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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Guys,

Background Info:
Ok, we all know that Subaru's paint is horrendous (yeye!). I looked around on the forum for suggestions, but didn't find many solutions. I currently have a OBP wrx and love when the car looks clean, but when the sun hits the paint you can see nasty swirls (small scratches) it just kills me. I like to use the preventive method of using the "2 buckets wash system" (one bucket to soap, one to wash off in) and hand wash the car. I also use terry cloths and don't scrub, but lightly whisk away the water.

Question:
Is there anything you guys have found, that can help minimize these scratches, so the car's paint doesn't look over worked? Possibly a minor clear coat solution, etc? Everything I have read about personal buffing the car sounds very risky, at the cost of ripping off too much clear coat. Any safe solution that I can do, would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
 

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Ive heard a lot about people saying their paints messed up but over a year later my 12 looks brand new still other than a couple minor scratches from rocks flying on the road
 

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Here is the method that I learned from the Detailing Master that I used to work with at a small high end car dealership. He would use this on the Jag XK, XK-R's, Range Rovers, Rover Sports, 911 Turbos, and anything nice that we would have him work on.

3M Products are the only that he used...

Color sand: 1400-1800 RPM
"Rubbing Compound" with white wool pad
(If Necessary! This actually removes clear coat, so you can only do it once or twice, depending on the thickness of your clear.)

Buff: 1000 RPM
"Finesse" with yellow pad

"Swirl Remover" with grey waffle (foam polishing pad)

Wax by Hand

As a testament, check out this Range Rover Sport Hood after he got done...

IMG_5073.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow, NickJ, that Range Rover looks like glass! Thanks for the input. It sounds like he is doing a very proffesional job, which has great results. Unfortunately, I don't have a buffer or even know where to begin with that process. I consider myself someone who enjoys a clean looking car, but don't want to start using my first ever buffer on a WRX. Especially considering how thin our clear coat is, I don't want to risk digging too deep because i'm a rookie.

Anyone else have any methods that work without a buffer?
 

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Without a buffer, you can apply a polish, then wax to minimize the swirls. They will fill them in, not remove them. I prefer the Meguiar's line, but Mother's is good too. I bought a random orbital buffer to remove scratches and swirls and it works great. I highly recommend this route. A dual action (DA) buffer WILL burn your paint if you don't know how to use it correctly. A random orbital (RO) buffer like the one I have will NOT burn your paint, no matter how much you try. I purchased the Porter Cable 7424, but there are other great ones out there. The porter cable is great. I can remove swirls and scratches (depending how deep) as well as removing paint transfer (door dings) and polish my headlights to look brand new. It's an excellent investment in my opinion. You're just so much more limited without a buffer. I can understand your apprehension as I felt the same way before I started messing around with the porter cable. Trust me though, there is nothing to fear. It's easy to learn.

Oh, and depending on the compound you buy, you do remove some clear when you buff, but you're talking like thousandths of an inch. You'd have to use an extremely aggressive compound for a long time to remove ALL the clear coat. It's not as scary as it sounds. Coming from a guy that owned a black car to a OBP rex owner, I think you're going to kick yourself for not buying a buffer sooner once you see the results! Black always turns out the best!

For more information / research purposes, I highly recommend visiting the forum at Autopia.org. There is SO much incredible detailing information available there.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Great, thanks stepuckey. I am looking into these random orbital buffers. Sounds like the must have technique for the OBP swirls!
 

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There are a lot of options to minimize swirls in you paint but if you already have swirls then you can definitely polish them out.

I would like to say that a DA will not burn your paint and the Porter cable is a DA along with the Griots Garage polisher. A direct drive DA like the flex could burn you paint but for someone new to machine polishing they are almost 3x the price of a porter cable so not usually considered. Usually a RO is thought of as the old school wax spreaders you can get at autozone and they do not have enough power to remove defects. They all use random motion to mimic the hand an dif you get the Griots or Porter Cable you woln't be disappointed. If you head over to sites like Autogeek or detailers domain there are a plethora of how to guides. Make sure to do a proper test spot and start with the least aggressive approach first e.g. don’t reach for a compound until you have tried a polish first. You can polish by hand but results will vary and it is hard work, after you machine polish you will never go back.

What ever you decide don't give up, some paint is frustrating and takes a while to dial in what works but on your own car once you have that down, you are set and the next details should be a breeze.

Subaru paint is soft and generally a finishing polish and a maroon hydrotech pad (soft with little cut) is all I have needed to finish out minor swirls.

There are also other options such as permanent coatings like Opti-coat and Cquartz. If you want to take the time to learn you can do them yourself or have a professional detailer install them, but they act as a secondary clear coat.

While you will not be able to prevent all scratches, proper washing techniques will help minimize them. Use quality tools, two buckets etc. Your towels and wash mitt are some of the most important tools once you have a swirl free finish. If you are worried about a towel rub it on the data side of a cheap cd. If it scratches it could scratch your car paint. Generally 75/25 or 70/30 blends of micro fiber are preferred and if you are really worried you can blot the car dry or use a leaf blower.

If anyone is in SoCal Meguairs offers free classes every so often from basic tips all the way through wet sanding.
 

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Anyone else have any methods that work without a buffer?
If you are dead set with working by hand you can get some 4in pads along with a polishing pal (velcro backed holder to minimize pressure points from your fingers), I started off this way and with the meguiars line. Eventhough out paint is soft it is not easy to polish out by hand. You might want to start off with a white polishing pad (lake country) and meguiars ultimate polish or similar light to med polish. You woln't really know exactly what you need until you see how your paint reacts.

Can you post pics of your paint in the sun or with a light to show how bad the swirls are?

You are not terribly far from Poor Boys in West Nyack NY. If you are still curious about polishers next year they hold a weekend detailing event/seminar in June, only a couple bucks and they will provide all of their chemicals to try and even show you how to use a buffer.
 

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Woops, I think I did get a little confused on my acronyms. As Ishinoscby pointed out, the Porter cable buffer I have is a random orbital, which is also called "dual action". Basically, the buffers you want to avoid are the ones that merely spin in a circle, as opposed to the back and forth/figure 8 motion (or something similar) of a "dual action" or random orbital such as the porter cable or the griots garage polisher. To hopefully encourage you a little bit, this was a pretty typical scene when waxing the ol' Z every couple months. 546.JPG (<--Roof of car) I knew zero about detailing until I bought it. I would say do your research, use a fine polish to start, do a small area at a time, and slowly build your comfort level.
You'll get that scuby blingin in no time!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks guys. There's a lot of good info here. More importantly, a lot of encouraging info to help someone like me, without enough experience. After reading your comments it doesn't sound like a stretch to get these results.

IshiNOScby - I will post some pictures today, when i get the car out in sunlight, to really highlight the swirls.
 

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First - pick up a DA polisher - go to Harbor Freight if you're cheap ($50), or buy a Porter Cable on Amazon.com if you want a quality piece of equipment (around $120).
Second - get a couple quality pads - I use a red Meguiar's cutting pad & a white Meguiar's polishing/finishing pad.
Third - get some Meguiar's Ultimate Compound -this stuff really works on dark paints with moderate clearcoat scratches & swirls.
Fourth - follow these instructions, but use the Ultimate Compound for both steps instead of the 105: http://www.autopiaforums.com/forums/pai ... pound.html .
Fifth - keep your ride waxed/polished/sealed. I'm partial to Klasse All-in-One and Klasse Sealant Glaze. Both are super-easy to apply (if you follow the directions) and last for months.
 
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It looks like Harbor Freight is around Boston-area. I never knew this store existed! From looking at their website, this is the highest rated, priced at $59.99 (normally $129.99) and meets all the requirements that the others on this board are talking about. I found this review quote interesting, "this D/A polisher is a real bargain. I have used the Porter Cable PC-7424XP, and this thing is just as good, if not better. Who cares that it is made in Asia instead of Mexico, where the PC is made." I think with anything its always good to do comparison shopping, so thanks for the heads up kingsalami.

Link:
6" Variable Speed Dual Action Polisher
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Here's a couple shots of the swirls. I admit, it doesn't look that bad from these photos, but under other lighting situations it is definitely magnified. Also the car isn't freshly washed in these photos.
image.jpg
image.jpg
 

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If you go the Harbor freight route look up some of the reviews on it from various detailing sites. Some have had success with it while other have had to open it up and do some minor work to make it last. If it works as well as some have eluded to then it will be a great bargain. Personally I have a Griots polisher, life time warranty and it is a little more powerful. Whatever you choose ditch the 6" backing plate. Typically the Porter cable doesn't have the power to give you descent cut with a 6" pad. Switch to a 5in backing plate and 5.5 in pad. All of the large manufactures make their pads in various sizes. I find myself using 4" on the WRX due to the curves and tight spaces but 5.5 will work well also.

Your pictures show plenty of swirls and look horrendous but they are not atypical and should come out easily by machine.

The beauty of ultimate compound is it is far more forgiving than M105 and will not dust as easily allowing a longer work time and doesn’t have quite the same learning curve of M105.

If you go the compounding route and still have micro marring you can follow up with a polishing pad and an AIO or switch to a light polish like ultimate polish. No matter what you pick try a test spot first and check your work under lights or the sun that you know to show defects. Don’t move on until you have a plan even if it takes a few test spots.

It is important to understand what your chemicals are doing and what you are trying to achieve. Megs ultimate line are SMAT abrasives so they do not break down like a traditional polish. This means you can work them until you get the results you want then stop. If you need to add more mid-way you can with no ill effects. If you were using a diminishing polish you would have to work the polish all the way through for the best possible result. If I were looking for an over the counter compound/polish Meguiars Ultimate line would be my first choice.

Make sure to clean your pads often, at least every panel if you only have a couple. Watch the heat, if you work a pad two long or oversaturate it you can delaminate the Velcro. Sealants last longer but tend to have a shiny or sometimes plastic look. You can always top a sealant after it has cured with a carnauba to get a better depth to the paint. In the end the looks between waxes and sealants is subjective so use whatever looks best to you. I have rambled a bit but once you get the hang of DA polishing it isn't hard to keep your WRX looking sharp.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
IshiNOScby/anyone else that would know - looking at the different models some specify RPMs while others say OPMs. Doing a quick google search, there doesn't seem to be a direct correlation. When someone recommends that I set the speed to 1500 RPMs, what would that ~equate to for a model with OPMs?
 

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As you have probably figured out RPMs are for rotary polishers and OPMs are for DAs, I have never seen a chart showing one converting to another and most people on detailing forums I looked through don't really seem to care so I am guesing it doesn't come up much. With a DA generally speeds 1-2 are for preading wax etc, 3-4 polishing and 5-6 for defect removal (cutting). You can float in between a little bit so it is not an exact science. So you can try to translate this by what someone is trying to accompish with their machine but a rotary is so much more powerful that a comparison is really difficult.

If you tak NickJ's example he was removing sanding scratches at 1400-1800, you will be hard pressed to remove sanding scratches especially beyond 3000 grit with a DA but if you were to try, you would need a cutting pad & compound at speed 6 most likely. (MF disks are a different story)

then if you were going to refine this step I would start with a polishing pad and either 4 or 5 and move down one step after a couple of passes. That doesn't give you a solid guage but a general idea of how to translate the steps, I hope that helps.
 
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