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According to The Federal Highway Administration, corrosion costs American auto owners over $23 billion a year. The main reason for this massive amount is the harsh driving conditions today’s cars are subjected to throughout the year. This includes acid rain, pollution from engine exhaust, power plants and chemical companies plus, the increased use of deicing salts on American roads and highways. Acid rain (also known as greenhouse gases) and road salts are hydroscopic which means they absorb and retain moisture from the environment.
When these pollutants mix with moisture they produce a weak acid that damages a car’s finish. According to the National Associated of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) road salt concentrations as low as five parts per million are enough to accelerate rusting.
Car owners who choose a proactive maintenance program can avoid the high cost of corrosion damage. For instance, I use a black light activated fluorescence to detect damage and propose a course of action to the customer.
First, the car is washed clean. Then, a special modified cleaner is applied to the car’s finish. This cleaner produces a fluorescence signature that when exposed to black light will illuminate.
After the cleaner has been applied it is checked for complete coverage and saturation by black light. Then, it is wiped down with a microfiber cloth. This removes the cleaner and remaining grime but, also deposits a fluorescent shadowing to the original paint. This fluorescent shadowing allows the detail shop or car owner to see any soils or defects in the car’s finish by black light illumination.
Your recommendations to the customer
For the summer driving season, a quality car polish or wax is applied to the car’s finish. Before winter, the summer polish is checked by black light or a water break test and touched up if needed.
For winter driving, a heavy duty protectant is applied over the polish or wax. This material protects the car’s finish against ice, snow, mud, and road salts. It also encapsulates the summer polish to save it for next season. Again coverage is checked by black light. An experienced applicator can judge coverage by a variation in fluorescent intensity.
During winter driving months regular checks can be made with black light insure that the car’s original paint is fully protected. If the car’s protection has been worn away the absence of fluorescence will show the owner where the damaged point is. All the car owner or detail shop has to do is re-clean and reapply the protectant to the damaged area. This will restore the systems to its full performance capabilities.
This program, which I call the Ultimate Detail NDT (non-destructive inspection) is designed to be complete life corrosion protection program for cars, trucks, trailers, or any type of vehicle that is driven on
Today, the majority of car owners wash and detail their cars to maintain appearance. Rust and corrosion protection are a secondary concern. Surface rust can reduce trade in or resale value by 50 percent and increase corrosion related repairs and early replacement costs.
The Ultimate Detail NDT has the potential to expand the available market for car wash and detail shops by added corrosion prevention to their service line.
Jim Deardorff is the owner of Superior Coatings in Chillicothe, MO. Jim is a member of the Steel Structures Painting Council (SSPC) and The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE).