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Do You Want to Step Up Your Detailing Game?

by

Both detailers and detailing enthusiasts are always looking for the next big thing in terms of improving the looks of the vehicles we’re working on. What’s the latest polish, what techniques are the highline guys using, what’s the “best wax”, etc, etc?

This is good because it means that we’re continuously striving to improve, and that we take a lot of pride in the work that we do.

But if we’ve made some improvements to our polishing process, or the combinations we’re using, how are we checking the work to see just how much improvements we’re actually making?

One of the first tools that detailers and hobbyists get (after the purchase of a buffer) is a halogen work light from our local home improvement store. They provide a light source that shows off defects in the paint that in many cases can be hard to see otherwise. If you’re doing significant correction work, you really can’t do a good job without them.

But is your halogen light really showing you the true condition of the paint? 

Especially when dealing with darker colored paints, I’d say that the answer to the above question is NO!

While halogen lights do a tremendous job, they don’t show everything! And in some areas of the car, you just can’t get the halogen at the correct angle or position to see the true condition.

If you really want to see what defects may remain, or if there’s still any micro-marring, then do yourself a favor and get a Brinkmann LED inspection light! I’ve had many cases where I’ve done a test polishing section on a car, and it looks perfect in the halogen light. I’ll then pull out the Brinkmann, inspect it up close (my eyes are about 4″~5″ from the surface), and find that it still has more area for improvement. Some people might not think it’s necessary because you can only see it in a special light, but I say that if you can’t easily see it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there! Even a fine haze or light defects can make a big difference in the overall looks of a car once it’s done. If the car passes the halogen test, it will undoubtedly look good outside in the sunshine. But if it passes the Brinkmann test, then it will look stunning, and you’ll know that it’s not going to look any better.

I’ve even had some defects that I could notice in the Brinkmann, but I could not see in the sunshine.

Another area that it will help you is with quick assessments of paint conditions. Have you ever tried to drag a set of halogen lamps with you to look at a car? It’s not real practical, is it? But with a Brinkmann, you can quickly look over all areas of the paint (even down low) and see what the paint really looks like.

But once you adapt the Brinkmann into your arsenal, be prepared to spend more time polishing or developing your techniques. It will force you to do better work because now you will be able to really see what the paint looks like! You may find yourself completely re-evaluating your product selection and combinations, as well as the polishing techniques that you’re using. And when you do this, it will force you to step up your detailing game…

Brinkmann offers a couple of options:

And for more information on the Brinkmann lights, see the article Using Handheld Lights for Paint Inspection by Marc Harris.

Todd Cooperider Esoteric Auto Detail
Todd Cooperider
Esoteric Auto Detail
Columbus, Ohio
EsotericDetail.com
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17 comments on Do You Want to Step Up Your Detailing Game?

  1. DJ Mayo DJ Mayo says:

    Excellent article, Todd. You know my thoughts on this as well and completely agree. Having a variety of hand held lights close by makes a huge difference. So in theory the hand held light is the light of truth.

  2. Richard says:

    Good article, Todd. I recently purchased the TuffMax LED and I don’t know what i’m doing wrong. I’ve read the review on both lights and read every article that uses the light and I don’t seem to see the defects as good as under the sun and with a halogen light. Do you think it might be different results depending on paint color? The color I tested it out with is a silver car and it seems to be really bright when I use the light and can’t see the problem areas as well as the halogen or bright sun. I have yet to try the TuffMax on a black car yet. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Thanks Richard,

      You’re eyes aren’t playing tricks on you…silver is hard to view defects under the LED light. I typically find that defects are more easily seen on silver with the halogen or in the sunshine. There’s always an exception to the rule!

  3. Marc Harris & Jacob Bunyan Marc Harris says:

    Great write-up Todd and I agree that inspection lights make a HUGE difference. One way pros are always looking for an advantage is in spotting defects, and having the right light sources becomes very cheap in comparison to achieving great results!

  4. Ivan Rajic Ivan Rajic says:

    Great write up Todd! Definitely helps to have 2 or more different light sources when inspecting paint. The hand held spotlights are a must for mobile inspections!

  5. Pat says:

    Todd, what do you recommend for white color cars? Would the Xenon or LED be more effective? I already have a halogen work light for polishing work.

  6. Mik says:

    Great article Todd!
    I allready have the Xenon spotlight and at the moment I am thinking of adding a LED spotlight.
    However due to several good reviews I can not deside if I should buy the Brinkmann LED or the Led Lenser P7.
    Do you also have any experience with the Led Lenser P7 (or T7) and if so, what will be the best choice between the two?

    • That is a new product to me, so I can’t provide an actual comparison or feedback on or against it. Seeing that it is a flashlight design though, I personally see that as a knock against it just based off of ergonomics. The pistol grip design in my opinion is a much more natural position to hold the light when doing close inspections, and when you’re doing them repeatedly throughout the course of the day…good ergonomics really make a big difference.

  7. KC Detailing says:

    I have used a halogen light and led light for a little while now Love em both!

    Recently tried using a 150w metal halide light and it is really cool how well it will light up the side of a car. And boy does it light up all of the imperfections. They are costly though. It is also heavy and a bit of a pain to move around…. hands down the best light to show imperfections.

    As far as the LED Lenser, I have 3 different ones. Honestly, the best deal I found was the LED Lenser head lamp that I bought at Lowe’s for $50. It works very very well!!! I spent $110 on a hand held LED Lenser that doesn’t work as well as the head lamp led one from Lowe’s. And I can wear it while I’m polishing the paint. Kinda cool. Funny how that works out sometimes. My guess is that the hand held is water proof and more durable so it costs more.

    Also, the X21 LED Lenser is supposed to be a very good LED light for paint inspection. It is the same 7 leds light that you see Paul Dalton using in the promo video of his home page.

    • KC Detailing says:

      And by the way, these lights just make me realize how much skill I lack and that I have a whole lot of growing to do. I would rather have a friend be brutally honest with me than to have an enemy deceive me.

      • David Patterson says:

        Great article. Yes, lights help you grow as a detailer and profectionist. I think the brinkmann is very nice and i use it regularly, but sometimes the glare makes it hard to use being so close. I use a mix of halogen and florecent. and my brinkmann. I check them with all three light sources. I would say this write up is spot on! So much of my time is spent looking at paint to ensure the correct result. That is a huge tip for someone who doesn’t already know. I like the brinkmann or a sun gun because it shows you the very fine holograms that may be left behind, not visible by halogen or florecent.

  8. Sean Woodward (Apollo Detailing) says:

    Fantastic article! I primarily use my Brinkmann Dual Xenon when bidding on vehicles, as well as my primary light while I work. There are many days when I wonder if this is overkill because it makes me work SO much harder towards the finished product, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t work to that level of perfection.

    I have recommended this light to my detailing friends, though a few can’t handle what this light clearly shows. The Dual Xenon makes you a far better detailer, but hold the light back from the surface about 3′ because it is extremely bright. This is an absolute when working on any vehicle and has replaced my quartz halogen entirely during the finishing down stages.

  9. Steven Bell says:

    I just picked up one of these from DI.com. Perfect timing for this article-thanks buddy!

  10. Lavonne says:

    Thanks for each of the assistance dude.

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