5 Thin Automotive Paint Layers Explained For Detailing

The 5 Layers of Automotive Paint Explained for Detailing Paint Correction by OCDCarCare Los Angeles Detailing Training Classes USA.

By Christopher Brown of OCDCarCare.com 

If auto detailing colleges existed, the topic of automotive paint layers would be a foundational course. Automotive paint concepts apply to most daily activities of auto detailing businesses offering paint correction services, aka buffing or paint polishing.

However, detailing colleges are not a vocational option. Therefore, most technical information, critical to many common detailing services and scenarios, must be obtained independently. And few detailing businesses have a solid working knowledge about automotive paint systems in general.

Core topics that relate to daily auto detailing and paint correction related services include:

  • understanding a vehicle’s substrate composition materials
  • knowledge about the overall automotive painting processes
  • technical information about the individual automotive paint layers

This article focuses on the second and third points above, heavily emphasizing the third point: explaining the automotive paint layers.

Understanding individual automotive paint layers, within the overall composition of paint, is critical to quality defect removal and auto detailing paint correction services. This knowledge empowers professional detailers with specific and contextual information to make the best decisions about each vehicle and its appropriate paint correction service level.

Additionally, the more knowledge auto detailers have about their craft, the easier it is to demonstrate subject authority quickly and effectively to potential new clients.

The aim of this article is to explore modern automotive paint, highlighting:

  1. Automotive paint’s composition and its purpose
  2. The explanation of the 5 automotive paint layers
  3. How modern paint evolved to its current state
  4. The understanding of modern paint thickness levels
  5. Why technological shifts in automotive paint should and will greatly influence detailing paint correction services

Modern Automotive Paint’s Composition and Function

A quick overview (refresher) of automotive paint systems:

  • Most modern automotive paints utilize a dual component paint system for the finishing layers. This is the (1) Base Coat (BC) and  (2) Clear Coat (CC) configuration.
  • Five (5) separate layers make up the entirety of most modern automotive paint systems from bare substrate to final showroom finish (discussed in detail later).
  • In most discussions of automotive paint, Base Coat and Clear Coat (BC & CC) generally receive most of the attention.

The last two layers of paint applied to a vehicle are what most people understand. The base coat provides color, while the clear coat provides protection and gloss for the entire automotive paint system beneath it.

What is Automotive Paint Made of?

The vast majority of modern automotive paint systems utilize chemical or ‘water based’ solvent carriers to both disperse and adhere the base coat pigmentation (solid color pieces) to vehicle panels.

Color pigmentation, and/or optional metallic flakes or pearlescent crystals, are suspended within a resin that binds to vehicle panels. These resins are often composed of either a solvent-based polyurethane or a ‘water-based’ acrylic.

When the base coat’s solvents dry (aka curing or outgassing) the pigmentation, suspended within the resin, is left behind on the surface. After the base coat layer has sufficiently set up, the protective clear coat is sprayed (layered) on top for protection.

Automotive clear coat must be resilient, durable, and highly flexible to meet the complex and ever evolving needs of automobiles. For these reasons automotive paint manufacturers heavily feature polyurethane as clear coat’s main component. Currently polyurethane’s simplest and easiest physical comparison is probably to that of a plastic. However, some of its performance characteristics seem to function closer to a hard rubber.

Polyurethane resin clear coats provide many benefits and exceptional forms of protection for automotive surfaces, including:

  • Resistance to weather, oxidation, UV, radiation, water, and many chemical agents
  • Incredible elastic flexibility for body contours for all types of substrates (metals, plastic, composites)
  • Amazing toughness vs. light impact (tensile strength)
  • Impressive resistance to abrasion
  • Thermoelasticity: ability for high heat tolerance
  • Ability to maintain its form in both low + high temperatures

A small minority of modern vehicles still utilize a single layer paint system; known as single stage (SS) paint. This paint type features a different formulation since the color and protection combine into one layer. Single stage paint was the standard paint system for automobiles from the early 1920’s until BC/CC became the industry standard in the mid to late 1990’s.

What is the Purpose of Automotive Paint?

Contemporary automotive paint is packed with functional technology to protect vehicle surfaces. Paint provides many crucial functions for the vehicle, besides creating specific aesthetic effects.

Automotive Paint has 3 Essential Functions:

  1. To protect vehicle panel substrates (steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, plastic, etc.) from chemical corrosion, rust, impact abrasion, and the elements (pre-coats & primer)
  2. To provide the vehicle with color for a desired effect or look and smooth surface (base coat)
  3. To protect the vehicle paint system, providing paint longevity, premium aesthetic appeal, and a gloss or matte finish (clear coat)

Automotive paint advancements are constantly occurring. Recent examples include controllable ‘color-shifting paint’ and self-healing clear coats.

With the rise of electric vehicles, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that automotive paint may eventually have additional utility functions such as solar panel capability, collecting sunlight for usable power.

The 5 Automotive Paint Layers Explained

Most contemporary automotive paints utilize a five layer component system. This five layer system allows automotive paint to bond to all types of surface substrates, while protecting the vehicle from chemical agents, corrosion, abrasion, and the elements.

And to think, most people believe paint is there only to make a vehicle ridiculously attractive or horrendously repulsive!

So here it is, the 5 Automotive Paint Layers…

Automotive Paint Layer #1 of 5: Phosphate Treatment (Metal Only)

Phosphoric acid is the first treatment for metal substrates. When applied to bare metal it:

  1. cleans & enhances the bonding of the E-coat after it
  2. adds corrosion resistance to the metal substrate

Phosphate treatments generally range about 5 microns thick.

Automotive Paint Layer #2 of 5: E-Coat (Metal Only)

The Cationic Electrocoating (E-Coat) process works together with the Phosphate layer beneath it, protecting vehicle substrates from corrosion resistance.

While the E-Coat process was patented in 1971, it wasn’t widely used in automotive painting until 1998. Starting in 1998 many countries independently mandated legislation to significant lower VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions for automotive refinishing. Almost immediately after this governmental regulation, E-Coat’s impact and efficiency was quickly valued and widely adopted by automotive makers.

About 95+% of modern vehicles utilize E-Coat, or a similar process, in their painting process. Its super-efficient, cost effective, and emits very low VOC’s.

The E-coat process uses electrical current to evenly coat metal panels with paint. Metal panels are submerged into liquid E-Coat, generally an epoxy-polyurethane. The process allows for 100% and even coverage for all panels, particularly important for small and hard to reach areas.

Metal panels receive a continuous negative electrical current before and during submersion. Simultaneously, a positive electrical current runs through the E-Coat bath during the painting process. As panels dip into the E-Coat vats the positively charged solution bonds to negatively charged bare metal areas.

Once an area of metal is coated with E-Coat, it loses its negative charge. The positively charged paint no longer attempts to bond to contact point points lacking a negative charge. The amount of electrical voltage applied during the panel submersion process determines the thickness of the E-Coat’s overall film build.

E-Coat promotes greater adhesion for the primer and all subsequent paint layers due to its hyper consistent application.

The E-Coat treatment generally measures about 20 microns thick.

Automotive Paint Layer #3 of 5: Primer

Primer evens out the substrate, filling in surface inconsistencies. It creates a smooth uniform surface, allowing optimal consistency for the aesthetic base coat (color) and clear coat which layer on top of it.

An uber consistent surface equates to less base coat and clear coat needed, less potential surface texture (aka orange peel), a glossier finish, and a higher definition of reflection for the surface’s final finish. In short, the more uniform and consistent a surface is, the better it is for all aspects of vehicle painting.

Some paint manufacturers include additives to primer which help resist stone chipping.

Vehicle primer generally measures between 20-30 microns thick. Remember one mil of paint, the imperial unit of measure, equals 25.4 microns–the metric unit of measure.

Automotive Paint Layer #4 of 5: Base Coat (aka color coat)

The base coat, aka the color coat, determines the vehicles final color. Depending on the manufacturers process, anywhere from 2-3 layers of base coat are applied to vehicles.

Automotive Base Coat Has 3 Distinct Finish Types:

  1. Solid Colors: think red, white, or black.
  2. Metallic Colors: these paints contain tiny pieces of aluminum flakes that sparkle or glimmer in the light. Metallic flakes come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Small flakes are ~100micron (.004 hex), while typical run ~200micron (.008 hex) the larger ‘bass boat flakes’ are as high as ~625micron (.025hex). The metallic flakes, on their own, often appear as tiny pieces similar to glitter or confetti.
  3. Pearlescent Colors: these paints contain tiny ceramic particles that reflect and refract light waves in a wide array of colors, like a pearl. The appearance of the paint changes due to how the pearls manipulate light in relation to your eye’s viewing angle.

Metallic and pearlescent base coats create a varied appearance for a surface’s finish. Due to this camouflage like ability, metallic and pearlescent paint can hide small paint defects and imperfections, helping to keep finishes looking better over time.

However, solid colored base coats, especially darker colors, act more like a mirror, highlighting most every defect or bit of contamination on surfaces.

In general, metallic and pearlescent paint jobs are more expensive because the materials costs more. Additionally, metallic base coats require more skill and time to spray effectively. The challenge lies in spraying in a manner to ensure the metallic flakes lay down properly and evenly. Depending on the color pearlescent paint is sometimes applied in three coats: base coat, pearl coat (midcoat), and clear coat. Therefore, the collision repairs of pearlescent and metallic vehicles demand higher costs.

Due to multiple processes required to apply, metallic and pearlescent automotive paint systems often measure thicker than solid colors from the same auto maker.

Automotive Base Coat layers generally range from 15-25 microns thick.

Automotive Paint Layer #5 of 5: Clear Coat (vehicle paint’s protective layer)

Clear coat is the thickest top layer of automotive paint, protecting the entire paint system from the elements while generally adding gloss. Modern clear coats have evolved to include greater physical hardness for abrasion resistance (high solids), UV protection, and substantial chemical resistance.

In general, clear coat generally makes up ~33-42% of the film build of the entire automotive paint system. In some cases, clear coat may even account for up to 50% of the overall paint system’s total thickness.

Modern automotive clear coat layers generally range from 40-50 microns thick, depending on the vehicle manufacturer and model.

Automotive Clear Coat Has 3 Main Types of Finishes:

Gloss Clear Coat Paint (OEM Paint Standard)

Gloss Clear Coat has been the standard paint finish since the automotive industry’s mass adoption of the base coat / clear coat paint system in the mid 1990’s.

A gloss finish is found on the overwhelming majority of vehicles on the road. At minimum, glossy clear coat probably accounts for 95+% of automotive paint finished.

Gloss clear coat may be polished and ceramic coated with no adverse affects to the finish from the friction of paint correction aka pain polishing or buffing.

Matte Clear Coat Paint (Dull or ‘Flat Paint’)

With matte (flat) clear coat vehicle finishes, the surface shows no gloss or reflectivity. This clear coat paint formulation includes matting agents which eliminate gloss from the finish. Some automakers call matte paint: flat, frozen, or satin.

Defects or blemishes in matte automotive paint are not fixed using traditional paint correcting or polishing techniques. If a detailer attempts to remove defects from matte paint with a machine, pad, and correction liquid to matte paint they will create a glossy finish.

Also care must be taken with matte (flat) automotive paint when applying ceramic coatings. If the coating has high solids and flashes quickly it must be wiped off quickly. If high spots (unwiped coating residue) are left behind they cannot be polished off as they can be with gloss clear coat. Therefore, its best to use a ceramic coating formulated for matte paint as they tend to have a balance between high solids content, working time, and flash times.

The only way to effectively fix defects contained within matte paint systems is to repaint the affected panels.

Tinted Clear Coat Paint

The clear coat paint layers of most vehicles contain no color pigmentation in them, hence the name ‘clear coat.’

However, some manufacturers add colored pigmentation within the clear coat layer to ‘tint’ it. Often the use of tinted clears signify special vehicle models. In the US, Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs vehicle models are regularly produced with tinted clear coats.

Tinted clear coat enables color finish effects without the need for a completely additional and expensive layer of base coat.

Some common effects of tinted clear coats include:

  • a smokey appearance
  • greater color intensity (saturation)
  • enhanced color brightness
  • adding a glow to dark base colors (black), say in orange or yellow

The practice and/or theory behind tinted clears likely originated from custom ‘candy colored paint’ jobs for show vehicles.

Show vehicles are often sprayed with a bright vivid color to start, such as a neon red. Next the intended base color (black) is sprayed. The black base coat is layered on top of the red to just the right amount, allowing the original red base to show through to create an effect. The intention of the red is to add the appearance of depth or to add a warm richness to the black base coat.

Tinted clears can create similar effects; however, they’re added at the end of the painting process, not at the beginning.

The Evolution of Modern Automotive Paint Technology

Flash back to 1999. Hot doooooog those were the good old days!

Vehicle gas was under $2/ gallon USD ($0.53/ Liter), you could enjoy outdoor converts/events with no worries, and vehicles had lots of paint on them.

Contemporary life has drastically changed in all those areas, but let’s focus on modern automotive paint…

Vehicle Paint History: Late 1990’s to Mid 2000’s | the ‘Recent Good Old Days’

Automotive paint thickness (overall film build) has reduced steadily over the last two decades plus.

Back in the late 90’s to early 2000’s the amount of paint on most vehicles commonly ranged between 130-150 microns (~5.1-5.9mils). Often, paint levels measured toward the higher end of that range, and sometimes more!

However, with thick paint levels vehicle manufacturers faced a HUGE Problem slowing down production time and profits: the painting process.

Back then paint was much thicker and packed full of harsh solvents. Freshly sprayed paint required long blocks of time to chemically outgas (setup) before the next paint layer application could begin.

For a while, OEM car makers used an enormous amount of electricity to heat (bake or cure) the paint so it would dry faster. Baking paint after every process such as A) Primer, B) Base Coat (Color Coat) and C) Clear Coat quickly became expensive and time consuming. Auto manufacturers realized they needed a more effective solution to the problems occurring during the painting process.

How Thinner-yet-Harder ‘Water Based’ Modern Automotive Paint Was Born

To fix the bottle neck of vehicle production issues, vehicle manufacturers turned to automotive paint companies for solutions. Automotive paint manufacturers engineered new paint systems to speed up paint cure times and to help lessen the associated issues and costs of paint curing.

To do this paint chemists began overhauling the central carrier solvents within automotive paint, eventually creating “water based” color coats. Due to both the reduced solvent levels, and less viscous solvents, these new base coat paints contained more color pigmentation.

The solvent overhaul produced thinner paint layer applications with greater efficiency due to higher transfer rates. A higher transfer rate means more paint, sprayed from the gun, transfers onto the intended surface.

Thus, automotive paint began to evolve, using less viscous solvents and lower VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint materials over time.

How Revamped ‘Water Based’ Paint Systems, with Lower VOC’s, Benefited Automakers

These newly engineered base color paints became a golden goose for automotive manufacturers.

“Water-based” paints contain about 10% solvents (VOC’S) compared to the 70-84% levels of their fully solvent-based predecessors. Also, when water is heated past 212°F (100°C) it quickly and efficiently evaporates from painted surfaces. Both advancements, combined with the higher transfer rates of “water-based” paint (~20% for water vs. ~15% previously) , allowed the low VOC water-based paint to dry much faster while greatly reducing product cost and waste.

Lower VOC automotive paints also have less negative impact on the environment in two ways. First, low VOC formulations mean less toxicity escapes during the painting process. Secondly, lower VOC paint systems leach less toxicity when vehicles are eventually melted down for scrap.

OEM vehicle manufacturers were ecstatic because these improvements greatly lowered the time, energy, labor, and money previously required for the overall painting processes.

Lower VOC formulations also gave auto makers a massive public relations boost and opportunity. For the first time, the automotive industry could incorporate the concepts of ‘green technology’ into the conversation and marketing of their products.

Clear Coat Advancements Born from Thinner Automotive Paint Systems

Paint manufacturers were smart in their approach of transforming automotive paint formulas. To further speed up the painting process they also reformulated clear coats for thinner applications.

They realized that a thinner clear coat, paint’s top protective layer, meant significantly less physical protection for entire paint system. Chemists understood they couldn’t recreate the level of protection previously offered by the mass of thicker clear coats. They compensated for lack of mass by cranking up automotive paint’s physical and chemical protection characteristics in several ways.

Paint manufacturers created physically stronger clear coats, introducing higher levels of solid particles with new and more robust solid types. Additionally, formulations focused on greater chemical resistance to compensate for the clear coat’s loss of mass.

These innovations, combined with new solvent packages, lead to the evolution of modern OEM automotive paint systems. Combined these changes explain modern paint’s characteristics as generally both thinner and ‘harder’ than ever before.

Auto Detailing Misconceptions of ‘Water Based’ Paint Systems

While most Automotive Paint Base Coats (BC’s) are ‘water based’ formulations, their protective clear coats (CC’s) are not.

Clear coat’s primary function is to protect all paint layers and substrates beneath it. To accomplish this a durable, resilient, and flexible film is required.

Currently ‘water based’ paint clear coat formulations cannot meet those protection demands. Therefore, polyurethane clear coat formulations remain the protection standard for automotive paint systems.

This is significant because ‘water based’ paints chemically outgas (cure) quickly. This allows less down time between base coat layers. However, polyurethane clear coats require much more time to fully set up and meet their optimum crosslink density.

This is relevant since auto detailing services interact with clear coat primarily. So, if a vehicle is new, or if vehicle panels were recently repainted, detailers should seriously consider waiting 90 days after the painting process before performing paint correction, ceramic coating, or PPF (clear bra) services. This includes paint systems baked inside booths or with IR lamps.

BSAF’s Glasurit Aftercare instructions specifically mention 6 weeks are necessary for full outgassing. However, not all paints are as strong & capable as glasurit. And, maybe more importantly, not all manufacturer and body shop painting processes are equal.

Additionally, many auto makers have recently rushed many manufacturing processes, including painting, to try to meet vehicle delivery dates. Therefore, when considering all factors, waiting may be the safest course of action for long-term paint longevity.

Waiting 90 days, from the date of vehicle painting, to perform detailing services on automotive paint ensures the clear coat enough time to reach its full crosslink density. Only at full crosslink density is paint chemically stable and armed with its full spectrum of protective capabilities.

To help ensure the curing of fresh automotive paint, it’s helpful to expose the new vehicle paint to direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays and the heat from sunlight will ensure a more thorough and curing process, helping the paint to reach full crosslink density. However, remember to keep the vehicle away from contaminants such as trees, birds, or anything else that could drop onto or harm the surface.

Some paint systems, may setup rapidly and are ready to: compound or polish, to apply a ceramic coating or to install PPF/Clear Bra before 90 days. However, on other slower curing paint systems the paint correction process (aka polishing or buffing) may abruptly interrupt the curing process, negatively affecting the long-term stability of the paint. Additionally, a ceramic coating or clear bra application, installed too quickly to a new automotive paint which is still outgassing, might potentially cause a paint defect known as solvent pop.

Solvent pop is a paint defect displaying a series of small bubbles, or their popped craters, within painted surfaces. This is often caused by a layer of paint, ceramic coating, or PPF applied too soon as the final surface layer. This final surface layer acts like a trap, holding most of the escaping solvent gas bubbles from the previous layers within itself. Solvent pop causes an inconsistent looking surface, featuring solvent bubbles and craters of popped bubbles.

Detailing businesses need to ask themselves, is this something worth taking a chance on?

If not, consider the 90-day wait an insurance policy for quality results and against the potential business liability of ruining automotive paint. Liability that may possibly cost the business 2-6 times the revenue, stress, and negative reputation than the original job.

How Thick is Modern Automotive Paint?

Since about 2016, it’s been common to measure the general thickness of most global OEM paint systems between 110-125 microns (~4.3-4.9 mils). However, it appears this number is trending downward.

Occasionally some makes and models still measure as thick as 130-140 microns, but this is the exception–NOT the norm.

Some US vehicle manufacturers, such as GM and Ford, have adopted even thinner paint systems. On various 2022 and 2023 models it’s common to measure average paint thickness levels as low as 89-105 microns (~3.5-4.15 mils). Some panels, or areas, of vehicles display paint thickness readings as low as 38-64 microns (~1.5-2.5 mils).

So, for most vehicles in 2022, paint thickness levels measure between 95-125 microns (~3.7-4.9 mils). Those numbers average to a total paint system film build of 110 microns (~4.3 mils).

Twenty years ago, in 2002, most vehicle paint thickness levels measured between 125-150 microns. Those figures average to a total film build of 137.5 microns (~5.4 mils).

Comparing Automotive Paint Systems: Clear Coat Levels in 2002 vs. 2022

Of all automotive paint layers, clear coat is the primary focus for most auto detailing services.

Clear coat is the common layer of paint which auto detailing businesses typically interact with.

To illustrate how paint thickness levels have changed in the last 20 years, let’s examine average clear coat levels of global automakers from 2002 vs. 2022.

For easy calculation, we’ll define clear coat to make up 40% of overall paint thickness. This 40% figure falls within the acceptable average of most global auto makers from both eras.

We’ll calculate average clear coat amounts based on total paint thickness levels—as defined in the previous section.

2002 Approximate OEM Clear Coat Thickness Calculation
Avg. OEM Paint System Total Film Build = 137.5 microns

137.5 microns x 40% (CC’s avg. % of total paint thickness) =

~55 Microns of Clear Coat

2022 Approximate OEM Clear Coat Thickness Calculation
Avg. OEM Paint System Total Film Build = 110 microns

110 microns x 40% (CC’s avg. % of total paint thickness) =

~44 Microns of Clear Coat

Now let’s compare the average amount of clear coat of global vehicle paint systems twenty years apart.

In 2002 vehicles averaged 55 microns of clear coat, compared to 44 microns in 2022.

The math (44/55 = .80%) reveals that modern OEM clear coat, in 2022 and 2023 model vehicles, is generally about 20% thinner globally than it was twenty years ago.

Keep in mind some auto makers, such as Ford and GM, have even lower paint thickness levels–as previously mentioned.

Automotive Paint Clear Coat Levels Compared in 2002 vs 2022 by OCDCarCare Los Angeles Auto Detailing Training Classes USA.

How Thin Automotive Paint Affects Detailing Paint Correction Services

History has shown that vehicle paint is evolving to become thinner over time. Thinner paint means less clear coat, the protective paint layer, is available to protect vehicle surfaces over time.

Therefore, less clear coat on modern factory automobiles means auto detailing professionals should take a different approach to paint correction. They need to shift away from traditional aggressive processes to procedures that preserve the maximum level of clear coat possible.

Furthermore, if detailing businesses measured the total paint thickness on every vehicle, they would be better off and more able to make preservation minded decisions.

Since auto detailing paint correction only interacts with the top layer of paint (clear coat) it’s vital for detailers to know how much material exists before removing any.

Only accurate measurements allow detailers have the best chance of estimating how much material is on the vehicle.

Paint Thickness Gauges (PTG’s) cannot accurately read individual layers of automotive paint. Therefore, total film build combined with vehicle history provides the best context for understanding approximate clear coat levels.

Understanding vehicle paint levels allows auto detailing businesses to make informed decisions when having to choose appropriate processes to achieve desired client results. This info also allows businesses to limit their potential liability exposure on thin paint to avoid situations that might damage vehicle surfaces.

Remember, clear coat is the thickest layer of paint on a vehicle. The thickness is a function of its only job—to protect the base coat (color coat) and other paint layers beneath it.

While clear coat thickness is substantial for automotive paint, overall modern clear coat is less than half the thickness of a US dollar bill. One US dollar bill measures about 109 microns (~4.29 mils) thick.

Since automotive paint is thinner than ever, auto detailing professionals must take more caution when performing paint correction (aka buffing or polishing) services than ever before. Less material (clear coat) on a vehicle means less margin for error, requiring and a more careful overall approach to preserve the integrity of the OEM (factory) paint system.

Why Auto Detailing Businesses & Paint Correction Services Need a New Approach to Thin OEM (Factory) Paint Systems– Paint Preservation

With each paint correction project an implied code of honor and trust is bestowed to detailing businesses by vehicle owners.

This is an important perspective because vehicles receiving auto detailing services are another person’s property.

The trust of a new client is also sacred because without that leap of faith (trust), consumers would never try new service-based businesses. Therefore, detailing businesses would do well to remember the implied code of honor given to them with every service on every vehicle.

This implicit trust is embedded in the belief that the customer expects the detailer to IMPROVE their vehicle, not HARM it.

Therefore, the creed of the detailer should mirror the well-known concept implied within the modern Hippocratic oath:

First, do no harm…

Many doctors ceremonially recite this oath upon officially receiving their doctorate. The oath is an ethical pledge for doctors to only act to improve or preserve a patient’s health, never taking action to endanger it. Detailers should take note, applying this philosophy to vehicles—their patients.

The adoption of this preservation philosophy will undoubtedly improve a detailing businesses procedures and their reputation.

By removing too much clear coat from vehicle panels unnecessarily, irreparable harm occurs. Once excess factory clear coat is removed it cannot be replaced unless the area is repainted. And, “no” a ceramic coating cannot replace the clear coat removed by unnecessarily deep levels of paint correction. Ceramic coatings only provide a fraction of the thickness of clear coat, with most hoping to add 1-2 microns.

Some detailers habitually use aggressive default processes to accomplish jobs quickly, prioritizing the speed of completion over clear coat integrity. This is the equivalent of choosing a 100cm (~39in) samurai sword to mince garlic over a 95mm (~3.7in) paring knife. Sure, both could work, but only one could easily cut off a few fingers with a single mistake.

The point is this: unnecessarily removing excess vehicle clear coat equals less protection over time, which eventually shortens paint longevity.

To do right by the client should be the first ‘basic rule’ of any success-oriented service-based business model.

Therefore, the principal of paint preservation–leaving as much clear coat on the vehicle as possible–should be a top-of-mind priority for ALL auto detailing business. This mindset is especially critical for businesses featuring paint correction (paint removal) and ceramic coating applications as marquee services.

Paint preservation is particularly necessary in a world where OEM (factory) automotive paint systems trend thinner and thinner over time…

“ALWAYS Keep Learning to Strengthen Your Passion & Your Business.”

© Christopher Brown – OCDCarCare Los Angeles

Want to Elevate Your Detailing Business to the Next Level?

INCREASE Your: Knowledge, Quality, Confidence, Efficiency, & Profits…

For more auto detailing articles & car care related topics check: OCDCarCare Los Angeles’s – Auto Detailing Article Archive

Christopher Brown