I bought my 2010 S3 Sportback in spring 2011 with 9,600 miles on the clock. It was an ex-VW UK management car and although clean, it looked to have had barely a clean in the 6 months it was used (judging by the amount of tar) before being offloaded to an Audi franchise. Unfortunately, it was then in the dealer's hands for another 6 months and treated to some particularly harsh washing before I finally got it! The car is now on 15.5k miles.
As many of you will know, Brilliant Red is a great colour when properly cleansed and treated, but it's second only to a flat black like Brilliant Black in its ability to show marks and swirling. I've given the bodywork some good care in the 9 months since getting the car, but it was always clear that I'd need some professional help to get the overall condition to where I wanted it.
After waiting for winter to pass, I called my usual detailers (Just Detailing Services, based around Bristol) and asked them to give it their best shot. Paul and Darren are well known to me as I've been using them annually on my cars, but they're also fairly big on the Pistonheads scene. My camera isn't especially good, but I hope the following gives you some idea of their work:
On arrival - looks clean to the average Joe...
...and I only do around 6,000 miles a year, so this was dirty for me (although my mileage is about to go up a lot)
Getting down to business with some snow foaming
Inside the unit. Getting this far took over an hour and, at this stage, the car was looking very good - at first glance!
...but the amount of tar that was coming off on clay bars and general marring being revealed meant that a level of correction not usual for a car of this age and use was needed - it's only on 15.5k miles remember! As you can see below, the shine is good - but what you can't see is the amount of tar still on the inside of the wheels (no time to take these off for 100% perfection), nor the general swirling and marks in places. These issues were mainly from the 6 months of use and time at the dealer compound before I got the car.
The photos aren't great, but the "problem" and solution are best shown by the three following photos of the front wing. The first shows the deep swirls and marring, especially if you let your eye follow the shape of the arch bulge...
...the second shows work in progress - two very careful stages of correction using abrasive polishes and a wool mop were required on the front wings and bonnet...
...and finally, Zaino Glare sealant was applied to bring out the shine and add a very durable finish (my priority).
A few areas of spot correction were also required, including a quite serious parking scuff to the lower edge of the rear bumper. This mark was about 10 inches long and 6 inches high - now all but gone thanks to some time with fine polishing compounds.
The bonnet was the worst panel - shown here after correction, but before final treatment with Glare. I doubt you can see, but this panel was only about 60% corrected in Paul's opinion; enough for me, but just about visible under harsh spotlights. To go further than this, another hour or so of correction would be needed - perhaps next time!!
By about 3pm, the correction stage was over - giving this result before final protection and dressings are applied. This side shot also shows to me why some lowering kits for the S3 come only with front lowering springs!!
The final hours are mainly spent machining and then hand-applying multiple coats of Glare sealant. With spring upon us, there is enough light coming in from outside to reflect onto the final finish...
...but it seems like a good idea to get some pics outside anyway!
An industrial unit on a grey day wouldn't be my first choice for showing off the final result - nor the amazing shine of Brilliant Red - but hopefully you get the idea!
In case you are wondering, the car is wearing a pair of AlloyGator protection strips to the wheels on the nearside - these don't look great but have saved several trips to have the alloys refurbished (due to my wife's parking "technique"). In black, they make the wheels look smaller, so I'll take them off when we get a second car for my wife in a few weeks' time.
The car was detailed at the site of Infinity Exhausts and South West In-Car Tech, so I had a chance to find out a little more about about Stage 2 tuning and see the quality of their work. I have already started saving!
So there we have it - a corrected and finished S3 in what I have learned is a very hard to maintain colour! The overall outcome was a compromise between time, money, the pre-detail condition of the paintwork and ongoing use as the main vehicle for a growing family. I'm very happy with the result though.
I'm starting a new job this coming week, which will involve a lot more miles for the S3 as I can't face a diseasel econobox. I feel somehow better prepared now.