Pro Tips to Keep Your Car Looking Like New
An errant rock kicked up by the car in front of you can chip your paint or crack your windshield. The sun’s rays cause fading to your car’s paintwork and take a toll on the interior. Even rain can cause marks on your paint -- or worse -- and let’s not forget about suicide missions from bugs and other "deposits" from our avian friends.
Luckily, there are a variety of great, relatively new products that'll help you keep your car pristine. I chatted with Moe Mistry, of Glistening Perfection in Costa Mesa, California. Moe and his team of "orderlies," as he calls them, have been detailing cars for the better part of 20 years, regularly preparing six- and seven-figure collectibles for the world's most prestigious car shows. He pointed out a few things that you can do, and some of the newest and most advanced materials you can use, to ensure your paint goes the extra mile.
Keep your car cleaner and scratch-free with a high-tech paint coating
This is the part when I tell you that you should be coating your paint in "ceramic nanoparticles." Yep! The hand-applied coating chemically bonds with your car’s exterior surfaces (not just paint -- the windows, too) and creates an extremely hard finish that is so durable it can even make your paint scratch-resistant, while repelling water and other hazards.
"What you’ll see is a finish that has depth like never before [and] amazing gloss," says Moe. Your car will also get less dirty, with the normal amount of dirt you'd see after two days suddenly representing a fortnight's worth of accumulation. And when you do wash your car, the dirt simply rinses off, which, as Moe poignantly puts it, "means less work and more time driving."
There are several of these coatings on the market, like CQuartz and Optimum Gloss-Coat. Depending on the product and the size of your car, a professional shop might charge $350-$1500 to apply one, although you can totally do it yourself from the comfort of home.
Install tint to protect your interior (and yourself) from the sun
Look at virtually any car that's spent much of its life outdoors and you'll see an interior that's clearly suffering. Window tint blocks roughly 99.9% of harmful UV rays from reaching not just you, but also the interior of your car.
There's a misconception that tints have to be "limo" dark to get the intended effect, but there are many manufacturers that make window films that are almost clear and block just as much of the UV spectrum. Of course, keeping your car cooler has its perks, too. A professional installation ranges from $425-$1200 depending on which tint you go with and the number of windows.
Support your paint's longevity with a clear bra
Gone are the days of black car bras that protect your paint at the expense of making your car ass-ugly. Today, you can go with a clear, glossy, and durable bra that is nearly undetectable to the untrained eye. Roughly the thickness of a business card, it's basically a clear film that provides a physical layer of protection against road damage. If properly applied, it will protect the paint from flying objects that you might encounter over the course of normal daily driving.
Depending on how much of the car you decide to cover -- you can protect your entire car from tip to tail if you want, or just the front -- the cost might range from a few hundred dollars to a few grand. It's your call how far you want to go.
Add a bodyguard to your windshield, too
ClearPlex is a film applied to the exterior surface of your windshield, preventing damage from highway rock strikes and road debris. It's designed to work kinda like a bodyguard for your windshield, taking the nicks, scrapes, and pits in stride, before eventually being replaced. It has a somewhat short shelf life -- about a year if you drive the car every day. You definitely want a pro to put it on -- it requires being heat-shrunk at a very high temperature so that it'll perfectly fit to your windshield. Also, it's uh, cough, $300-$500. Given that a windshield replacement can easily run you four figures, think of ClearPlex as a viable alternative to the hassles of dealing with broken glass.
Practice safe parking
Door dings are the devil, but they're a fact of life, unfortunately. Consider parking as far away as possible, so the odds of someone parking next to you become much lower. It also helps to assess the condition of the car you're parking next to before you pull into a space. If it's in poor condition, that might be your signal to move along.
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