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:
- TuffMax Dual LED Pivot Spotlight (runs on AA batteries)
- Maxfire Dual Xenon Swirl Finder Spotlight (rechargeable)
And for more information on the Brinkmann lights, see the article Using Handheld Lights for Paint Inspection by Marc Harris.