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Maintaining a dark paint job

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by MikeK, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. MikeK

    MikeK R#129, TSLA shareholder

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    #1 MikeK, Aug 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    Hello all!

    For better or for worse, many of the Model S colors this year are rather dark. (Black, Blue, Green, Brown are all extremely dark, and the Grey is sort of in between...) I'm trying to decide between the regular White and the Blue. They have their pluses and minuses (ruminations on that at the end of this post), but one that I can't easily quantify is the maintenance of the dark color. I used to own a fairly dark blue car, but it was long ago and it was a car I got used, so I didn't expend a lot of effort trying to keep it looking really nice.

    So, I ask those of you with dark cars now or in the past: would you do it again? Do you plan to do it on the Model S? Do you have any secrets to share on how to keep the car looking great over time?

    Here's an example of the sort of thing that bugs me. This is a photo I took at the Fremont event (you may need to zoom to full size). Note the finger prints on the passenger door, below the co-pilot's hand. Compare to the white car below, which almost certainly has similar prints, given the ones visible on the chrome, but the white totally hides them.

    IMG_0064.JPG

    IMG_0063.JPG

    Then, here are some shots from this past weekend at Palo Alto. Notice the swirls on the hood, behind the windows, and all around the rear door handle.

    swirl2.jpg

    Swirl1.jpg

    IMG_0311 - Version 2.JPG

    How do you avoid such things? It seems as if fingerprints are pretty visible on this finish. Can they be wiped away without introducing the sort of streaks visible here? What about as the car gets dusty?

    Thanks!

    Ruminations on colors
    I had originally planned to get my Model S in the standard non-pearl White. My parents both had white cars when I was a kid, and they were hassle free.

    I started looking at the darker colors because I was concerned about some appearance issues with the white car. Some of those issues are related to the uneven body gaps on the early production cars, but some are specific to the design. For example, I don't really find the door seams very attractive. The front edge of the front door is just a straight vertical line, unlike say an Audi, which is curved. The back edge of the rear door is a hard diagonal that goes awfully close to the rear wheel well (again, compare other makes where the seam follows the shape of the well). Have a look at those first two photos above. See how huge the trunk gap looks on the white car? And how clearly you can see the uneven fit between the front and back doors? The trunk gap on the blue car is just as big, but it's much less visible.

    From attending the event in Palo Alto this past weekend, it's evident that Tesla has made significant strides in the body fit, but of course the design elements are unchanged, and the body seams still blend really well into the dark colors.

    A friend also said she didn't like how the panoramic roof looks on the white cars. I don't mind it, but it totally disappears on the dark colors, to be sure. The chrome accents really "pop" on the dark colors, and tend to get a little bit lost on the white, at least in the sun. OTOH, the dark colors all just look black when not in bright sunlight, while the white looks really dramatic, especially from the front where the nose cone and the air intakes give it a look of sleek power. And the white is gorgeous at night. See, for example:



    Decisions, decisions.
     
  2. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    No. Been there done that.

    Nope, getting the silver.

    Spend a few days putting on Zaino, and keep a duster in the car to use every time you get out. Avoid driving during the rainy/snowy season. Drive at night when at all possible (dark cars look their best at night).

    Right. Chrome on cars is just a bad idea. Should have been left back in the 1950s where it belongs. I can't imagine why anyone would put chrome on a modern car.
     
  3. contaygious

    contaygious Active Member

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    California duster works great! I park in garage and home and work so my black car is always fresh. I use LXR too for wash.

    I say go white!!!!!!!!!!! But you already knew that :)
     
  4. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    If you're getting the performance version, I'd definitely go white. White perf looks really good to my eyes. Just saw a white Audi A7 with dark wheels like the pearl performance and it looks really sharp. My second pick would be perf gray.

    If not getting the performance, I'd still strongly consider white as it looks good. My wife didn't want a white car so I ended upgetting my second favorite, gray.

    Either way, I deliberated getting the darkest of colors, and have heard very few people say they'd do that again...so I went with a lighter color.
     
  5. SCW-Greg

    SCW-Greg Active Member

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    I'm considering Black, Brown, and White... in that order, but haven't finalized on it yet.

    To me the black is really classy, the brown is rich, and the white is sporty. I'm not worrying about the dust and finger prints all that much, knowing that I baby my current cars, and this one will get even more attention. A must have item for any dark car, after washing though is the duster. I just makes keeping it dust free really simple: Amazon.com: The Original California Car Duster with Standard 15 Cleaning Head: Automotive
     
  6. pete8314

    pete8314 Vendor

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    I owned a car valeting company for quite a few years (in the UK), generally specializing in high-end motors, just becuase of our price, and where we advertised. The thing that sucks is, the dark colors always look amazing after a good wax job, whereas the light colors really don't. On the flip side, after a couple of days, or a quick shower, the dark cars look grubby, and the light cars look no different.

    Because of that, I've flipped flopped between silver and black/blue cars most of my car-buying life, and I'm still undecided. Current car is black, it looked great on Saturday, then it rained for about a minute, so now it's covered in rained-on dust, that a Cali duster doesn't really remove. I also have 2 sticky-fingered kids (literally, they're not thieves), hence why pano black trim would be a horrible idea, and why the fancy door handles and the door that surround them will not always look their best.

    With all of that in mind, my Mod S will likely be one of the dark colours, for a couple of reasons:

    1. The paint finish seems to be exellent, out of the factory. I'm cleaned some very pricey cars, and this is up there with the best of them
    2. I'll own it from new, so nobody will have the chance to put some swirl marks in

    The trick to avoiding the swirls is just to be really careful about washing, drying and waxing the car. It's so easy to mark modern paint, it's much softer than a few years ago. Zaino (mentioned above) is great, I prefer Swissol (now apparently called Swissvax), but the high-end polishes are all the same, with a very high carnaubu wax content. You can apply it in sunshine, over rubber trim and lights, and your hands feel softer afterwards, as opposed to the cheaper brands. My routine is usually to do a full double wax in spring and fall, and that's normally enough to put a protective 'coat' on the paint. Then I just wash weekly with a gentle cleaner, using a clay bar to get rid of bugs and tar splashes. This all takes a good amount of time, and just one quick clean through a car wash will destroy your hard work, so ultimately that's the choice to make. Dark colors require a lot more maintenance, and the rewards can be a little short-lived, depending where you live.
     
  7. jayzaqt

    jayzaqt S P813 & X P69

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    When I had a black car, I swore by this miracle duster. I was hand washing the car ever third day to keep that shiny new look. Got the duster and washes were only every week or two, depending on the weather conditions. I would also recommend the McGuiars line of washing & waxing produces for dark cars (Meguiar's : Car Care Products
    ). Remember no circular motions, just nice long strokes with the wax, so you don't get those swirls in the paint. So basically white is less work, but for that elegant look, you have to go dark colors.
     
  8. STxTesla

    STxTesla Sig #1278

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    Mike,

    You seem to like the blue more than any other color. Go with what you like the most....not the one that cleans up easiest.
    You'll have fun driving 50 miles to have your car washed.

    Go for the blue!
     
  9. Born 2 Skydive

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  10. Tommy

    Tommy Member

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    Another consideration is if are opting to get the Paint Armor option. Depending on the roads you drive this may be an option you want to get. The dark colors hide the Paint Armor lines pretty well. With white, you have the lines to contend with as well as the different hue the Paint Armor casts on the white.
     
  11. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Flip a coin: heads is blue, tails is white. Notice your reaction on the result, then go with your gut, not the coin.
     
  12. MikeK

    MikeK R#129, TSLA shareholder

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    So, if I'm counting correctly, that's 3 in favor of White, and 3 in favor of Blue! AAAAAUGGGHHH!!!!! :cursing:

    Thanks for the tips on the duster and the cleaners.

    @Tommy: Yes, I did consider the paint armor factor. It really does seem to disappear quite well on the darker cars. I wouldn't consider putting it on the white. I meant to call a local highly-regarded detailing shop today to ask their thoughts on the films. Their web site basically says, "Call us before you get talked into any paint protection..." Tomorrow morning I will give them a ring.
     
  13. MikeK

    MikeK R#129, TSLA shareholder

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    Tried that. I've actually had different responses on different days! :)
     
  14. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I have a black Infiniti, and I don't think it's ever really been properly "clean and shiny" since it rolled off the dealer lot. Go with the white.
     
  15. mulder1231

    mulder1231 Active Member

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    I'm going with white body color and black roof. I don't expect the roof to get too dirty, it's usually more closer to the ground where dirt would show.

    Just now have to decide if pearl white is worth the $1500. I like both of the whites. Solid white seems brighter in the sun, while pearl white is more interesting. Althoug I had a hard time seeing the subtle differences you're supposed to get with the pearl, depending on viewing angle and lighting.
     
  16. Zextraterrestrial

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    go blue

    it is my mothers favorite color and she tried to pass it on to me
    I was considering it but have already owned 2 blues an have 1 black now so grey for me it is
    can't always please Mother ( I hope she hates grey - calling me crazy and all for 'wanting?' 'getting' a Model S - told her just a couple of options meh maybe 80K110 cough )
     
  17. johnnyS

    johnnyS Member

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    My wife says silver (if she picks the color I can pick the options), but I have been thinking of blue with tan leather. After being reminded of the extra work of owning the dark colors, I think it will be silver with gray or black leather.
     
  18. ModelS1079

    ModelS1079 Member

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    Mike, ain't this the funnest and most unimportant important decision I've ever made? reservation for over three years, on a car that had a clay prototype at the time, and now I need to pick...my color...for my Model S. Enjoy the decision-making - you seem to be. I think you may have put me in Blue with Tan Leather via the videos you laid down in another thread. The Blue looks supreme there. I guess I should pack it in, sleep on it, and go with the gut, as Robert suggests, in the morning. Wish you good luck and great fun with your final choice, Mike, as I know you are at the deadline (or you can delay but...don't). Look forward to reading what you have chosen.
     
  19. SCW-Greg

    SCW-Greg Active Member

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    #19 SCW-Greg, Aug 14, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
    Blue! It's original. You see a thousand white cars on the road, how many like this blue?!

    There tie breaker. ;)

    EDIT: No offense to Contaygious.
     
  20. pete8314

    pete8314 Vendor

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    Dealers make a huge mark up on a lot of the BS paint protection (not the paint armor, but the various liquids that are applied for an 'invisible coat'). At least in the UK they all used to do the hard sell on something that was charged at over $1000, but in reality was a kit that cost $60 and required no skill to apply (and it tended to flake or yellow after a year or so).
     

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