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So my friend Joe calls me and lets me know he just purchased a low mileage, mint condition Mercedes-Benz S550 4MATIC Coupe for a killer deal out of Texas and was having it shipped directly to Autogeek for a thorough and full detail inside and outside. These cars sold new for around $121,000.00 and the S-class line are the Flagship of Mercedes-Benz brand.
After it was delivered I inspected the car for any issues. The first thing my eyes were drawn to was the rubber seal under the anodized aluminum trim. In a few places on both sides of the car a previously detailer had creamed-over this trim with some kind of compound or polish and stained it. To me it stood out like a sore thumb.
The below is actually a white residue impacted into the material.
Here's a section just down a few inches from the stained area - it almost looks like a CLOTH impregnated with rubber. You can see a "weave" in the surface. IF this is so, the staining is impacted into this weave and scrubbing with a brush, like a toothbrush will tear-up the surface. So whatever I do to try to clean it - I'll have to be careful.
I'll share a tip below on a super simple way to avoid this problem if you ever detail a Mercedes-Benz with this type of trim.
Baggie Test = Utter FAIL
After washing the car I did a baggie test over all the major body panels. All of the horizontal panels including the glass had bumps indicating bonded contaminants. Later I found there was a film of contaminants all over the horizontal surfaces. I used 2 pieces of clay to clay this car and threw them both away after the process.
Swirl Finder = Light Swirls and RIDS
The good news is the paint only has light swirls with some random, isolated deeper scratches here and there. The bad news is, after doing my first Test Spot I found the paint to be on the hard side of the Hard Paint/Soft Paint Spectrum.
Paint Correction Process
I compounded the entire car including all the glass using the Wolfgang Uber Compound. I used the FLEX Supa Beast on speed 6 for the entire buff-out. For pads I hit the hood and trunk lid, (the panels with the most swirls and scratches), first with the RUPES Coarse Wool Pad followed by the RUPES 180mm Yellow Foam CP Pad and again with the Uber Compound.
How to avoid staining plastic, vinyl and rubber trim
It's real simple - cover over the trim with some quality painter's tape. In this example I'm using the green 3M Brand.
Wiping off the compound residue with a TRC FTW orange microfiber towel revealed a rich, dark clear looking finish perfect for the next step of installing the Wolfgang Profi Ceramic Coating.
This is the same swirl finder light in the same place I took the pictures of the swirls towards the beginning of this article.
Here's the results...
Here's a low-down shot showing the aerodynamic lines famous to Mercedes-Benz high-end coupes...
Here's an even lower shot sans the windshield...
Ready for it's new home...
This car will be parked outside 7 days a week, 24 hours a day because the 2-car garage is home to a Resto-Rod Camaro and a 1966 Ferrari owned by George Harrison of the Beatles.
Here's what it took me to go from neglected to respected...
Wolfgang Uber Compound for the entire car and glass. Wolfgang Perfect Finish Paint Prep, this is a "panel wipe" to strip off any oils left by the Uber Compound. Wolfgang Profi Ceramic Coating. The word Profi means professional in the German language. This coating is a 9H rated ceramic coating. Because this car is going to be parked outside in South Florida Sun & Rain - the owner requested in install two layers.
The FLEX Supa BEAST!
As of now, this is my favorite tool for doing paint correction. This is German engineering at its finest. This is an 8mm gear-driven orbital polisher. It will make fast work of removing paint defects without leaving swirls or holograms. Because it's gear-driven, there is never any pad stalling. It's a beast... or as I call it... a Supa BEAST! The son of the original BEAST the FLEX XC 3401 VRG.
RUPES new DA System Pads
I really love the new pads RUPES introduced as a part of their new RUPES D-A Polishing System. After reading comments by others on the forum, I know it can be confusing to find this new system on the Autogeek.com store page, so here's the link.
RUPES D-A Polishing System
I primarily like the fiber and foam pads you see in the picture below but also like the 180mm white CP foam pads too for final work when needed. On the Autogeek store they refer to the 180mm pads as a 7" pad but metric is more precise and thus the reason RUPES uses metric measurement to describe their pads instead of U.S. Standard. Apologies for any confusion. Me? I've switched over to the metric system when talking and typing about RUPES pads.
Speed Master Coating Applicator
These applicator's have a plastic liner behind the microfiber so they won't soak up and simply waster coating.
Two of my favorite microfiber towels
The Rag Company FTW Premium Orange Microfiber Towel
Cobra Forrest Green Edgeless Microfiber Polishing Cloths - 12 Pack
And of course, Wolfgang Profi Ceramic Coating
Rock hard paint As we all know paint hardness or paint softness varies among manufacture and can even vary among models and years. The only way to now if a paint is hard or soft is to first have experience, (this means you need to have buffed out dozens and actually hundreds of cars), and of course by doing a Test Spot. So while the swirls were shallow, it still required a compound to remove them and restore a crystal clear finish to the clearcoat.
There were some random isolated scratches throughout the finish. My normal protocol is once I dial in my test spot, whatever comes out - comes out. If it doesn't come out then I let them ride. The factory clearcoat on new cars is thin to start with, chasing each and every scratch out of the finish may satisfy the OCD inside of you, but it's not worth it for a daily driver, especially a daily driver that's going to be outside 24 x 7 under harsh South Florida weather conditions.
Lots of glass
The glass had the same film on it that the paint had but it was easily removed via the Uber Compound. I also applied the Wolfgang Profi Ceramic Coating to the roof glass and all the side glass but not the windshield.
Full size car
If you're going to take these types of cars on for detail jobs, be sure you're charging enough. This ain't no Mazda Miata, it's a full size car and this means hours of buffing.
I'll touch bases with the owner from time to time to see how the Woflgang Profi Ceramic Coating is holding up. Upon picking up the car he asked me the normal question.
How do I take care of it?
For most of my customers I like to keep it as simple as possible. Wash with a quality car wash and clean wash mitt. If you have a leaf blower or some type of car dryer, use it to remove the water and/or make sure your drying towels are clean and un-contaminated. This guy just bought the EGO 650 CFM Leaf Blower and I'm confident it, together with the very hydrophobic Profi Ceramic Coating, will be a breeze, no pun intended, to blast all the rinse water off the car.
You need a great hand held light
I used the below Speed Master Swirl Finder Light to inspect my work for this detailing job. As I type on Tuesday, May 18th in the year 2021 - the price is $115.00 - If you think that's expensive - wait until you have to go around a car and using compound to remove all the "high spots" you missed because you didn't have a great hand-held light.
LOTS of TOWELS!
In my experience, most enthusiast don't have near enough towels to detail their own car and that's just doing basic tasks. As soon as you move up to doing paint correction and ceramic coatings, you need even MORE towels. So if you're reading this and you want to get into paint correction and ceramic coatings - be sure to factor in not just the chemicals you need but the towels you'll need. And then put a process into place to take care of your towels.
I love these towels "The Rag Company" positions as a "Glass Towel" for paint care. They are fairly stout is the word I use to describe them. They have a closed loop nap like your average bath towel but the softness of microfiber. This "nap" helps them to SLICE into compound, polish and AIO films on your car's paint (after buffing a section), better than individual fiber naps, (no closed loop), as well as flat weave towels, which I'm a fan of, it's just the stoutness and nap of the Rag Company Glass Towel works so great when doing "paint related work".
As I type, Autogeek only offers these towels as "singles". You really want to purchase at a minimum a dozen and I recommend 2 dozen.
Flat Weave Towels
I love these towels too and you can get them in multiple colors. I show green but they are available in these colors as well.
Here's the colors these edgeless towels are available in. I don't recommend the black or the white, they will drive you crazy trying to keep them perfect and uncontaminated. Also - the "white" towel, even though it's supposed to be the same as the rest, it feels more limp to me and I don't really like it. Best bet is to simply stick with the Forrest Green like I show and use myself. FWIW
This looks tight and right...