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Keeping the shine

Here’s how you can ensure that your vehicle looks as good as new, years after buying it

india Updated: Aug 28, 2009 11:25 IST
Grease Monkey

We’re going to pick up from last week, when we discussed primer, the anti-oxidation layer, electro-deposition, baking of paint and clear coats. We also learned about solid and metallic paints, and were just beginning to discuss pearlescent paints.

Truly pearlescent paint shades exhibit different shades when viewed from different angles. For example, a shade of green might appear to fade into blue when a corner of the car is viewed. These paints look really nice, but are also quite expensive and a scratch needs expert attention, else it will look quite silly.

A good paint-job
As far as touch-up jobs go, solid colours only need shades to be matched. Over the life of a vehicle, the shade of paint fades. But it is not enough to purchase a can of the original paint and slap it on — the exact shade has to be painted on.

If you’re good at distinguishing shades of colours, you can identify whether a car has possibly been in an accident. You should be suspicious if the car has been entirely repainted — some owners prefer to go down that route, to eliminate the possibility of even a minor shade difference between the repaired panel and the original ones. But remember, even a new car can exhibit different shades on the bumper and the body, because one is metal and the other plastic. Of course, manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, won’t do that sort of a thing.

Making paint last
Now we come to the DIY part — how you can maximise the life of your paint. First of all, don’t leave your car or bike in the sun, it’ll get dull all too quickly. Use a cover whenever you can — they’re usually silver so that they reflect as much heat as possible, besides keeping dust off the paint.

Try not to wipe your vehicle with a dry cloth, because ordinary cloth will only drag the dust across it. Dust is basically fine sand, which is crystalline silicon dioxide. If that doesn’t ring a bell, consider this: quartz and all it forms (you’ll recognise gems like amethysts, rubies and emeralds, I’m sure) are all basically crystalline silicon dioxide with a few impurities. They all are quite hard (which is why they’re gems — they stay bright much longer than plastic or glass —the latter, incidentally, is amorphous silicon dioxide). This means that every time you push that dust across your car’s paint, you’re sanding it, like with sandpaper. Literally.

A cleaning every week
Instead of wiping it everyday, invest in good shampoo, wax and plastic treatment products, and make sure your vehicle gets a weekly clean-up. You can rinse it every day before you drive out. The wax will prevent water from staying too long on the paint and leaving stains, and dust will not stick to it.

The plastic treatment products will help prevent fading and cracking. And all of these products will help your vehicle shine like it did when new. Don’t go to a car wash with a pressurised water jet too often — once in every two months for a car is enough, and most motorcycle manufacturers don’t recommend a pressure wash at all.

You can, however, hose your bike down with water from the tap in your house.
Take a little time out to wash your vehicle yourself — the cleaner may be good, but it’s only a job to him.

Besides, every time you take it out for a ride or drive, you’ll feel extremely good about the appreciative looks you’ll certainly get!

your vehicle in some shade, but steer clear of birds that leave their version of graffiti behind