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Tesla Model S – Protection Detail

September 30th, 2014

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

So, what’s it like to detail an electric car? Well, until earlier this month we had absolutely no idea, but all of this changed one Tuesday morning when a two week old Tesla Model S rolled up silently to our studio for a Protection Detail. And when I say silently, I mean silently; the all-electric Model S doesn’t feature a traditional combustion engine (i.e. it’s not a hybrid), meaning it has no exhaust system and emits no sound. Before I get stuck into a summary of the detail, here’s some background information about this remarkable car, which the mainstream media is already hailing as potentially the most important vehicle to be made since the Ford Model T back in 1908…

The Model S is an all-electric five-door luxury hatchback designed and built by Tesla Motors in the USA. Since its introduction in 2012, it has achieved rapidly growing sales all around the world, and more than 40,000 units have now been produced and sold. This is not surprising given its jaw dropping performance figures; when equipped with the range-topping 85 kilowatt-hour battery and high performance drive inverter (which enable the driver to deploy 416 bhp and 442 lb ft throughout the rev-range), the Model S accelerates to 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds, and has an unprecedented range of more than 300 miles per full charge. Combine this with sublime handling, thanks to its ultra low centre of gravity and lightweight (mostly) aluminium construction, and it’s not hard to see why this is the car that has finally proven that the all-electric concept is viable. And, it really is desirable too; the styling is sharp and efficient, and the futuristic technology it incorporates is leaps and bounds beyond anything else we’ve seen in our studio before.

On with the detail then. Although the car was only a couple of weeks old, it had already covered close to a thousand miles in mostly wet weather conditions, and was covered in a thick layer of grime. Our mission, therefore, was to clean it carefully first, without marring the exterior surfaces, and then protect it fully against the elements, both inside and out…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Clark started out in the usual way by tackling the wheels and arches first, using Auto Finesse Imperial and PB Luxury Wheel Woolies. The former is a brilliant general-purpose wheel cleaning concentrate that offers excellent performance at a very reasonable price-point, while the latter are quite frankly the safest wheel brushes currently available, due to their unique metal-free design…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Once the wheels were free of grime any residual tar spots (thanks to the recent wet weather there were quite a few) were tackled with GYEON Q2M TAR

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

With the wheels done, Clark turned his attention to the rest of the exterior, and started out by soaking the grime-laden lower halves with Auto Finesse Citrus Power. After allowing this to sit and work away at the grime for a few minutes he then foamed the car with Auto Finesse Avalanche and left this to dwell for a further five minutes before rinsing everything off…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

This pre-wash process removes the vast majority of dirt and grime in a completely touchless way, making the subsequent hand washing stage safer. However, before the hand wash, all of the trims and shuts were cleaned with Auto Finesse Citrus Power and PB Boar Hair Detailing Brushes, and then rinsed off at low pressure (to avoid wetting the interior)…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

The bodywork and other exterior surfaces were then carefully washed by hand with Auto Finesse Lather and a Microfiber Madness Incredimitt, using a pair of PB Clear Wash Buckets and the tried and tested two bucket method for maximum safety and efficiency…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

After rinsing off, GYEON Q2M TAR was used to remove any residual tar spots, mostly from the lower halves. During the hand washing process Clark had noticed that many of the exterior surfaces felt slightly rough, which is always a sure sign that heavy contamination is present. With the car being brand new, iron-rich railway dust was the most likely suspect (most new cars are transported from the factory to regional distribution hubs on trains), so Clark soaked the exterior surfaces with Auto Finesse Iron Out and left this to dwell for ten minutes or so. During this interval, a strong colour change reaction confirmed our suspicions; iron was definitely present…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

After carefully wiping the treated panels down and rinsing everything off again, the car was moved inside. A careful fingertip inspection confirmed that most of the exterior surfaces were now perfectly smooth (and thus contaminant-free), but the windows and wing mirror covers still didn’t feel quite right, so Clark treated them with a fine SPEEDY Surface Prep Towel…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

The exterior was then dried off using a PB Luxury Drying Towel (for the glass and panoramic roof) and our Metro Vac Air Force Blaster (for everything else)…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

With the car now clean and dry, Clark was able to inspect the bodywork properly for any defects (this is something we always do on brand new cars, just to make sure everything is as it should be). The intense beam of our Clulite LED Spotlight revealed that the main Pearl White multi-coat panels were all in good shape, but unfortunately the gloss black centre section of the front bumper was badly marred. Knowing that this would let the car down in direct sunlight, Clark proceeded to lightly polish it with Meguiar’s Ultra Finishing Polish (#205) on a Meguiar’s 100 mm Soft Buff Polishing Spot Pad fitted to a Kestrel DAS-6 Dual Action Machine Polisher

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

All of the painted exterior surfaces were then wiped down thoroughly with GYEON Q2M PREP, in order to remove any oils left by our fingertips and, on the front bumper, the polishing process. This step is always critical if a silica-based coating is to be applied, as it ensures that the molecular bond between the coating and the treated surfaces forms properly…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

All of the bodywork was then protected with Wolf’s Chemicals Nano Surface Coating (Bodyguard), which works by laying down nano-scale silica-components and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) to form a hard glass-like coating. This coating is water hating (super hydrophobic), which causes rainfall to bead up and roll off very quickly. This extreme beading not only looks good, but also tends to pick up and carry away fresh surface contaminants, meaning that treated surfaces tend to stay cleaner for longer in between washes. However, the benefits offered by Wolf’s Chemicals Nano Surface Coating (Bodyguard) don’t end with an easy to care for mirror-like finish. More importantly, it also provides excellent scratch resistance and protection against bird droppings, bug splatter, road salt and harmful UV radiation from the sun, for up to twenty four months at a time, which makes it a great choice for new cars…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

With the bodywork now finished, it was time for Clark to tackle the remaining exterior surfaces. The huge 21″ turbine-style rims were also sealed with Wolf’s Chemicals Nano Surface Coating (Bodyguard), because its heat-resistant PTFE content makes it ideal for use on rims subject to high brake temperatures, and its inherent slickness ensures that brake dust remains easy to remove. The tyres were then sealed with GYEON Q2 TIRE, which imparts a highly durable satin looking finish…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

All of the textured exterior trims were then treated with GYEON Q2 TRIM, which lays down a flexible silica-based coating that offers excellent UV protection…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

The chrome-effect exterior trims, which were already waterspotted in places, were then cleansed and protected in a single step with Werkstat Prime Strong…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

All of the exterior glass, including the panoramic roof, was then treated with Nanolex Ultra Glass Sealant, which improves driver visibility in wet weather…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

With the exterior now done (bar from a final wipe down and check over), Clark turned his attention to the spacious technology-laden interior. All of the hard surfaces were wiped down with damp PB Super Buffing Towels (except for the two main display screens, which were dusted with a rocket blower and carefully wiped down with a Swissvax Micro Polish Towel). The glass was cleaned with Auto Finesse Crystal, and the carpets and mats were vacuumed and then proofed with GYEON Q2 FABRICCOAT, which is an advanced silica-based coating for automotive textiles that lays down an invisible and highly hydrophobic barrier that repels liquids and soiling…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Finally, the leather was cleaned with Dr Leather Liquid Cleaner and then sealed with GYEON Q2 LEATHERCOAT, which is a fully functional silica-based coating that forms a semi-permanent water and grime repellent barrier on modern leather upholstery…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

With the detail complete, it was time for Clark to give the bodywork a final wipe down with GYEON Q2M CURE and a Microfiber Madness Crazy Pile Towel, and then check everything over carefully with our Clulite LED Spotlight in readiness for the hand over…

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

Tesla Model S - Protection Detail

So, going back to the original question posed at the top of this post, what’s it like to detail an all-electric car? Well, it’s honestly no different to detailing any other car; the materials and processes remain the same. That said, it is slightly easier work, because there’s no engine bay or exhaust tips to clean, and the internal floor area is far more accessible, because there’s no transmission tunnel sandwiched between the seats. However, perhaps the most surprising thing about this detail was the effect it had on us; neither Clark nor I expected to like the Model S (no doubt due to our ill-conceived pre-conceptions about electric cars in general), but we both ended up being hugely impressed with it. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if Tesla end up making a more affordable compact model (with similar performance levels) I’ll be extremely tempted – there, I’ve said it!

Rich @ PB

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5 Responses to “Tesla Model S – Protection Detail”

  1. Joe Huntley says:

    Brilliant work as always guys! Really enjoy reading these write ups and look forward to the next one. Joe.

  2. Roberto Lombardi says:

    Hi Clark, fabulous work as always and on a very impressive car. Having read through the steps you have taken there is something I would like to ask you please. You used GYEON Q2M PREP on the car and I was thinking – I have an Audi S1 in Sepang Blue and last week I prepared it for winter and after the pre-wash and wash stages I applied Tardis, wiped down and rinsed, then Auto Finesse Iron Out, wiped down and rinsed, then Nanolex Wash Coat as my sealant, then a glaze and finally Collinite 476S as my wax. Next spring I will perform the same process again but the question is, will I now need to purchase Gyeon Q2M PREP and use it before applying the glaze and wax? I happen to have IPA, will this be OK to use instead? Your expert thoughts are always welcomed. Please pass on my regards to Rich and Angela for me. Best wishes, Roberto.

  3. @Joe – Many thanks; we’re glad to hear you’re enjoying them!

    @Roberto – The simple answer is, there is no need for you to be using either Q2M PREP or IPA! The sole reason for using these strong paint cleaners is to rid the paint of unwanted oils ahead of applying a silica-based coating (which would otherwise fail to bond to the paint properly). However, in cases where glazes and waxes are to be used, then the need for this cleaning step disappears; glazes lay down a huge amount of oils, while waxes actually bond better when applied to oil-rich surfaces. Thus, in your case, the better way to proceed would be to glaze immediately after the decontamination process (i.e. cut out the sealant) and then apply the wax. If you cleansed the paint with Q2M or IPA first then this would serve no purpose – any oils you removed would be replaced in the next step by the glaze. Hopefully this now makes more sense, but if not give us a call when you get chance and we’ll go over your routine in more detail with you.

  4. Alan says:

    Clark’s favourite colour too!

  5. @Alan – Lol, he prefers blue!

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