This post is going to get into whats best to protect your leased vehicle. The average lease is around 3 years so maybe you don't need a 5 year protective coating or you don't want to spend $3000-$4000 on protection for a car you probably wont keep and you might not care about whether your paint is a show car finish, but you do need to protect yourself for that 3 years and maintain the value of your newly leased vehicle.
Lease return can be painful depending on which dealer you purchased your car from, some inspect more than others. I've heard customers get dinged up to $1500-$3500 in damages on their car for things like scratches, rock chips, interior bits scratched up or faded, etc. This doesn't happen all the time but it can! So how can you protect your car, look good all the time, have easy maintenance but not break the bank? I will explain below after we go through our process on this vehicle.
I was excited for this car, this guy contacted us on instagram a month or so ago, he is from Texas and was moving to California. This customer leased a brand new Subaru WRX STI, he's looking to have some fun but not be married to this car for ever since something newer, more fun and better will come along eventually.
The client wanted to protect his car when he got to California so he asked around on instagram where the best place to do that was and found us on referral from another Subaru client. Always exciting when you reach out of staters.
This car came as I expected from the dealership, covered in light swirls and scratches. Even though this car is brand new it probably rolled off the truck with some sanding scratches and buffing haze from the factory, invisible to the eye of most on a metallic paint job like this. A few more washes later and its got some swirls in the top layer of clear coat.
We discussed options with the customer and explained that for proper ceramic coating adhesion its best to have a flat and even surface so it would be best to do some paint correction before putting a ceramic coating on. For paint prep we went with what we called the Daily Driver Polish, which is an in-depth decontamination with Iron X snow foam soap, Iron X fall out remover and then a thorough clay bar with Feynlab prime which is a ceramic filled clay lubricant, and a solid one stage of paint correction with Menzerna 2500 on a yellow Rupes foam pad. This is a great combo to knock down swirls on the top surface and any scratching left behind the average customer would not see. The picture below depicts how the paint looks prior to polishing. Hard to even see the swirls in this color paint.
Below this is the first step which is soaping up the vehicle using Iron X snow foam, this is a soap that has a small amount of Iron X fall out remover in it so it can be a great starter for decontamination, it also foams up very nicely for videos and pictures. The actually Iron X is depicted in action on the wheel photo below. IT bleeds purple if there is contamination, this is sprayed all over the paint, wheels, and calipers. Doing proper decontamination can make paint correction much easier as you aren't fighting through contaminants to get to the clear coat. The iron X stage can take up to a hour to do correctly.
Once the vehicle is washed, decontaminated and dried off, its time to start correction. So as I mentioned earlier we are using Menzerna 2500 and a Rupes yellow pad, this is not super aggressive and wont require a second stage of polishing to finish out. The firm backing on the yellow pad is great for removing swirls and 2500 being a medium grade polish has great cut and also great gloss without leaving micro scratches behind. Typically we also use a Rupes MK2 21 polisher although in the picture below my apprentice is using our 3 Inch rupes polisher to reach into smaller areas for proper finishing. We carry all sizes of tools but the 6 inch can be used on many applications and the 3 inch or our Rupes iBrid mini can reach into all the hard to get spots.
Its all in the little details. The right shop will have the right tools, the right products, and the motivation for perfection. Having small tools allow for us to reach into areas that might otherwise go ignored, and you'll be looking at your car at that certain time of day when the light is just right and youll notice theres one tiny spot thats off from the others because it was just overlooked due to fitment, but not here! We hit every possible spot we can squeeze a pad into it.
Down below here is a before and after of our one stage polish.
After correction is done, I'd say we have this paint about 75% flawless from just this single stage correction. Subaru paint is pretty easy to work with, we've got a lot of experience with them as well. I'm sure if I looked super close I would find some minor micro scratches but we're not too worried about those as this isn't a show car type detail.
Next step is Clear Bra/Paint protection Film. We use a company called Nano-Fusion, it is a very high gloss, low texture and clear film. IT stretches and wraps easily around edges of panels so we can go for that seamless appearance. Nano-Fusion also has a built in teflon coating for extreme gloss, chemical resistance, hydrophobic effect and ease of cleaning.
Many people confuse what clear bra and ceramic coatings do on their own, there are also installers who make false claims regarding both. Clear Bra/Paint Protection Film is there to protect you from rock chips and deep scratches, its important to have this on a leased vehicle so you can avoid damage to your paint which can cause you to lose money on your return.
You might think that you could just repaint your front bumper for cheaper but that can actually lead to devaluing your vehicle and a proper paint job on a front bumper for most cars is actually well over $1000 to match factory quality. Most people are used to seeing the insurance companies low ball body shop quotes when they are in a car accident so they get the idea that repainting is cheap, its really not. For the cost of repainting your bumper, you can probably apply front bumper bra 3 separate times over the course of however long it takes for the film to be beat up enough for you to want to change it. If a dealership notices your bumper to be slightly off color or have more orange peel than other panels they may ask if you've been in an accident and even if you just repainted for rock chips, 9/10 times they will just accuse you of not reporting it to your carfax and dock you some money. Clear bra can save you this hassle and keep the value up on your car! It doesn't always look perfect but it is there to protect!
With paint protection film laid down its onto coating! First we have to remove all polishing oils by spraying the car down with prep all wax and grease remover, this works better than your typical detailing IPA cleaner.