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It was over a cup of coffee when I took notice of our Managing Editor's 2010 model W204 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The clean German lines have aged ever so graciously in the past eight years, yet hinting to the forgotten charm of the late-2000's Mercedes elegance.
This is no regular 2010 C-Class either; but in fact, a C200 Kompressor in Avantgarde trim — the sleekest among the relatively-exclusive. Tastefully-added chrome elements run all across the Steel Grey body. Thanks to the good maintenance history, the sedan drives really well too despite its age and ODO reading.
However, the aesthetics have certainly lost its former glory. The ‘original shine' is there somewhere as a ghost. The plain silver wheels are no more yellow now. As for the headlamps, the glass covers are a far cry from being clear and transparent.
We started thinking about ways to bring the sedan back to its factory gloss (or a step ahead). As these though over our options, 3M Car Care — one of the best-known car detailing companies in the world — contacted us regarding a few of their new products. 3M invited DriveSpark to visit their facility at Koramangala, Bangalore which is one of 40 outlets spread across India. With a presence in over 70 countries, 3M Car Care was definitely the best choice to bring the Mercedes back to its original condition.
Here's our detailed 3M Car Care Experience!
Handing Over The Car To The Experts
The moment we handed over the keys to Mr Vinod from 3M Car Care Koramangala, we knew that the car was in good hands. The sedan was brought inside the facility and checked inside-out for any flaws.
We were introduced to Mr Vinay Budigere and Mr Kishore Kempanna, the owners of the franchise. We all had a good conversation for a couple of minutes. Even though they were used to servicing high-end luxury cars, the eight-year-old Mercedes still caught their interest, being a Kompressor.
Mercedes-Benz Kompressor models from the 2000s were quite exclusive due to the fact that they featured supercharged petrol engines. Today, superchargers are mostly associated with high-end performance cars and rarely find their way to family cars. The W204 C-Class was one of the very few models which came to India in a Kompressor avatar.
Vinay and Kishore commented that the car was very well-maintained for its age, unlike the usual visitors of the shop. However, they still showed us some hard water, swirl marks and stains on the car's body.
Taking all this into account, 3M suggested three processes for the Mercedes:
- Paint Shine & Shield Coating
- Ventureshield Paint Protection Film
- Interior Treatment
The 3M Hospitality Amidst The Busy Working Environment
Within minutes of our arrival, we understood that the customer base of 3M Car Care Koramangala was pretty good. Cars started arriving one after the other; affordable to luxury. It was quite impressive to watch how the staff move all the cars efficiently between various in-house bays (do keep in mind this is one of the largest 3M outlets in India).
As an escape from all the commotion, we were led to the lobby; a well-appointed place for visitors and customers to sit back and relax, as their vehicles get treated. Towards one side, there was also an array of 3M products on showcase.
But what particularly caught our attention is the collage of feedbacks and reviews of 3M Car Care, that were compiled together in the form of wall art. The company has definitely developed a good reputation over the years.
In between all that, we were extremely glad to see DriveSpark's feedback as well, shared in another article — read our previous 3M experience here.
Getting The Car Prepared
Before getting on to the main processes, the body needs to be ‘prepped up'. The car has to be cleansed well and the surface needs to be treated with 3M-branded cleaning agents. After applying the base coats, the body has to be cured and readied for the next set of treatments.
The Treatments/Processes In Detail
Paint Shine & Shield Coating
This treatment protects the car from dirt, dust and UV rays, while also giving it a ‘brand-new look' with low maintenance. The coating is hydrophobic, meaning that water will not cling on the car's surface, but forms beads like the morning dew (can be easily wiped off and will not leave any hard water marks).
- INSPECTION — Check the exteriors for any scratches, swirl marks or stains under good light.
- PREPARATION — All the above-mentioned flaws are removed in a non-dusty and wind-free environment using 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner
- APPLICATION — Apply two coats of 3M Paint Shine & Shield Coating
- DRYING — Allow the exteriors to dry completely for durable resistance against dirt, dust, water or any such foreign elements.
- FINISHING — Wipe the car with 3M Micro-Fibre cloth for the final gloss.
Ventureshield Paint Protection Film (PPF)
The extremely durable, colourless urethane film is applied on high-impact or vulnerable areas of the vehicle. The clear film is also self-healing and can protect the car from road hazards such as flying gravel, bug acids, tar and key scratches. This is normally applied on bumper covers, door handle enclosures, ORVMs, bonnet, door edges, boot ledges and rocker panels.
- INSPECT and PREPARE the body as mentioned before.
- The film APPLICATION should be done in a location free of any fire hazards. Furthermore, the film should be applied only with clean hands.
- The workers should have good precision and attention to detail.
- Unlike in regular PPF, Ventureshield requires 05518 Black Squeegee — the hand-held tool with a smooth rubber blade used to wipe out the air trapped in the film.
- For the FINISHING part, the car is covered and kept away for the best and final appeal.
With time, the interiors of a car will look dull no matter how exquisite it was during the time of purchase. Portions of dashboard under direct sunlight will fade off while the leather upholstery can develop stains and rashes. 3M's class-leading Interior Treatment ensures that the car's inside will become spotless once again.
- The interiors are first made free of foreign particles by dry vacuuming.
- To loosen up the dirt attached to the panels, 3M Foam-It is applied.
- After giving it some time, the interiors are scrubbed with 3M-certified brushes and then vacuumed.
- Interior plastic panels are cleaned using a degreaser.
- The plastic parts are again treated with 3M Spray Dresser for the final shine.
The door sills and other exposed metal portions are treated with 3M-owned Meguiar's Top Coat, while the leather seats and plastics are further treated with the products: Gold Class Rich Leather and Natural Shine Protectant.
In all the three main processes mentioned above, washing, waxing and polishing are done as and when it is required.
A Preview Of What Can Be Expected
The treatments require a lot of time to be completed and 3M Car Care strictly recommends not to cut-short this in order to deliver the vehicle sooner. Hence, for added convenience, the staff showed a live demonstration of all the processes on the bonnet of the car.
A portion of the bonnet was quickly split into two halves using a cloth tape. One part of it was left as it is while all the proposed 3M treatments were done on the other side. The final result was really impressive.
The difference between the original condition and the ‘3M magic' is instantly noticeable. Trust us, pictures do not do justice at all!
The Wait Towards Perfection
The staff finally started working on the car. We decided to watch from the side without disturbing their workflow. But the workers were more than happy to explain what they were doing. If you have the patience, you'll also notice how skilled the staff are. "Car detailing is an art," as Vinay says.
In the meantime, a lot of customers came in with their cars, opting big and small-scale works. Some even brought their brand-new cars right from the showroom to apply various protective measures. In a few years time, car detailing has definitely become more of a necessity for many.
The Mercedes-Benz was slowly transforming itself. We could catch a glimpse of the car every now and then, and at one point, we were even tempted to lift up the covers to see the progress.
Welcoming Back The Long-Lost Shine
After more than two days and a half, it was time to take delivery of the car. The staff did a final overall inspection and gave it the ‘finishing wipe'.
Without further ado, the eight-year-old Mercedes was revealed before us and we were out of words. The car did not look old at all. In fact, in the eyes of a non-auto-enthusiast, it can only be a brand-new Mercedes with an unmatchable gloss that makes the neighbours envy your success.
We were quite impressed by the work done and the C-Class showed us the excitement on our faces through its newly-gained mirror-like finish.Car detailing is more rewarding on old cars rather than on factory-fresh examples.
Here are some before-and-after detail shots for a better understanding:
Starting with the badges, the formerly-dull 2010 ‘C 200' looks as good as the one on the present-day C Class.
The ‘Kompressor' badge proudly represents a breed of soon-to-be modern classics.
The classy-looking silver wheels have lost their curse of yellow.
No more swirl marks and the three-pointed star shines bright again.
Dust accumulation in tight spots is something which we thought to be unremovable, but not anymore.
Subtle aesthetic elements have been touched to perfection.
Finally, a picture which explains itself.
Thoughts On The 3M Car Care Experience
If you wish to keep your car cool enough to drool for many years, look no further; car detailing by a recognised company such as 3M Car Care is the way to go. It sure is a much more expensive option than a regular car wash, but the end result would leave no regrets in your mind.
All 3M products and applications come with a reasonable warranty period and can also be availed as a package (includes periodic maintenance).
Hence to answer how to make your old car look new, we have only one thing to say — visit your nearest 3M Car Care outlet.
Writing by Abhinand Venugopal; Photography by Abijith Vilangil