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      04-15-2012, 11:26 PM   #1
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Drives: 2018 X3 M40i
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Dallas, TX

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E92 M3 Jerez Black: My first attempt at paint correction

First off, special thanks to forum members MuttGrunt and Envious Eric for providing valuable guidance and insight into the paint correction process.

I picked up my 2012 M3 via ED in October, and redelivery via PCD in December. Throughout every step, I did my very best to ensure the paint on the car would remain pristine. Despite my best efforts, my car picked up swirling and other light defects somewhere between pick up in Munich, and re-delivery in Spartanburg, SC. Once I got home, I made sure to follow the proper two bucket procedure, etc. Since the car is not my daily, I'm able to keep the engine bay, interior, and wheels in pretty good shape. But, I knew it was time to tackle the minor scratches that made their way into my paint.

I basically had two days to do the job. I had previously ordered a Porter Cable 7424XP, pads and compound, and had done enough reading to know what I was getting into. My goal was only to get the paint back to something nice to look at. Interior is great (car only has 2200 miles), and I had removed the wheels and done a deep clean on them last month. I'll share some pictures from a sunny day a few months ago, when I first began to understand the extent of my problem.

Besides the hood, the worst part was the trunk lid, ughh:

So, I spent a couple of hours washing with Chemical Guys Citrus Wash, and drying. I had clayed a few weeks ago, there was not much embedded debris on the paint. I got to taping, armed with leftover 3M Scotch tape from my road trip back from PDC.

Tape and other prep-work took a long time! I decided to call it a day to get a fresh start with correction the following day.

My plan of attack was as follows:
  • Menzerna Power Finish on White LC pad
  • wipe down with micro fiber towel
  • Menzerna SF4000 (this is called 106??) on Black LC pad
  • wipe down with micro fiber towel
  • IPA wipe down (ended up with 60/40 alcohol to water mix)
  • Menzerna Power Lock Sealant on Blue LC pad
  • wipe down with micro fiber towel
  • Pete's 53' carnuba wax
  • wipe down with micro fiber towel

This was a lot more work than I was expecting! It took around 3-4 hours just for the first step with Power Finish. About 3/4 of the way through, I switched to a fresh White pad, as I could tell I was getting too much specks of compound, and not much cut. On a few problem areas, I had to switch to an Orange pad with Power Finish. If I couldn't get the small marks to disappear with the Orange, I just left them. Not comfortable enough to go any more aggressive on my first attempt.

After the White (and occasional Orange), I could tell I got 90-95% of all scratches. Yes, I could still spot a few per panel, if I looked very close with the halogen work lamps. And, I knew I only had about 8 hours to do this correction, so best not to drive myself batty or into serious fatigue. This stuff can kill your back! I moved on to the SF4000 with black, which I couldn't honestly tell gave me a lot of improvement. Although I realize I needed to go with this finer pad/compound before LSP. I proceeded to remove the painter's tape. The IPA wipe down was a total cinch. I moved on to the Power Lock with Blue pad. This too was easy, as Power Lock goes on with no problem. I just used a setting of 2 on the PC, to get coverage on the paint. No pressure. Finally, I applied the Pete's 53'. This is my first "boutique" wax in a long long time. It seemed to apply OK, and smelled nice. My only complaint was working with the occasional "crumbles". I guess this is common with carnubas? I had to make sure not to apply too much, as it was tougher to wipe out a thicker layer.

A couple of observations after it was all done:
  • The sealant + wax left the most slippery surface! Incredible. Of course it was not like these even picking up at BMW Welt.
  • The shadowline trim looks absolutely amazing now that it is virtually free of scratches.
  • The carbon fiber roof really pops with a coat of wax. It didn't have many defects on it before I started, but it sure stands out, now.
  • You could spend all day, just on the hood. I don't know if it's because it's a bigger area, or if you can catch the scratches in the light better. I got 95% of the defects, but damn if another won't crop up if a bug lands on my hood wrong.
  • For the few marks where even an Orange + Power Finish wouldn't take out... I could actually see the scratches were actually tiny "dents" in the clear coat, when you view at a certain angle. This is hard to describe. But I know if I wanted to get these out, I'd have to go pretty deep, based on what I see. These are all minor marks, that you can only spot if you know exactly where to look.

Sorry I don't have any sun pics. The weekend weather in Dallas was all clouds and rain, until late today. Even when the sun came out, it would have mean driving through some puddles to get any sun shots.

The first pic is a 50/50 after a single pass with the Power Finish + White pad. The rest of the "after" pics don't really tell you much, I know. But understand this... what you see on the hood are actual reflections from my garage ceiling. The attic door, imperfections in the ceiling drywall, etc. I thought something was wrong with my lens when I originally took the pictures! Nope, it really is that shiny

So, final thoughts.... this was about as difficult as I expected. I certainly wouldn't want to try to do this entire process in a single day. I would have actually rather spread out the compounding over two entire days, but hey, there is life to live after all. I can see why this would have cost ~$1000 for a pro to do. It is a lot of physical work, and takes a lot of patience. I'm sure I spent at least $500 just to get the supplies to allow me to give this a shot. The good thing is, I can tackle any minor problems that crop up in the future, myself.

Final question for the pros: Now that I've got a pristine car, how to maintain? Of course I do the two-bucket wash method, and car is always garaged, and would never be exposed to the elements. After a half-dozen washes, will I need another coat of wax, or sealant? Or, clay bar, IPA wipe-down and both sealant/wax?

Thanks for reading, I'll try to get some sun pics one day.

Last edited by SamS; 04-15-2012 at 11:39 PM.