Auto Care

What can you do to make your care last?

  1. A little help in Caring for your new paint finish

  2. Understanding Color match? Is it, or isn't it? (matching that is)

  3. Plastics Today - an explanation

  4. Getting that Estimate 

This section is for you, the Auto Body Shop customer, I want to help you understand in depth some of the things involved in getting your car repaired. Your Auto Body Shop Experience should always be a good one. Included here are tips and information useful in the maintenance of your newly repaired and refinished vehicle, and information about some concerns you may have about today's paint finishes.

Caring for your new paint finish

For many years I have come across many situations and conditions that are probably common in most areas. To start, there are many things that may affect paint finishes, including the weather, road conditions, atmospheric fallout, the sun, and your neighbors kids, to name a few. Over the past few years paint manufacturers have been producing better paint products, designed to be more durable and longer lasting. Those more durable products, like paints, clears, and primers, also have changed dramatically in other areas. Manufacturers are producing products that are less damaging to the environment, and of course less harmful to people. One way to do this is to lower the VOC content (volatile organic compounds) which is the solvent in the paints, clears, and primer. Some of the new clears on the market have very little solvents in them, the solvent is the transfer agent. In paints and clears the solvent thins the product so that it can be applied with aspray gun with ease. Solvent also helps the finish to flow out.

We use Standox finish that transfers easily and flows out nicely. They are just coming up with better technology to achieve these results. These products are called High Solids, Low VOC's.

Almost all of today's cars are base/clear, that is, two or three thin coats of color, and top coated with a urethane clearcoat. This of course is all applied over an epoxy or two part urethane sealer, which is ...well, we'll get to that later. What I'm getting at is that these durable new clears, are not indestructible. They do indeed scratch quite easily.

These scratches can be very fine and very annoying, especially on dark colors. Or they can be fairly deep and appear as white, on a dark color. This can be a problem on a newly painted panel. Those very fine scratches, or swirls are inevitable. Although, there are many fine waxes, polishes, and glazes that can help eliminate them.

In addition, we bake or curing the car after the finish has been applied. This significantly speeds up the dry time of paint finish. These systems are designed to increase production in the refinish department, and allow you to have your car back on the road sooner. Yet, the finish is actually dry only on the surface, and not right through. This is one reason why you should be extremely careful in the first 5 weeks, or so.

Some tips to help you care for your new paint.

  • Do not use automatic car washes for at least 5 weeks, preferably never use the ones with the stiff brushes. Hand wash the new paint, with clear water and no soap , if you have to use soap, use only mild dish soap. Use plenty of water, to soak the dirt, then rinse away, before you use a sponge, rub very lightly, rinse.

  • Be very careful when using your sponge or chamois, you don't want any little dirt particles getting on them and then getting rubbed over the surface.

  • Try to wash only in the shade.

  • Use soft cotton towels to dry.

  • Avoid using high pressure wands, if you have to, stay well back.

  • Do not use wax for at least 6 weeks.

  • Do not run your hand, or a towel over the paint if there's a little dust , this can cause scratches.

Color Match? Is it, or isn't it?

Most people probably expect to have their paint finish match 100%. Matching today's paint finishes requires experience, training, a good quality paint system, proper equipment, and the right environment.  An exact match will depend on many addition factors such the age of the original paint.  Most people don't understand exactly what is involved in achieving an acceptable color match.

To start, automobile manufacturers use state of the art facilities costing millions of dollars to produce a show room finish. Next time you are in the show room have a closer look. The equipment, possibly including robots, the environment and the techniques used at the factory can not possibly be reproduced at the Auto Body Shop level. There are hundreds of variables that can affect the match, for this reason most of today's base coat, clear coat metallic colors have to be blended, be it over the fenders or into the doors or what ever adjacent panel. This blending will almost always ensure an acceptable match.

Blending into adjacent panels will not cause any problems if done properly. Usually the majority of the material being applied to those adjacent panels will be clear (urethane). If anything, this will just offer a little more protection. Solid colors are usually more forgiving than metallic colors when it comes to color matching. One of the reasons a metallic color is such a problem is that those tiny flakes of metallic come in different shapes and sizes, their job is to reflect light into different directions. The problem comes in when we are applying our metallics, we can't ensure that they land in the same positions as the ones on the adjacent panel that the manufacturer applied.

Plastics Today

Have you had a bumper or some other plastic panel repaired on your vehicle? If so, you may have had the misfortune of it peeling or cracking on you. This can happen occasionally, if so, here is a explanation as to the possible cause. The repair and refinishing of automotive plastics is an important subject to be covered.

As we all know most of today's cars & trucks have hundreds of plastic parts and pieces attached to them. Manufacturers are using more and more plastics on their vehicles every year for many reasons, to name a few, to help keep costs down, to make cars lighter, stronger, and more appealing. There is definitely a lot more things they can do with plastics on the exterior of your car, than they can do with metal. Lately I have run across a few cars that only have three or four metal panels on the exterior, these are 96's, that's quite a change from a few years ago. Our shop keeps up with the many different types of plastics manufacturers use in their automobiles.

Lets say you have a bumper cover with a good size crack or tear, our shop can almost always, repair and refinish this to pre-accident condition or as good as new. The best bet is to replace the entire part with a new one but these new parts can be extremely expensive, so most insurance companies and car owners prefer to have the existing part repaired. Almost always a repair with today's high strength urethanes will be as good as new or better. Although there are some plastics which can be tricky to repair, some parts don't want anything to stick to them. This is due to an agent released by the mould, that is in, or on the part after it is produced. This agent is a waxy or oily substance that is usually the cause of any problems.

Getting that Estimate

"A Good Auto Body Shop Experience".

So unfortunately you have had a fender bender, or maybe you have just decided to get that new paint job on your baby. Before you go for an Estimate, you should be prepared, wash your car, take a couple of pictures (for the record) and have a close look at the damaged area, and the rest of the car. Some people are never really aware of the present condition of their vehicle. Are there some new door dents in it? Is it starting to rust a little along the bottom? Is the glass cracked? Any parts missing or broken? Well, now you are updated on the condition of your entire car as you head for the Culver Auto Body Works(doing these things will make your whole Auto Body Shop experience much more pleasant).

Sometimes there can be some communication problems when dealing with the auto body shop, or any other service industry business. Every vehicle and situation is different so lets just cover the basics. When getting that estimate you should ask lots of questions to make sure you and the estimator understand each other correctly. Most of today's estimates are computer generated so we can expect them to be quite accurate. All the items are listed with part numbers and prices and the repair and refinish details are clear. Most people are told to get three estimates, and usually they are all different, Why? Well what I think is important here is that you understand that each shops repair procedure will be vastly different.  For example:

  • Items are missed altogether.

  • Different labor or material rates.

  • Repair versus Replace.  One sheet may say to repair a panel the other to replace the panel.

  • New versus Used parts.

  • Base Clear paint or Single Stage paint.

You will have to compare the sheets very carefully.   Maybe one shop is planning to blend the repair both ways and is charging a little more or a little less. The Best thing to do is to get the estimator to explain in detail to you exactly what he plans to do and ask lots of questions.

Some more Questions you should ask:

  1. What is your warranty, or guarantee on the body repair and paint? 
    These can vary greatly from shop to shop, some may only have 1 year warranties others may be life-time! Be sure to read and understand the warranty or guarantee carefully. For example rock chips are usually considered normal wear and tear, peeling, fading, cracking should be covered. Some shops will cover rust others not, this should be written on the estimate.

  2. What is the cost for refinishing the entire car?
    If you are having a estimate done on collision damage, it would be a good time to ask for a price on refinishing the entire car. If the repair is going to be covered by an insurance company, they pay for the paint work on the damaged area, and depending on what that is you may be able to paint the whole car for less than you think.

  3. Did they include a wheel alignment and are they going to check if the frame or unibody structure is out of alignment or damaged in any way?
    Most of today's new cars should have a Four wheel alignment done after a heavy collision repair.
    All vehicles faced with a serious accident are sent for professional alignment.

  4. Does the shop have a licensed mechanic or do they sublet any mechanical repairs out to another business?
    All mechanics at Culver Auto Body Works are Certified and Licensed.