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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    The value of a Test Spot

    Years ago, I started using the term Test Spot on the Internet, back when the first car detailing discussion forum was created. I'm sure I'm not the first guy to figure out to "test" a process to one small area before buffing out an entire car but I can document I am the first guy to coin the term and make it popular via the Internet.

    No big deal, I just tend to share what I call, car detailing history in all it's forms on this forum and other social media platforms including my classes. Some people find it fun and interesting how we got to where we are today from when car detailing started with the invention of the car. I also cover this in my how-to book, The Complete Guide to a Show Car Shine.

    Here's the thing about a Test Spot. You're NEVER so good at paint correction that you don't need to do one. Never. I always do a Test Spot to any car I've never worked on before. Always. The only time I might skip a Test Spot is if I've already worked on the car previously and in most cases I'm going to use the same products, pads and tools. Thus nothing has changed.



    What the Test Spot shows you

    I'm typing this out and may turn this into a dedicated article because I often see people recommend to others to do a Test Spot and I see people talk about Test Spots, but I rarely see anyone explain the two reasons as to WHY to do a test spot. So I'm going to share that here.


    1: To dial in a process that gets the job done to your expectations

    A Test Spot will show you whether your choice of product, pad, tool and technique will remove the defects to your satisfaction while leaving behind a finish that meets your requirements and satisfaction. Now the quality of results can be different for different cars and different people.


    For example,


    Production Detailing or Daily Driver Detailing

    If you're doing production detailing, using a one-step cleaner/wax also called an AIO or All-in-One, you probably are not trying to remove 100% of the swirls and scratches so you won't be as picky about the results from your Test Spot as someone doing show car work.


    High-end Paint Correction or Show Car Detailing

    If you're going to prep a car for display at a car show like SEMA or TV, or you're installing the latest 11h hardness Ceramic Paint Coating and the package you sell including removing all the removable paint defects, then your Test Spot will show you if you are in fact removing 99.9% of the defects - or not.


    So a Test Spot is used to show you if your choice of product, pad, tool and technique are removing the defects to your satisfaction level and expectations. If it's not, then before you buff out the entire car you do a second Test Spot only for this second Test Spot you alter something in the process. For example if you're not removing enough of the removable defects you could switch to a more aggressive product, or more aggressive pad or a more powerful tool and possibly change all 3 of these things. You could also modify your technique, for example shrink the size of your work area down, that is buff a smaller section of paint or make more section passes over the paint. The BIG PICTURE is to find a way to remove more paint faster to more efficiently level the surface - without of course, buffing through the paint.

    The above is the first half of the answer as to WHY to do a Test Spot.



    2: To figure out the least aggressive approach


    The second half of the answer, and this is the part that most people either don't know or understand or they simply cannot explain it or verbalize it and that is,


    Use the least aggressive approach to get the job done


    The words get the job done means what I explained above, that is remove the defects to your expectations and satisfaction. The part about using the least aggressive product, this is the part the people can't or don't explain. I'm sure they understand why at some level it's just not everyone is good at speaking what they mean or in the case of a forum, Facebook, comments on YouTube, when talking in person, they don't include the actual heart of the matter as to why to test and when testing, using the least aggressive process to get the job done.

    Here's why,

    To leave the most paint on the car


    Simple huh? Sure it's simple but I've been in this industry all my life now and I NEVER hear some say or explain this portion of the reason to do a Test Spot or use the least aggressive process to get the job done and I also never see anyone type it anywhere.

    So in case you didn't know, the reason you do a Test Spot is to dial in a process that removes the defects to your satisfaction while leaving the most paint on the car..

    Paint is thin, especially factory paint. A custom paint job will tend to be thicker. Even so, no matter what type of car you're working on, production car with factory paint or a custom car with a custom paint job, as a professional you still approach the paint correction process the same way, you do a Test Spot and dial-in a process that removes the defects to your satisfaction level or expectations while leaving the most paint on the car.



    That's the two reasons why you should ALWAYS do a Test Spot to a car before buffing it out.



    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  2. #2
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    ***Placeholder****

    More stuff to go here,

    Where to do a Test Spot
    How large an are to test
    What to do if you don't like the results from the first Test Spot
    What about using a tape line
    Good lighting
    Same paint on entire car or mis-matched paint



    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
    Mike Phillips Facebook Page
    Twitter
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    Mike Phillips Detail Training Credentials
    Sign-up for Mike's Tips & Techniques Newsletter


  3. #3
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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    Mike Phillips Detail Training Credentials
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  4. #4
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
    Mike Phillips Facebook Page
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    Mike Phillips Detail Training Credentials
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Me Time's Avatar
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    Re: The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Phillips View Post
    ***Placeholder****

    More stuff to go here,

    Where to do a Test Spot
    How large an are to test
    What to do if you don't like the results from the first Test Spot
    What about using a tape line
    Good lighting
    Same paint on entire car or mis-matched paint



    Mike

    Will you be adding to this post?

  6. #6
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    Quote Originally Posted by Me Time View Post

    Mike

    Will you be adding to this post?

    Yes. Thanks for reminding me.

    Just always a time crunch. I have a HAMMERED black Corvette in the garage and I plan on using the trunk lid for this article.


    I have to set-up for the Saturday Open house this weekend but I'll try to get to it ASAP...


    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
    Mike Phillips Facebook Page
    Twitter
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    Mike Phillips Detail Training Credentials
    Sign-up for Mike's Tips & Techniques Newsletter


  7. #7
    Senior Member Me Time's Avatar
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    Re: The two reasons WHY you should always do a Test Spot before buffing out any car

    Thanks. I'm sure others would be interested also.

    I see you were pretty busy with a lot of posts at the end of the year.

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