Car wash/paint protection advice

Car wash/paint protection advice

After 6 months of only hand washing my car, I have a few mild scratches in the clear coat. Nothing anyone would notice except me, but they drive me nuts.

Any advice on how to remove them?

Any specific products recommended?

docdac | November 2, 2013

Hard to get rid of fine scratches. But you can minimize future scratches by using the minimum contact wash technique that 'Junkman' advocates on You Tube.

carlk | November 2, 2013

Did you follow good washing practices such as two bucket method etc.? Mechanical polish can remove them but you probably should pay to have a good detailer to do it. For washing the car I recommend Chemical Guys' super sud shampoo and foam gun or when you want to do it inside the garage the Optimum No Rinse wash product. You can check reviews of these products on Amazon. People are swear by them including many professional detailers.

jai9001 | November 2, 2013

Thanks for the advice.

b=Been using two bucket approach and foam gun.

Trying to touch the car during the wash as little as possible.

jai9001 | November 2, 2013

Does a coat of wax help?

How often do people recommend waxing? | November 2, 2013

A couple of things:

1) I find a lot of folks do fine of the washing part, then end up scratching the finish during drying, so make sure you are using good quality waffle microfiber cloths, rage the tags off, and make sure you are not wearing any jewelry, watches, etc--better still get something like the MasterBlaster so you don't have to touch your car at all

2) If the starches are mild, a good coat of was should fill them in and make them less noticable.


george210 | November 2, 2013

where do you live. We've got even deep scratches removed from a BMW 540 that we are turning the lease in at the end of November 2013.

We'll get our Model S 85KwHr on 11.22.13.
Yyaii !

JPPTM | November 3, 2013

Please search these forums with and also go to TMC and read up there. The TM factory paint is very soft (CA VOC compliant) and scratches easily. You need to consider paint protection (OptiCoat, CQuartz) or film.

ChetB | November 3, 2013

Only had my MS for 11 days, but yesterday used QuickDetail to remove accumulated dust and bird droppings. Works for me and takes only about 20 minutes - if you're slow.

Tylyoung | November 3, 2013

"The Absorber" available at Auto Zone/Amazon. Best water remover ever!

Kind of a rubbery feel to the absorber but..... No lint. No streaks. NO WATER! ..... smooth glass finish in one wipe! Lasts for years and washable.

Sooo soapy pressure wash... rinse.... wipe! DONE!

Suturecabre | November 3, 2013

I use Menzerna polishes and a 7424XP buffer with 4" pads. It gets kinda hot with the smaller pads but I've found it's the only way to get decent correction on hard CeramiClear finishes like my Mercedes without a rotary.....The Model S with its softer paint will definitely mean a change in technique.

The rule goes you can only minimize swirls and scratches, not prevent them completely. You'll likely polish a couple times a year, though not as intense once you've done a moderate correction...Use 2-bucket method with grit guards, foam cannon if you got a pressure washer, and always keep your microfibers clean. I use waffleweaves to dry. Blackfire Wet Diamond paint sealant and the occasional Midnight Sun wax is all I use now. Some of us more off the deep end use products like CR Spotless which completely softens the water and you don't even have to dry as the water won't leave any spots.

Brian H | November 4, 2013

If you go off the deep end in soft water, do you sink faster? ;p

adwordandi | February 4, 2014

I am using surface protection tape to protect my car's paint. It prevents scratches, ageing and stains. You should try this product once.

jordanrichard | February 5, 2014

Here is what people need to understand about scratches, no matter how fine they are, the only way to get rid of them is really not getting rid of them. You have to bring the surface down to the level of the scratch. "Swirl removers" are either temporary fillers to hide the scratch or they are polishes which removes a layer, albeit a microscopic one, of paint. The more you polish, the thinner your paint is getting. That is why there is a concern of "burning" through the pain when using a high speed polisher. Since most cars have clear coat, you don't see the paint coming off. Clear coat is paint without pigment. Apply the mildest cleaner to a solid color, single stage paint and you will see the color on the rag/applicator. That is you removing paint. At the most, I would recommend a polish once a year.

Xtreme Detailing | March 9, 2014

jordanrichard@h.. is right. I don't recommend polishing every year you will wear the clear coat down over time. I recommend having the paint corrected and coated with a hard coating like Gtechniq C1 or Opti Coat pro. Then using a foamer to wash it and blow it dry. This will keep the washing scratches to a minimum. If you have more questions I am or one of my network friends will be happy to help.

SeattleSid | March 10, 2014

What is meant by "foamer?"

J.T. | March 10, 2014

@Seattle Sid I believe they're referring to a device that attaches to the end of your hose. It contains soap and can be set to spray different concentrations of soap mixed with water (suds) or clear water for rinsing.

Mathew98 | March 10, 2014


Soap with tons of bubbles to remove the outer layer of dirt. A foam gun to spread the shampoo is ideal.

I had applied OptiCoat to my car previously and used the foam gun + maxs sud soap to wash my car yesterday. I just rinsed the car after the foams dropped to the ground and dried it with a new leaf blower.

There were no washing mitts, towels, water buckets, soap buckets, or any other products involved in washing the body. Although the rims and tires had to be washed and cleaned separately to get all the grimes off the wheels.

Look at these two for example.

Note: This combo won't wash off rock salt from a snow storm. For truly dirty cars, you'd still need washing mitts and traditional 2 buckets washing method to get the deep clean.

Mathew98 | March 10, 2014

@JT - "I believe they're referring to a device that attaches to the end of your hose."

I don't know about you buddy, but I'm not gonna attach any foreign objects to my hose!!!

jordanrichard | March 10, 2014

Mathew98 +1. Too often I have seen people with their cars in the self serve carwash pays, with the power washer at full blast, 3 inches from their paint. It makes me cringe everytime. They think is is going to get rid of the salt, it won't. You want a nice thick lather of soap and the softest brush/mit you can find. The local carwash I go to has genuine boar's hair brushes with thick lather constantly coming out of it. This way any dirt that gets on the bristles, comes off the bristles.

J.T. | March 10, 2014

@Mathew98 Have as many kids as you like, Matt. :-)

Mathew98 | March 10, 2014

@JT - Hence the need for a seven seats for the MS! And I just traded in the hybrid for an 8 passengers minivan as a backup. ;(

SeattleSid | March 10, 2014

Thanks for the info. Need to lay in the supplies. I've been taking my old car to those self-serve wash places, with a boars hair brush, too. I've always sprayed the brush with high-power soap to clean off whatever was on it. Who knows how effective? I hand wash my wife's car with lots of soap and a high quality mitt, and two buckets. Getting Xpel/Gteching for the Tesla and plan to baby it like crazy.

epac | March 10, 2014

I have been drying my MS with Ammo Hydrate and a super absorbent towel from Chemical Guys. Results are amazing and cured my waterspot issue as well. Great videos on his

Highly recommend the 2 bucket wash and a foamer with Chemical Guys Honeydew foam.

Uncle Paul | March 10, 2014

If you are interested in the absolutely highest quality microfiber cloths (not China) check out

This stuff is super high quality, but also cheaper than any place else I have seen. Used by most pros.

They have very thick wax removal and cleaning towels with no tags or scratchy edging.

Got this tip from The Junkman.

Xtreme Detailing | March 11, 2014

SeattleSid The Foam Lance attachment or "Foamer" Its a great tool to lift the dust, dirt and grim from the surface of the paint. Basically the less you touch the paint the less chance you are going to marring or swirl the paint. I would Foam wash, Rinse and blow dry. blow dry with a leaf blower of Master Blaster. If you use the Micro fiber towels than you increase the chance of marring. I would blow dry as much as possible.

Xtreme Detailing | March 11, 2014

epac. Ammo NYC is great. Larry is a great guy with expert advice.

Xtreme Detailing | March 11, 2014

My buddy Rob at the Towel Pros has some awesome Micro Fiber towels if that is the way you want to go.

If you guys have more questions let me know I love teaching and I love TESLAS

2050project | March 12, 2014
michael | March 12, 2014

When would it be ok to add a protective coat on the new paint? I.e. When has the paint hardened enough? "Regular" cars don´t advise coating in the first 12 months or so?

Jon C | March 15, 2014

Best way to protect it is the get PPF (paint protective film) applied to it. PPF prevents small debris from chipping your paint, especially in the front. Applied elsewhere, protects you from door dings. I started off with Suntek (the other major film is Expel) on the entire front (full hood, bumper, front panels, pillar). I then went back and got everything else wrapped short of the hatch (no precut pattern available). Other beauty is that PPF will hide pretty much all minor preexisting swirls/scratches. As others have said, Tesla paint is very soft. Even with hand washes (less than 10 total), I developed swirl marks on my hatch, so I also got OptiCoat applied to the car. Doesn't offer the same type of protection as PPF, but better than nothing.

huzz1970 | March 15, 2014

You could try first- rinse and wipe with your hands or a microfiber cloth- use several to keep from building up dirt. Then, a clay bar to knock off the bumps and any residues. Dry carefully with microfiber cloths. Then, us the superfine 3M compound (or Meguier's or Griot's) on a rotary buffer (not the big two handed units- the smaller oscillating type), followed by a rinse and wipe. Then, use a glaze like 3M or Aurora 3000, or other similar stuff. The glaze will fill in and make a super smooth surface. I use this method on my Ferrari (WITHOUT the washing steps- I just wipe off the dust carefully) and the paint is almost perfect after 16 years.
As far as the paint hardening- it will do so over time- if you can leave it in the sun from time to time this will help, especially with the darker colors.

Tesltoronto | March 15, 2014

Is it possible to completely cover the car with Scotch Guard Protection film instead of just the hood, mirrors, etc.?

Has anyone done it?

NKYTA | March 15, 2014

We tried the "clay" today - amazing how much hidden dirt there is post-wash.

Waxed, even. And all that by just me and my wife.

What next? Opt-coat? Wrap? The mind boggles (and so does the price!).

jordanrichard | March 16, 2014

My understanding is that one should wait at least 1 month before putting anything on the paint. Now, perhaps this is advice is outdated since all factory paint jobs are now water based. So there are no VOCs to "gas out". The best place to ask would either be the service center or better yet, a reputable body shop.

As for the "soft paint", is this just on Teslas or perhaps it applies to all modern cars due to the new paint formulas?

Brian H | March 16, 2014

Just to cars made in California. >:)

carlk | March 16, 2014

Many detailers recommand OptiCoat right after the car is out of factory. That's what I'm planning to do. I guess the water based paint dose not need the extra dry time anymore.

Julian | March 16, 2014

Can I say it is utterly irresponsible and unprofessional for Tesla to paint a car with such soft paint without sealing it with a hard coating? It is ridiculous how much effort and expense people have to go to in order to keep the paint looking good.

I've had my Model S for a year and a half and the paint quality is the one thing that really pisses me of about the car. I had it OptiCoated and it still gets small scratches.

info | March 16, 2014

juliean. I agree, how utterly "irresponsible" of Tesla to comply with the law.

info | March 16, 2014

julian. How did you manage to be such an early adopter?

carlk | March 16, 2014

@VIN20353 +1 And why is it irresponsible for not using environmental harming paints regardless of what the law says?

@OptiCoated How would you suggest Tesla to make the coating hard enough if you managed to scratch even the one with OptiCoat? I'd like to advise you not to run your MS into a brick wall too since Tesla is known for not being able to make the car safe.

Julian | March 16, 2014

I don't fault Tesla for using low-VOC paint. I fault them for not doing their own version of Opti-Coat to provide a high quality finish appropriate for a high-quality car.

@VIN20353 - I was on the waiting list for 3 1/2 years. I'm VIN01037, got it in November 2012. Not a signature model, but when I picked mine up, they were still making the signatures.

aaronw2 | March 16, 2014

I had a detailer work on my car to remove all the minor scratches then had him apply a coat of Opti-Coat 2 to my paint and another Opti-coat product to my headlights to protect the paint. I highly recommend Salon Autoworks in Belmont, CA. Andrew has a lot of experience working on Teslas. He spent a couple days going over mine.

jordanrichard | March 16, 2014

What does it cost to get this Opti-Coat treatment done to the paint.

Jon C | March 16, 2014

Opticoat and PPF are different products and therefore accomplish different things. Here is what I found out before I went ahead with both.

PPF: Think of it like a condom. It is a barrier. Unless something hits it hard or is big, it is not getting through to damage your paint. It is great for protecting your paint from rock chips, people opening their doors and hitting yours, gravel, etc... In addition, it will hide pretty much all minor swirls and scratches so if someone tells you that you need paint correction before applying PPF, they just want your money. Many PPF's like Suntek and Expel also have self healing properties so that if it gets scratched or dinged, you won't see it. I just surpassed 10K miles and I have no chips on my car.
- @ Tesltoronto: yes, you can get the entire car wrapped. I had a professional guy wrap Suntek everywhere except the hatch. I would have gotten that wrapped too but there was no precut pattern available. You do not want to get it done by someone who cuts while the film is on your car, unless you want some scratches.

Opticoat: Think of it like RainX for your car but harder. However, it is still just a thicker chemical layer. It is good for things like acid rain, bird droppings, tree sap. However, if you expect it to prevent rock chips, it's only going to be good for the tiny ones. The best analogy is this. Think of PPF as those plastic films you put over your cell phone or tablet. Opticoat would be like using saran wrap on your electronics.

My suggestion is this, which is what I did. Get your Tesla wrapped with PPF ASAP after you get your car. You certainly want to get the front done, which includes the full hood, front bumper, front panels, mirrors, and front pillars. If you want more protection, get the doors, entire pillars, rear panels, and rear bumper wrapped as well. This will offer very good protection from solid objects. This however leaves your hatch exposed, unless you want someone to apply film and then cut it while it's on your car. You can then get the hatch Opticoated or the entire car if you want. This will protect a little more of a physical barrier especially on the hatch where there is none but now also provides a good barrier against chemicals.

MW1931 | March 20, 2014

I just ordered mine with the "Paint Armor" option. Is this the same as PPF?

jordanrichard | March 20, 2014

Jon C, what did the PPF cost you?

Jon C | March 21, 2014

@ jordanrichard@h...

In Atlanta, cost me $1200 for the entire front with Suntek. My installer recommended Suntek over Expel because of the gray paint. Said that Expel was better on the lighter colors. Another 2K or so for the remainder of the car. Go to the link below to look at the patterns.

Pattern P8201B-U is what covers the entire front. Also looks like they now have a pattern for the hatch as well but not one piece.


Tesla Paint Armor is a type of PPF. Don't know about quality of their PPF or brand but certainly cheaper than aftermarket. Keep in mind that the rear bumper doesn't go all the way to under the hatch lid.

dlake | March 21, 2014

Anyone try Permanon on their car?

CBlack0 | April 30, 2014

I use a Clear Coat Protectant because I find that most standard waxes and drying agents don't work as long. This helps treat the surface of my vehicle and prevent scratches on it. I really love it and it has done the trick so far, been using it for the last 3 years and it keeps my car looking brand new.