Sonax is mostly recognized here in the U.S. for industry-leading technology in their Full Effect Wheel Cleaner, but what many people may not realize is that Sonax has been in business since 1949, and they produce a wide range of professional detailing products. While their presence here in the North American market may have only covered the past few years, Sonax has a long history of designing, developing, and manufacturing very high quality detailing products out of their Neuburg, Germany headquarters.
I originally met the Sonax company personnel at the SEMA Show out in Vegas in the Fall of 2010, and their presence at the show immediately gave me a good indication of (a) how big this company really is, and (b) how dedicated they are to the detailing industry. While I was at the show I spent a little time with Tom at Sonax USA, and we agreed to talk further in the future so that we could test some products for the Detailed Image Ask A Pro Blog.
Fast forward to this past Spring…Tom and Jason from Sonax USA came over to the Esoteric Auto Detail studios here in Columbus, Ohio for a visit. We looked at some Ferraris and Lamborghinis, talked shop, and then they introduced me to some products in their lineup that I may be interested in. Since they’re so new to the North American market, I wasn’t overly familiar with some of the products that they had to offer…I get so many products to test that I simply can’t try and know them all. During our meeting they talked about the Sonax philosophy to develop and produce detailing products with exceptional performance, ease of use, and be environmentally friendly as well. Since they went through so much effort to reach out to me and the other blog authors and readers, I figured I would give the products a shot. They left me with a box of samples, and it was up to me to fit the trials into my schedule.
Sonax Nano Tech Paint Cleaner – What It Is
NTPC is an All-In-One (AIO) product that cleans, polishes, and protects painted or clearcoated surfaces either by hand or by machine application. It utilizes ultra-fine abrasive polishes to restore weathered and worn finishes, and then it contains a carnauba wax that leaves behind a protective barrier once applied. Now typically when the detailing world sees the term “Paint Cleaner”, they immediately think of a consumer-grade hand polish that you can buy for $5 at the local auto store. And because of that, most people would never pick it up and give it a try because of what the product is classified as. Are enthusiasts and professionals alike justified in this thought process? Read on…
Let the NTPC trial begin
I was working on a beautiful Ferrari 430 Scuderia, and ran into a situation when cleaning up the carbon fiber engine compartment that had me trying different products to achieve the desired results. There was a haziness to it in some areas, as well as some light staining from improper products used at some point in the past. I tried regular cleaners, hand polishes, chemical AIO products…nothing really made it better. I stopped and evaluated the situation a bit, and remembered my box of samples that the boys from Sonax USA had recently dropped off. As I searched through the box, I came across the Nano Tech Paint Cleaner. Hmmm, maybe I’ll give this a try…nothing else has worked so why not give it a shot!
The first spot I tried had some staining on the beautiful carbon fiber panels. I reached for a soft foam applicator pad, added a few drops of NTPC, and gently hand-polished the area. When I wiped it off with my microfiber towel, not only did I see that the staining was removed, but the area around it where NTPC was applied had transformed into a rich, deep gloss and looked as it should. Excited with my findings, I proceeded to polish out the entire panel to reveal the rich beauty of the carbon fiber. I then compared the one polished panel to the unpolished panel, and knew that Sonax was onto something with this product! I found it very easy to use and remove by hand, and proceeded with the rest of the carbon fiber in the engine compartment (there’s a lot of it on the Scuderia!). When I finished, I quickly grabbed my camera to take some shots knowing that I wanted to share this in the future. I hadn’t started out with a product test / trial in mind, but it immediately turned into one.
And here is the carbon fiber engine compartment of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia after polishing with Sonax NTPC
Notice the deep, rich reflections on the carbon fiber after using NTPC
And one of my favorite photos that I have ever taken…
So now that I had a very successful trial of the NTPC on carbon fiber, I was intrigued by the product and anxious to try it in other applications. Next up was my epic 24-hour detail on a Lamborghini Gallardo, and I knew there would be opportunities to try it on this car.
Once again using a soft applicator pad, I used NTPC by hand in the door jambs and under the trunk lid. As with the carbon fiber, it did a great job of cleaning up the surface, removing light haze, restoring gloss, and leaving a smooth and slick finish thanks to the carnauba wax included in the formula.
Applying to the door jambs
And on the underside of the trunk lid
Leaving a glossy finish and a layer of protection
Using Sonax Nano Tech Paint Cleaner by machine
When using a traditional “paint cleaner”, it’s assumed that the process will be done by hand. I used the hand-application process on carbon fiber, on door jambs, and even on the exterior painted surfaces with very good results. At that point I was already prepared to do a writeup limited to just those very applications. But the next method and trial came out of chance, and in the process I discovered where NTPC really shines…when applied by a random orbital D/A polisher!
I was working on a black Ferrari 355, and the owner just wanted a quick polish to lightly clean it up…nothing major. I knew that the pure black Ferrari paint was soft and at times very challenging to work with, and figured that there would be a bit of testing to figure out what product and pad combination would net me the most correction with the best finish in the least amount of time.
When dealing with soft paints (dark, and black colors in particular), you’re typically faced with a different set of challenges than you’ll face with others. Medium-level polishing is usually out of the question because you’ll experience marring, holograms, or D/A haze depending on the process you’re using. Given that, you just have heavy, multi-step correction or very light polishing to choose from. And on some very soft and finicky paints, even using the absolute finest polishes and pads can leave marring on the finish. Some of these can only be seen when using a direct light source like the Brinkmann LED, but it’s still there. Getting ultra-soft paint to finish down properly is one of the most challenging situations that detailers and enthusiasts can face, and if you don’t have the right selection of products and tools, you may walk away from the job frustrated because you simply can’t get that ultra-pure finish that you were trying for.
As I started on this very soft black Ferrari, I tried several different products and combinations and just wasn’t getting the results that I wanted. Meguiar’s M205 left a tremendous amount of haze, and their D301 Finishing Wax wasn’t much better. This isn’t a knock against those great products…just pointing out that even finishing polishes can be too aggressive for these types of paint. I then tried my old stand-by polish for these applications…Optimum Poli-Seal. Once I looked under the Brinkmann light, I still noticed a slight haze. Hmm. In cases like these you sometimes have to step out of the box and try something completely different. And in this case, I figured I would give the Sonax NTPC a try on the D/A. I tried a few different methods, but found when I used just speed 3.5 with light pressure, it gave me the best results. All I needed was two small drops of the polish to work a good sized area. The polish doesn’t need to be “broken down” like traditional polishes, so the process goes pretty quickly.
When I wiped down my first few working areas, I pulled out the Brinkmann light for a close inspection. I was quite impressed that not only did I remove probably 50% of the light defects and haze with just a black finishing pad, light pressure, and speed 3.5, but it left no D/A haze or “squigglies” that can wreak havoc on soft black paint. I did a 50/50 (alcohol/water) wipedown on a small area just to be sure, and still found a pure finish. On an important note…alcohol wipedowns on soft black paint can cause its own marring and/or scratches…I wouldn’t recommend using it on this type of paint if you don’t have to!
Here I taped off a section and you can see that the area on the left has been corrected with NTPC, and the right side is the very hazy and swirled condition before polishing.
Normally with paint like this you can spend many, many hours with a frustrating polishing process to achieve even a 50% correction rate and this level of gloss. For this Ferrari 355, I invested only about 2 hours worth of light polishing time to achieve this:
While not perfect, this Ferrari now looks absolutely amazing with very little effort in a one-step polish.
Now sticking with the theme of quick, effective, one-step polishes by D/A on ultra-soft paint, I once again put the NTPC through a test on this 1994 Acura NSX. These cars have even softer and more finicky paint than the Ferrari, and figured it would be a great test. We were only doing a one-step polish on this car, and wanted to get the most cut with the best finish in the least amount of time. My first test was with Optimum Poli-Seal, and as expected, it left a light marring on the finish. I switched over to the NTPC with a black finishing pad on speed 3.5, and began the process. Once again…pure finish, great depth and gloss, and most importantly of all no haze or squigglies. With this soft paint, I achieved probably 75% correction in just a few short hours thanks to Sonax.
While I didn’t get any “before” photos, you can see that this Acura NSX had an incredible amount of depth and gloss after polishing with NTPC.
More soft, black cars!
I’ve tried Sonax on clearcoat systems, but what about soft single stage paints? I had a 1991 Ferrari Testarossa in the shop and I saw that as a great test vehicle for single stage paints. When this car came in, it was covered in such a heavy haze that it looked grey in the right lighting. This was a 20 year old car, and the soft paint was looking very worn and tired with no impact at all. Black paints should scream “look at me” with a high gloss and reflectivity, but this Ferrari just didn’t have that going for itself.
I did two tests on this one…polishing the paint by hand, and by machine. When polishing the paint by hand using NTPC, there was a huge difference in the amount of gloss and depth of color. It also corrected the slight haze pretty easily. So if somebody wanted to use NTPC by hand on soft paints, they can still expect a noticeable difference. When I switched over to using the D/A polisher (black pad, speed 3.5), it took that correction to another level. Not only did I get rid of probably 50% of the light defects, but it added a richness to the color that had to be seen to believe. This car was turning into one with a deep, black, glossy finish that it hadn’t seen in a long, long time. It was almost like it was “black in a bottle” that I was applying to the finish. While the car still had plenty of deep scars and scratches (that would require probably 20-25 hours worth of heavy polishing to remove), the color, clarity, gloss, and reflections that this car now produced would rival just about anything at a car show…in only about 2 hours worth of work!
Here you can see a 50/50 shot of a test section when polished by the D/A.
And when you remove all of that greying-haze, you’re left with a high gloss finish that looks like this:
Even in overcast conditions:
OK then, what about using NTPC in multi-stage polishing processes?
I’ve tested it by hand on various surfaces, I tested it by machine in quick one-step polishing, and now it was time to try it in a multiple step polishing process. I was working on a Rosso Corsa Ferrari 355, and have done enough of these that I know what works well with them. But despite that, I saw this as an opportunity to try something completely different. The first step involved heavy compounding using the Meguiar’s Microfiber Cutting Discs and D300 Compound. This got rid of all of the defects, but left a bit of haze on the soft red paint. For comparisons I tried M205 and D301 Finishing Wax, and both of them left a very slight D/A haze that was noticeable under the inspection of the Brinkmann light. I grabbed for the Sonax NTPC, tested it out, and after my initial findings I proceeded to finish the entire car with this combination…leaving an ultra-pure finish on the beautiful red Ferrari. While I probably couldn’t have used this process on harder paints, it was the perfect solution for the soft paint.
Here I am working with the Sonax NTPC on the engine cover of the 355 (the best way to fully correct these is to remove them from the car). And please…no comments on the white legs…there hadn’t been much sunshine here in the Midwest this early in the summer!
And the finished product!
Sonax Nano Tech Paint Cleaner – The Perfect Solution for Soft Paints?
I have dealt with a lof of finicky, soft paints…the ones that can make you lose sleep because they require so much effort and trial and error to get them right. And not every soft paint works the same so when you have a system dialed in for one particular paint, it may (and usually does) require a totally different method and combination for another.
It’s just worked out that I have had a run of soft paints here in the Esoteric Studios, and it has given me a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with Sonax NTPC. So given the stellar results I have had, does it make this product the perfect solution for these finicky soft paints? Well, there are so many different cars and paints out there, so I couldn’t make such a bold claim. But I can say that with the paints I’ve been dealing with lately, it has been the perfect solution for what I have been trying to accomplish. Sure I most likely could have gotten similar results with a rotary and something like Menzerna PO85RD, but it would have taken 2 to 3 times as much effort and time to do it. And with some of these paints, I have found that combination even to leave the slightest marring or swirls (hence the term “finicky” paint!). And since most enthusiasts and many detailers don’t even use the rotary, it makes the option of using NTPC on a D/A machine (or by hand) an even better one.
Final Thoughts on Sonax NTPC
- Extremely versatile. Can be used by hand or by machine…paint, door jambs, carbon fiber, etc.
- AIO product…cleans, polishes, protects
- Amazing results with a D/A polisher on ultra soft, dark paints.
- Relatively easy to use. A little bit of product goes a long way.
- Contains a carnauba wax so that no other steps are necessary.
- Can be difficult to remove at times if product isn’t fully worked in. I recommend polishing one section, then removing, then moving on to next section.
- Bottle easily tips over! It’s a tall, slender bottle and as I moved my way around the car on my work cart, I probably knocked the bottle over a half a dozen times. I then transferred the product over to an easier to handle york-style dispenser.
- Contains carnauba wax. Some people may want to finish the process with a sealant, and there could be a bonding issue because of it. If you topped this with another carnauba wax however, you should be fine.
- Now everybody is going to know about it, and I’ll no longer have the advantage!
As you can tell, despite a few items listed in the “cons” category, I’ve given this product a glowing review. I believe that Sonax Nano Tech Paint Cleaner is one of the best kept secrets out there in the detailing world right now, and while I could have easily kept it as my own trade secret, I felt it was my responsibility to share it with the industry of both professionals and enthusiasts. While it may not have such stellar results on hard paints, it sure does work wonders on softer paints (Japanese, Porsche’s, and just about anything that is a pure black). And the fact that it can be used effectively both by hand and machine on a multitude of finishes just makes this product so much better.
I am usually very critical on my product selection and am always looking at results and ease of use. If I find a product that I really like, I make it a permanent part of my detailing arsenal, and share it with the world accordingly. Sonax Nano Tech Paint Cleaner is one of those products!
So don’t get yourself caught up in the category of “Paint Cleaner”, as this product is much, much more than that. Whether you’re an enthusiast taking care of your own car, or a professional detailer managing many cars…you should seriously consider adding this product to your lineup and learning just how well it works in so many different applications.
If you have any questions or comments on the product or processes, please leave them in the comment box below. Thank you!