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Black Paint: Struggles & Care Tips

by

Oh No! The horror stories of polishing black cars.  GMC and Tesla black cars might have some detailers waking up in a cold sweat dreading the terror.  Although the concerns and frustrations do have some merit, they are generally overrated.  Black paint inherently reveals the shortcomings in our efforts that are not as easily visible with other colors.  I will go over some common issues I see from people who have struggled polishing black cars.

Are you overworking your pads?

I have never done a light paint correction using less than 4 pads.  It is not uncommon for me to use 10 or more pads with a multi-stage paint correction.  I also brush or blow my pads out often.  When you run your polisher over the paint through a polish cycle, think about what is left on your pad.  You primarily have a combination of used up polish and abraded paint.  You can scrub or blow out the debris on your pad for only so long before it loses its effectiveness.  Over time your ability to correct and refine will be diminished and the debris left will reintroduce defects back on to the paint.

Is the surface clean? (Decontamination)

If you skip the clay bar treatment and go to straight to polishing, that is asking for trouble.  If you are polishing with a dual-action polisher the bonded contaminants are going to create somewhat of a barrier against you.  Your paint correction is going to be inconsistent and overall less aggressive.  If you are using a rotary, it may be strong enough to power through the contaminants but will leave worse holograms in consequence.

Are you using the wrong pad and polish combination?

You use a microfiber or wool pad with your favorite compound, and it leaves marring.  That is supposed to happen!  Often the steps skipped (refinement polishing) because you may have been able to justify an acceptable result with your eyes on not only harder but less noticeable paints.  That last 10% percent of clarity that you overlooked is more obvious looking at a black car.

Those cheap big box store microfibers towels

Let me start by saying, I believe they have their place (interiors, wheels, etc.), but not if you spent hours or days polishing a car. Does not make sense to potentially damage the paint with a final wipe down using a cheap microfiber towel? I don’t think so. Gyeon Polish Wipe towels, Carpro 2 Face, and the Rag Company Eagle Edgeless towels are some of the high-quality microfiber towels I have enjoyed using.

IPA vs an actual panel prep

Products like Carpro Eraser, Gyeon Prep, Gtechniq Panel Wipe, and Optimum Paint Prep are products created with the intention of removing polish residue from a scratch sensitive painted surface.  I understand professionals and enthusiasts have enjoyed success mixing rubbing alcohol and distilled water.  I personally rather spend a little more and feel more comfortable about the outcome of my work.

Know your polishes!

What is one thing these brands of polishers have in common?  They have liquid abrasives.  Beyond that, they all are unique in certain areas.  From working time (polish cycle), effectiveness with a polisher or pad, cutting/finishing ability, and wipe off challenges they are not exactly alike.  They provide can provide unique results.  Do you grab any mild polish and a compound that is popular without reading the instructions and getting a feel for how the abrasives work?  I have a enjoyed good results with all of the polishes listed in the above photo.

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Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
MirrorReflectionsAutoSpa.com
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7 comments on Black Paint: Struggles & Care Tips

  1. Roy Deyoung says:

    Great article. And as a dark blue car owner, I can attest to everything said.

    One question though. You mentioned in the section about overusing a pad, When you mention that you use up to 10 pads, that makes sense, however you also mention that after a while the build up on the pad will diminish the results. Does that mean the pad should be junked? You do mention that you clean them out regularly as you go, so I’m curious why you can’t continue to clean the pad to help make it more effective, or maybe its past its useful life at that point. Or maybe once you’re done, you soak and wash the pads more thoroughly to help clean more debris out to make them ready for the next detail.

    Great article and tips though

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      Thank you!

      There is cleaning out a pad while working on a car. This extends its working life on a car. But it has greatly diminishing returns. You are not getting them 100% clean on the fly and each time it may go to 95% clean to 90%, etc. Usually after a couple of times cleaning, I am on to the next pad. You still will go through some pads, just not as quickly.

      Then there is the post detailing pad cleaning. That to less of an extent has its own diminishing returns. The difference is depending on the material and quality the cleaning wears down the pad.

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      No, they do not need to be junked after the first use.

      When using a pad, on average(+ -) after the 2nd polishing session I may use a cleaning brush to brush-off dry debris build-up from the pad or use compressed air. I’ll go back to polishing. One polishing session later I will do it again. This is essentially cleaning on the fly.

      After 2 or 3 times of cleaning on the fly, that pad is done for the day. I don’t toss them but after a while they need to be thoroughly cleaned. How soon? It varies on a variety of factors. Cleaning on the fly is like brushing some debris of your shirt you are wearing, but at some point it needs to be washed.

      Now tossing them: that time frame varies on a variety of factors as well – (appearance, excessive dusting being the key indicators.

  2. Michael Milkovich says:

    What are you using to Clean the pads

  3. Wayne Bilder says:

    In reading your article I have a similar question. Are those 10 pads that you are using no longer worthy of correction going forward. That seems to be a big expense, especially if I’m using hdo pads? Thank you for your article.

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      No, they do not need to be junked after the first use.

      When using a pad, on average(+ -) after the 2nd polishing session I may use a cleaning brush to brush-off dry debris build-up from the pad or use compressed air. I’ll go back to polishing. One polishing session later I will do it again. This is essentially cleaning on the fly.

      After 2 or 3 times of cleaning on the fly, that pad is done for the day. I don’t toss them but after a while they need to be thoroughly cleaned. How soon? It varies on a variety of factors. Cleaning on the fly is like brushing some debris of your shirt you are wearing, but at some point it needs to be washed.

      Now tossing them: that time frame varies on a variety of factors as well – (appearance, excessive dusting being the key indicators.

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