, the material will start to fade and break down exponentially faster than it would have before. That’s not good. 

What Does This Mean? How Do I Save My Car? 

Sun, Surf, Sand, and… Faded Cars.

     In a harsh climate like Hawaii, UV/IR degradation of vehicle materials happens a lot faster than it does in other parts of the world. You can slow down this damage massively, by applying Ceramic Coatings, as soon as you take possession of the vehicle. These products work like ‘Sunscreen’, or a secondary sacrificial clearcoat layer for your vehicle, and can massively slow down the degradation. Such ‘Nano Coatings’ are available to protect virtually every vehicle surface, including the paint, exterior trim, interior vinyl/leather, and now even the tires and rubber seals! These products have been a big boon for climates that suffer so much under the sun like ours. This is simply a matter of applying these products before the damage gets bad, and then keeping them topped up at the correct service intervals. It’s just like having regular oil changes, in order to help your engine from exploding. Periodic application and maintenance of Ceramic Coatings for your vehicle, can help you to avoid VERY expensive paint and trim failures down the road. 

On vehicles that have already suffered UV damage, the top layer of material has to be abrasively removed to reveal the undamaged surface beneath, and protective coatings need to be applied even more frequently. 

Unfortunately, in this field where material science is a critical skill, not all detailers are created equal.

At Car Clean Hawaii, we do our best to preserve as much of the original paint while polishing cars, in order to preserve as much of the paint’s UV Inhibitors as we can. This takes true skill, and experience, as well as very expensive equipment to read paint depth, layer by layer. This helps to prevent the paint failing early, when you bring your vehicle in for a Paintwork Correction. We always do our best to leave the most UV inhibitors behind, to prolong the life of your vehicle.

We also use our knowledge of material science, and our decades of experience in Hawaii to select nano-coatings, sealants, and dressings that help to protect the vehicles under our care from the ill effects of the sun. 

Unfortunately, not all detailers are so knowledgeable, or so scrupulous. Many use products that can actually magnify the deleterious effects of the sun, and accelerate the damage done to your vehicle. Many also remove more paint than needed while correcting defects, throwing away years of life that your vehicle’s paint has, before it needs an expensive repaint. This is a disservice to customers, and gives a bad name to our industry. 

This sort of poor service is why we have worked so hard at Car Clean Hawaii to become better, over our past two decades of experience. Our customers are often our friends in the community, and we want to help make your investment last. 

TL;DR

Ceramic Coating Curing

     Your new vehicle will oxidize, fade, and suffer from UV damage sooner than you think in Hawaii. The sun is out to get you, or at least your car, truck, or motorcycle. If you can put on the vehicular equivalent of ‘sunscreen’ before the damage starts, and apply it frequently enough, you can avoid the automotive equivalent of skin cancer. Get a Ceramic Coating.

Most detailers don’t know the difference between baby oil and SPF40, so just end up magnifying the hurt. This is why you need detailers who know the science involved, and can help keep you out of the paint shop… Detailers like Car Clean Hawaii. 

We’re Hilo’s premier detailer for a reason. We’ve spent the past twenty years learning how to protect our customer’s vehicles from the sun as well as possible. We have hands-on experience, and have worked closely with product manufacturers over the years to make the best possible protectants for our climate in Hawaii. You won’t find this level of expertise anywhere else in the Islands. 

We want to help. 

The Team at Car Clean Hawaii

Water Spotting & Etching

What is ‘Water Spotting’?

Mineral Deposit Water Spots

     Here in Hawaii, many of our customer’s vehicles suffer from water spotting and acid rain etching. At Car Clean Hawaii we are inundated with questions about why it happens, and how we solve it, from both customers and fellow detailers alike. It’s easier to explain visually, so we decided to make a blog post dedicated to this topic!

     The water found in nature, in the form of rainwater, seawater, or the city drinking water pumped up from deep underground wells isn’t just made up of ‘H2O’ alone. It contains various mineral and chemical elements as well. When your car gets rained on, hit by sea spray, accidentally doused by your neighbor’s sprinkler, or you don’t fully dry your vehicle after you wash it, water will bead or pool on your paint, glass, and trim. Because it has nothing to do and nowhere to go, the water will just sit there and do its thing. The ‘H20’ part of the water will evaporate, and leave behind a tiny mound of the minerals it carried. 

As long as the vehicle is protected with coatings that are strong enough to resist strongly corrosive substances, or the contents of the water are benign, water spots can easily be removed. Washing with high quality vehicle shampoo, or wiping with a Quick Detailing Spray or Waterless Wash solution is sometimes all that is needed to remove the most harmless of these water spots. These are things vehicle owners who have a more ‘Hands-On’ approach can often do themselves. 

In more extreme cases, these mounds of minerals can bind together quite durably, and need to be broken down with special chemicals. This sort of work is ‘cuspy’ for the consumer to manage themselves, and often best left to professional detailers with knowledge in material science like Car Clean Hawaii. Many products sold for the purpose of mineral/water spot removal can permanently damage the finish of the vehicle, so it is best to consult professional help when normal washing and QD’ing are not enough. 

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the rainwater in the Islands, and our proximity to the ocean, most of the water ‘spotting’ we see on vehicles is seldom as benign as what has been described… In Hawaii, most of what we see on cars is full-blown ‘Water Etching’. 

What is ‘Water Etching’?

Water Spotting/Etching Diagram

     Many of the mineral and chemical components found in the rain and ocean water in Hawaii are highly corrosive to vehicle paint, metal, and even glass. The Pacific Ocean, our volcanoes, our fossil-fuel power generation, and our industry all contribute to making the rainwater and seaspray very damaging for the cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the Islands. Corrosive rainwater is often called ‘Acid Rain’, and falls frequently on the Islands.

Water spots on cars, trucks, and motorcycles in the Islands should be treated very much like bird droppings… They can quickly eat their way deep into the paint, even down to the basecoat or primer if the paint is not adequately protected! The water physically dissolves the paint in that spot!!! 

Much of the ‘Water Spot’ work that we see, is fixing the damage left by actual etching. This requires major paintwork correction, involving heavy polishing or wetsanding (See Paintwork Correction.) to remove the damaged paint until only the unaffected paint remains.

Obviously, this situation is best avoided, by getting your vehicle properly protected sooner rather than later. Too late, and the damage could have become a very expensive problem to fix. 

The damage caused by the rain and ocean water in the Islands is one of the two main reasons we advocate so strongly the use of durable Ceramic Coatings, which are thick and resistant, and can withstand the ravages of nature here. 

Why is my New Car Water-Etched Already? 

Water Etching

     Most brand-new cars sold in the Islands have had to endure an arduous journey, before the protective films are removed, and they are left to rot virtually unprotected in the dealer lots until they are sold. 

During this time, is when most cars suffer their worst damage from both rain and bad washing, and why it is important that the first stop your new vehicle makes is to a reputable detailer. We typically have to fix the damage from manufacturing and transport, before it can truly be yours and perfect. 

We want to write an article on ‘New Car Prep’ soon, as the damage suffered in dealer’s lots extends far beyond water damage. As detailers, we want to improve the standards of vehicles sold in our area. 

How Do I Protect My Vehicle? 

CarPro CQuartz Finest – One of the Most Etching Resistant Coatings

     In the Hawaiian Islands, your best solution to keeping your car safe from harm due to water etching is to get it protected with a Ceramic Coating that is actually capable of resisting such harm. Conventional waxes and polymer sealants cannot keep your vehicle safe in this climate

Many so-called ‘Ceramic Nano Coatings’ actually attract water spotting, which is why it’s important not to waste your money, but get it coated at a proper detailer using a high quality coating. All of our packages at Car Clean Hawaii help to protect your vehicle against water spotting, and damaging etching, but simply to different degrees. 

Our Stage 3 – CarPro CQuartz Finest, and Stage 4 – CS-II Titanium coatings are our very best at preventing water spotting with minimal maintenance. These are premier coatings, but reward the owner with minimal vehicle maintenance or worry. 

Our Stage 1 – CarPro CQuartz Classic, and Stage 2 – CarPro CQuartz Professional coatings are more economical, but a little simpler in their makeup. These will protect the paint from deep etching and other damage, since the coating will take the brunt of the harm, but will need more frequent and careful maintenance to prevent from getting superficially spotted. 

The Nano-Sealant included in our Gloss Enhancement package offers the least protection against water spotting/etching, but it is a HUGE bang for the buck, and with good maintenance by the owner or Car Clean Hawaii, can help to minimize the damage of water etching in the Hawaiian climate. 

TL;DR

Water-Spotting, Oxidation, & Scratches Corrected

     Hawaiian rain, sea, and ground water will screw-up your vehicle in a heartbeat. Protect it the very best that you can, using Nano Sealants or – better yet – Ceramic Coatings, and keep it clean and dry after it gets wet. Get a good detailer, like Car Clean Hawaii to help you. We know how to manage this stuff, and can fix a lot of the problems this climate creates. It’s been our job for two decades, and we’ve learned to do it very well. This is our craft, and our knowledge, and we want to share it. 

The Team at Car Clean Hawaii

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