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The $&@! car wash scratched my new car! Should I buff?

Discussion in 'Gen III 2010+ Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubles' started by azgringo, Aug 19, 2009.

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  1. azgringo

    azgringo New Member

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    I took my Gen III to the carwash the other day and they friggin' scratched it! It's a hand-wash place, so I figured it would be safe. BUT....the first have it go on an automated track where the car gets sprayed, soaped, then big air blowers blow the water off the car before the employees hand dry / clean it up. Well, when I got home I noticed a "scuff" looking scratch on the rear driver side door. I walk around to the other side of the car and noticed a similar "scuff" looking scratch on the rear passenger door (located on the same spot/area as the drivers side.) The big air blowers are long tubes (on both sides of the track) and they stick out a bit. I'm thinking the longest blowers on each side probably hit my car, causing the scuffing. Seems a little unusual that the scuffing/scratches look very similar and they are on the same loation on both sides of my car. They are light scratches, but are somewhat noticeable on my black car. I have no experience w/ buffing, although I think they would buff out. If I take the car back to the car wash, they'll just deny that they caused the scratches. Does anyone know how hard it is (or what the procedure is) for buffing out light scratches?
  2. liverbomb88

    liverbomb88 Push the Button!

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    Sorry you have to experience something like this. If these are indeed scratches and not some other artifact, their depth will determine how and if they can be polished out. To polish out scratches, you basically have to remove clear coat from around the scratch to create a level surface again. So if the scratch is very deep, you will need to remove a lot of clear coat. If you can feel the scratch with your fingernail, it means its pretty darned deep. I'm not sure if posting pictures will help, because scratches are very hard to capture on camera. Maybe the best thing to do is to get a pro detailer to take a look at it.

    I would go back to the car wash place anyway, even if to just look at other cars going through the washer to see what could possibly be causing the scratches. If its something obviously wrong, you should confront the car wash to repair the paint damage.

    Finally, if you are planning to keep your black paint pristine, you should read some of the threads here on detailing and other websites like autopia.org to learn how to protect your paint job (like never taking your car to an auto/hand car wash). It will be a lot of work.
  3. moner

    moner New Member

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    I also noticed some swirl marks and fine scratches after a car wash and I've been using Nufinish Scratch Doctor to slowly remove them. You can pretty much use it on the whole car like it's a regular wax and if there's a stubborn scratch use it a couple times over on the scratch until it's gone. I'm considering taking my Blue Ribbon in for a cut polish too, there's a few bug splats I can't seem remove. :confused:
  4. ProfPrius

    ProfPrius New Member

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    To protect your Prius, do not use these types of commerial carwash places and do not let dealer do a free carwash with your oil changes. See example problem and professional detail solution:

    Black Toyota Prius Hybrid - Autopia.org
  5. Paradox

    Paradox Prius Enthusiast / Moderator Staff Member

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    That just sucks! That's why I'll never go through car washes anymore... My dad now has a black 2010 and I told him if he goes through one I'm done cleaning his car whenever I do mine. I can maintain black but what a job it becomes once you have swirls etc in the paint.

    If you wanted t make most of them unnoticeable you could use a kit like this: Hand Polish Kit - Polishes - Polishing - Car Care - Griot's Garage And then seal with a good sealant/wax...
  6. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    so scratch doctor does work? I got a couple of scratches on the '05 that needs buffing out (that wax couldn't take away)


    azgringo, if they're shallow scratches, wax might be able to cover it up (by filling the scratch). If they're deeper, you can try touch-up paint (the pen has a paint and a clearcoat side. The clearcoat helps hide the scratch very very well. I have a Tideland Pearl and the doors are covered in scratches from ppl's pants and jacket zippers but you can't tell).

    If all else fails, try liverbomb88's method. that'll work.
  7. moner

    moner New Member

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    Scratch Doctor works, but it takes a couple of applications and some elbow grease before you'll start seeing the difference. I have no idea if it's recommended to use on the whole car but before I traded in my last vehicle I used it over all of it's midnight blue finish and it looked much better after. Might have even helped my trade in value... ;)
  8. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Well... I had an incident with the garage door >.<.
  9. moner

    moner New Member

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    Hehe, ok, I don't think the Doctor will be able to help out with that. It's more for swirls marks and fine scratches; time to see a specialist!
  10. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    I can do swirl marks. Stupid snow brush. (well that and me washing lol). The scratches are on the roof so I'm not too concerned since no one will look between the antenna and the top of the hatch.
  11. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    I've heard the best stuff at auto parts is the Quickx brand.

    I've used NuFinish Scratch Doctor and it is very good - does not marr clear coat, and it does minimize a scratch.

    Do not use Meguiars Scratch X 2.0 (that's 2.0) ... it will marr your clear coat, and like me, it will make you PO'd! I have no idea why their package says 'safe on all finishes.'

    I would never take mine through any car wash, even the with grunts with their hand cloths. I wash my car, that's it. Maybe some years and miles down the road that will change.
  12. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Tideland,

    Nufinish Scratch Doctor works quite well and does not marr clear coat at all. I used it with a microfiber cloth. It did minimize a fine scratch.

    I tried it for a couple small chips in the hood. Unfortunately, Scratch Doctor can't do much for those. They're small chips, hood is aluminum, I got them on a road trip where I'll employ either a hood bra or full bra on next trip, so I don't trip. :)
  13. liverbomb88

    liverbomb88 Push the Button!

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    Again, if these are truly scratches, the very first step is to determine how deep the scratches are. That will determine if/how they can be polished out. If it's really deep, you will need to use an abrasive to get rid of a lot of surrounding clear coat. Abrasive may include wet sanding or a heavy compound polish. The fine scratches from the abrasive can then be polished away with less-abrasive polishes. If the scratches are very faint to begin with, you can probably get away with a light cutting or finishing polish.

    There are numerous polishes to choose from, each with their own level of cutting ability/diminishing vs nondiminishing abrasives/etc -- more complex than just picking up ScratchThis or NuThat. Application of clear coat sounds like a good idea, but it can be quite tricky to apply it invisibly. Fillers will disappear with time.

    But again, the very first step is to know what you're dealing with before embarking on polishing.

    AZGringo, can you please confirm that you can't feel these scratches? Any way you can try taking some pictures?


    EDIT: If you want to read more about the fundamentals of polishing and how complex it can get, see either this link or this link. If you want to polish yourself and keep your black car pristine for years to come, you should consider investing in at least a random orbital polisher. Or you can find a good pro detailer to take care of everything.
  14. stream

    stream Senior Member

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    Agreed--I have a "do not wash car" sign I put on the dash when I bring my cars in for servicing.
  15. TopJimmy5150

    TopJimmy5150 Junior Member

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    Automated Carwash or not...the black Prius paint will scratch just by looking at it. It's defective and I'm thinking about complaining to Toyota about it.
  16. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    I've read enough horror stories in not only Prius Chat but other automobile forums that I am never going to let anyone or any machine wash my automobile.

    From a convience standpoint it sucks. With my 1993 Honda? I did not care. It was old enough that I'd drive it through the automated car wash and not really worry. A decade and 1/2 of exposure made minute automated carwash damage almost inmaterial. BUT...now that I have a new vehicle...and it is black...I'm back to washing by hand, carefully.

    Sooner or later, if you use an automated car wash your going to notice some type or level of damage. Most recycle water, and many clean your car and multiple cars in a row, by simply running the vehicle through a gauntlet of automated brushes, rollers and rags....

    It seems like common sense to me that to believe this isn't a scenario of risk to a finish is unwise.

    I don't know about the supposed "Touchless" carwashes...but I think personal, careful handwashing is the safest way to minimize potential damage.
  17. 32kcolors

    32kcolors Senior Member

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    LOL! Good luck with that!
  18. 2maples49

    2maples49 Junior Member

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    In the past, basic colors like black and white did not have clear coat, only the metalic colors had clear coat (pearl whites are a metalic color). When there is no clear coat, black paint is the softest paint. It scratches the easiest and buffs out the easiest. Carbon black make the paint black and soft. White is the hardest. I believe titanium is one of the ingredients that make the paint white and hard.

    We used to say never to take a black car through any kind of car wash if you don't want swirls. Hand washing and even keeping the wash water clean were important.

    Sorry about your swirls. A good body shop can advise you also. Thanks, Dan
  19. djasonw

    djasonw Active Member

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    I take my car to one of those places where you put in quarters and clean it yourself. I did that in the beginning but now my car is 7 years old so I don't mind bringing it to a reputable automatic wash. One thing is for sure, black is nice when it shines but it is a high maintenance color and one that I will NEVER get in any car I buy. I know it's ubiquitous by I prefer any shade of silver.
  20. phineasboggs

    phineasboggs New Member

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    I want a car with easy and infrequent maintenance. I do not want to wash or polish my car myself. Ever. I will take it through car washes at gas stations. I will let the Florida storms do most of the washings.

    I like my car to look nice and clean. I won't buy Black or dark blue or red, because they look terrible without constant maintenance.

    So, is there a good Prius color for me? Or is this a high-maintenance car that I should avoid and stay away from? And is there anything I can do to prevent damage to the paint? My Passat paint has not dulled or scratched, and stayed beautiful since 1999. My friends' Accord had mini-swirly scratches within a year. My old Toyotas' paint jobs were adequate (but not like the Passat) and the silver Tercel stayed nice lookind. What could keep a Prius looking good?
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