Well, according to the local weather guys and gals, it seems we can put a fork in this winter and call it done! They’re saying the long range forecasts are showing zero signs of any winter weather and that spring is imminent. There have been more birds around, the foxes in our yard have been making daily appearances and Daylight Savings Time is just a little more than a week away.
It. Is. Time.
Business has been steady for the last few months but is now steadily rising. I’m receiving inquiries and booking appointments into March, I do have a few openings here and there so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re ready for a ceramic coating or detail.
Some exciting news from IGL this week is the airing of their first TV commercial. If you watch the Motortrend channel, keep an eye out. Otherwise, check it out here:
They’re featuring the excellent combination of a Graphene infused polish topped with Premier sealant. This is a killer combination that removes some imperfections and fills others so you end up with paint that has the appearance of having been coated with a much lower price tag. Keep in mind, this is 4-6 months of protection instead of YEARS but the price is $400 for cars & $600 for full size pickups and SUVs.
Here’s a photo of a Mustang hood I used this combo on.... super glossy stuff.
In other news, I have simplified my ceramic coating pricing! If you’ve gotten a quote from me in the past, get in touch because my new pricing structure may be beneficial to you!
Lastly, here is the most recent vehicle to leave the garage wearing IGL Kenzo. It’s a 2020 Subaru Forester in metallic black. It had some love marks from the dealership that were easily taken care of and the owner had me install the trim on the doors as well.
Don’t forget, every ceramic coating package includes a bottle of IGL car wash, a premium microfiber wash mitt and drying towel from The Rag Company along with your coating care sheet!
For a while there I thought we were going to get off easy this winter! The last couple weeks have featured much colder weather and some..... snow. Along with that, our towns have happily seasoned the pavement with a corrosive elixir that helps make driving safer and slowly eats away our cars. Detailing this time of year is mainly about one thing: Removing salt. Wether it’s accumulating on your carpets or wheel wells or the sides of your vehicle, it really needs to be removed. A proper detail will accomplish this as well as provide a measure of protection for the remainder of the season. The application of a quality paint sealant goes a long way towards preventing early corrosion by making it harder for the salt to reach your paint. Contact us today for a mid winter detail and help preserve your vehicle and keep it looking it’s best!
If you’re looking for the ULTIMATE automotive protection, you’ll want to opt for a ceramic coating. I offer ceramic packages ranging from a one step polish with a paint coating to the ultimate, multi step paint correction and total vehicle coating that provides complete ceramic protection for the outside and the inside of your car!
Contact me today to discuss options and pricing
We’re two weeks from Christmas and I’m sure some of you, like myself, are behind on their Christmas shopping! Hopefully this post will help you shop for that car lover in your life or maybe you’re doing some shopping for yourself!
Instead of a “how to” piece, I’ve decided to compile a list of my favorite detailing items that would be useful to anyone that enjoys rolling up their sleeves and keeping their vehicle nice.
I have chosen these products based on several important factors; performance, availability, ease of use, price and user experience. In other words these are solid choices that work well, are easy to get, not super expensive and bring some enjoyment to keeping a nice car.
So that’s it. Pretty much all you need to keep your car looking awesome after I’ve gotten it there for you. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about products, their uses or any other detailing questions you may have.
Some Scrooge is going to get ticked off if I don’t say this......
*Disclaimer: clicking and purchasing from the links above results in me getting merchandise credit from Detailed Image which helps me continue to provide an awesome experience for my clients. This does NOT affect the price you pay the retailer.
Just a quick post to keep us all organized. If you’ve had your vehicle coated by me, you’ve received this document along with your premium microfiber wash mitt and drying towels.. hopefully you’re following these instructions and using the mitt and drying towel to wash your car!
I want to have it available online since that paper can easily be lost or destroyed.
Here’s the image. The PDF is below if you want to save it.
Ok, This week I’m going over my process for wheels & tires.
nyway, back to the topic at hand. I’ve noticed that many vehicle owners, while they enjoy the car washing process, often neglect their wheels and tires. Because this part of the vehicle is frequently the dirtiest, this is where I begin my wash process. I work on one wheel at a time so here we go....
First things first, I rinse the wheel with a strong blast of water from a pressure washer or standard hose nozzle. This will do a good job of knocking off any loose dirt, brake dust, salt, etc. from the wheel. It’s important to do this so that you’re not rubbing it into the wheel in the following steps.
Next, I spray the wheel and tire with P&S Brake Buster diluted 5:1 (water to product) with an IK Foamer. If you only have a standard spray bottle that’s just fine. If you don’t dilute it, that’s just fine too. I choose to dilute because it works just fine and it greatly extends the number of washes I get out of a container of wheel cleaners
While the Brake Buster is dwelling on the surface of the wheel, I take my tire brush and start scrubbing the tire. This will remove any accumulation of tire shine, dirt, grime etc. and leave a clean & fresh surface behind.
Once I’ve sufficiently cleaned the tire, it’s time to move on to the wheel. Using a wet brush designed to clean the insides of your wheels (Wheel Woolies) clean the barrels first working between each spoke as well as you can. When the barrels have been agitated, take your DETAIL BRUSH and get the lug nuts & recesses. Finally, using a SEPARATE microfiber mitt that NEVER touches your car’s paint, wash the face of the wheel as well as any nooks and crannies like around valve stems, in the corners of spokes, etc. note, you may have to add some wheel cleaner to the wheel during this process to keep it from drying out.
Once scrubbed, brushed and washed, rinse the wheel completely ensuring there is no wheel cleaner left behind. While this is a Ph neutral cleaner, left on the surface for too long it will cause some spotting that you’ll have to remove.
Next, spray a little Brake Buster or all purpose cleaner in your wheel well and lightly scrub with a long handled brush. Clean wheel wells help push a regular wash up a few notches and really ice the cake.
The very last step in the wheel cleaning process comes after you wash the vehicle. Take a quality microfiber drying towel that you only use on your wheels and dry them to avoid water spots.
Once everything is fully dry, apply a water based tire dressing such as IGL TYRE, stand back and admire.
And there you have it. You’ve successfully cleaned your wheels in a quick, efficient manner. The process takes about 20 minutes to do all of the wheels and it really makes a big difference.
Ok, this weeks topic,... IGL Kenzo.
Often times when giving a quote or taking about costings with someone, I find myself telling them that Kenzo is “special.” What the heck do I mean? How can a ceramic coating be special?
I’m not going to go into the technical stuff here and bore everyone into deleting this message. When I say Kenzo is special, I’m making a comparison to other high end coatings. They ALL make your paint stay cleaner for longer and they ALL cut the time it takes to wash and dry at least in half.
This is where similarities end.
IGL Kenzo’s hardness is 10h on the pencil scale. This translates into superior protection against things like marring & swirls from improper hand washing methods.
The coating also forms a thicker layer on the paint than other costings which greatly improves its look. One thing everyone notices about Kenzo is that it truly makes a car look like it’s been waxed. Once applied, you not only see increased gloss but also a deep, rich warmth that you don’t see with other coatings.
Lastly, and this is important to note, Kenzo does not need to be reapplied during the four year warranty period. Other coatings boast 9 years, 10 years, LIFETIME longevity, however, they don’t mention the annual reapplication or topping process. This requirement costs the consumer time and money that the coating is supposed to save in the first place.
Want a quote for Kenzo on your vehicle? CLICK HERE!
This past week a customer asked me a very simple question that resulted in a response that was much longer than he probably expected.
*I would like to state here that I am NOT compensated by IGL not have I been asked to provide the following testimony.
He asked; What made you choose IGL?
This was my response, it’s been slightly edited because I don’t want to call out other specific companies here.
I chose IGL for several reasons. There are many great coating and detailing products available but....
IGL offers the following benefits for me compared to other brands:
For my customers, my use of IGL products provides them with:
It may seem like I’m limiting myself by aligning so strongly with one manufacturer. I do use some other products from other manufacturers (I love me some P&S beadmaker) but the core of what I do is serviced well by sticking with IGL at every opportunity.
How much does a ceramic coating cost?
The title of this post is, by far, the most common question I receive.
Unfortunately, pricing a ceramic coating package is not as simple as taking the cost of a product, adding a percentage to cover costs and some profit and assigning a figure.
The main purpose of a coating is to protect the vehicle and make it easier to wash and dry while providing unmatched gloss. In order to properly achieve this, the paint must be brought to a level that allows light to reflect cleanly in a mirror-like fashion. Swirls, marring, scuffs and other defects, no matter how minor, take away from this. If a coating is applied over an imperfect surface, those imperfections will not only be magnified, they will be sealed in for as many years as the coating lasts. For this reason, a minimum of a full one step polishing must be performed prior to coating the paint. This one step, depending on the size, color and paint hardness, normally takes from 6 to 8 hours including the wash and decontamination steps taken prior to ever plugging in the polisher.
A vehicle that is several years old and/or has seen regular visits to an automatic car wash will require another step before finish polishing; compounding. The compounding step takes a more aggressive pad and more aggressive polish to remove significantly more clear coat than the final polishing step. Compounding removes most paint defects that cannot be caught by a fingernail in an efficient manner. Once complete, defects are removed, however, the paint usually appears hazy and always shows less clarity in its reflection so a finish polish is then required. The compounding step adds about 4-6 hours to the overall process and must be done with care to avoid removing too much material. There are instances where chasing some defects is not worth the diminished paint thickness and your detailer should go over these prior to the job being started.
Now that the paint is polished and shows bright, clear reflections, it’s ready to be coated...
No, it’s not ready to be coated yet!!
After paint correction and before coating application, the paint must be free of any oils leftover from process. This is done by using a chemical specifically designed for the job. The product is applied to the surface and wiped off using multiple microfiber towels. Once this step is completed, it’s done again to ensure no spots have been missed.
Ok, now it’s time to coat! The coating is applied to one small section at a time, by hand, and allowed to “flash.” Flashing is the process where the carrier solvent evaporated and leaves behind the coating itself. The flash time varies by product with IGL coatings usually in the 2-10 minute range depending on the product, temperature and humidity. As the coating flashes, it gets leveled with microfiber towels (MANY microfiber towels) so that the surface of the coating is perfectly smooth and glassy.
Once the entire vehicle is coated, an inspection must be done to ensure no high spots remain. Those that do are addressed immediately because if they aren’t, they will have to be compounded or even wet sanded later on and reapplied.
The vehicle is then left to cure for 2-12 hours.
Once the base coat cures, the second coat is applied in the same manner and then undergoes the same careful inspection.
The vehicle is then left to cure for at least 4 hours.
Once the second cure is completed, a polysiloxane sealant is applied. This sealant goes over the ceramic coating and provides protection against water spotting for the first week or two while the actual coating undergoes it’s final, permanent, cure.
The vehicle is left for another 4 hours and only then is it ready for its owner.
Depending on the size of the vehicle, how it’s been cared for, it’s age, color, mileage and the coating or coatings the customer chooses, this process that takes up to 48 hours and costs anywhere from $700 to over $2,000.
It’s never an inexpensive job, however, ceramic coatings represent the best value in paint care. Over time, it’s the most economical way to keep your vehicle looking great.
Your paint will stay cleaner for longer.
The days of waxing every 6-8 weeks are over. The amount of time it takes to wash and dry the vehicle is cut in half.
Additionally, every time you wash the vehicle it looks as if it was just waxed!
I hope you’ve found this entry valuable. I want to bridge the gap between getting a quote for a coating and knowing just how much has been considered when determining the price you have received.
*please note, references to cure & flash times only pertains to products in the IGL Coatings line as this is the only coating line I carry.
Until next time,
Owner, M Reflections Auto Aesthetics
This one will probably go down in my history as one of the most interesting stories.
I received a call one day from a client that wanted information about ceramic coating options for his newly purchased Mustang that he would be taking delivery of a few days later. We went over the usual topics of how long coatings last and what should and, more importantly, shouldn’t be expected of them. At this point, he decided to book his appointment and got into details of the purchase. He told me this is a brand new car but it is four years old! With it being 2019, that made his new pride and joy a 2015!
As it turns out, this car was ordered by someone at the dealership here in Connecticut back in 2015. The car was delivered to the dealership and for one reason or another, the buyer backed out of the transaction and didn’t complete the purchase. Ordinarily, the dealership would put the vehicle into its inventory and someone else would eventually come along and buy it. This car was spec’d our beautifully; bright yellow paint, track package with upgraded brakes, nice recaro seats, etc. highly desirable. Unfortunately, the dealership never entered the car into their computer so, even though it was on their lot, it wasn’t listed as available for sale!
FOUR YEARS went by and my client saw the car and asked about it. He got himself a great deal and that’s where I enter the picture.
after a few days of enjoying the car, my client brought the car in and I got to work. As you would imagine, four years of sitting idle is horrible for any car new or used. Dirt had accumulated in every body seam and there were black streaks etched into the paint below the door handles and gas door (you know, where the water ALWAYS drips after you wash and dry your car).
Time to get cleaning.
My pre-polishing decontamination wash process goes like this, regardless of the vehicle:
pressure wash the wheels & wheel wells
apply wheel cleaner & agitate after some dwell time. My favorite wheel cleaner right now is P&S Brake Buster. It’s non acid, foams really well and just does a nice job for not a lot of money.
use microfiber tool to clean wheel barrels
use boar’s hair brush to clean brake calipers
scrub tires with rubber cleaner
Pressure wash wheels & wheel wells to remove cleaners
pressure wash body of vehicle to remove loose dirt including in body seams
apply iron remover to wheels & body to dissolve ferrous deposits (rail dust, brake dust, industrial fallout) the purple liquid below is the iron oxide deposits dissolving and running off the body. (I didn’t get a picture of this with the Mustang so I’m showing it on another car)
Once the iron remover is rinsed away, it’s on to the next step in the decontamination process... Actually washing the car!
for this step, I use the “2 bucket method” . I wash one panel at a time starting with the roof and working my way down, rinsing each panel before moving to the next.
Washing the car is one step where I feel product choice is critical to the outcome of the job.
Heres what I use:
IGL Ecoclean Wash for the soap
The Rag Company Cyclone wash mitt
Clay barring a vehicle removes any non-ferrous particles that are embedded in the paint. This is a critical step prior to polishing a vehicle so that the polisher isn’t picking up contaminates and rubbing them into the paint you’re trying to perfect. <—- talk about chasing your tail!
its often surprising how much “stuff” comes out of a vehicle’s paint when this process is underway. This Mustang was no different:
Remember, this car is “brand new” and it only had 436 miles on it at the time!
Once the clay bar process is completed and the paint is free of any contamination, the car is washed again and then dried using only the very best microfiber towels available. I love the “Dry me a River” from The Rag Company
you can buy one here
Once the vehicle is dried, it’s ready to be polished. At this point, I’m usually about 2 hours into the job.
I am realizing this is getting way too long to continue to be interesting. Let’s call this Part I of a series!
One last thing! The links to products are affiliate links, I earn a small amount of product credit if you buy from Detailed Image. This does NOT affect the price you pay. I should also note that the products I use are my favorites. I use them because I like how they perform not because I have a partnership with any manufacturer (because I don’t). I’ve found the retailer, Detailed Image, to be my favorite supplier due to their vast product line, fair prices and ultra fast shipping.
Thats it for now, we’ll cover the polishing process in my next entry.
A lot of people have been asking me why I’m doing this whole business building thing when I already have a good job so I’m going to ramble on for a bit here...
please bear with me, by the end, I hope you all get it and believe in this thing just a little more than you do now. I need my customers to buy into the bigger picture in order for it to work.
The reasoning for stating this business is pretty well outlined on the “About” page of my website so I’ll spare those details here.
Bigger picture, this thing that I’m building, wherever it goes and how how ever big it becomes (or doesn’t) is a pursuit that I’ve always wanted to embark upon but never had the guts and was always waiting for “the right time.” That was stupid. I’ve finally learned and understand that “the right time” never comes. “The right time” is something we all make up in our minds to justify our lack of motion, inability to execute or fear that whatever we’re waiting to do isn’t going to happen exactly how we picture. I’ve finally come to a point in my life where how something turns out doesn’t particularly matter, it’s the process. I’m pursuing a passion here, building something that fascinates me (business) using a skill and passion I’ve developed over my lifetime. If nothing else, I hope that this little experiment of mine shows my kids that it’s ok execute, it’s ok to fail and to welcome failure as it inevitably leads to success. Also, if someone else out there is following along and is inspired in some way, I’ve succeeded even if I’m not even aware of their existence. That is why I’m sharing my journey.
For the foreseeable future, yes, I’m a home based business. I have low overhead and don’t employ anyone because I wouldn’t want some teenager working on my car in between Instagram posts either. It’s not a frilly shop made very fancy to help justify high prices. It’s me, top of the line products and equipment, decades of skill and your vehicle.
*I hate to use the word goal because it represents something that, once achieved can’t be beaten but I’m about to.
The “goal” for this business includes a multi-year plan that, at its apex, has me purchasing a building with 2 units. Something I can run the detailing side from and lease the other side to a tint or PPF (paint protection film) or some other relatable business that I have no interest in doing myself and a symbiotic relationship ensues that makes both businesses a ton of money from hard work and awesome results. What comes after that is anyone’s guess. Please don’t get mad at me for wanting to make a ton of money, so do you, so does everyone.
I’m confident that I’m offering a solid product that represents a solid value for my customers and a byproduct of that will be the progression of this business to something disruptive in the industry. Each time a customer stops by for a quote, whether they book with me or not, they’re part of this process. I learn from all of you. I hope to provide what you’re looking for and we can share an equal exchange in value where we’re all happy at the end of the day and cars are looking awesome.
So, here I am at the end of this rambling post. It’s disorganized, has crappy grammar and is probably either longer or shorter than everyone wants but it is what it is and hopefully clears things up a bit.