Vehicle Paint Care – 5 Myths Debunked

At Auto Curators, we offer car detailing throughout Surrey, Sussex, Greater London and Hampshire. As you can imagine, that means we know a thing or two about vehicle paint care. We’re also aware that there are lots of myths floating around about paint care and paint protection. So, in this week’s blog, we thought we’d go all out Mythbusters. Yes! We are debunking a few of the more popular misconceptions.

Five Vehicle Paint Care Myths Debunked:

Myth #1 – You don’t need to use specialist products to wash your car.

Experience has taught us that there is a lot of marketing waffle when it comes to car cleaning products. That said, there is a reason they exist. And there are reasons that they are better than using products that you would usually use for cleaning the home. Let’s take washing up liquid as an example. This product cannot do the same job as a dedicated car shampoo. When you’re trying to soak the remnants of a Sunday roast from a baking tray, the soapy liquid you use has a very different job to that of vehicle paint care.

A good car shampoo should, generally speaking, be pH neutral. It should also contain surfactants to loosen dirt, grab hold of it, and carry it away from the paint surface. You should be able to rinse it away without leaving any residue. You don’t want it to contain salt or other softeners that risk leaving deposits behind.

The same goes for the tools you use. A washing-up sponge, like most sponges, are rather coarse and scratchy. They drag dirt particles around against the surface you’re trying to clean. When you wash your car, use a long pile Merino wool wash mitt. Or, even a good quality microfibre ‘noodle’ wash mitt. Both of these tools will lift the dirt off the surface, and the long pile gives it somewhere to go, away from the paint surface, ready to be rinsed out in a bucket of water.

When it comes to drying, too many people cling to their old chamois leather, real or synthetic. A dedicated microfiber drying towel is a much better option. A towel will absorb the water, not just push it around. Less dragging means less chance of causing marring and swirl marks. More damage gets done to paint in the drying stage than the washing stage.

Myth #2 – Dealership paint protection is a great investment.

When you buy a new car, it’s only natural that you want to protect it. But beware vehicle paint protection sold by your dealership. You can’t get away from the fact that car dealers are all about margins, they are a business after all. A reduction in car margins over the last few years has resulted in dealers relying on add-on sales to make their money. Add-ons can typically include GAP insurance, smart repair and alloy wheel insurance, and of course, paint protection.

You’ll often find that a dealer will start by offering vehicle paint protection from around £500, but before too long they’ll offer to throw it in for free, very quickly. That should indicate just how much value they place on the products and services they’re offering to complete the job. Spend money on dealership vehicle paint protection, and you might well receive cheap, old fashioned and substandard solutions that require frequent top-ups or special products (such as conserver shampoo) to maintain them. You’ll also get an application by low skilled workers who are in a hurry to meet deadlines, with little care or understanding of how their products work.

Myth #3 – A machine polisher requires no expertise.

When our clients throughout Surrey, Sussex, Greater London and Hampshire see us machine polishing, they will often say, ‘You make that look easy’. We understand that you might be tempted to invest in a machine polisher and have a go yourself. But we can almost guarantee that you will be disappointed with the outcome. It’s important to understand that our expertise with the machine polisher comes from hundreds of hours of practice.

Machine polishing requires a comprehensive understanding of the machine and how it works. You need to know about the polishing compounds available for use, and how to pair them with the correct polishing pad fitted to the machine. Then to get the best results, you must take into account ambient conditions, such as temperature and humidity, the paint chemistry and characteristics, the defects present in the paint (and what caused them).

You should also be aware that every time you polish the paint, you are removing some material from it. This might be a tiny amount, or it could be quite a significant amount if trying to remove a specific scratch or problem area. You should be fully aware of how much paint or clear coat was there to start with and how much have you removed. Only then will you know how to stop!

When machine polishing goes wrong, at best, you’ll waste your time achieving minimal improvement. We often see the results of terrible polishing efforts, where someone has ended up with more defects and swirl marks than they started with. At worst, the paint could be left critically thin, leading to clear coat failure. This term refers to the situation where the clear coat fails to adhere to the colour layer underneath, and cracks and flakes away. Sometimes we find that vehicle paintwork is completely burnt through on edges of panels.

Myth #4 – Ceramic coatings and waxes are the best protection for your vehicle’s paintwork.

When it comes to vehicle paint care and protection, it’s essential to understand that ceramic coatings, and to a much lesser extent, waxes and polymer coatings will offer your paintwork some protection against environmental issues. These issues might include bug splats, bird droppings and acid rain. They will also make the car much easier to wash.

However, there is only one thing that will protect against all of that and impact damage. Guarding against stone chips and the like. That solution is Paint Protection Film. Despite claims otherwise, there is simply no coating that can prevent a stone chipping your paint, it’s just not possible. PPF, when installed by a professional, provides genuine protection for your paint, and thanks to the amazingly well-designed templates that Xpel produce, the installation is very discrete. Unless they are looking for it, most people would never know you have PPF on your car. Such is the superb finish of the film, extremely glossy and free of texture, it is usually better than the factory paint finish.

Myth #5 – Paint Protection is expensive.

Instead of thinking of the headline figure, and considering something ‘cheap’, or ‘expensive’, it’s often worth considering the value it offers you.

Dealerships selling paint protection products might represent a slightly lower initial cost than us (not always, sometimes it’s more). They might roll it in with a finance package and tell you ‘it’s a cup of coffee a week’. But, as detailed in Myth #2, what you’re getting is very poor value for money. Without reapplication or further efforts by you, the products will fail within months, if not weeks. You will likely have paid hundreds of pounds for twenty minutes effort and a few pence worth of product.

At Auto Curators we’re proud to offer amazing value for money.

We will dedicate a whole day, sometimes more, to ensure your car is properly clean and immaculate. Only when we’re sure your car is fully prepared, do we skillfully apply products that have been thoroughly researched and tested, selected for specific desirable qualities. Our studios are ideally located for Surrey, Sussex, Greater London, Essex, Kent and Hampshire; they have a carefully controlled environment. Because of that, we know that the ceramic coatings we use will bond to your paint surfaces, providing a superior finish that will last for years, not weeks or months.

That superior finish will save you time and effort every time you wash your car, something you can enjoy long after a slight difference in cost has been forgotten. Suddenly, this doesn’t seem expensive, does it?


Are you ready to talk to us about vehicle paint care and how to protect your car? We work across Surrey, Sussex, Greater London, Essex, Kent, Berkshire and Hampshire. Contact us so we can help you ensure that your car looks a million dollars!