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Detailer's worst nightmare:Damaging a car


AvsBest
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Took me awhile to "get over it" to the point when I can share the experience and ask for input. I corrected this car awhile back and managed to "chip" the paint from an edge located on the rear bumper. Few things to clarify: I was using the Flex 3401, Adam's orange pad and correcting polish, the bumper was plastic.

 

As soon as it happenned, I had the reflex to feel the paint as I thought I may have burnt through it. The paint was barely warm and after looking at what an actual burnt paint looks like, it's definitely not what happened which at least took care of that possibility.

 

I was on my 2nd or 3rd pass on the panel and I had done the opposite side of the car without issues. I was going down with the Flex when I had a weak moment and it went down a bit too low and crossed that edge which cause the paint to almost flake off. A piece of paint approximately 2 inches long came right off in one shot. It was down to the plastic in an instant. Also, I could grab a piece of the paint left on the damage area and literally peel it off from the rest of the bumper if I wanted too which struck me as weird for car paint.

 

I've been thinking about it and been trying to figure out what I had done differently on this car for this to happen. I've gone full blast over some pretty steep edges/ridges with the Flex and never had issues

 

I've narrowed it down to a few things: First I usually use the PC with 4in pads on the plastic bumpers because of the tighter areas on those parts but this car didn't have any so I decided to keep going with the Flex. Second, it was a 7-8 year old car and the cars I usually do are usually more recent.

 

I was thinking: was the paint weak there because of previous damage? Without me even mentioning this theory to the owner he said that he recalls the previous owner may have had some damage in the area. Could that be it? Or any other theories?

 

Here is a pic of the area that was damaged (in red). I was too mad at the time to take a pic.

post-12101-0-88263900-1464155267_thumb.jpeg

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I'm glad the general consensus is on my side. I will still use this incident as a reminder to use extra caution when going over curves, specially on plastic and probably won't go over them anymore with the flex, I'll switch to the PC for those raised ridges. I'm even wondering if the PC would have made a difference in this particular case

 

If more people have comments please add them, the more thoughts, the better.

Edited by AvsBest
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I'm glad the general consensus is on my side. I will still use this incident as a reminder to use extra caution when going over curves, specially on plastic and probably won't go over them anymore with the flex, I'll switch to the PC for those raised ridges. I'm even wondering if the PC would have made a difference in this particular case

 

If more people have comments please add them, the more thoughts, the better.

 

If the bumper has paint adhesion issues, I doubt the PC would have made a difference. I bet if you gently tapped that bumper with something solid, the paint would spiderweb and begin flaking off. Unfortunately it's pretty common.

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G8 Owner ..Never had an issue with my paint but I heard of others having issues. Mainly the hood though. 

 

Guarantee whoever did some body work on that car really didnt know what they were doing when repainting a "plastic" bumper. 

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I burned off the paint last year on our brand new pathfinder. I'm too embarrassed to post about it LOL.

 

there was a spot by the edge of the door that had a nasty scratch. I used a small orange MF pad and the PC to work it REAL hard. well I messed up with 2 rules.1 Don't push so hard on edges because you'll flash through it, and 2 don't work the same spot for so long even if it's a PC.... It looks like crap and I need it painted it now and clear coat the whole door. so embarrassing lol

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To me.....this doesn't sound like "burning paint". Sounds like a poorly prepped bumper that was painted, and there was a lack of proper adhesion to the surface. I would liken this to spray painting or "plastic-dipping" a wheel. If you don't prep the surface correctly before the initial application of the paint/material, it will be super easy to flake or peel later. Sounds like there was just enough agitation to the surface from the Flex to crack the brittle paint that was only probably adhering to itself and not the surface.

 

Matt

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If the bumper has been replaced, and it was not prepped correctly you can have problems with the paint adhering correctly. Seen this happen a lot, especially with aftermarket bumper covers.

 

This is very much a possibility, but not just a respray - factory applied finishes aren't without their faults either, but typically a poor prep job and improperly adhering paint won't just manifest on an edge. It tends to 'peel' so if it started on the edge the OP would have seen the paint continue to go once the surface coating was breached.

 

 

I thought it was damn near impossible to burn paint with a PC?  Junkman did a video on that.

 

Nothing is impossible, its just far less likely. When you factor in an edge you are dealing with an inherently thinner area of the paint. Hit it enough times with an abrasive process, no matter how 'gentle' and you run the risk of excessively thinning and finding your way into the base coat or primer.

 

A forced rotation machine, like the one used by the OP increases this risk factor exponentially. A dual action random orbital tool (the ones without forced rotation) will stall or stop pad rotation in areas like this, think of it as a built in safety feature. A gear driven tool is going to continue to plow into the surface regardless of surface contours or edges - the rotation won't stop until you turn the machine off.

 

It is, in this situation, entirely possible that its a strike through (burning the paint is a misnomer) as a result of process the OP performed. Hard to know for sure without seeing the surface in person. Would a tool like the PC been less likely to cause the damage? Absolutely - many times less likely. Even if it is the result of poor paint prep the less aggressive nature of a dual action random orbital tool without forced rotation would have been less likely to show this flaw.

 

In any event, it sounds like the owner wasn't too angry about it so thats good, but that then leads us to the conversation of : If you intend to work on other peoples cars YOU MUST HAVE INSURANCE. Had the customer been really upset would you want to be out of pocket for a respray of an entire bumper? Probably not.

Edited by Dylan@RUPES
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tends to 'peel' so if it started on the edge the OP would have seen the paint continue to go once the surface coating was breached.

 

 

After the "chipped" part of the paint was gone, I could've continued to peel it off. Similar to when you get a bad sunburn and your skin is flaking. You peel off one piece of skin which allows you to peel another piece of skin off and so on.

 

The owner was a co-worker therefore not a random person. I offered to pay for the damage of course including a full bumper repaint if necessary. He said he wouldn't be necessary and he just touch up painted it himself. The fact that he claims there was possibly previous damage to the area helped my case and helped me getting over it too.

 

It certainly shakes your confidence when you think you've got it all figured out. I guess it's good in a way to get yourself back on earth.

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After the "chipped" part of the paint was gone, I could've continued to peel it off. Similar to when you get a bad sunburn and your skin is flaking. You peel off one piece of skin which allows you to peel another piece of skin off and so on.

 

The owner was a co-worker therefore not a random person. I offered to pay for the damage of course including a full bumper repaint if necessary. He said he wouldn't be necessary and he just touch up painted it himself. The fact that he claims there was possibly previous damage to the area helped my case and helped me getting over it too.

 

It certainly shakes your confidence when you think you've got it all figured out. I guess it's good in a way to get yourself back on earth.

 

Thats good. The peeling would indicate a clear adhesion problem in the paint so it was definitely destined for failure, the polisher probably just gave it the opportunity. Glad its at least an acquaintance so you are in good shape.

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