We don't follow. We innovate

We don't follow. We innovate

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

BOSE system in Mazda CX5

When the CBU Mazda CX5 was launched in Malaysia, its Bose sound system was a key selling feature but unfortunately, I have come across a test review providing insightful info on the sound reproduction of this system. Is it good or bad or is it merely a "brand" thing?

Unlike other reviews that ramble endlessly leaving you with thinking "huh, so what?", I'll cut to the chase here.

1.  The BOSE system is not a sales gimmick relying on a premium brandname.
It performs brilliantly. You are not conned.

2. In any new non-Conti vehicles below RM150K, there are no competing OEM sound systems that are on par with this Bose system.

3. What makes it a cut above the rest?
Soundstaging: From the driver's seat, and in layman's terms, all the "sound" comes only from ABOVE the dashboard, spanning widely from extreme left to right of the windscreen.
Imaging: From the driver's seat, with your eyes closed, you can "see"/hear very clearly the singer's face/head appearing directly in front of you, plastered on the windscreen. From my experience, the only other system that can perform at this level is in the BMW F10 528i MSport.

In other OEM systems, you'll feel that the "sound" is coming from 360degrees around you.
On the CBU CX5 with the Bose system, its all plastered on the windscreen in front of you.
Nevertheless, its not fair and not realistic to compare it to an aftermarket high-end system. We're strictly talking about OEM vs OEM here.

In a nutshell, very few OEM sound system can generate a respectable soundstage and imaging.
The Bose system definitely can.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Do You Need Paintwork Coatings For Your White Vehicle? 

Most owners of white vehicles are accustomed to a horrible-looking vehicle if its not washed very frequently, especially during the current rainy spell. If you can't stop looking at any great looking white car on the road, and you don't know the car owner/s, you wouldn't know what they did to maintain the vehicle in such a condition. 

Many car owners have been led to believe that all those paintwork protective coatings (PPC) will "keep their cars looking nice". The only way for your vehicle to "look nice" consistently is to wash it as many times as possible weekly regardless whether its waxed or coated. 

To get straight to the point, you can consider PPCs for your white vehicle IF:

1. Vehicle is washed with car shampoo 3 times a week or only with water daily. This is almost impossible for most office-dwellers/corporate guys and gals....OR   
2. You can only wash once weekly, don't care about light stains and demand the "best possible layer of something" on your paintwork just to make yourself feel great. And when you wash the vehicle at a car wash, you don't care how its washed as long as it looks bright, white and clean after washing. 

What can these PPCs do for your white vehicle? 
1. More durable and more intense water repellancy vs regulars waxes and sealants. 
2. Reduce the presence and build-up of blackish/dark stains after exposed to rain vs regular waxes and sealants. Due to the formulation of certain waxes and sealants, some of them can cause more staining which is most noticeable on white vehicles. 

Yes, there's only 2 points above because in reality, the PPC cannot do anymore for you, regardless of the grandiose marketing stories you have read.  You have to wash very frequently to enjoy a nice-looking coated vehicle. This is the most high-end "final layer" of stuff you can apply on your paintwork. 

For genuine car enthusiasts who will do anything for their white/light-coloured vehicles, I suggest the following unorthodox approach which not many detailers will mention to you. I am talking to you from a consumer point of view. If I own a white vehicle, and appearance is important to me, this is what I will do to my own car. 

1. Correct and optimise the white paintwork for the best looks possible. 
Most new local, Jap and Korean vehicles have sub-standard paintwork lacking in visual gloss and is usually blur (Protons, Mazdas, Subarus, Fords etc).  Use the bulk of your budget to partially/fully correct this problem first. It's laborious, time-consuming and certainly not cheap. Always strive to correct the paintwork to the highest degree that your time and budget will allow BEFORE applying any waxes, coatings etc. On a daily driven vehicle, you don't need maximum correction. This effect will be very long-lasting, and each time after a good wash, HEY!...your corrected paintwork looks way better than a non-corrected blurish paintwork that's been coated. Do not allow anyone to lead you into showcar levels of "paint correction" unless its for a super expensive genuine showcar that remains indoors most of the time and professionally cared for.   

2. Your final layer.  
After the above step, what you apply as your final layer will depend on your budget, time and hidden motivation/aspiration. Some owners love super expensive carnauba waxes, some are contented with locally-made waxes, and some will go for sealants. The others will only talk about all the above while feverishly scouring the Net for info on coatings instead but not daring to take the plunge. Our Singaporan neighbours have totally different preferences. 

The simple answer:  On a white vehicle, it's not an important issue. 

Once your paintwork has been corrected to a certain extent, it'll look as good as the quality of the clearcoat will allow it. Now, even if your "final layer" is a very high-end coating, it will never produce a substantial, jaw-dropping , eye-popping visual improvement on a paintwork that already looks great. Don't fall prey to video clips on YT. 

We have a white Myvi owner (Robert) who washes his paint-corrected car daily. He doesn't blindly accept Meguiars "teachings" and all the brand-centric "advice" in detailing forums. He uses only a cheap RM20 product on his Myvi (very embarrassing to many enthusiasts)  Wow!....what a gorgeous looking white car. Consistently clean and looking great. Of course, using a paint protective coating (PPC) will make his car washing more pleasurable looking at the water beads dancing away like crazy. But since he is washing daily, he feels no need for such a product. And he is 100% sure he can wash daily cos he's a retiree with loads of time. He comes to my place daily. 

To sum it up, the secret to a consistently great looking paintwork (especially on white vehicles) is frequent WASHING. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

All you need to know about your Anodized Aluminium Trim

On some current Continental vehicles and especially older ones, you'll certainly see these shiny trims. Many local car owners, enthusiasts and parts retailers often mistakenly refer to it as "chrome". The actual name is Anodized Aluminium.

Unsealed/bare aluminium is a soft material and therefore easy to machine and can be polished to varying degrees of shine. However, it is prone to oxidation and therefore, all your elbow grease and time in polishing up a great shine on your unsealed aluminium trim will be gone in a few months when it starts to dull and blur again. When you polish it, your cloth becomes black. It requires consistent polishing to look at its best. Being a soft material, unsealed aluminium is also highly sensitive to scratches/abrasion/scuffs etc, marring its polished looks. Heard of the term "Brushed Aluminium" finish? That's aluminium that has been polished to a semi-satin look with lateral polishing lines visible. Unsealed aluminium is also widely used on Harley Davidsons and every American hotrod.

This BMW's old BBS rims sourced from the UK are "unsealed aluminium".
Polished by Pro Detailers to the owner's required level of gloss.

To preserve the aesthetics of a piece of polished aluminium (mirror-finish, brushed look, satin look etc), it will be subjected to a process where the aluminium, in combination with a variety of chemicals and electricity, will produce a layer of extremely hard and transparent "anodized layer". Where your car's paintwork is protected by a layer of transparent and resilient clearcoat, the soft and sensitive aluminium is now protected by a layer of rock hard transparent anodization. This is Anodized Aluminium. It can be colourless (pic above) or coloured (red, black, blue being popular colours) as seen on your mountain bike's brake handles (example). When you rub any type of polish on it, there are no black marks on your cloth (unlike bare aluminium).

1. The super-hard transparent layer protects the aluminium's intended finishing/looks without worries of oxidation that leads to dullness and the need for repolishing.
2. It protects from car washing scratches and daily wear and tear. Sounds great.

1. Most materials that are very hard also tend to be brittle, and hence, prone to cracking.
As years go by, the anodized layer has been known to develop micro-cracks/fissures, and micro-pitting that are not visible in the initial stages. Later, you'll start seeing loads of scratches on these trims as though someone or some animal has been pawing crazily at it. These are not scratches. These are the fine cracks (pic below) that allow your car wash shampoo solution, rain water and moisture to seep through to UNDER this cracked anodized layer. That explains the commonly seen whitish fungus-like stuff on your trim that can never be totally "polished away".

2.Cost of replacing deteriorated anodized aluminium trims is very high. This is one of the major headaches while restoring an older vehicle.

As all metalworking websites will tell you, Anodized Aluminium is not polishable. They are referring to the aluminium underneath that's sealed by the anodized layer and hence, un-polishable.
However, the anodized layer can still be machine polished using abrasive compounds to remove any contaminants on TOP of this anodized layer. If the problem resides UNDER the layer, machine polishing is certainly useless.

Technically, the correct method to gain access to that aluminium underneath is to chemically strip the anodized layer. Then you can start polishing the bare aluminium to your heart's content.
To strip via DIY style is hazardous as it involves extremely caustic chemicals, and requires removing the trim from the vehicle to avoiddamaging the paintwork. Sounds easy until you try it on your own car, and even worse on old classics where clips might not be easily available if any clips do break during removal of the trim.

Alternatively, there is a crude but workable method, albeit being highly labour intensive and tiring.

1. Mask the surrounding paintwork.
2. Sand the anodized aluminium trim by hand or by any type and size of sanding machine. Sand until every milimetre of anodization is gone. Laborious.
3. Machine polish the bare aluminium to your desired looks and seal it to reduce/prevent future dulling. Do not spray automotive clearcoat on it as it'll peel off in the future. There are many specialised products that can seal bare aluminium but its way beyond the scope of this article.

Using the crude method to avoid other issues and to minimise cost, you can expect something like this....an OEM look

Look at the whitish, hazy blurness of deteriorated Anodized Aluminium. Hand-polishing using your favourite Autosol or equivalent is virtually useless.

Look at the results after extensive work by Pro Detailers. The challenge is to avoid OVER-polishing in order to revert this piece to its OEM appearance.

Lovely results based on a practical and realistic technique. Truly an OEM look on this Harley sent to Pro Detailers from Osaka, Japan.


Thursday, 8 May 2014


One of the biggest problems faced by any vehicle resprayer is to respray an old vehicle. The older it is, the worse its going to be IF the price and expectations are not agreed before commencing the job.

The main problem starts with the car owner's
1. KNOWLEDGE on such work on old cars (does he know how much back-breaking work is involved?)
2. KNOWLEDGE on CURRENT 2014 market prices in a specific geographical area to respray such an old vehicle. 

2 examples to illustrate that the car owner's assumptions might be totally wrong: 

Ask your friend "How much does it cost to PROPERLY respray a Toyota Camry's rear bumper (with no shortcuts) in KL and PJ"? 
Their answer/assumption will mostly be based on their LAST transaction with a resprayer...could be months ago, years ago or even more than a decade ago. That's why most people in 2014 will still expect nothing more than RM450 and some might even expect RM250 at the most. In 2014, a reputable resprayer will charge no less than RM450 to respray an entire bumper assuming the bumper is not badly damaged. My sprayer charges RM600 because each step is adhered to with no shortcuts. Oh yes....you'll be surprised that most car owners think that a proper bumper respray can be done within 1 day. Actually, it's roughly 2.5days minimum if you follow the process with no shortcuts. If you're the boss, would you like your staff to do short-cut work?  

Ask your friend "Generally, is it more expensive to properly respray a Proton Wira or a 2007 BMW E90 BMW 325i ?" 

So, we must be updated on the current market prices before sending our vehicles for any respray or bodywork repairs. Cost of materials and labour have gone up throughout the years....just look at your very old Nokia phone in the 90s....you can't buy a nice smartphone now for RM350. Times have changed.

Back to the old car...

An example of an "old car" sent to us for respraying. 
Look at the mess. Rusted areas on floorpan were concealed by carpet. When everything is stripped, you start seeing the crap. Issue must be addressed and it must be done in such a way that the problem will not recur. 

An example of an "old car" sent to us for respraying. Look at the mess. Rusted areas on floorpan were concealed by carpet. When everything is stripped, you start seeing the crap. Issue must be addressed and it must be done in such a way that the problem will not recur. 
We're merely ensuring all rust removed, metalwork looks respectable, and most importantly, will not re-rust. Entire floorpan coated with a custom-mixed, marine-use sealer....not the usual black underspray stuff. This is not perfection.....it's merely doing it the right way as though it was my father's old car

1. Previous problems to be solved. 
In the past, the car could have been shoddily resprayed (whole car or specific panels). Metalwork repair could have been poorly done and there could be rust HIDDEN under the paint that's not visible to the eye. For a proper job, all old paint must be stripped (not necessarily down to bare metal) (oh....and who knows the current mkt price for stripping paint down to bare metal...like what you learned from American reality cable TV series?)
All the above work is necessary to ensure the metal work is flat, problem free etc so that when paint is sprayed, results will look good, and you won't have problems re-surfacing later. 

2. Exterior trims. 
For a good job, many external trims must be removed so that proper masking can be done. This takes time and $$$.  No matter how fantastic the new paint looks like, the car will NOT look like a new car because the exterior trims, glass, emblems, rims etc are still old. 
When certain exterior trims on certain cars are removed, they must be replaced with new ones. Ask any experienced resprayer and they'll tell you. Are the new trims available? Do you know how much they cost? 

3. Water leak. 
On old cars, its common to experience water leaks or previous water leakage. The owner might not even be aware. If there's currently a leak, I'm sure you want to solve the leak. Where is the source of leak? Takes time to investigate and rectify. 

4. Ruptured metal panels. 
Hidden by old paint, it might not be easy to instantly spot any ruptured/cracked body panels. 
Takes time and $$$ to rectify. Most of the time, any crap is only revealed once the paintwork is sanded down. 

So, before sending in your old car for a respray job, kindly show the vehicle to a few reputable sprayers, discuss in detail, get a quotation, and start comparing prices.  But very broadly speaking, and using a Wira as an example, anything less than RM3000 will probably be a shortcut job, so please be careful. . 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Many car owners and car enthusiasts have been misguided by unethical advertising into thinking that "coatings" (paint coatings) are almost a default necessity similar to doing window tinting for new cars.

The underlying causes of these misleading stories going on within the industry is mainly due to:

These "coatings" have their relevance and applications, but are not suitable and simply not practical and realistic for many types of vehicle owners and how the vehicle is used.

Would you rush out to buy the latest $1000 per pair sneakers even though you're not an exercise/fitness enthusiast? Answers will differ greatly.
If you're not a serious PC gamer, would you spend 15K to custom-build and hot rod your own PC?
If you're not even a great cook at home, will a 4K food processor + a 3K cookware set immediately make your food taste wonderful?

"Coatings" is the easiest and fastest way to make big money in the detailing + polish/wax industry.
Many proprietors immediately jump onto the coatings bandwagon wanting to make huge money asap, without telling consumers the REAL story.

As you already know, they depend on all types of commision to survive. Sales people make $$ from vehicle tinting jobs, and from offering all kinds of extra services (polishing waxing etc). This is great as its part of customer service. BUT....there are many unethical ones who cheat by playing all sorts of tricks.
Besides getting their income from window tinting centres, sales people were also approached by coatings people to promote coatings to new car owners. What next??/ Perhaps they'll ask you to buy new rims for your new cars at 15K by giving lots of BS stories, and don't be surprised....many ignorant consumers will fall for it. These sales people have very poor understanding of what "coatings" are all about as they are not from the car care industry, and just use "direct selling" persuasion and lots of cock and bull stories to convince the poor ignorant consumer.  

I use lots of these "coating" products but STRICTLY on a case-by-case basis.

Example 1:
You have a dark/black vehicle, struggle to find time to wash car on the weekends, or the car is washed by others. As you already know, car washing, no matter careful you are, will gradually create some ultra fine scratches....especially on vehicles with soft clearcoat.  These will accumulate over time and become highly visible and irritating. The only way to remove or reduce it is to machine-compound it, and this action will REMOVE your "coating" either completely or partially.
Hence, on a daily driven dark/black vehicle, I always caution the car owner about this, and avoid using coatings.

Example 2:
You leave home before sunrise and reach home after sunset daily.
In the past, your vehicle often looks horrible from Mon-Fri.
On Sat and Sun, you struggle to find time to wash it yourself, or struggle to find a "trustworthy" place without too many people, where they can wash your baby in the same American manner that you've "learned" from mostly American websites.

Example 3:
You are not a car detailing enthusiast. You hope that this expensive "coating" will make your vehicle look "better" even if you don't have time to wash it as often as you hope to.
No layer of anything can ever replace car washing. "Coatings" are not a coat of magic armour that repels dirt, grime, and keeps your vehicle looking great.  You STILL have to wash it very frequently. There are 100% no shortcuts.

Example 4:
You want something that "lasts" on your paintwork.....to last much longer than conventional waxes and sealants.
Yes, the coating will remain on the paint surface for a much longer time. BUT...what does it do for you during that time? In the past, if you already experienced watermark problems, staining from bird shit, tree sap etc, it is all due to your style of vehicle usage and maintenance. And if your usage style and maintenance (washing etc) do not change, then the same problems will continue to happen. And even if your remove whatever you can remove from your coated paintwork, there might be residual marks that remain (common) and you'll need to machine them away.....AGAIN your "coating" will be gone or partially gone. On any coated paintwork, machine-compounding or sanding will remove it.

Any coated vehicle must be very frequently washed to avoid the usual problems in the future.
If your "maintenance" regime doesn't change, and your vehicle usage pattern doesn't change, your vehicle will still look the same vs before doing the "coating" thingy. It's not a magical layer that can keep your car cleaner for longer. I know, I know...the advertisements told you a different thing.

But sadly, you don't find the MAJORITY of coating customers rushing home to get their other vehicles done in the same way.

Do you need a hyped-up, heavily marketed RM600 piece of screen protector for your Iphone or Samsung? Again, the choice is yours and its a great business.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Correlation between LSPs to watermark stains and other stains.

Many new detailing enthusiasts are especially excited over any new LSPs aggresively and cleverly promoted on the Internet, and as usual, most websites only focus on the pros of these promoted LSPs.....and not the cons. It is not common to see any blogs talking about the "side-effects" of LSPs. 

Based on my own experimentation and long term observation, I am absolutely sure that certain types of natural waxes, synthetic waxes, synthetic sealants, coatings, and even detailing sprays can increase or decrease staining on a detailed automotive paintwork. 

When it comes to LSPs, detailing enthusiasts tend to rely mainly on the Internet to find out what's "hot" out there, and the classic topic of "water beading" is always the most popular marketing tool to attract consumers as its the only visible characteristic of the LSP that immediately stirs up consumer excitement. But with water-beading aside, Im more interested in stain-resistance or increased susceptibility to staining. 

Japanese LSPs (eg: synthetic waxes and sealants from Soft99, Willson, Taihokohzai)
I have access to loads of Japanese products imported directly from Japan, and based on my testing of the fantastic water-beading Japanese LSPs, all the products that I tested (more than 20) eventually led to serious staining on all types of paintwork on vehicles that are uncovered 24hrs and washed once a week. Important to note that before using these LSPs, these vehicles did not encounter such problems. 

Lately, I had 7 customers who participated in a new 3month test. Previously their vehicles were tested with all sorts of highly promoted coatings, sealants etc, and most ended up with serious and mild staining problems. This time, the LSPs were fully stripped, paintwork fully prepped and then applied with "old school" LSPs....such as Autoglym's classic SRP, Autoglym's EGP, Soft99's grossly outdated RainDrop, Swissvax's Mirage, the classic Klasse Twins, Zaino Z2Pro, and even Meg's old school Cleaner Wax. These are the Clint Eastwoods and Roger Moore of the detailing world. 

Each vehicle wax parked outside daily, and washed only once a week using Amway's car shampoo which doesn't have any wax. No spray detailers were used. 

After 1 month: 
1. None of these cars had any watermark issues. 
2. Even when very dirty, all stains were easily washed away, especially those dreaded black vertical lines on white cars. 




Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Serious Watermarks - possible connection to COATINGS

Pics below were taken by owner of a Passat CC that's meticulously cared for. The owner is a hardcore enthusiast who owns many luxury vehicles and each one is washed once every 5days. Historically, his vehicles were all detailed by my establishment using synthetic sealant as LSP (after intensive prepping), and undergo maintenance detailing every quarterly. Over 4years, none of his cars' paintwork had any problems. 

When the CC was purchased, the salesmen persuaded the owner to try the new "coating" (nice commission for the salesman) and that's where the problem started. I have tested these stuff a long long time ago and have always had reservations about them, and I have cautioned the CC's owner. 
The CC was sent by the salesman to a highly promoted and highly advertised establishment in Sunway. 

Approx 5weeks after the 4-figure "coating" was done,  the owner called me to his house to look at the car. 
It was the first time in his years of car ownership that he has encountered this "unusual problem" (his words). 
The pics below'll give you a good idea of what I'm talking about. 

All sorts of watermark-remover chemical were used. 
Vinegar, claying, full strength APC, all kinds of mild solvents etc......to no avail. 

Woolpad with Megs 105: hopeless. 
Osren's aggressive "jeans pad" + their most abrasive compound : very slow progress. 
Fianlly, the CC had to be wetsanded, and that removed the problem. 

I have heard from many experienced detailing suppliers and pro detailers in the industry lamenting that watermarks appear to be a "new problem" caused by many kinds of "coatings". No one knows the actual reason/s behind this. Many have tried applying carnauba wax or any other LSP on top of the coating to protect the coating and hopefully reduce the watermark problems. To me, this is lunacy. 
Paint protected by clearcoat
Clearcoat protected by coating
Coating gives problems. 
LSP on top of coating to hopefully prevent problems. LOL!

I have used loads of different coatings very selectively only on specific colours and strictly for certain types of customers only. In many cases, where the vehicle was very frequently washed and well maintained, I have observed the same watermark problem. 

So, my advice to my customers: 

Coating is not a perfect, magical armour that protects the paintwork from everything. 
Based on my experimentation, coatings are merely LSPs that remain on top of the clearcoat much longer than other LSPs such as waxes and sealants. But DURING that duration, depending on how its maintained, your paintwork might still become rough, stained and scratched. 

After all, I cannot believe that coatings manufacturers are much "cleverer" than established automotive clearcoat manufacturers who spend millions on R&D and have been in the market for decades or even generations. 

If a product works well in Japan or the UK, it doesn't mean it'll produce the same results here in our hot humid climate with our unique rainwater composition, and different types of contaminants.