Extending the life and beauty of my car
June 21, 2006 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I want to extend the life of my car and so I need some advice on touching-up paint scratches on my 2001 Civic as well as on the issue of window tinting.

I read through this thread and it has some useful info on how to touch up scratches, but it is a little general. I am looking for more specific and practical information on this topic. I am just a little leery of sanding my car and applying paint and not having it look terrible. For instance, is there a certain type of touch up paint that is best? Is there a great online retailer?

We also just moved to Tucson, Arizona and it is tremendously hot here. I was wondering what people know about tinting windows. Is it recommended? How much should it cost? What difference will it make? How do I find a reputable place?
posted by bove to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
Tinting your windows helps a lot wth the heat, but could make your car illegal in states other than Arizona, depending on how dark the tint is.

For paint, you can go to an auto paint place and get the exact paint that your car is painted with.

And make sure that when you leave your car parked in Arizona, you leave the climate control system set on a setting that lets outside air into the car (not recirculated air), since a closed-off system can make the air in the car expand with the heat and literally pop the windshield right off the car.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:46 PM on June 21, 2006

"Is there a great online retailer?"

Paintscratch is good, and they'll have everything you need. Note that sanding down and repainting can be very tricky and time consuming; if you really think you have to do it, consider having it done professionally. Getting an exact color match is impossible, since the paint on your car has been fading for the past five years and it won't match what comes out of the can. Blending the paint to make it look good requires some expertise: realize that you'll be learning and practicing on your car.

You might try buffing out the scratches with a bit of rubbing solution; if they're not deep (i.e. not all the way through the clearcoat), this can give you a great result.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:49 PM on June 21, 2006

For a Civic, I'd expect to pay around $200 for 4 door windows + back window. It will definitely help keep you cooler in the car. When it's parked though, it will still eventually get just as hot inside. However, it should generally help to cut down on interior fading especially if you go with a UV-filtering film (as I believe most are).
posted by ninjew at 12:57 PM on June 21, 2006

mr_roboto: I definitely need to work on the scratches because a few of them are all the way through the paint and are starting to rust. Are you recommending that I don't try doing it myself?
posted by bove at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2006

It all depends on you, bove. Like I said, it can be time consuming, but if you enjoy this kind of work, it can be kind of fun. Just be aware that it's not easy to make it look perfect. It'll take patience and practice, but if you're willing to work at it, you can get a great result. If you don't care about it looking perfect, then it's definitely worth giving it a try yourself. A seamless, invisible repair to a car's paint job is not a simple thing for a novice to do, though.

Look around that Paintscratch site a bit. They've got how-to guides for just about everything touch-up related.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2006

Don't go to skimpy on the window film. ninjew's estimate is about right. I'm sure you've seen the purpled and/or airbubbled tint jobs in AZ. If you spend under $200 you might get that. Try to spring for a little more if you can. The good stuff reduces heat but isn't that dark. Darker doesn't mean better.

The installation is just as important as the film. If you see a nice tint job on a car, sometimes the installer has a small label [when you have yours installed, tell them not to do that] with the name. Or ask coworkers or the local Acura or BMW who they use.

I had a rental car for the past 2 weeks w/o tinted windows and it got hotter than an oven. I got my car back and it is noticably cooler. Still hotter than hell.
posted by birdherder at 1:16 PM on June 21, 2006

As for the tint, I -highly- recommend Formula One film (or other metallic window tinting film. With metallic films you can get the same amount of heat reduction as with a significantly darker dyed film, and it won't turn purple after extensive time in the sun. I had Formula One "Millenium" installed on my car after I moved to Los Angeles from the east coast, and really, really liked it -- looked good, kept the car cool, and was non-reflective (won't make your windows look silver.)

I've heard good things about Llumar films as well from a friend, who had Llumar Centaur metallic film installed on his car.

This article explains a bit about the different types of window films.

The $200 price sounds about right. Mine was about $230 or so, installed.

I'll also put in a good word for the aforementioned Paintscratch. Good people, and their color matching is quite good.
posted by fet at 1:55 PM on June 21, 2006

I'm in Texas, with a black car, and I can definitely say that it's a lot more comfortable to drive on hot days with the tint than it was without it.

I second the Formula One recommendation, but there is one thing to consider regarding metallic films -- they can block radio reception in some cases, particularly if your car has the antenna embedded in the glass.

Between radio, cellphones, gps, etc., I bit the bullet and went with the Formula One "Pinnacle" series, which is a ceramic-based tint. It ran just a little less than twice what the metallic tint would have ran. In addition to the RF stuff, they claim slightly better UV, heat and glare rejection than the metallic tints, but I don't have anything to compare it with on a practical basis.

One last consideration might be aesthetics -- different types of tints look better on different color cars; if I'd have had any sort of silverish colored car, I'd have probably looked much harder at the metallics.

But by all means, avoid the cheap dyed films, particularly if you hope to keep the car for any length of time.
posted by nonliteral at 2:15 PM on June 21, 2006

I tinted the windows on my 91 civic by myself. I DONT recommend it unless you expect it to be temporary. Get it done professionally. While it lasted though, i liked it very much and it DEFINITELY cooled down the car, no question about it.
I also bought touch up paint at the honda dealership (about 10 bucks i think) and they match the color perfectly of course. But I'm talking about minor scratches. It worked pretty well; kind of like applying nail polish (I imagine). ;)
posted by jak68 at 5:56 PM on June 21, 2006

I ordered paint from Paintscratch.com and I touched up a whole bunch of nicks and scratches. mr_roboto was totally right, it is almost impossible to make the places where I touched up the paint blend in with the rest of the car. The paint color matches exactly, but it was extremely difficult to get the edges to blend together. In the future, I would probably have it professionally done. I haven't tinted the windows yet, but I still plan on it.
posted by bove at 7:40 PM on July 17, 2006

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