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Thread: A losing battle...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    A losing battle...


    I have a neighbor whose teenage kid is always washing and waxing his car - just like I used to do when I was that age. He means well, but I feel sorry for the kid's car - a shiny black coupe that won't be shiny for long. He is doing everything the wrong way - just like I used to, too.

    And the car will pay a terrible price for its owner's ignorance.

    First of all, the kid parks it outside, uncovered - which is like leaving a silk tablecloth on an outdoor picninc table overnight. The cycle begins as evening descends - and with it, moisture and condensation (you see it as dew in the morning). Then, as the sun comes up and the temperature rises, the light mist of dew coating the car's bare flanks evaporates - boiled off would be more accurate - cooking the finish along with it.

    All day long, if it's a nice day, the sun beats down on the metal... .

    Automotive finishes have come a long way over the years, but baking in the sun is something not even modern clear coats can tolerate indefinitely. In fact, the clearcoat finishes used on cars today are thinner than the old lacquers and enamels used in the past - and once that clear topcoat is damaged, the shine is gone forever. The only way to fix it is by repainting the car.

    A good car cover can prevent all this.

    But the $75-$150 measly bucks (compared to the cost of a repaint) is too exorbitant, the cover itself too exotic and too far-removed from the conceptual framework of the kid. It is not like shiny new wheels or a thumping amplifier - accessories that provide immediate gratification. Being 17, he can't project 3-5 years into the future very well - which is how long it will take to see the benfits of the car cover, or the consequences of not using one.

    My teenage friend is oblivious. Not only does he leave the car to parch in the brutal sun - he often washes his poor sheetmetal victim in broad daylight, which is like using a magnifiying glass to roast an ant. The sun's rays are increased in potency by focusing through water droplets - which can act just like a magnifying glass, burning stains into the paint. Not only that, but the water splashed onto the car evaporates faster than it's possible to properly towel it off - which is also hard on the paint.

    The only thing worse than that is waxing the car in the July sun - something my well-intended but utterly unschooled neighbor has also done. Just seeing the caked-on remains of the wax - and then him rubbing the flanks fiercely, as if he were burnishing a piece of silverware - is sufficient to cause me to avert my gaze... .

    I have tried to save the car - but my efforts at disepnsing sagacious counsel have gone unrewarded. The kid just keeps washing and waxing - almost daily, in a noble (to him) yet ultimately disaster-assured attempt to keep his first set of wheels looking spiffy. My admonitions about washing early in the morning, before the sun comes up full-strength (or in the afternoon, as it goes down), or about the wonders of breathable-fabric car covers, have gone unheeded. My remonstrances have had no effect. The cycle of wash/wax - then leave outside to bake/cool/get wet/cook in the sun continues... .

    I think he will have to learn the hard way, as I did - as all up-and-coming car buffs have. He will have to experience the painful realization, as his car's finish hazes into an opaque blotch of cracked and mottled hideousness, that perhaps the strange dude next door knew what he was talking about.

    But by the time that epiphany occurs, it will be too late for that first car - the disposable car - the one we all leave behind. It will have become another casualty on the road to automotive Nirvana, a sacrificial offering to the Motor Gods.

    So let it be written. So let it be done.


  2. #2
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    Re: A losing battle...

    When I first bought my Chevy Impala back in March 1976, I used to wax my car everySaturday in a covered garage by first wiping with a damp chamois (never used running or bucket water) and to this day it has the original metallic paint job.

  3. #3
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    Re: A losing battle...

    My car is much like that kids. I have what I term an apartment paintjob. An apartment paintjob is the original color which has been baking out in the sun for 7 years, waxed about every six months, and is full of acid droppings from trees and bugs that have hit the front plastic bumper.

    Being that I don't have a garage, don't have a car cover (is it worth covering a Saturn?), and hate cleaning the exterior, it is what it is.

    If you ever see a Saturn L100 advertised with an "apartment red" paint job in AutoTrader, you'll know it is mine. Of course, not that you're looking.....

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    My car is much like that kids. I have what I term an apartment paintjob. An apartment paintjob is the original color which has been baking out in the sun for 7 years, waxed about every six months, and is full of acid droppings from trees and bugs that have hit the front plastic bumper.

    Being that I don't have a garage, don't have a car cover (is it worth covering a Saturn?), and hate cleaning the exterior, it is what it is.

    If you ever see a Saturn L100 advertised with an "apartment red" paint job in AutoTrader, you'll know it is mine. Of course, not that you're looking.....
    Love that term!

    ...will have to use it sometime in a story....

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    When I first bought my Chevy Impala back in March 1976, I used to wax my car everySaturday in a covered garage by first wiping with a damp chamois (never used running or bucket water) and to this day it has the original metallic paint job.
    Every week you waxed the car?

  6. #6
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    My car is much like that kids. I have what I term an apartment paintjob. An apartment paintjob is the original color which has been baking out in the sun for 7 years, waxed about every six months, and is full of acid droppings from trees and bugs that have hit the front plastic bumper.

    Being that I don't have a garage, don't have a car cover (is it worth covering a Saturn?), and hate cleaning the exterior, it is what it is.

    If you ever see a Saturn L100 advertised with an "apartment red" paint job in AutoTrader, you'll know it is mine. Of course, not that you're looking.....
    Love that term!

    ...will have to use it sometime in a story....
    Maybe we should copyright it and earn some royalties.

    It comes from years of living in apartments and seeing the paint just cook away.

  7. #7
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    When I first bought my Chevy Impala back in March 1976, I used to wax my car everySaturday in a covered garage by first wiping with a damp chamois (never used running or bucket water) and to this day it has the original metallic paint job.
    Every week you waxed the car?
    You read (past tense) that right!

  8. #8
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I have a neighbor whose teenage kid is always washing and waxing his car - just like I used to do when I was that age. He means well, but I feel sorry for the kid's car - a shiny black coupe that won't be shiny for long.
    I think "always" is the key here. Wash, yes, get the dirt and salt off, but only re-wax when it is needed - and makes sure the was is non-abrasive. Most car owners don't realize how little it takes to rub right through that clear coat.


  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    When I first bought my Chevy Impala back in March 1976, I used to wax my car everySaturday in a covered garage by first wiping with a damp chamois (never used running or bucket water) and to this day it has the original metallic paint job.
    Every week you waxed the car?
    You read (past tense) that right!
    May I ask... why?

    Waxing that often is way excessive....

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Quote Originally Posted by D_E_Davis
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    I have a neighbor whose teenage kid is always washing and waxing his car - just like I used to do when I was that age. He means well, but I feel sorry for the kid's car - a shiny black coupe that won't be shiny for long.
    I think "always" is the key here. Wash, yes, get the dirt and salt off, but only re-wax when it is needed - and makes sure the was is non-abrasive. Most car owners don't realize how little it takes to rub right through that clear coat.

    Until they do it - and find out first-hand!

  11. #11
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    Re: A losing battle...

    The Alfa Romeo Owners Club (UK) magazine recently published an article on car cleaning & polishing, in which clay bars were recommended; still somewhat sceptical, I decided to give it a try. The results are amazing - my 8-year-old car came up looking like new.

    If you haven't tried clay, give it a try - it's not aggressively abrasive, but removes a lot of dirt & pollution which polishes don't - it was interesting that the deposit left on the clay from my green car was a reddish-brown colour. The AROC mag article suggested a quick test to find how good your paint finish really is. Run the tips of your fingers lightly over the surface - it will probably feel smooth; now put your hand into a plastic bag & try again; you'll feel all sorts of lumps & bumps. Clean the paint with a clay bar & those lumps & bumps will disappear.

  12. #12
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Yup. Claybars are amazing.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  13. #13
    mrblanche
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    Re: A losing battle...

    One thing about clay bars. If you drop it, throw it away. It will damage your finish if you continue to use it.

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    Re: A losing battle...

    Can you get this clay bar at the usual chain autoparts store? I guess I could look it up, but I'm skeptical as well!

    I hope that it does't leave too much residue on my apartment red car.

  15. #15
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    Re: A losing battle...

    Mother's makes a clay bar system.

    http://www.superchevy.com/technical/...rs2/index.html

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  16. #16
    mrblanche
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    Re: A losing battle...

    You can get it at most auto parts stores, as well as Wal-Mart, etc.

    You lubricate the bar with something like a detailing wax, you don't use it dry.

  17. #17
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    Re: A losing battle...(waxing car)

    Eric,

    I may have been exaggerating about that weekly waxing as 30 years is a l-o-ng time ago. But I'm sure I did wax it at least once a month.

  18. #18
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: A losing battle...(waxing car)

    Quote Originally Posted by ChevyMan
    Eric,

    I may have been exaggerating about that weekly waxing as 30 years is a l-o-ng time ago. But I'm sure I did wax it at least once a month.
    Ah so!

    Once a month is ok...!

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