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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Wash, Wax, Detailing and Cosmetic protection/repairs > New to BMW - how hard is clear coat?



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      06-30-2010, 10:30 PM   #1
Paradise bimmer
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New to BMW - how hard is clear coat?

So I'm in the process of buying my first BMW. When I bring it home I want to give it a good detail. I'm coming from an Audi, which folks say have very hard clear coats. Can anyone tell me how BMW compares? It's a silver BMW of that matters. Thanks in advance.
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      07-01-2010, 03:16 AM   #2
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Some BMW clear coats are soft, there again some BMW clear coat paints are hard...

Hard / Soft Clear Coats

There are no charts available that list the consistency of automotive paint, as this would necessitate listing by; manufacturer, OEM assembly plant, model year, colour, paint specification, and etc. To ascertain paint hardness require extensive experience working on a wide range of vehicles to have a point of reference. Using the least aggressive pad / polish combination followed, if necessary by an incrementally more aggressive approach until you find what works.

• Each vehicle assembly plant uses different clear coat paint from one of three major paint suppliers; PPG, DuPont, and BASF products and each of these companies have a range of several differing paints
• Most vehicle manufacturers will issue a painting specification that denotes amongst other things; a paint to hardener ratio, dependent upon quality control this spec may or may not be strictly adhered to
• Some vehicle manufacturers have more than one plant assembling the same model of a vehicle; each plant will often use a different supplier for the clear coat paints.
• Each assembly plant may elect to use one of several OEM paints from PPG, DuPont or BASF clear coat product lines.

There are other factors that will have an effect; the composition of the clear coat used (single, duel component, or powder) this generally reflects the trade off the OEM is prepared to accept between scratch resistance and gloss level considered acceptable, oven drying time and its temperature, the relevant age (i.e. how long ago was the paint applied) spot panel repairs (refinish) that are carried out either at the assembly plant or the rail head or port of entry. Soft paint could also be caused if it was polished before the paint had time to fully cure

This is also true of imports assembled in the US; usually one paint supplier is approved for all plants; however each plant may modify the application/bake process in order to meet production demand. This may also affect which has the harder or softer clear.

• Hard paint - paint requires a more aggressive abrasive polish and takes more time to correct
• Soft paint- responds to abrasives more readily and makes polishing easier, but it’s easier to induce surface marring.
• Water-based paint is generally more porous and softer
• Solvent-based clear coat paint is usually harder than a water-based paint and not as porous
• As always generalizing carries a degree of risk as a panel(s) may have been re-painted
• Before commencing polishing do a test panel on the car, once you have achieved the desired results with your selected polish / pad combination proceed

Diagnosis is the key, not guess work; before deciding on what products to use ascertain the paint surface conditions and your goals for the paint finish. And then proceed with the least abrasive product / pad combination
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      07-01-2010, 05:09 AM   #3
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I've done a few Titanium Silver E9x's recently and I would categorize the paint correction effort as nominal. Not soft like some of the Jet Black's but not anywhere near typical Audi hard as diamond coat! They seemed to be somewhat in the middle of hardness and again correction is relatively easy if you're used to an Audi.

Don't let the dealer even touch it i.e. NO detail by them!!!

Good luck and enjoy the new ride!
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      07-01-2010, 04:27 PM   #4
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E90's clear coat is harder than body shop respray (had front bumper resprayed and was wetsanding dust nibs, polished with Menz Super finish/green pad no problem).

But much softer than Mercedes's clear coat (W204 at least) I barely made any progress with orange pad and Menz SIP. Borrowed my friends Meg 105, that worked better

BTW my E90 is 06/2005 build with A22. I like the idea of compiling the list of cars with clear coat hardness.
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      07-01-2010, 04:38 PM   #5
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It varies depending on color. Jet black is crazy soft, most metallic s are on the harder side but easy to work with, and flat colors such as white or red are medium.
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      07-01-2010, 04:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 328i View Post
It varies depending on color. Jet black is crazy soft, most metallic s are on the harder side but easy to work with, and flat colors such as white or red are medium.
Is that for BMWs only? Because the W204 I am talking about is black (non-metallic) and clear coat is hard as nails
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      07-01-2010, 06:56 PM   #7
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Audi's tend to have very hard clears. I think you'll find the TiAg BMW softer than the Audi, but still pretty easy to polish.
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      07-02-2010, 09:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 06E90Rostik View Post
Is that for BMWs only? Because the W204 I am talking about is black (non-metallic) and clear coat is hard as nails
Yes I was referencing to my experience with bmw only. All Mercedes Ceramic clears are rock hard, even their black.
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      08-10-2010, 11:13 AM   #9
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Not to revive an old thread, but I've been working with my new alpine white BMW lately, and I find the color to be very hard. The damn thing is taking me forever to polish considering the paint is hard and difficult to see. I'm having to do a three step process on it. Anybody have any experiences with alpine white?
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      08-11-2010, 01:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The J-Man View Post
Not to revive an old thread, but I've been working with my new alpine white BMW lately, and I find the color to be very hard. The damn thing is taking me forever to polish considering the paint is hard and difficult to see. I'm having to do a three step process on it. Anybody have any experiences with alpine white?
The Alpine White ones I've worked on had very hard paint. M105 was a big help when working on it!
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