How to Clean Plastic Chrome

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Sep 062012
 

Here at Padula’s Auto Body in Pompano Beach,Florida we believe you will be more satisfied with your car if it looks great. To that end we are educating you on how to care for it.  This month we will discuss how to take care of plastic chrome.
Plastic chrome is a vacuum-metalized chrome finish applied to many auto parts to look like real chrome. You can tell if the chrome is plastic by lightly tapping your fingernail on the surface.  Metal chrome will make a ringing sound, but plastic will have a dull sound. Do not clean plastic chrome with cleaning products used for real chrome because it will destroy the finish. Use a cleanser designed specifically for cleaning plastic chrome. These products usually contain a pore-filling wax to help protect the plastic chrome from dirt and debris.

What You’ll Need

  1. Plastic chrome cleanser
  2. Soft rag
  3. Soft-bristle brush

 

How to Do It

Wash your car to keep dirt and debris to a minimum. Use only a soft mitt and gentle automotive soap to wash all the plastic surfaces. Rinse well before applying your plastic chrome-specific cleaner.

Spray the plastic cleaner product directly onto your plastic chrome. Then scrub the surface lightly with a soft-bristle brush to loosen any dirt stuck to the plastic. Be careful not to scrub too hard as this might cause scratch marks.

There is no need to buff with these products.  Use a soft rag and wipe in one direction since swirling motions may leave marks on the surface.

What You Should Know About Clear Coat Paint Finishes

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Jul 222012
 

Today, approximately 95% of all cars, trucks, and S.U.V.’s coming out of the factory have a clear coat finish. But what is clearcoat?  Clear coat finishes (also referred to as two-stage paint systems) are simply a layer of clear resin applied over the top of colored resin.

Automotive paints are a mixture of ingredients including resins, binders, fillers, additives, and carrying agents (typically solvents, sometimes water). Clear coat paint is simply paint, or resin without pigment.  It is like a piece of plexiglass about the thickness of a good garbage bag.

Because this topcoat of “clear paint” is free of pigment, it can sometimes be softer than other paint systems.  It will scratch, oxidize, and dull. It needs to be taken care of.

The top layer is clear, because of this light reflects through it and bounces back highlighting any scratches from behind. This tends to magnify defects making them easier for your eyes to see.  Clear coat finishes are incredibly sensitive to scratches and swirl marks.

It is important to use products that have been designed for and are safe for clear coats. Although most clear coat finishes are much harder and more resistant to oxidation than traditional lacquers and enamels finishes, they still scratch very easily. For this reason clear coat paints should never be worked on with old-fashioned, harsh abrasive products like rubbing or polishing compounds. Many older car care products can scratch the new clearcoat systems.

To protect our cars form the damaging effects of the environment paint finishes today need to be polished and waxed with more frequency and care than has been given to paint systems in the past. Your car should be protected with quality polish and wax at least  twice a year, dark  colors more often.

Washing your car weekly is especially important if your car is a daily driver and parked outdoors for any length of time.

Even more than yesterday’s paints, today’s clear coat finishes look faded whenever the surface becomes contaminated by surface contaminants, things like:

Airborne pollution

Acid rain

Industrial fallout

Airborne overspray

Bug splatter

Bird droppings

As contaminants build-up on the surface they reduce the reflective quality of the finish by creating a surface with somewhat of a textured-feel to it. This in turn acts to reduce gloss thus causing the paint to look dull.

When contaminants build up (you can tell if you have bonded contaminants by dragging the clean face of the palm of your hand across the finish after washing and drying the car. If you feel little bumps stuck to the finish it is contaminated), the best, fastest and safest way to remove them and restore a smooth as glass surface is to use Meguiar’s Smooth Surface Clay Kit.  Use the clay before you wax your car.

When it comes time to sale your car the dependability of automobiles is so good today that people expect a year or two old car will be in good mechanical condition. Therefore the appearance of the vehicle is now the major factor in the purchase.  If your car doesn’t look as good as a similar car, they won’t buy it.

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 222012
 

Padula’s Auto Body Pompano Beach, Florida recommends that you wash your car using the following method.

 

 

What You’ll Need

  • Shady work-area
  • Hose
  • Car wash soap.  Never wash your car with dish soap. It’ll strip off the wax.
  • 2 Large buckets
  • 2 Thick wash mitts.  Mitts with long dangling strands on them are less likely to scratch.  Mitts, unlike sponges, can be washed well in washing machines to remove all the grit.
  • Wheel brush
  • A chamois or cotton microfiber towels. Microfiber towels work the best on all of a car’s surfaces. When you’re done using them, just toss them in the washing machine. Don’t use fabric softener. It can leach out of the towels and leave a residue on the surface.

 

What To Do

Park the car in the shade. This will keep the car from premature drying which can leave splotches on the paint.

Put all the supplies that you will need near the car.

Using two buckets fill one with water and car wash soap. Use the amount of soap recommended on its bottle. Fill the other bucket with plain water.

Retract the antenna and check that all windows are closed. Pull the windshield wipers away from the windshield until they lock into their propped position, away from the glass.

Use a hose wet the car to loosen the dirt and soften bird droppings. Don’t use a strong stream, as this might push grit over the paint and scratch it. Try to direct the flow downwards on all surfaces. Shooting the stream upwards around windows may cause water to leak into the car if there are flaws in the seals.

Do not use a brush on the car body — this will leave little scratches, instead soak a large wash mitt in the soapy water, being certain to wash out any dirt in it, and begin applying it to the car.

Starting at the top starting at the top, wash the car section by section. Leave the soap on the car for a few minutes… let the soap do the work of loosening the grime.  Go around the car several times, washing lower areas with each round. Rinse the dirt out of the wash mitt in the bucket with plain water frequently.  You don’t want the soap to dry on the paint and stain it.  So after one section is washed, rinse it with the hose before moving on.

As you go, make sure that you keep the entire car wet, this will prevent droplets from drying on the paint and leaving water-spots. You want to be able to dry the car with towels before it air-dries.

The lower body and the wheels are the dirtiest parts so clean them last. Use a separate wash mitt for them.

Use dedicated cleaning tools for the wheels and tires. They pick up a lot of road grit and abrasive particles from your brakes, which could scratch your paint.

If the wheels are very glossy, use a sponge or a mitt to clean them just as you would the car body after hosing off as much of the extra dirt.

Use a plastic brush to clean the tire sidewalls.

It is important to rinse the bottom of the car thoroughly with a spray nozzle especially if the car has been exposed to salt.
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Dry the vehicle with clean fresh towels or chamois.
 

 

 

May 152012
 

How can you tell if the new tires that you are purchasing were really manufactured recently?

To identify when a tire was manufactured read its Tire Identification Number and you can determine the week and year the tire was produced.

The  Tire Identification Numbers are a combination of the letters DOT, followed by ten, eleven or twelve letters and/or numbers that identify the manufacturing location, tire size and manufacturer’s code, along with the week and year the tire was manufactured.

Since 2000, the  last four digits of the Tire Identification Number provide week and year the tire was manufactured with the 2 digits being used to identify the week immediately preceding the 2 digits used to identify the year.

Example of a tire manufactured since 2000 with the current Tire Identification Number format:

In the example above the tire was manufactured during the 51st. week of 2007.

 

Tires produced prior to 2000 were labeled based on the assumption that tires would not be in service for ten years.  So while the The Tire Identification Number  provided the same information as today’s tires, the week and year the tire was produced was contained in the last three digits. The 2 digits used to identify the week a tire was manufactured immediately preceded a single digit used to identify the year.

Example of a tire manufactured before 2000:

In the example above:
DOT EJ8J DFM 408
40 Manufactured during the 40th week of the year
8 Manufactured during the 8th year of the decade

The Tire Identification Number format identifies that the tire was built in the 8th year of a decade, there was no identifier that confirmed which decade.

A word about tire warranties,  most tire manufacturer’s warranties cover their tires for four years from the date of purchase or five years from the week the tires were manufactured.  Let say you purchase new tires that were manufactured exactly two years earlier. They will be covered for four years from the date of purchase  or a total of six years from the date of manufacture as long as you have your receipt. If you lose your receipt, your tires’ warranty coverage will end five years from the week the tire was produced resulting in the tire manufacturer’s warranty coverage ending only three years from the date of purchase in this example.  So hold on to your sales receipt!

What should you do if you are involved in an accident?

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Apr 232012
 

You are driving down the road when out of nowhere you are involved in an accident.  What should you do?

 

Be Safe! Prevent further injuries. If there are no serious injuries move the vehicles off the right-of-way.  If the cars can’t be moved all passengers should remain in the vehicle with their safety belts on.  Turn on your flashers, put out traffic cones, triangles, or flares. Call 911 and report the accident.  Render first aid.

 

You should keep an emergency kit.  This kit should include paper and pen to record information, a disposable or cheap digital camera, a card with emergency medical information that includes allergies or medical conditions of people that regularly ride in the vehicle and finally a list of contacts with phone numbers of people to be notified for law enforcement. You should also keep a flashlight, traffic cones, triangles, and (or) flares.

 

Exchange information; get the name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, drivers’ license number, and license plate number of the other driver involved.

 

If the driver’s name is not the same as the name on the insurance policy establish what the relationship is to the policy owner.  Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all passengers.  Make a written description of each car involved including the make, model, year, and color.

 

Write down the exact location of the collision and how it happened.  Be polite to police and all involved but do not tell anyone that the accident was your fault even if you believe that it was!

 

Take pictures, as many as you can, they may be used in court or by an adjustor. If any witnesses are available try to get their contact information.  You may need them if the other driver doesn’t agree with you on how the accident happened.

 

File an accident report.  Many times if the accident is minor with no injuries the police may not come.  File with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Forms are usually available from the police or on line at the DMV Web Site as a download file.

 

You should know what your insurance covers.  Does it include towing or car rental?  When you have an accident is not the time to guess how and what is covered.

 

If you have a minor accident you and the other driver might be temped to handle the damages yourselves and not involve the insurance companies.

 

This is probably not a good idea.  When the bills come in the other driver might change his mind.  Or the other driver might report the accident to his insurance company and might even claim injuries that were not apparent at the time of the accident.  This could mean that your insurance company might end up paying a large settlement or worse you could be taken to court.  So make sure that your insurance company has a copy of your version of what happened.

 

Check you policy, sometimes if the payout is below a certain amount the accident might not be considered chargeable, so you would avoid a penalty of a premium hike.

Chances are high that at some point in time you will be involved in a collision. Remember to keep your head and make safety your number one concern.  You will have lots of time later to deal with the consequences.  Remember that Padula’s Auto Body & Repair can make your damaged car look like new.

Feb 072012
 

What should you look for when you have had your car repaired after a wreck?

Bam! You’ve just had an accident and your car is a twisted wreck.  You have your car towed away from the scene and taken to a body shop. Now weeks later your car is ready to be picked up.  It looks nice but did the body shop do a good job repairing it?  What is hidden underneath that shinny new paint? What should you look for?

You should have a good understanding what the body shop is going to do to your vehicle right from the start.  Make sure that you know what the shop is going to repair and how they are going to repair it.  Ask about the shops’ warranty.  Make sure that you understand everything and get it in writing before you give the shop the “go ahead!”  When you return to pick up you vehicle, bring the paperwork with you and make sure that the shop correctly did everything that they promised.

If you are satisfied with your first impression, it’s time to take a closer look at the repaired parts.  Open and close the doors, they should open and close smoothly with proper alignment. Look at the gaps between the body panels, if they are obviously uneven it is a sign that the parts were not aligned properly.    If there is extensive front-end damage it can be difficult for a body shop to repair it properly.  One thing to check is the distance from the tire to the fender.  If it is wider on one side and narrower on the other, something was not fixed correctly. You should also turn on the headlights and check their alignment.

A car with extensive front-end damage may have had the frame bent.  A bent frame must be straightened on a device that body shops call “the rack.”  The mechanics at the body shop use it to pull the frame rails until they get the frame straight.  Sometimes a poor job will leave “butcher marks” on the frame which can be seen by looking under the car.

Visual inspections made by an untrained person might prove difficult.  It is recommended that you take your car to another body shop to have them check it out and to have them give you a second opinion.  A trained body man can immediately spot problems that an untrained person could not begin to see.

A clean car is paramount.  Appearances do matter. Body shops are one of the dirtiest places around, and with all the dust generated from sanding it is a real challenge to keep a car clean.  Your car should have been washed and vacuumed.  A good shop will make sure your car is clean before returning it to you.  Many will even clean the engine compartment. There should never be any old parts left in the trunk!

If possible pick up your car during the day so you can inspect the paint in the sunlight to make sure that all the paint matches.  One of the most difficult jobs in a body shop is paint matching.  Entering the manufacturers paint code will get them about 95% of the way to matching the paint on a vehicle.  To get the last 5% takes someone who really knows what they are doing.  Examine the paint for imperfections such as specks of dirt trapped in the finish, hair, or runs. Most factory paint jobs have a degree of “orange peel” texture, whether you like it or not.  It can be tricky for a body shop to match it.

What happens if your car was not fixed right?  Sometimes after a repair a problem may develop months later.  Tires not wearing evenly is a common problem on a car that has had extensive front-end damage that was not correctly repaired.  Find your paperwork and receipt and take your car back to the shop.  Show the manager the tire wear pattern.  The shop should fix the problem under warranty. (Many warranties are 12,000 miles or one year)  Most legitimate shops will honor their warranty.  If the job was not done right getting satisfaction from a “Fly-by-night” shop might be tough to get.

Padula’s Auto Body & Repair is a family owned and operated, South Florida body shop that has over 25 years of experience and accepts all major insurance companies. We are located south of Atlantic Blvd. on Dixie Hwy. in Pompano Beach.

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