To help contend with these situations, Optimum Polymer Technologies has come out with Opti-Coat, a paint coating that hardens to become a crystal clear layer of protection over any vehicle's paint, plastic, and metal trim. I was very skeptical at first, as I have heard of many of these and have always been left wanting to the point where I ignore most of them. But I love Optimum's products and was intrigued with this offering. The positive reviews from some very respected detailers across the USA only helped solidify this and I decided to speak to Optimum about becoming an Optimum Opti-Coat Pro installer. 3 days later the package arrived and we got to work...
The test vehicle we were going to install on was a brand new 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS. In the dreaded Black Metallic (scratches with anything). Since Opti-Coat is a permanent coating, application should only be applied over properly polished paint. I was hoping the fact that this Cayenne only had 40 miles on it when I picked it up would ensure that. Once again, I was wrong. Dealership prep washes had done a number on this thing already...
(some nice swirls already induced into this paint)
(more marring on the hood, this was all over the vehicle)
Because of these swirls and marring, we needed to do a proper paint polish correction before applying the Opti-Coat. So after a thorough wash of Dawn to strip all the waxes and oils on the paint as best as possible, and a klay to remove some small contaminants on the lower panels, I got down to polishing. The one good thing about soft clear coats is they do not usually require much to polish out the fine swirls. You just have to be sure to use a quality finishing polish to ensure no holograms remain afterwards. Choose a quality product and use proper polishing technique. I did a few test panels with a PC7424 and 3M Fine Cut Machine Polish and came away very impressed with the results. Besides for a few deeper scratches which I used compound on, the paint came out quite well.
(quick comparison showing the difference between polished fender and swirled front bumper)
(every panel was polished in this manner over about 6 hours)
(finally finished polishing)
In addition to the Opti-Coat, this client wanted to install clear bra over the cars front end. We now offer and prefer fully panel coverage clear bra. This not only ensures full protection of the panel, but also avoids the awful lines usually seen on all clear bra installs. By utilizing the latest technology in the industry, our installers only use XPel Ultimate film which is a self healing clear coated bra. It looks far and away better than all other films on the market and basically is completely undetectable unless you know there is clear bra installed.
So before we installed the clear bra, we rinsed the entire vehicle down with Optimum No Rinse and a diluted mix of alcohol to remove all polishing dust, oils, and fillers. This ensures we have a properly prepped paint surface that is not hidden under paint fillers. After a proper wash and dry, we wax the panels that are going to receive the clear bra and let the pros do their thing. After a 3 or so hour installation, the entire hood, fender, mirrors, front bumper, headlights, and rear hatch strip were covered in clear bra.
(fender being clear bra, completely undetectable once finished)
Time to Opti-Coat:
So the next morning it was time to apply the Opti-Coat. The paint was pristine and bare, requirements for the Opti-Coat to bond properly to the paint. Installation isn't hard, but does require concentration to ensure no high spots or smudges in the opti-coat. Only about 10cc or so need to be used to cover the entire vehicle, so this is not a product to go heavy with.
(Opti-Coat ready for application, a small bit goes a long way)
After applying Opti-Coat to the paint, clear bra, headlamps, and tailpipes we let it cure over the next few hours and got to work on prepping the wheels and brakes for Opti-Coat as well. Because of its strong chemical bond and amazing ability to repel dust and dirt, Opti-Coat is perfect for wheels and brake calipers and makes life much easier down the road for cleaning them.
(Cayenne GTS lifted and wheels all removed for proper cleaning and Opti-Coat application)
(brake caliper Opti-Coated and curing)
(don't forget the inner barrels of the wheels, all Coated to ensure easy cleanup in the future)
(all the outside wheels looking good)
After Coating all the wheels and calipers, I left everything cure overnight to ensure proper bonding to all the surfaces and mounted and torqued all the wheels(118lb ft on Cayenne) in the morning. After another paint inspection with halogen lamps and a quick coat of Optimum Car Wax, I moved the car out into the sunlight to see what we had. The sun never lies and I have to say the results were pretty incredible. Very optically clear reflection and a slick surface. I personally prefer a deep reflection provided by a real carnauba wax, but this client loves the reflection and we can always top it later on with a solid carnauba to add that depth of color. Here are some shots...
(clear bra on rear hatch area for luggage scrape protection)
(clear bra full coverage on hood, very clear and undetectable)
(clear bra fender and hood- that's moisture residue on the hood that evaporates over a week after install)
(amazing reflection in paint)
So final thoughts; I am quite impressed and will be offering this to all my clients. The prep work is critical, but to have a thick layer of protectant over your car's soft clear coat for 5+ years is fantastic. The clarity and reflectivity are fantastic on all surfaces and application is easy to modulate. The negatives are really only the lack of depth of color (which can be cured by topping with a quality carnauba) and the heavy time to properly prep the paint and cure time. But at the end of the day, its fantastic to be able to wipe a black car down with a microfiber and not have to worry about marring the surface.