Paint Detailing Part #1

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Paint Detailing

Part #1

I have been preparing to clean up the paint on my 1999 AE and 2000 SE for a while now. I have been collecting tools and materials to use in the project. I finally have all the things I need, so it is time to stop work on the EVO and clean up the cars I drive.

I am not experienced in using a polisher or how to detail the paint. I spent a lot of time watching videos on the internet and reading about the product uses. I still was not sure how to get started, but decided the only thing to do was to try. So, I started experimenting to come up with a process to clean the paint and restore the original smooth finish.

The 1999 AE had some scratches from a previous owner wiping the driver's side of the hood while it was dirty/gritty. They had created some deep scratches, but none were deep enough to catch a fingernail dragged over them. I was hoping they would come out with the rubbing compound.

The front lip was scratched all the way across on the lower edge and the front bumper cover had some paint chips that needed attention. The rest of the car's paint was in decent shape but needed a deep cleaning to remove some water spots and small defects.

The 2000 SE had the same rock chips and scratches but also had many bad water marks on the hood and some on the trunk lid. The front lip was scratched badly on the lower part and needed new paint. The rest of the car's paint also needed the same deep cleaning as the 1999 AE.

I removed the lower lip of the SE to repaint it and so I can build a fiberglass mold of the lip so I can cast another one for the EVO. The original lip is very hard to find. More on that later.

These are the tools and materials I purchased:

  • DA polisher and buffing pads from Harbor Freight

  • Turtle Wax rubbing compound and polishing compound for clear coat

  • Meguiar's cleaning wax

  • Turtle Wax ICE liquid wax

  • Dr. ColorChip paint kit to fill in the rock chips and small scratches

I started with the 1999 AE. Sorry, I did not take any pictures. I plan to take pictures when I work on the 2000 SE.

First I gave the car a good wash and dry. I then used the DA polisher with the rubbing compound. I had selected the wrong foam pad. The blue pad I had used was too soft and was not removing the water marks. The orange pad is firmer for use with the rubbing compound. It worked much better on the water spots. However, it was not making much difference on the hood scratches.

I have a rotary polisher and a wool pad, so I gave that a try. It was much too messy and was much harder to control. I was concerned I would damage the paint so opted to try something different.

I soaked some 2000 grit sandpaper in water and used it on a small area of the hood. It did take most of the scratch off, but it also left a few scratches of its own. I was able to use the DA and rubbing compound to clear that up, but decided I was not going to do this on the rest of the hood scratches.

I tried hand work on the deeper scratches and applied the rubbing compound with a lot of elbow grease. This worked well on the deeper scratches even though it did not remove them completely. I then used the DA to finish the area and it looks much better than before. I can still see some remnants of the scratches, but stopped to be sure I did not damage the paint.

Then I used the DA with the orange pad and rubbing compound on the rest of the car. I removed the luggage rack and license plate for easy buffing. Most of the water marks came out and many of the scratches were much less visible after the rubbing compounding was complete.

Next I applied polishing compound with the DA and blue foam pad. It really smoothed the paint. More of the water marks and scratches came out as the polish was applied.

I had read that a cleaning wax was needed after using rubbing compound and polishing compound to ensure there was none left on the paint. I applied the cleaning wax by hand. It was fairly easy and once dry it wiped off without much effort.

I then applied the liquid wax. It too went on easily and wiped off without much effort. Once the wax was on, the paint was very smooth and looked great.

It took me two days to finish the AE. Some of the time was spent experimenting but it was a lot of physical work. So, some of the time was spent resting my old bones in between sections. Here are some pictures of the finished job.

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I started work on the 2000 SE immediately after finishing the 1999 AE. I followed the same process used on the AE and started with a good wash and dry.

The water spots on the hood on the hood were clearly visible. It took three applications of the rubbing compound with the DA on the hood to almost remove the water spots. I could not get them completely out but they are much less visible after the third application of the rubbing compound.


After second application.

After third application.

The water marks are almost gone and hopefully will be diminished with the polishing compound. That will have to wait until tomorrow... I am TIRED!