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  1. #1
    Junior Member Hantra's Avatar
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    Question Risk question for the pros

    I've been in this world on my own vehicles for a couple decades. As I get more knowledge, I am curious about one thing.

    How do you manage risk? By risk, I mean the risk of damaging a customer's paint, or blowing through their clear coat. To someone who doesn't do it every day, it seems like educated guesswork.

    I understand the idea of paint depth gauges. They are showing what is still on top of the panel. But the paint depth won't tell you how much clear is there, right? All you know is how much material is on top of the panel (paint, clear, primer). So how can you use that information to determine how hard you can go?

    If someone brings you a $100,000 car with some scratches, how do you decide what you can and cannot do? It scares me to even think about taking some compound to a car when I have no empirical data to make decisions. I have to think pros have a way to decide, without risking having to paint the customer's car.

    What's your process like, and is how much faith is involved? At what point do you refuse work because of the risk?

  2. #2
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    For me the answer is experience. You work on enough different cars and paint and you learn how aggressive you can be and thatís the key. Up until that point, it is a stressful path.

    But pay attention to some of the experts on AGO that tape off the cars to ensure they donít go through edges and other areas. That is a key bit as well to ensuring no mistakes. Besides tape, you also need to really focus, on all cars but especially on the more expensive cars or cars with known thin paint/clear like Mazda. Iíve seen some people post some polishing accidents on AGO and it is almost always a momentary lapse of focus.

    Besides taping off, the main way to get experience without working on an actual vehicle is to get some panels from the junk yard. Get different makes of panels and different colors as some paints are hard and some soft. Also get some with intricate details that may be more challenging to polish. Pay attention to how aggressive you can be. The goal is rarely ever 100% correction, it is 80-90% correction. If you chase deep scratches, you may be paying for a panel respray.

    Oh, and be willing to reject corrections. If a car looks like the clear is already failing, you may want to pass on the job as there isnít much to be done at that point.

    Also, constant CYA. Take video of the car as you get it to document the condition. Then after washing well and before polishing, take video again noting any defects so that a customer canít say you did it. Even better if you combine that with a stationary area camera that videos as you work so that you can replay everything done if a customer tries to say you caused a defect. That is part of being a professional as well as those customers are out there though hopefully youíll be able to build your clientele to minimize those interactions.

    Good luck.

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  4. #3
    Super Member Rsurfer's Avatar
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    [QUOTE=Hantra;1751911][COLOR=#111111][FONT="][FONT="][SIZE=2]
    I understand the idea of paint depth gauges. They are showing what is still on top of the panel. But the paint depth won't tell you how much clear is there, right? All you know is how much material is on top of the panel (paint, clear, primer). So how can you use that information to determine how hard you can go?



    Measure the inside door jam which only has a thin layer of clear coat. Subtract this from the reading you get from a panel and this should give you some idea of how much paint you have to work with. It's not perfect, but it beats guessing.

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  6. #4
    Junior Member Hantra's Avatar
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Rsurfer View Post
    Measure the inside door panel which only has a thin layer of clear coat. Subtract this from the reading you get from a panel and this should give you some idea of how much paint you have to work with. It's not perfect, but it beats guessing.
    That is genius! Never even thought of it. Thanks!

  7. #5
    Super Member Calendyr's Avatar
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Hantra View Post
    [FONT="][FONT="]I've been in this world on my own vehicles for a couple decades. As I get more knowledge, I am curious about one thing.[/FONT]

    [FONT="]How do you manage risk? By risk, I mean the risk of damaging a customer's paint, or blowing through their clear coat. To someone who doesn't do it every day, it seems like educated guesswork. [/FONT]

    [FONT="]I understand the idea of paint depth gauges. They are showing what is still on top of the panel. But the paint depth won't tell you how much clear is there, right? All you know is how much material is on top of the panel (paint, clear, primer). So how can you use that information to determine how hard you can go? [/FONT]

    [FONT="]If someone brings you a $100,000 car with some scratches, how do you decide what you can and cannot do? It scares me to even think about taking some compound to a car when I have no empirical data to make decisions. I have to think pros have a way to decide, without risking having to paint the customer's car. [/FONT]

    What's your process like, and is how much faith is involved? At what point do you refuse work because of the risk?
    [/FONT]
    Two things:
    First, I would not touch paint for anything more abrasive than a cleaner wax or 1 step polish without taking a paint depth reading. My paint gauge doesn't tell me the thickness of the clear coat but some more expensive models do. In any case, once I know the paint depth, I have a rough idea of what can and cannot be done.

    Second, always proceed with caution. If the removal of a scratch would make the paint too thin, I suggest to the client to simply work it to make it less visible instead of trying to remove it completelly. This can be achieved with much lighter wet sanding and/or compounding/polishing. The result is that instead of having a white line on the pannel, you get a lighter line the same color as the pannel so it doesn't stand out unless you are looking for it. Pretty much all of my clients are ok with that once I explain the dangers of removing scratches that are too deep compared to the paint thickness.

  8. #6
    Super Member Calendyr's Avatar
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    Quote Originally Posted by dgage View Post
    For me the answer is experience. You work on enough different cars and paint and you learn how aggressive you can be and that’s the key. Up until that point, it is a stressful path.

    But pay attention to some of the experts on AGO that tape off the cars to ensure they don’t go through edges and other areas. That is a key bit as well to ensuring no mistakes. Besides tape, you also need to really focus, on all cars but especially on the more expensive cars or cars with known thin paint/clear like Mazda. I’ve seen some people post some polishing accidents on AGO and it is almost always a momentary lapse of focus.

    Besides taping off, the main way to get experience without working on an actual vehicle is to get some panels from the junk yard. Get different makes of panels and different colors as some paints are hard and some soft. Also get some with intricate details that may be more challenging to polish. Pay attention to how aggressive you can be. The goal is rarely ever 100% correction, it is 80-90% correction. If you chase deep scratches, you may be paying for a panel respray.

    Oh, and be willing to reject corrections. If a car looks like the clear is already failing, you may want to pass on the job as there isn’t much to be done at that point.

    Also, constant CYA. Take video of the car as you get it to document the condition. Then after washing well and before polishing, take video again noting any defects so that a customer can’t say you did it. Even better if you combine that with a stationary area camera that videos as you work so that you can replay everything done if a customer tries to say you caused a defect. That is part of being a professional as well as those customers are out there though hopefully you’ll be able to build your clientele to minimize those interactions.

    Good luck.
    That is true. I have seen brands that have thick paint and no clear! For example, Range Rovers and Jaguars. I remember going through a clear on a Jaguar and was shocked. The paint was almost 200 microns thick on the entire car and the scratch was very shallow. I started my wet sanding with 2000 grit and after only a few strokes I went through. I took an other paint depth reading on the spot I pierced and it was only 1 micron thinner! There are exceptions to every rule so there is always a risk no matter how careful you are.

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  10. #7
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Calendyr View Post
    That is true. I have seen brands that have thick paint and no clear! For example, Range Rovers and Jaguars. I remember going through a clear on a Jaguar and was shocked. The paint was almost 200 microns thick on the entire car and the scratch was very shallow. I started my wet sanding with 2000 grit and after only a few strokes I went through. I took an other paint depth reading on the spot I pierced and it was only 1 micron thinner! There are exceptions to every rule so there is always a risk no matter how careful you are.
    Good point. As with any business, #### will happen. Any business should start with business insurance and expertise to help with the business such as an accountant and legal advice/documents.

  11. #8
    Super Member 98CayenneTA's Avatar
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Rsurfer View Post
    Measure the inside door jam which only has a thin layer of clear coat. Subtract this from the reading you get from a panel and this should give you some idea of how much paint you have to work with. It's not perfect, but it beats guessing.
    To add to this..... another good place to measure is under the hood where most manufacturers do not clear.

    So 100 microns measured on a quarter panel minus 35 microns measured under the hood = 65 microns of clear coat
    Ripping through your mind like a hurricane full of novocaine

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  13. #9
    Super Member Calendyr's Avatar
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    Quote Originally Posted by dgage View Post
    Good point. As with any business, #### will happen. Any business should start with business insurance and expertise to help with the business such as an accountant and legal advice/documents.
    Insurrance would not cover something like this.

  14. #10
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    Re: Risk question for the pros

    Quote Originally Posted by Calendyr View Post
    Insurrance would not cover something like this.
    I would say business insurance of the correct type would protect you. If your business is detailing and an employee accidentally polishes through the paint, I’d think business insurance would help. But it would probably only be worth going through insurance for a repaint if it is an expensive vehicle.

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