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MAINTENANCE | A GUIDE TO A LOVE & HATE RELATIONSHIP

Irrespective of the service you receive, an overwhelming majority of those who own anything on wheels fail to realize one thing: maintenance. The one "big ticket" item that I try to articulate to my clients is the art of maintaining what you just invested in. I hate to say it, but maintenance will always become more than half the battle. Remember the ceramic or glass coating you had applied over a year ago?

How about the countless amount of hours that went into paint correction, textured-leveling, and wet-sanding on your vehicle, thus producing a mirror-like reflection in preparation for your next auto show? Well, all the labor and precision that went into creating a defect-free finish will be all for nought if maintenance is tossed aside. There's nothing more soul-crushing than leaving maintenance on the back burner.

While it may seem like a case of simple logic, the art of maintenance is often treated with secondary importance and should really serve as a disclaimer. In my experience, I often come across other professionals that treat clients like a revolving door in the sense that as soon as they receive an extensive service, the client is left to fend for themselves. This, in my opinion is completely inexcusable. Below I list a short, comprehensive guide to maintaining some of the most highly-requested services in my industry.

COATINGS

If you aren't already familiar with the category, I suggest you read my FAQ page with the question entitled "What are coatings, and why should I invest in one?". Coatings, by definition, are sacrificial and are categorized as a long-term solution against your outdated and short-term solutions of protection (waxes, sealants, ceramic sprays, etc.) Okay, so if they're a "long-term" solution, why should I have to do anything? A very valid point. The truth of the matter is that coatings still require maintenance. While coatings are made to protect from a variety of harmful variables such as excessive heat (UVA/UVB rays), tree sap, industrial fallout, acid rain, chemical staining, bird droppings, and either the intentional or unintentional levels of marring (fine scratches, swirls, etc.) the molecular bond that exists on top of your clear coat needs to be as resilient as the day it was initially applied.

While it may seem odd, coatings are akin to that of oral hygiene. Hopefully, you brush your teeth on a daily basis. When you stop taking care of your teeth altogether, then you run the risk of inflicting harm such as tooth decay, gingivitis, etc. The same concept rings true with your coating. A proper maintenance wash consisting of a two-bucket method will help preserve and protect your hard-earned investment. Periodically, it's highly recommended to treat the coating with a dedicated maintenance solution to reinforce the resiliency of the molecular structure that bonds to your clear coat. By exercising these steps, you'll continue to reap all the benefits and rewards that come from having superior protection.

MAINTENANCE CYCLE

1-2 WEEKS OF HAND WASHING & EVERY 1-2 MONTHS FOR A PERIODIC MAINTENANCE SOLUTION

1) A THOROUGH THREE-BUCKET HAND WASH EVERY 1-2 WEEKS.

2) A DEDICATED MAINTENANCE SOLUTION TO REINFORCE THE MOLECULAR STRUCTURE OF YOUR COATING EVERY 1-2 MONTHS.

3) A PERIODIC INSPECTION OF YOUR PAINTWORK TO ADDRESS ANY SPOTS THAT AREN'T PERFORMING OR ANY DAMAGE THAT MAY HAVE SURFACED SINCE THE INITIAL APPLICATION.


LEATHER

In this day and age, a great deal of manufacturers are now producing "imitation leather", or PU leather. This level of polyurethane isn't as resilient and consists of a split leather configuration making it more fragile against staining, dye transfer, and other unmentionables. As such, protection is paramount and it's reassuring to know that some of the most reputable detailing suppliers are producing leather-specific coatings.

Much like that of hydrating your skin with creams and oils, leather should be treated no differently. While everyone has a different cycle of maintenance, using a trusted leather conditioning product like Dr. Beasley's leather conditioning cream, Leatherique, or Leather Honey Leather Conditioner should be applied once every few months to help hydrate the pores while reducing the potential of blistering, cracking, staining and fading. Other leather-specific coatings are mentioned in my other blog entitled "Leather | Antiquity to Present".

MAINTENANCE CYCLE

A THOROUGH CLEANING OF THE HIDE SHOULD BE DONE ONCE EVERY 3-5 MONTHS

A DEDICATED LEATHER CONDITIONING PRODUCT SHOULD BE APPLIED ONCE EVERY 2-4 MONTHS

AN APPLICATION OF A COATING IS RECOMMENDED UNTIL A SECOND APPLICATION IS NECESSARY

1) AN INITIAL CLEANING OF YOUR LEATHER IS THE KEY TO A HEALTHY INTERIOR (PLEASE NOTE THAT HEAVY ALL-PURPOSE CLEANERS SHOULD BE AVOIDED AS THEY TEND TO ACT AS AN ABRASIVE, WHICH IN TURN CAN DETERIORATE THE DYE AND OUTER PROTECTIVE COATING FASTER).

2) TO KEEP THE LEATHER LOOKING NATURAL AND FEELING SUPPLE, A DEDICATED LEATHER CONDITIONING PRODUCT SHOULD BE APPLIED EVERY 2-4 MONTHS OR SOONER DEPENDING ON YOUR CLIMATE.

3) FOR ADVANCED PROTECTION AGAINST HEAVY USE, A LEATHER-SPECIFIC COATING SHOULD BE APPLIED TO PREVENT STAINING AND OTHER FORMS OF CONTAMINATION.


UPHOLSTERY AND CARPET LINERS

Often considered to be the most difficult category to maintain, upholstery and carpet liners have the reputation of falling victim to staining of many descriptions, and in some cases, these stains can reach a "point of no return" if not addressed with some sense of immediacy.

Believe it or not, no matter how skilled the technician is, no amount of specialized tools or dedicated cleaners will be able to completely remove every conceivable stain. Although, I will give everyone in my industry the benefit of the doubt since we always strive for perfection. Just as I had mentioned with respect to leather, upholstery and carpets have a tendency to discolor over time, especially since the residual oils within our skin darken and discolor the original shade of fabric. If you should live in a more unforgiving climate such as New England, the upper Midwest, or anywhere along the East coast, continue to monitor the condition of your seats and carpet liners since snow and ice often get mixed in with road salt (sodium chloride).

A winning solution is to not only treat every stain with a sense of immediacy, but it's recommended to apply fabric-specific coatings that add a barrier of protection the next time you should find yourself in a pickle. This is especially true for those who have vehicles that carry children, act as daily commuters, and service vehicles that become exposed to the elements.

MAINTENANCE CYCLE

A VACUUMING OF YOUR UPHOLSTERY AND CARPETS SHOULD BE DONE ONCE A WEEK

ANY SIGNIFICANT STAINING SHOULD BE DEALT WITH IMMEDIATELY IN ORDER TO PREVENT PERMANENT DAMAGE

A FABRIC COATING OF SOME DESCRIPTION IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AND SHOULD BE APPLIED ONCE EVERY 1-2 YEARS

1) CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE CONDITION OF YOUR UPHOLSTERY AND CARPET LINERS ON A MONTHLY BASIS. A WEEKLY VACUUMING OF SOME DESCRIPTION SHOULD BE APPLIED SO AS NOT TO ACCUMULATE EXCESSIVE AMOUNTS OF DEBRIS, WHICH CAN LEAD TO AN EVEN LARGER HEADACHE IF LEFT OVER A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME. (THIS IS PARTICULARLY CRUCIAL DURING LATE FALL AND WINTER).

2) IF HEAVY STAINING IS PRESENT, TREAT THE STAIN WITH HOME-MADE REMEDIES SUCH AS SOAP AND LUKEWARM WATER, LAUNDRY DETERGENT, OR REACH FOR AN ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER ALONG WITH A STIFF-BRISTLED BRUSH AND AGITATE THE AREA.

3) AS A PREVENTATIVE MEASURE, APPLY CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY-SPECIFIC COATINGS SUCH AS GTECHNIQ I1 OR 303 FABRIC GUARD.