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Finishing Touches
Finishing Touches
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 5:53 PM

Be careful with carbon fibre surfaces

Q1: A friend had his Mercedes E-Class bonnet changed to carbon fibre. Are there detailing precautions to take or carbon fibre surfaces can be detailed the same way as normal metallic surfaces?

Johor Baru

Assuming the aftermarket carbon-fiber bonnet is of the wet-carbon variety rather than the matte dry-carbon, there are certain precautions to be taken when detailing carbon-fibre parts.

If you're planning on using a rotary buffer to remove swirls and scratches or even other imperfections, have a CF-thickness gauge available to measure the micron-thickness of the topcoat that you will be correcting.

The topcoat of carbon-fibre panels tend to vary with different manufacturers.

Carbon-fibre panels tend to react to concentrated friction heat (from a rotary) in the same manner as polyurethane bumpers and panels in which they absorb the heat very quickly but do not have the physical ability to disperse it, thus leading to concentrated damaged topcoat-burns which will discolour.

Unlike metals which disperses heat around, carbon-fibre panels require skilled hands with a rotary for anything more than swirl-mark removal.

As for protection, they can be sealed with either a wax/synthetic sealant or a coating of choice. 

Q2: My daughter recently spilled a 1.5-litre Zappel drink onto the car's fabric seats.

More than half the liquid had soaked the fabric and coupled with the sugar content could attract ants and other insects for weeks. Is sunning the seats the best way to go about restoring the seat to mint condition?


Placing the seats under the sun will not restore your seats to brand new.

What's required is a powerful extraction-based vacuum (steam-based if possible) that can cycle water and detergent through the seat fabric and foam cells so that the contaminant(which in this case is the carbonated drink) is removed entirely.

I'd recommend sending it to a professional so that it can be cleaned and dried correctly.

Q3.  Is it a good practice to wash a car's undercarriage and how often should it be?

Oon Teik

It depends on your requirements and preferences. We have detailed undercarriages for concours classics but it is somewhat a rare request for daily drivers.

Most modern cars are equipped with rather complete undercarriage protective covers for reasons including aerodynamics and such so they are far less exposed than before. 

Perhaps, once or twice a year if you're particular about the undercarriage cleanliness.

Please e-mail issues you have with your vehicle to automania@thestar.com.my State place (city/town/village) where you are writing from.
The information contained in the 'Finishing Touches' column is for general educational purposes only. Neither Star Motoring nor the columnist gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. Star Motoring and the columnist disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
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