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Audi S3 - Auto Finese Enhancement Detail & Headlight Restoration

The Audi 'S' range has become ever so popular in a market of high performance (and quality built) German cars. Ranging from a little hatch through to full sized 4x4 SUV, its safe to say no one is going to be short on choice - even if home commitments help your decision.

The Audi S3 is the perfect compromise between big performance and small body size, making it one of the most commonly seen 'S' models. With a 1.8 Turbo engine and 4wheel drive, the 221bhp has no issues in carrying the car all the way through to its 151mph top speed. It's clear to see why these cars are still pretty desirable amongst car enthusiasts. Onto the detail..

To rectify this, a Headlight Correction would be in order. This process removes the deteriorated and damaged surface layer of the plastic lenses with multiple grades of finishing paper; starting with the harshest paper, working through to the finest. Before...

Any delicate surrounding areas were masked off to prevent damage prior to using the papers, this stops the papers imparting scratches into the paint.. Here's how the lenses looked after the first few finishing papers were worked in horizontal straight lines..

The car was moved outside to commence the wash down stages.. How the car looked after removing the registration plates..

Wheels done, was time to move onto the body. A citrus pre-cleaner was applied to the lower side panels, rear panels and front to loosen and pre-soak any heavier soiling. After approximately 1-2minutes, the car was then covered in a layer of foam prewash and left to dwell for 3-4minutes (at this point the camera was being used to record a small video so no photos of this stage). Window seals, grills, badges and other intricate areas were agitated with a boar's hair detailing brush. A pressure rinse carried away any foam remains along with any surface grit that had been lifted.

The car was then washed down with a two bucket method to minimise risk of re-transferring grit from the wash solution back onto the paint, causing more damage than what we already had to rectify. Auto Finesse Lather provided the lubricant and suds needed to gently cleanse the car free of any remaining dirt starting at the top of the vehicle and working downwards. A separate door-shut dedicated wash mitt was used to cleanse any remaining dirt from the shuts before the entire car received another pressure rinse. Any excess water was removed from the paint in order to carry out the next steps, tar and fallout contamination. Once the car was dried, a dedicated tar remover was used to remove some minor tar spotting along with a few larger, more stubborn spots. The tar remover was sprayed onto the panels being treated in order for the product to work into the spots, a microfiber cloth (pre-misted with tar remover too) was then carefully wiped over each area to remove the tar. Any larger or stubborn spotting would need a few more gentle passing with the cloth to remove them - no need for excessive pressure.

With the tar removed, once again Auto Finesse Iron Out was put to use. This time being applied to all painted areas via a hand pump sprayer. The Iron Out was then left to dwell for around 6-8minutes. Like the reaction on the wheels, any ferrous particles present on the paint would turn a deep purple. Due to the dark colour of the car, this was a little difficult to get a photo of. After the Iron Out had done its job, another pressure rinse removed the excess product along with any contamination. To complete the decontamination stages, a surface prep towel removed any remaining contamination to ensure the surfaces were completely free and smooth ready to be polished. A second diluted foaming and a final pressure rinse after 1-2 minutes, the Audi was moved back indoors and dried down using a combination of drying towel and warm filtered air.

Once dried, it was time to inspect the paint. Very minor swirling was highlighted by the lighting at the premises, which for a car of its age was a surprise.. Nothing too major.

Any delicate trims, seals and intricate areas were then masked off to prevent the polishing stages damaging or staining them. The indicator side repeaters were carefully removed from the sides of the car to ensure the most consistent polishing across that area. At this point, the headlights were now re-looked at in order to apply the protection. As the headlights will now be prone to yellowing again, (due to the protection surface being removed in the correction), the protection would essentially need to replace this. The lenses of the headlights were re-coated with a highly durable coating product that is going to last approximately 12+ months to ensure the longest protection possible. This coating was then required to cure for a minimum of 3hours.

With the car masked up and the headlights protected, the next step was to measure and inspect the paint for any damage, paint defects and thin areas. A paint thickness gauge was used panel-by-panel to see if any re-painted areas or previously polished areas were present. The readings across all panels ranged an average of 129-130 microns. The lowest reading taken was 101 microns whilst one of the highest was 145. Prior to measuring the body, the inner door shut was measured to give a rough idea how tolerable the paint would be. A measurement of 74 microns was taken; meaning there was more than enough clear coat to comfortably carry out the task at hand, even at the thinnest areas.

After going for a light polish/pad combination, the minor swirling was easily removed with use of a large-throw dual action polisher. Slightly deeper swirls and marks needed a second set to achieve the desired finish. The car received the same throughout the remainder of the panels, two sets of 6-8 slow passes achieved this difference..

Very swirly tail lights also were given a polishing to remove 90% of the defects. Amazing how much this little detail can help the overall appearance of the car once completed..

Between each section, an IPA dilution was used to remove any remaining polish oils. These can mask any remaining defects and give the appearance of a perfect finish, only to discover during the final stages that there are defects still needed to be removed. If any defects are found, they are dealt with accordingly before moving onto the next areas. Once all panels were polished, the whole car was then re-wiped down with IPA to remove any dust and remaining polish residues. At this point the masking tape was removed from the car. Any tape-lines were carefully wiped away with a plush microfiber.

With the body now wipes free of polish and dust, it was ready to lay down the first layer of wax. After toying with what wax to apply, it was decided that Auto Finesse Illusion would offer the best 'WOW' factor to the car with its dripping wet appearances once applied. The first coat of Illusion was applied thinly in overlapping circular motions using a foam Waxmate applicator. Once the whole car was covered in an even layer, it was left to cure for 10minutes before a clean microfiber was used to gently buff away the excess. Two coats were applied to the car leaving a minimum of one hour between the removal of the first coat and the application of the second. With the second coat buffed away, a few more finishing touched were completed whilst the wax gets time to cure further.

All exterior glass was cleared of dust, polish and residues using Auto Finesse Crystal whilst all exterior trims were dressed with Auto Finesse Revive. Intricate trims such as the nose and bumper grills were misted with Auto Finesse Dressle. Any over spray would be dealt with shortly.. The exhaust tips were looking a little used and unloved. A simple once over with Auto Finesse Mercury metal polish and they were restored back to a bright and clean stainless finish..

The wheels were then cleared of dust with a misting of Auto Finesse Finale quick detailer and buffed down with a microfiber cloth. The tyres were then dressed with Gyeon Q2m TIRE for its stunning 'as new' look and great durability. Arch liners were then misted with Auto Finesse Dressle too.

To finalise the exterior, the body was given a wipe down with Finale quick detailer to remove any remaining wax residues. A handheld sungun was used to ensure no streaks or smears were left behind, lessening the appearance and final finish in open daylight. The door shuts were also wiped free of dust. The interior of the S3 was thoroughly vacuumed free of dust, debris and general accumulated grit. Dashboard, door trim and centre console were wiped and protected with Auto Finesse Dressle for its anti-static, non-silicone matte finish. All interior glass was then cleaned with Crystal to finalise the transformation of this lovely original Audi S3. The final piece presented perfectly after its Enhancement Detail..

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