The Proper Prep
In the process of trying to achieve a virtually flawless installation, why is the proper prep such an overlooked or expedited process? In an industry where a single imperfection can cost you hundreds of dollars, not to mention the possible hours it will take to handle the complaint to fix and ensure a satisfied customer … not including the opportunity cost of the possible two to three lost sales incurred by handling our own self-inflicted issues. Now, by no means is my own company immune to these very issues but, by abiding by a good, strict paint protection film (PPF) prep standard operating procedure (SOP), you are able to mitigate many potential surface flaw and contamination issues. These are the steps my company follows:
- Pressure wash the vehicle with warm water, just to rinse off as much loose debris as possible;
- Next, foam the vehicle. We use a foam-cannon attachment on our power washer with Chemical Guys Citrus Wash prep shampoo;
- Then, power wash the vehicle with warm water again;
- After power washing, create a 2-bucket hand car wash (bucket 1 – warm water, bucket 2 – soapy water; always use grit guards in the buckets);
- With the soap from the second bucket (with the wash still on the vehicle), take a micro-fiber Q-tip and Sonax MultiStar (APC) and go over all vehicle body lines/body seams, underneath the edge of the hood, emblems, etc.;
- Leave the soap still on the vehicle, and in straight pass motions, clay the surface;
- Pressure wash the vehicle once more with warm water;
- Let the vehicle air dry—this ensures you blow off any possible leftover contaminants;
- Lastly, use an IPA wipe on the vehicle’s surface—we use a 30-percent IPA/water mix and a clean microfiber towel;
- And for the final inspection, use a hand-held LED light to review the entire surface of the vehicle.
I understand that there is no perfect prep process, and there are too many outside conditions to list if you are doing mobile installations (which will be a future blog topic). I urge you to pay more attention to the prep—cleaner installs are good for you, your customer and for this industry as a whole.