Project IS-F gets an Amazing
Facelift with Wicked Auto Films and Detailing
COURTESY OF MOTOIQ
BY MIKE KOJIMA
Even though we take pretty good care of Project IS-F, it is a daily driver and 10 years of daily driving had taken a toll on its looks. The Lexus has pretty good quality paint and we keep it clean and waxed but it still slowly and insidiously deteriorates, a lot of which isn’t super obvious to the naked eye. Our main beef with how the car was aging was that our clear bra was coming apart. We first noticed that it was starting to go about 3 years ago but you know we were busy and ignored it until it was really turning yellow, check cracking, peeling up around the edges, and holding dirt in the peeling edges. The dirt was starting to abrade the clear coat and the clear bra just made our whole car look like crap. We took our car to Wicked Auto Films and Detailing in Santa Ana following the recommendations of a lot of our car friends for what we thought was just going to be a clear bra change. However, Sam Spirer, the owner of Wicked Auto Films and Detailing recommended that we do a thorough paint correction and ceramic coating at this time. We figured why not, our paint was probably somewhat damaged under the rotting bra so we signed up for the whole package.
Upon arriving at Wicked Auto Films and Detailing, our car was given a thorough inspection, and any pre-existing damage was noted. Amazingly we have avoided all door dings on this car and only had a few rock chips. Not bad for 10 years.
Here is a peek at what our messed up clear bra was looking like, pretty ugly huh? I guess what do expect for 10 years of daily exposure to the elements.
The clear bra on the front of the hood was a mess, it was peeling up, check cracked, and shrinking. The edge attracted dirt and it was starting to abrade and dull the clear coat in this area. The clear bra over the headlights was starting to buckle and crack. This really looked bad. Read more about their Clear Bra Protection Services.
The crew at Wicked started to attempt to remove the old clear bra. The big lesson to us was to never let your clear bra get this bad! Once it is in this poor of a condition, it is almost impossible to get off! Wicked first tried to use high-pressure steam to get the film off. The steam softens the adhesive and then it can be blown under the film to lift it.
Our rotten film would not budge no matter how hard it was blasted by the steam. Next Wicked laid down a towel and poured boiling water on the film using the hot towel to steam the surface. Finally, all the employees of Wicked tackled the job with plastic scrapers and heat guns. This process took two days and cost us more than any other service that Wicked provided us! The hard lesson is that you gotta change your clear bra at the first signs of deterioration. That would have been 4 years ago in our case. This would have saved us the cost of this grief.
The first step in paint correction was to thoroughly wash the car to remove any dirt that could lead to scratching during the process. Wicked has a Culligan deionizing system to treat its wash water. Deionizing removes any minerals that could cause spotting. It also softens the water making it better to dissolve dirt and other contaminants on the surface of the car. After washing, the paint surface was treated to a clay bar rubdown to remove any embedded contaminants on the paint surface.
After the clay bar treatment, the wheels and wheel wells are cleaned to prevent gritty brake dust in these areas from contaminating the paint during the next step. All of the moldings and window trim were masked off to protect it from being abraded during buffing. The entire car was inspected using halogen lights to spot hazed and micro-scratched areas that would need more attention during buffing. Orbital buffers were used with a mild compound, this removes material more slowly but is safer on the paint.
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The entire surface of the car was carefully buffed out with several different compounds of increasing finesse. Special care was taken in the area where the clear bra damaged the paint. The paint was buffed, wiped off, inspected, and rebuffed if needed. Small areas of the car were done at a time. Care was taken to remove micro scratching. Learn more about their services!
Next, the car was wiped down with alcohol to prepare the surface for ceramic treatment. The Ceramic coating was applied with microfiber pads, It was smoothed down one area at a time, then leveled with a wet microfiber. The coating used is SPS Coatings Graphene Coating. The SPS coating is made of Graphene nanoparticles held in a polymer binder. The SPS coating has a wet glossy look and protects against UV light as well as the usual bird crap, dead bugs, road tar, and sap. The coating is rated to give 5 years of protection.
After ceramic coating, the next step was to reinstall a new clear bra. Clear bra material has come a long way in ten years and the new bras are much more clear and glossy, stretch more so installations are cleaner with wrapped edges and few seams, are hydrophilic to repel water and deposits and actually self heal and re gloss up when heated with a heat gun or hot water.
The backing paper was removed and the adhesive side was sprayed with soapy water to aid installation. Wicked used Stek Dynoshield to cover the front of the car. Stek Dynoshield is currently the top high-end paint protective film. Not only does it repel water and staining debris, it self heals and re glosses. It is crystal clear and super glossy. On top of all that it has a 10-year warranty.
Wicked started by covering our entire hood. Our super detailed hood is now sealed in and protected. The Dynoshield was installed like a large decal with soapy water which is squeegeed out. Once the bubbles were gone, the film was trimmed and wrapped around the edges of the hood for a seamless, invisible look. Next, the process was repeated for the front bumper. Soapy water was applied to the adhesive side of the film and it was placed over the nose of the car.
The film was stretched and squeegeed down in place. The film was trimmed and wrapped around the details of the front of the car. This was a big improvement over our old clear bra that had unwrapped edges and many seams that could be seen. The headlights and foglights were also covered in the new film. The film does its job and keeps your headlights looking brand new for years without fogging. Next, the area of the wide-body was covered where the wheels could kick up rocks. The entire front fenders were covered too. Now our car was done. This whole process was pretty thorough and actually took a week to do.
We thought our car was in pretty good shape but after Wicked got done with it, all we could say is wow! Our paint is amazing, super glossy, and smooth. By taking off the yellowed micro-scratched topmost surface of the clearcoat, the paint now has an awesome warm silver glow that we think might be better than when the car was new. You can even see the glow in this picture! Our car had been detailed by lower-cost places and it was never better than what we could do at home, but the work Wicked did was really outstanding.
It’s hard to believe that this is a 10-year-old daily! The process to give our car a facelift was somewhat costly but worth every penny, restoring our car in addition to sealing and protecting it. We can’t get over how good the car is looking and how our amateur car care is nothing like what the pros can do. We are so wowed by the process, we are going to run some of our other cars through this. Thank you Wicked Auto Films and Detailing for making us fall in love with our IS-F again.