This is a 200K mile X5 we had in the shop this week for a detail and ceramic coating. White paint is tough. You wash it and it looks white. You clay bar it and it looks white. You polish it and your pad is filthy, and it looks white. But then when you ceramic coat it and step back, it looks WHITE. You don’t realize how many shades of white paint there is until you try to color match the touch-up paint. In the end, I think it came out great.
Below are some before and after photos. Steps involved: power wash, clay-bar, hand wash, machine polish, touch-up, and ceramic coat. Interior leather repairs were minor with some small tears being repaired and some selective re-dye of worn areas of the seats. Steering wheel refreshed with ColourLock LeatherFresh.
Right now, the E36 M3 is probably fully depreciated. A low mileage one in great condition will cost $9-$11K and still require $3-$5K of work. A high mileage one in fair condition like this one might fetch $3-$6K. The owner of this car wanted to sell it, but was not attracting any buyers at his price point. It makes no sense at all to drop $10K on a restoration and $5K on suspension, tires, and repairs to have a $10-$12K car when you’re done. That’s where the idea of preservation not restoration plays out.
It looks like the whole car has been resprayed at least once with some areas getting resprayed 2 or 3 more times. The paint was heavily oxidized, scratched, and cracked on the hood. The cracking is probably due to excessive amounts of filler that were not allowed to cure before respraying at some point. Not much I can do about the cracks, but I can bring it back to an even shine so it looks great from 5 feet away.
I worked on this car for about three days and would typically charge between $750 and $900 depending on total effort and supplies expended. After a long soak, pressure wash, and clay bar, I wet sanded the hood and compounded the entire car before polishing. The trim was flaking off so it was repainted in satin black before coating the car in Reflex Pro II ceramic coating. I then framed the car in ceramic trim coat. With regular maintenance washes the coating should last 1-2 years.
The key to a black car (or white for that matter) is actually the trim. Sure, you need to get the paint to a uniform level of shine, but getting the trim as dark as possible makes it pop. The leather seats were also worn and cracked, but after a deep cleaning, minor repairs, and a good sanding, they came back very nicely with several applications of Leather Fresh as did the steering wheel.
If your leather steering wheel is looking tired — a little shiny, white grime in the grain — and just won’t clean up, it may be time to refresh the leather. Colourlock makes a kit that is easy to use and very effective at bringing the leather back to near original condition. You’ll just need a stiff cleaning brush, some towels and masking tape in addition to the kit. Allow 30-60 minutes from start to finish.
Start by masking-off any plastic trim and clean with a brush. As you work your way around the steering wheel, look for deep scratches or other imperfections in the leather. If the steering wheel isn’t hasn’t been terribly neglected, a good cleaning maybe all you need. It this case, it needed the full treatment.
The next step is to remove any remaining grease, oil or conditioners before refreshing the surface color. Usually shiny leather is a sign of grease and oil build up from the years of grubby hands grasping the wheel. Wear gloves and use leather spirit to remove any remaining surface contaminates. This will leave the leather very dull looking.
Lightly sand the leather to increase surface adhesion and reduce areas of shine. Take care to avoid the stitching. Carefully sand any rough spots, scratches or other surface imperfections. Clean again with leather spirit. At this point you may be thinking, “What have I done?” but carry on.
Start with areas of the heaviest sanding and apply the Colour Fresh according to the instructions. Use the sponge to apply with a dabbing motion. Apply in sections and use a heat gun or hair dryer when complete with each section. As soon as you see the dye change to a dull sheen, it’s dry to the touch. Apply two coats to the entire steering wheel. Areas of heavy damage or more sanding will likely need additional coats.
Allow to dry overnight and apply a light coating of UV protectant. Let it soak in and then buff it to a dull sheen. Now stop eating in your car.
Have you ever been tempted by a set of leather sport seats you find at the pick-yard? We decided to find out if it was possible to refinish them well enough to that you’d want to put them into your daily driver. Once you find a potential set of seats, be sure to check the foam for dampness and mold. If you have anything more extensive than surface mold, then you probably want to look elsewhere.
We found a set of leather sport seats from a 2008 335i. The surface leather was dirty and a bit moldy, but nothing too bad to consider. Most of the damage to the seats came once the car was junked and parts started to pile up in the interior. You also want to check the seat electronics to make sure everything works before spending a lot of time refinishing the leather.
To refresh the leather you’ll need the following: Colourlock Refresh Kit; a stiff brush; some clean towels; and a leather sanding pad.
Start by inspecting the seats to find the areas that need the most attention. In our case it was the driver’s side bolsters. The center of the driver’s seat was damaged by a spill. Other than smoothing the area by sanding, there isn’t much we can do without some liquid leather.
Clean the seats thoroughly and wipe dry. Carefully sand any heavily damaged areas, taking care to avoid stitching. Apply the leather fresh by dabbing with the included sponge. Work one small area at a time. Use a heat gun or hair dryer to set the dye. Let dry over-night and apply the UV protectant.
Taking advantage of the unusually warm weather over the holidays to take on some of the paint defects on the X5. This post shows how to tackle a deep scratch and bad touch-up paint job.
When we got the 2013 X5 in 2017, the dealer had attempted to hide a deep scratch with a thick coat of touch-up paint. We used Blob Eliminator to safely remove the touch-up paint first, then compounded and polished the hood to see what we had to work with. A good tip when trying to figure out whether a scratch is just through the clear-coat or goes into the paint layer, is to spray some water and see if the scratch disappears. If it does, then it’s in the clear-coat. These scratches appear to just be in the clear-coat.
Since we’re using this hood for our long-term Bead Maker test, I wanted to see if I could completely eliminate the scratch before sealing the paint. This video shows that process.