Do it yourself paint evaluation
 
In order to do this evaluation, you will need the following:

- The sun : No other light source is as reliable for finding defects

- Soapy water : Just add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to a spray bottle filled with water.  Shake well.

- Clean microfiber tower or softest cloth you can find

- A small plastic bag (sandwich bags work well for this)


The test

- On the hood or the trunk of your vehicle, spray a 2 foot by 2 foot (60 centimetres by 60 centimetres) area with soapy water.

- Fold the microfiber towel in 4.

- Wipe the area with one side of the folded microfiber towel only applying very light pressure.

- Flip the microfiber towel to the dry side and buff the area slightly.

- Allow the area to dry for about a minute.

- Position yourself in away that allows you to look at the sun through the reflection in the cleaned area of your paint.

- While looking at the sun spot on the paint, see if there are any cobweb looking circles around the sun spot. If there are, those are fine scratches called swirls.  If you move, you will notice no matter how you move they will follow.  That is because the light from the sun only exposes the edges of some of the millions of scratches present in the paint.  As you move other scratches edges will show.

- Now look for other type of damage in the form of water etching or deep scratches (those are usually straight and much more visible), etc.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Finally put your hand inside the plastic bag and run it over the paint in the area you cleaned.  Your fingers will be able to feel any imperfection in the paint.  If you are going over an area that looks clean but the paint feels rough to the touch, that means it is contaminated and needs to be cleansed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Levels of paint quality
 Now that you have an idea what your paint looks and fells like, use the following list to determine it's condition.

   1 - Show car finish
   Paint in this condition has no defect at all anywhere on the car.  The only way to maintain this level of paint
   quality is for the car not to be driven.

 

   2 - Excellent condition
   The paint in this category looks factory new or better than factory new.

   The paint looks like it has been professionally machine polished and sealed with a wax, paint sealant or coating
   and is regularly maintained.

   When viewed in bright sunlight, the paint looks excellent, that is there are few or no visible swirls or scratches or
   so few that there's not enough of them to require machine polishing.

   The paint has few or no swirls, scratches or any other visible paint defects outside of Random Isolated Deep
   Scratches.

 

   3 -  Good Condition
   Light swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation.

   When viewed in bright sunlight, the paint should look pretty good overall except that it has light or shallow
   looking cobweb swirls and scratches throughout the paint. Any water spot problems should be shallow imprint
   type stains common to Type I Water Spots, certainly not deep craters like Type II or Type III where the paint is
   physically stained.

   Paint in this condition would require polishing before applying a sealant and a wax coat to bring the paint to
   excellent or show car condition

 

   4 - Mildly Neglected
   Normal day-in, day-out wear-n-tear and minimal appearance maintenance outside of the occasional car wash.
   Paint in this condition has medium to light swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation.

          Cobweb Swirls and Scratches
          When viewed in bright, overhead sunlight there are cobweb swirls and scratches evenly instilled throughout
          the entire finish but they're likely instilled through improper washing and drying techniques, which means
          the depth of these defects won't be as deep as the swirls and scratches in a severely neglected finish. The
          swirls are not inflicted by a rotary buffer.

          Water Spots
          Paint with Type I Water Spots or shallow Type II Water Spots that are more imprints than they are craters
          falls into this category.

          Oxidation, Staining and Surface Impurities
          If the car being evaluated is a daily driver, is parked outside 24/7 and has not been regularly polished and/or
          waxed for a few years then chances are good it has light oxidation and staining of the paint with some type of
          road grime or a build-up of impurities or some type of topical contamination that does not wash or wipe-off.

   Paint in this condition would require a paint correction and polishing before applying a paint sealant and wax
   coat to bring it back to excellent or show car condition.

 

   5 - Severely Neglected
   Paint in this condition has deep swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation. Paint in this condition has normal
   day-in, day-out wear-n-tear plus no real regular maintenance. Vehicles in this category are rarely washed on a
   regular basis and when they are washed they are washed improperly or taken through automatic car wash.

          Cobweb Swirls and Scratches
          Paint that is severely neglected means that when viewed in bright, overhead sunlight, there are so many
          swirls and scratches that the paint has an overall hazy appearance which blocks your view of the true color.

          Water Spots
          Paint that is in the severely neglected category can have Type I, Type II and Type III water spots on all
          horizontal panels and even the vertical panels if caused by a sprinkler or some type of water spray.

          Severe Oxidation
          Paint in this category has oxidized to the point where the surface has a uniform dull appearance to the
          horizontal surfaces and to some extent the vertical panels. Clear coats do oxidize but usually slower than
          single stage paints and don't normally get the whitish, chalky appearance with a rough texture common to
          old, neglected single stage lacquers and enamels.

   Paint in this condition would require a paint correction and polishing before applying a paint sealant and wax
   coat to bring it back to excellent or show car condition.

 

   6 - Beyond help
   Paints that are worst than the conditions listed above are most likely beyond help and the vehicle would need to
   be repainted.  This includes paints that have become unstable, have a clear coat failure or have been pierced and
   rust has formed on the body panel. 

   Deep scratch evaluation
   If you find deep scratches in your paint, the kind of scratch you can clearly see from a few feet away, there is an
   easy method to know if the scratch have pieced the clear coat or not.  Simply use a water bottle and poor water
   on the scratch.  If the scratch vanishes when wet, that means it is a shallow scratch in the clear coat and there is
   a very good chance it can be removed by wet sanding if the clear coat is thick enough (to know that we can perform
   a reading with out paint thickness meter).  If the scratch remains visible when wet, it means the clear coat has been
   pierced and the scratch will need to be painted.  This can be done by purchasing a paint touchup kit for your car at
   the dealership for about 15$, or you can have the whole panel repainted for about 400$ at a body shop.  If the scratch
   appears repairable, we can take care of it for about 40$ per scratch during our visit.

 

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