My hatred of clear coats
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    My hatred of clear coats

    My Hatred of Clear Coats


    Hello, I am a new member and this is my first post. Before I get started, I want to make it clear just how much I hate clear coats. I hate them with a passion. I firmly believe the only reason we even have something called a clear coat, is because auto manufacturers wanted to save money by cutting costs on paint jobs, so instead of a nice, thick, glossy layer of paint that could be buffed out or rubbed out if there is damage or oxidation, they use a paper thin (if even that) layer of flat paint, and then mist some clear coat on top of it and we are all supposed to say ooooh ahhhh look at the beautiful paint job on the car! (whatever).

    In the good old days, cars actually had paint on them. My first car was a 68 Dodge R/T. The day I bought it, I thought it was baby blue. I took it home and washed it and noticed the sponge and water were turning blue. (OK, you're saying how could he not notice the oxidation?), well I was 18 and stupid and it was my first car, I don't know what to tell you. Anyways, long story short - after washings, rubbing compounds, lots of time and effort, and a high quality waxing, I ended up with a dark blue metallic paint job that I didn't even know was hiding under all that oxidation. It looked like a totally different car. The point that I am getting at is that if this car had a clear coat, I would have been driving a baby blue R/T instead of a deep blue metallic R/T. (I prefer the deep blue by the way).

    OK, now that I am done venting about my hatred of clear coats, I'll get to what I need help with.

    I just bought a Super Coupe and wanted to thoroughly clean and wax the car before I started driving it but whenever I have had the opportunity to do this it has been raining. (I am in Oregon). In an attempt to at least get some form of protection on the paint, I went to NAPA auto parts and bought a combination wash and wax. (I purposely left the brand name out to avoid any brand bashing, if you want to know exactly what I used send me a private message or an e-mail and I'll tell you what it was, so maybe we can determine if it's something I should not have used). The product does say "safe for all paint surfaces" but doesn't say specifically safe for clear coats so I don't know, maybe I shouldn't have used it. It is diluted at a rate of 1 ounce per gallon so I really don't think this could damage a clear coat but if it is an abrasive then who knows.

    Anyways, after using the wash and wax, I noticed some hazy or cloudy sections on the paint surface, mostly on the hood and trunk. I didn't notice any paint problems before this, the car was glossy and the paint appeared to be in good condition.

    I figure one of two things has happened here,

    1. In my haste to at least get some form of protection on the paint, I used a product that damaged the clear coat.
    2. The paint is in the same condition it was in when I bought the car, and the reason I didnt notice the inconsistency of the paint is because this was the first time I had washed it and really taken a close look at it.

    My confusion about what to do next comes from the variety of advice I have been given. I have been told everything from

    "If you have any haziness or cloudiness then the clear coat has failed and the only way to fix it is to take it down to bare metal and repaint it"

    to

    "You just have oxidation that needs to be rubbed out to restore a consistent looking finish"

    I don't have any pics online of the paint so I will try to describe it best as possible. The paint appears glossy, you can see your reflection in it, but from some angles, the paint appears hazy in some areas. The best way to describe it is, if you stare down at the trunk, you see your reflection, and if you slowly move back and forth, you notice that your reflection goes from really clear to foggy in some areas and then back to really clear. You can still see your reflection but it's inconsistent, some areas really sharp, others cloudy, so I don't know if this means I need a paint job or just a high quality wax job.

    If I can't determine whether or not the clear coat is damaged, is there a product out there that I can use that will restore the shine if it is just oxidation, and not cause further damage if in fact the clear coat is failing?

    (This is why I hate clear coats; they cause me to write really long messages in forums with lots of questions).

    I am under the assumption that all waxes, whether clear coat safe or not, must contain some form of abrasive, otherwise they couldn't clean off oxidation and restore shine. This is where my dilemma comes in regarding the old school enamels where we just rubbed out the paint when it got bad; put a layer of wax on it, and it looked great. How can I wax a car that has a clear coat? Wouldn't I be using an abrasive on a clear surface, and dull the surface?

    My theory right now is: As long as you have a clear coat in good condition, you can wax your car to restore shine. If you have an older car, and the clear coat has started to thin out, you cannot wax your car or you will just make it worse. (Let me know your opinion on this).

    Let me finish by saying if we had never started clear coating paint jobs, I would be outside polishing my new T-Bird instead of sitting in front of a computer frustrated, not knowing what to do, writing this message asking for help and advice.

    Thank you in advance for your guidance. It's really cool that we have a site like this where we can go to ask questions and get help with stuff like this.
    Have I mentioned yet today how much I hate clear coats.

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    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: My hatred of clear coats

    Originally posted by Bay Darnell
    Hello, I am a new member and this is my first post. Thank you in advance for your guidance. It’s really cool that we have a site like this where we can go to ask questions and get help with stuff like this.
    Hi Bay,

    Seeing this is your first post, Welcome to Meguiar's Online!

    Meguiar's teaches to always use the least aggressive product to get the job done, in your case, what you need to do is to see if a gentle paint cleaner will fix the problem, for this we would suggest Meguiar's Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner.



    Try applying this to an affected area using a clean, soft foam applicator and then removing with a plush microfiber polishing cloth or 100% cotton towel. See if this product will make a small area look good and if it will, then go ahead and apply to the entire car and remove. (Paint Cleaners don't need to dry, simply apply, work in and then remove. Only waxes in the Meguiar's line need to dry)

    If it does fix the problem, after the paint cleaner, you can then try applying a pure polish like the Deep Crystal Polish and then a wax like NXT Tech Wax, or you can skip the pure polish and go straight to wax.

    The most important thing however is we fix the problem first and then move on to the protection step. If Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner doesn't work, then we would try a more aggressive product like ScratchX, (it's still very gentle, just more aggressive than the Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner).
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Check this thread out as it will bring you up to speed on the different steps and the categories of different products and where they fit into the 5 Step Paint Care Cycle.

    Meguiar's 5-Step Paint Care Cycle
    (Posted in the The Information Station)


    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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    Hello Mike,

    Thank you for your reply and all of the helpful information.

    I do have two questions before I go out and get the cleaner.

    1) After reading all of the info. you sent, specifically the part about clay bars, I was wondering do you think it would be a good idea for me to try a clay bar first instead of the cleaner? (i.e. would the clay bar be less abrasive?)

    2) When I use the cleaner for the first time, should I try to test it in an inconspicuous spot in case the clear coat is in worse condition than I thought, to keep from making it worse? (of course this would be difficult because the most affected areas obviously are horizontal and not exactly inconspicuous.)

    Thanks again.

    p.s. I promise I will stop being paranoid and I will follow your advice.
    Last edited by Bay Darnell; Jul 2nd, 2005 at 01:32 PM.
    Have I mentioned yet today how much I hate clear coats.

  5. #5
    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Bay Darnell
    Hello Mike,

    Thank you for your reply and all of the helpful information.

    I do have two questions before I go out and get the cleaner.

    1) After reading all of the info. you sent, specifically the part about clay bars, I was wondering do you think it would be a good idea for me to try a clay bar first instead of the cleaner? (i.e. would the clay bar be less abrasive?)
    No. Detailing clay is for removing above surface bonded contaminants, all you have to do is use a clay bar one time on a car finish that has been parked outside for any length of time, and inspect the clay and you will understand what bonded contaminants are and why claying is so important.

    The problem you describe with your car's paint doesn't sound like above surface contaminants, it sounds more like something is wrong with the paint itself, this is where a paint cleaner comes into action.

    From your first posts...

    Originally posted by Bay Darnell
    Anyways, after using the wash and wax, I noticed some hazy or cloudy sections on the paint surface, mostly on the hood and trunk. I didn't’t notice any paint problems before this, the car was glossy and the paint appeared to be in good condition.

    I figure one of two things has happened here,

    1) In my haste to at least get some form of protection on the paint, I used a product that damaged the clear coat.

    Or

    2) The paint is in the same condition it was in when I bought the car, and the reason I didn't’t notice the inconsistency of the paint is because this was the first time I had washed it and really taken a close look at it.
    Another possibility is the defect you're seeing was in the paint from the dealership or person you purchased the car from and hidden by a coating of wax or polish, then when you washed the car, you washed this coating off to reveal the defect/cloudiness.

    What you want to try is a paint cleaner using a clean foam applicator pad on a washed clean, and clayed finish to see if this improves it. You can try in a small area like 4-5 inch patch to start with.

    Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner is Meguiar's most gentle paint cleaner, it won't harm or make your paint any worse than it is and experience tells me it will improve it. Chances are very good you'll actually need something more aggressive like ScratchX to remove the cloudiness and restore clarity.

    A best case scenario would be to test either the Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner or the ScratchX on a small area and if this makes the paint look better, then move up to a dual action polisher and machine clean and polish the entire finish using a product like our M80 Sped Glaze and then go to your choice of wax.

    2) When I use the cleaner for the first time, should I try to test it in an inconspicuous spot in case the clear coat is in worse condition than I thought, to keep from making it worse? (of course this would be difficult because the most affected areas obviously are horizontal and not exactly inconspicuous.)

    Thanks again.

    p.s. I promise I will stop being paranoid and I will follow your advice.
    See my above statements...

    If you e-mail me your phone number to mphillips@meguiars.com I'll call you to discuss further.
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: My hatred of clear coats

    Originally posted by Bay Darnell
    Hello, I am a new member and this is my first post. Before I get started, I want to make it clear just how much I hate clear coats. I hate them with a passion. I firmly believe the only reason we even have something called a clear coat, is because auto manufacturers wanted to save money by cutting costs on paint jobs, so instead of a nice, thick, glossy layer of paint that could be buffed out or rubbed out if there is damage or oxidation, they use a paper thin (if even that) layer of flat paint, and then mist some clear coat on top of it and we are all supposed to say “ooooh….ahhhh…look at the beautiful paint job on the car” (whatever).

    In the good old days, cars actually had paint on them. My first car was a ’68 Dodge R/T. The day I bought it, I thought it was baby blue. I took it home and washed it and noticed the sponge and water were turning blue. (OK, you’re saying “how could he not notice the oxidation”), well I was 18 and stupid and it was my first car, I don’t know what to tell you. Anyways, long story short - after washings, rubbing compounds, lots of time and effort, and a high quality waxing, I ended up with a dark blue metallic paint job that I didn’t even know was hiding under all that oxidation. It looked like a totally different car. The point that I am getting at is that if this car had a clear coat, I would have been driving a baby blue R/T instead of a deep blue metallic R/T. (I prefer the deep blue by the way).

    OK, now that I am done venting about my hatred of clear coats, I’ll get to what I need help with.
    Below is a post I wrote in another thread that touches on how clear coat technology came about...


    Products with Fillers? Concealing Swirls?

    Originally posted by cheapthrills
    Scrub that's the the thing, I can't remove swirls as easy as I can wax a car. It Honestly takes me hours to remove them! I could NXT or wax a car in about 20- 30 minutes, I would only be on my first or second panel for swirl removal at 20-30 minutes.

    Is it just me? or does it take you guys just as long?
    It's not just you. Removing swirls can take a long time to do a good job if all you're using is the dual action polisher. Other factors will affect how long it takes you also, things like how deep the swirls are and how hard the paint is.

    The reason for this is because the dual action polisher is gentle to the finish. People like it for this reason. It's easy to control, that's another reason people like it.





    For the same reasons people like it,
    • * Safe
      * Gentle to the finish
      * Easy to control
      * Uses an oscillating action instead of a direct drive rotating action like the rotary buffer


    It doesn't remove paint very fast. If you we're to look at a cross-section of a finish with cobweb-effect, or buffer swirls, also called holograms in an exploded view, it would look something like this,



    In order to remove scratches, whether it's swirls like above, or a random, isolated, deeper scratch like below,



    In order to effectively remove them, you need to remove all of the paint surrounding them until the surface is level with the lowest depths of the deepest defects.

    To remove swirls and scratches, you must remove paint.

    Modern catalyzed clear coats are much, much harder than traditional lacquers and enamels. This makes them more durable and less prone to oxidation. This also mean it is harder for the average person to remove a defects such as swirls.

    Now here's the tricky part, most people, when they learn that the clear coat finish on their car is hard, not soft, they think and expect it to be less susceptible to swirls and scratches. It probably is to some degree when compared to a traditional lacquer or enamel finish, but in the real world, clear coats scratch very easily. Years ago, Meguiar's coined coined the term "Scratch Sensitive" to describe this characteristic of clear coat finishes.

    On a side note, many people are under the impression clear coats are soft because they scratch so easy, this is simply a misunderstanding of the paint technology.

    Because clear coats are typically harder than traditional paints, for example the paint that came on a 1952 Chevrolet Belair, or a 1967 Mustang, or a 1979 Dodge Truck, in order to completely remove defects like swirls and scratches, and to do it quickly, you must resort to a rotary buffer.



    But that's not all. In the old days, any technician could use a rotary buffer with a wool pad and some cutting compound and quickly remove the swirls and scratches, then follow with a wool finishing pad and a finer polish or glaze and the results would look pretty good.

    When the OEM, (OEM means, Original Equipment Manufacture, which in this case the equipment is a car or truck), under pressure from the EPA and other government regulatory agencies began to switch over to new paint technologies that emitted less V.O.C.'s into the air, (V.O.C.'s means Volatile Organic Compounds, which typically means some type of nasty solvent), the effect was to trickle down to the refinishing side of the business, (Body Shops), as well as to the polishing side of the business, (Polish Manufactures, like Meguiar's), and force these industries to change also.

    Technicians in body shops had to learn how to spray two-stage paint systems, called basecoat/clear coat systems so they could match the factory finishes being used on new cars.

    On the polishing side of the business, polish manufactures had to create new formula's that could be used successfully on these new clear coat finishes. In a nutshell, this meant finding ways to remove defects by becoming less aggressive, not the old-fashioned, traditional way which was to use products that were real aggressive and this relates how cutting compounds are made and even the step and the products used before the compounding step, the wet-sanding step.

    This is where Meguiar's shines! You see, while most of the industry were focused on making products that cut fast, (automotive grade sanding papers, coarse, aggressive abrasives and wool pads), every since 1901 Meguiar's has been creating formulas for removing defects in paint that rely on abrasives that breakdown and are cushioned in a rich, lubricating film. In 1965 Meguiar's introduced the Wooless Wonder,



    Which by the way worked and still works perfectly with diminishing abrasives embodied in a rich lubricating base and interestingly enough, don't work well at all with traditional compounds where the abrasives don't break down and rely on solvents for carrying agents. (The grit loads up in the foam and scratches and scours the paint). And in the 1980's introduced a paper for wet sanding that uses what Meguiar's calls Unigrit construction. What makes these papers unique and superior for wet-sanding is the uniform particle size of the abrasives AND the uniform placement of these abrasives over the entire sheet of paper. The end result being what Meguiar's refers to as a "Finishing", paper not a sanding paper that cuts faster and leaves a more uniform sanding mark pattern. The end result of this paper are sanding marks that buff out faster while leaving more paint on the car.

    The system of finishing papers, diminishing abrasives and foam pad technology proved to be superior at creating swirl-free, high gloss finishes to which most of the industry has attempted to copy.

    But I digress...

    Your not the only one it takes a long time to remove swirls out of modern clear coat finishes. It's the nature of the beast.

    That's why I and others have suggested that for the money your customers are willing to pay, you need to spend a little time educating them on their cars finish and the polishing process and perhaps match their expectations for a clean, shiny car but create these results using either a one-step approach, or a two-step approach, but don't try to remove all the swirls unless you charge more for your time and efforts.
    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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