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Feynlab - Ceramic coating done on my Kia Seltos

Team-BHP.com 2020-07-30 09:56:56
Feynlab - Ceramic coating done on a brand new KIA Seltos – GTX+ 7DCT – 2020 Model - with all black interiors. Felicity Detailing Studio

– It’s a Feynlab Branch in Bangalore, owned by Mr Samrat.

Contact Details:

Mr. Samrat Khashim

Phone no: +91-8147148148 / +91-9901831200

Email:

felicitydetailingstudio@gmail.com Address:

Store location - Felicity Detailing Studio,

Plot no: 16/1, Phoenix Towers, Ground Floor, Front Wing, Museum Road, Rest House Rd, Bengaluru, 560001, Karnataka.

Felicity Detailing Studio: Likes:
  • Detailing studio is located in the heart of the city and easily accessible.
  • Great attention to detail.
  • Relatively less expensive and cost friendly when compared to other ceramic brands.
  • Trustworthy and knowledgeable managers.
  • Well trained and highly skilled workers.
  • Great range of world class products and services offered.
  • Well lit & spacious studio with a dedicated lab space for ceramic coating applications.
Dislikes:
  • No separate section for water wash and the washing bay is just outside the customer lounge and the floor is very slippery in and around that area.
  • No provision for a complete under body wash.
  • Gets crowded during weekends and one needs to take a prior appointment or wait a lot. Studio can only accommodate 4 cars at time. No parking space available. So need to plan your visits.
  • Time and attention spent on a vehicle may come down over time.
  • PPF and carbon vinyl wraps are very expensive.
Ceramic coating pros:
  • Protects the original paint against mild scratches and environmental hazards as it is applied over the clear coat.
  • Adds super gloss to the paint and lasts longer than wax polishes, Teflon coatings etc.
  • Less water washes and easier to clean as the surface becomes very smooth and does not allow dirt to stick on to it easily.
  • Enhances the resale value by retaining the shine for a longer duration.
  • Glass coatings, brings down the usage of wipers to some extent and improves visibility during heavy downpours.
  • Auto healing capabilities, removes very mild scratches when parked directly under sunlight or when hot water is poured over it.
  • Interior coatings protects the leather upholstery from cracks and preserves the elasticity.
Ceramic coating cons:
  • All professional coatings are very expensive and worth only if you plan to keep the vehicle for a longer duration like say at least for 3+ years.
  • Does not protect the vehicle from any deep scratches,stone chips and accidents and have to be reapplied in case of any kind of damages.
  • Majorly used for enhancing the visual appeal and protection from environmental damages and no protection against real world on road damages.
  • May really not make any sense for less expensive vehicles like hatch backs, considering the cost of a professional ceramic coat application.
  • Water beads on the surface and leaves behind a lot of water marks along with mineral deposits after they dry off the surface, all of which have to be manually cleaned.
  • Ceramic coatings do not have any auto cleaning properties and hence dirt,dust, bird droppings, tree saps etc. still have to be cleaned and wiped. The only advantage is they don't damage the original paint.
  • Ceramic coating is prone to abrasive materials and swirl marks still appear on the surface if cleaned with non micro fiber cloth.
  • Post application, care has to be taken to maximize the durability. Improper maintenance will bring down the durability factor.
  • Warranty and durability are subjected to maintenance.
  • Car washes at authorized centers and automatic car washes have to be avoided as far as possible.
  • Pops out more on darker colors than on lighter shades.
  • Self Healing Ceramic coatings ( Heal lite and Heal plus ) are very expensive and do not work on lighter shades.[esp. on a white color]
  • Time consuming process and may be difficult to manage if you don't have an alternative means of transport.
Introduction:

I bought a compact SUV recently and was looking out for a good all weather paint protection system since it is parked outside on the pavement and is prone to all kinds of environmental hazards. I also own a Verna fluidic and have experimented with detailing products like waxing, Teflon coating, innumerable polishes from various brands like 3M,Wurth,Meguiars, Formula1, Turtle wax etc. which have eventually given up to the exterior conditions over time. The downside of these polishes and waxes are that they need to be re-applied every now and then and the waxes attract a lot of dust that results in more car washes and takes more efforts to keep the car clean. These products might be good for a sheltered parking, but definitely not for an outdoor parking in my opinion. I love to maintain the new look of the car and so made up mind to give ceramic coating a try since it is durable and a long term solution. The other option was PPF (Paint Protection Film) which I will talk about later.

Ceramic Coating options:

I stay in Basavanagudi,Bangalore and checked out a few ceramic coating options available here in Bangalore. Ceramic coating is a very expensive affair and so I read and researched a lot about it on the internet and I decided to visit the detailers in person and check out the real difference that it brings about. Each of them showed me the products, explained the technology behind it and they also gave me the pricing details about the various packages and services they offered. Finally they also showed me the finished products which looked amazing and gave me a demo on one of the sample bonnets they had in their labs. I checked out the offerings from below companies in person.

1) Opti-coat

2) AutoTriz

3) Ceramic PRO

4) Feynlab

There are still other detailers who offer products from other companies, but a google search listed these as the top most popular findings with highest ratings. So I didn’t bother to check out the other brands.

PPF (Paint Protection film):

The other long term, most durable option to protect the vehicle is the PPF, normally done on luxury cars. This is kind of a transparent plastic wrap on the entire vehicle which gives maximum protection against stone chips and scratches and is much more expensive than the top of the line ceramic coating packages. All the detailers I spoke to had the PPF offering as well with exorbitant prices.

Ceramic Coating or PPF: which one is better and which one to choose?

Both are equally good, offer good amount of protection. Both are expensive with PPF being super expensive. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages and are not bullet proof protection systems and one stop solutions. You will need to weigh in based on your actual needs.

Advantages of Ceramic coating:

Ceramic coatings forms a permanent bond with the paints and seal off all the microscopic pores and protect the car from UV rays, light scratches, dirt/dust, sand, mud, grime, chemical contaminants, tree saps, acid rain, bird droppings etc. without any side-effects to the stock paint and prevents premature ageing, fading due to oxidation and keeps the brand new look on for a longer time which enhances the resale value. It adds a high gloss and a super smooth repellent layer on top of the original paint and does not allow most of the outside environmental debris to stick on to it. The contaminants slide off easily and makes cleaning the car super easy which in turn reduces the frequency of washes. It frees one from waxing and polishing the vehicle on a constant basis and in fact no other chemical toppings are required as it stays on for a longer duration without any repeated applications and can last a lifetime if maintained well. If ceramic coats are applied on to glass surfaces, it also drastically brings down the usage of wipers during rains especially while driving on highways as water slides off due to hydrophobic properties.

Advantages of PPF:

Same advantages as that of ceramic coatings and in addition to that PPF may last longer than ceramic coatings. PPF also offers special windshield protection systems that prevent stone chips on windshield as well.

Disadvantages of Ceramic coating and PPF protections:

Ceramic coating is expensive but relatively less expensive when compared to PPF solutions. Both do not protect the car from any kind of accidental impacts, damages and deep scratches. If they do happen, coatings and PPF will need to be reapplied on to the damaged parts and surfaces at an additional cost above and over your repair order. Watermarks will still appear and sit on the surface until it is wiped off or dried using blow driers.

PPF’s also may turn pale or yellowish and give a faded look over a long period of time if not applied or maintained properly. Can start to peel off from the edges allowing the air to sink in which eventually leads to the development of air bubbles underneath the wrap and messes it up and gives a very ugly look on the car surface. Pulling it out and re-applying it again may also introduce or leave behind other kinds of pull marks and trails.

Post Application care:

Have to be extra careful while washing the car and ensure that no abrasive materials like non microfiber clothes are used to clean and wash the car. Have to use a high quality car shampoos or water-less wash based sprays along with good microfiber cloth to dry clean it. Even the best microfiber clothes may leave light swirl marks so the best option may be to blow dry it and push water out from unreachable crevices and stick to touch-less washes. Car washes at authorized dealer service center and automatic car washes will have to be avoided to maximize the durability.

The Decision making and Selection Process:

I contacted the ceramic coating dealers in Bangalore, mainly from these four brands (Opti-coat, AutoTriz, Ceramic PRO and Feynlab) spoke to the managers there on phone, and did a walk-in visit to understand about the process and discussed with them about what package to choose and the pricing for them. Since, it was a brand new car, straight out of the showroom, they advised me to go for premium ceramic packages. Although, almost all of them offered a similar technology but the pricing was different at each brand. They also offered customized packages wherein I was allowed to choose the parts of the vehicle on which the coating would be applied, number of layers etc. to bring down the costs.

Finally to keep the cost in check, I decided to go for the best of both worlds. Ceramic coating and PPF only for the most prone area. [Outside Rear View mirrors] as all them offered to do that for free as a complimentary service. Now that I decided on ceramic coating, the next question was which one to choose.

The reason as to why I didn’t choose the PPF was mainly because of the cost and secondly if any of the PPF issues that I mentioned earlier, crops up, becomes more pronounced on a white color than on darker shades.

Which Ceramic coating brand to choose:

After an in person visit, I admit that the professionalism and work done at these four companies [Opti-coat, AutoTriz, Feynlab and Ceramic Pro] is extremely good and top notch and it was tough for me to select one among them. So which brand to choose? Well, there is no real answer to this. All of them offer 9H level of hardness and SiO2 [Silicon-Oxide] based coatings and it all boils down to what you are comfortable with and the costs you are ready to bear. So, I leave it to you to decide. A more practical way of looking at this is to negotiate well and choose a brand that does the job at a reasonable price and the one closer to home than falling prey for marketing strategies.

The only criteria I used in my decision making was the price and distance of the service centre from my home as commuting to and fro in cabs to the service centre to drop off and pick up was a pain during lock down time. Some even offered home pick-up and drop off. But I personally don’t like that idea and did not want someone else to drive the brand new vehicle. I absolutely have no bias towards any brand as all of them were equally good. The reason why I choose the nearest studio is because not everything was done on the same day. Each procedure was carried out methodically on different days. So I had to make multiple trips in my old car to the studio to capture and document all of it. So nearest one was better.

Ceramic coating Pricing:

Ceramic coating costs anywhere between Rs.30,000 to Rs.75,000 INR for SUV’s, depending upon the brand and package you choose. Please note, the prices are exclusive of taxes.

There are also customizable packages offered by each brand and you can pick and choose what you want applied on your vehicle and you would need to talk to an expert and get an analysis or assessment done on your vehicle to finalize on the package and pricing. The costs also depend upon the extent of damage already present on your vehicle. More the damage, more will be the cost as it would result in more work for them.

Ceramic coating prices,discounts and offers: Opti-coat

is superior in terms of the ceramic technology they offer and also was the costliest among all even with 10% discount as they claimed life time warranty for their top end packages.

They also have no cost EMI schemes. However, if one opts for that, the discount of 10% gets negated and will be charged full price.

price = 70k + taxes for a complete (Interior + Exterior) coating. [10% discount was offered on this quoted price]

The pricing offered by other brands,

Autotriz,Ceramic Pro and Feynlab

were almost same with a slight variation along with a 5 year warranty. (All the quotes were offered with discounts)

price = 55k + taxes for a complete (Interior + Exterior) coating. [5% discount was offered on this quoted price]

Upon multiple negotiations with these dealers, Feynlab offered the best possible discount for me with a 5 year warranty.

Studio Locations:
  1. AutoTriz is located on outer ring road,Bangalore and is about 18 km away from my home. So definitely was not a feasible option as it would eat up a lot of time from my schedule.
  2. Ceramic Pro is located on CMH road, Indiranagar,Bangalore and is about 12 km from my home.
  3. Opti-coat is near Frazer town, closer to MG Road and Commercial Street, in Bangalore which is again about 10 km from home.
  4. Feynlab has two branches in bangalore, one in HSR Layout (12 km from home) and one closer to my home. Actually I spoke to Mr. Sandeep from Feynlab, whose is a manager at the HSR Layout branch. After speaking to him I got to know about the other branch closer to my home. (Just about 5 km from home)
So finally I decided to drop the vehicle at Felicity Detailing Studio – which is a branch of Feynlab in the heart of the city.

I met Mr. Samrat at Feynlab who is a soft spoken, down to earth person with lots of patience. He answered all of my questions and finally suggested me to go for Ceramic plus package for the entire vehicle. (All painted surfaces, glass elements, alloys, brake calipers and wheels, plastics and interior leather upholstery). I agreed for the same and left the vehicle for ceramic coating. He said that the entire process would take about 3-4 days and I was absolutely fine with it as I had my old car for commuting and also working from home due to lock-down.

Understanding Ceramic coating Technology: So what is ceramic coating and how does it work?

It is a Nano technology that comprises of mixing various chemical elements like [Silicon carbide (Si-C) for hardness, Silicon Oxide – aka Siloxane (Si-O) for gloss, Silicon Nitride (Si-N) for strength and Fluoride (FL) for hydrophobic properties and chemical resistance] that bond together to form a Nano particle. Many of these Nano particles combine together to form a very thin glass like layer with a 9H level of hardness. This hardened transparent material sticks on to the surface for longer durations and do not get easily washed off by natural environmental and climatic conditions. Ceramic coating is basically a liquid polymer, which, when applied on to a surface (could be anything – metal, glass, plastic, fabric etc.) reacts and links itself on to the surface on which it is applied by penetrating the microscopic imperfections on porous surfaces and hardens after a certain time duration and forms a very thin transparent protective glass or quartz like layer that is generally not visible to the naked eye. It will be basically 2-3 microns thick. (Thickness also depends on the product we choose, the strength of chemical composition used in it and the number of layers applied) If multiple layers are applied then the thickness increases. Almost all the ceramic coating products available today will have more or less a similar technology with slight variations.

The figure (which I copied it from one of the websites during my research) below illustrates how the Nano particles bond on to the paint surface.

A Nano-ceramic coating provides an incredibly hard layer of protection that fills in the microscopic peaks and valleys found in the paint surface.

What is self-healing technology ?

Certain ceramic products also have self-healing properties,meaning, it does even out the light scratches when either hot water is poured on it or parked directly under sun light. This happens because the chemicals used in them re-structures and remoulds itself under certain temperatures and hardens thereafter.

How many layers of Ceramic coating is actually necessary or sufficient:

There isn’t much clarity in this area, so I did a bit of research on this. Strictly speaking, one layer is sufficient if they use true Nano technology. If the concentration of chemicals used in it are high and of a professional grade quality and applied correctly then a single layer should just be enough. Basically if the SiO2 content is good,more than 80%, it cures well, bonds well and hardens well and that is more than enough to form a thin and a transparent glass like layer. Anything more is of no use and burns a big hole in the pocket. More layers are needed only for even coverage and if not applied as per procedures. (Needed to cover the improper applications).Any other layers that are applied on top of it will be other protective layers and they are not necessarily ceramic layers. They are layers from other chemical products like just a protective coat. This is a very grey area and some companies exaggerate and boast of saying that they apply multiple layers. Actually it’s a marketing gimmick I feel which gives the notion of “More is better” to the end consumers. Moreover some products support multiple layers based on their chemical composition and some do not. Ceramic PRO and AutoTriz apply multiple layers, where as Feynlab and Opti-coat do not.

The hard truth about Multiple Layers:

At Feynlab, Mr Samrat was very honest in accepting the real facts about layers and cleared my doubt around this. He told me that multiple layers are required only in case of Heal-Lite and Heal Plus packages with extreme self-healing capabilities from Feynlab as they are bit more complicated to apply. He also told me that not all layers are ceramic layers. They apply multiple chemical products on top of each other which fuse together to form a thick layer. Each layer applied is from a different product with different chemical properties. (Like levelling aids, overcoats and sealants). They are just protective layers coated on top of the base ceramic coats. From this it is clear that the ceramic layering model is marketed differently from various brands based on their chemical structures. When they say 5 layers, all 5 layers generally are not ceramic layers. They are just multiple protective layers of different chemical compounds (SiO2 sprays and sealants) over one or two base/main ceramic layers. Also on a white or vehicle with lighter shades, multiple layers are not necessary as it does not do anything more or add more gloss, no matter how many layers are added. On a dark colored vehicle more layers may be necessary for extreme gloss. However there is a limit to it and you need to check if multiple layers are really needed or not as they becomes very thick and sometimes may etch out on the surface if applied unnecessarily. So I urge people to talk to the dealer of their preference and get a clear understanding of the work they do rather than blindly believing about this “layering myth”.

When is a good time to apply the Ceramic coating?

Ceramic coating can be applied during any time of the year and is best suited for vehicles whose condition is new. This is because, ceramic coating would be applied on top of the clear coat of the new vehicle and the original factory fit and finish can be retained for longer periods of time and vehicle will look brand new even after years if maintained well. The intention here is to retain the clear coat as much as possible. The pro dealers I contacted, advised me to not wash the vehicle till I leave it there as one can accidentally damage the clear coat with lots of scratches and swirl marks by rubbing it with non-micro fiber cloth. If it is an old vehicle, chances are that the body surface would have already got damaged due to various factors or got repainted and they would have to do a lot of paint correction to apply the coating on it. Also to be noted here is, after a ceramic coat is applied it needs some time to cure and settle down and so it should be ensured that it does not get wet or drenched in the rain immediately after application and should be allowed to dry in normal room or outside temperatures within the first 24 hrs.

What is the curing time for a freshly applied ceramic coating? And what care should be taken?

Generally the recommend time is about 7 days for almost all brands. However with Infrared (IR) curing and Indian weather conditions 4-5 days should be fine as I have first-hand experience of this. Greater the humidity, faster is the curing time. Care should be taken so as to not drive the vehicle in wet conditions immediately after application or to be more precise within the first 24 hours. 7 days as recommend,I believe is mainly for foreign country weather conditions.

Coating + rain within first 24hrs = total or premature failure and the entire money spent on it goes to drain along with the rain.

Vehicle should also not be exposed to moist conditions until the first 24 hours and should not allow any water droplets, dust or chemicals to bake in along with the application. If it does get wet, care should be taken to immediately dry it off with a blower or gently wipe it off with a microfiber cloth that absorbs all moisture.

Post coating care:

It should not be washed with any type of chemicals or shampoos during the first week as the coating would still be brittle and will be leveling itself and slowly hardening. After a week or even before as I have seen, around the 4-5 day mark, it hardens to its full strength. But it is always good, if the vehicle is left untouched for a week as per their recommendations.

Rain or wet conditions before the curing time period of 7 days:

In my case, I park the vehicle outside and Samrat had instructed me to leave it exposed to the outside temperature and allow it to cure. The weather was good for the first 4-5 days after application, but on the 6th and 7th day it did get wet in the rain. So I immediately called up Samrat and told him about this. He said, nothing to worry, as it would have properly cured in less than 4-5 days under the sun. I did check myself after the heavy rain and found water beading excellently all over and sliding off the glass and inclined surfaces. That was a good sign of assurance and proved that everything was OK. The only thing was after it dried up, there were few water spots were left over. I thought of cleaning it up but didn’t want to take any risk or do anything without asking Samrat. He told me that it is normal and they are not hard water spots and they would just go off during the first maintenance wash and nothing to be worried about.

The Complete Ceramic Coating Process carried on my vehicle @ Feynlab: Ceramic Plus Package:

I purchased the Feynlab Ceramic Plus package that included the following services and products.

This is a complete compilation of ceramic coating process and I hope it serves as a guide to those interested in getting the ceramic coating done on their vehicles as well. I have been as transparent as possible about my experience and have listed the end to end ceramic coating steps and the procedures that will be carried out will be more or less the same across any brand. Products used and their costs might differ.

The ceramic plus package includes the following services:
  1. Application of one layer of ceramic plus coat on all painted surfaces – This is the main product.
  2. Application of one layer of overcoat – Protective coat on top of ceramic plus.
  3. Application of one layer of plastic coat on all plastic surfaces.
  4. Application of one layer of glass coat on all glass elements after polishing it with glass polish.
  5. Application of one layer of wheel and alloy coat on alloys and brake calipers.
  6. Application of one layer of protective wheel coat on the tyres.
  7. Application of one layer of detailers coat – Applied after a week and during the first maintenance visit.
  8. Application of one layer of free maintenance coat after 6 months and 1 year – yet to be done.
  9. Application of one layer of coat on interior leather upholstery - yet to be done as I had still not removed the plastic seat covers. This is because I wanted to preserve the new car smell for first few days. Applying these chemicals adds its own fragrance and kills the new car smell. I will get it done as soon as the new car smell subsides. (Full payment has already been done for the entire package and I personally asked them to not apply it.)
The ceramic plus package includes the following products:
  • Feynlab cermaic plus- Applied on all painted surfaces and chrome.
  • Feynlab overcoat - Protective overcoat applied on top of ceramic plus.
  • Feynlab Plastic coat - Applied on all exterior plastic surfaces.
  • Feynlab Window treatment - Glass polish and glass coat. - Applied on all exterior glass elements, including the headlights, tail lights, ORVM's and turn indicators.
  • Feynlab wheel and Alloy coat. - Applied on alloys and disc brake calipers.
  • Feynlab interior cleaning compound and leather coat - Applied on interior leather upholstery.
  • Detailers coat - Applied during maintenance visits on painted surfaces only.
  • Applicator pads and microfiber cloth.

So, overall there would be 5 layers applied (taking maintenance visits also into consideration) on the painted surfaces and only one layer of other chemical products applied on other surfaces as explained above. So when they say they apply 5 layers at Feynlab, in actuality it is not the ceramic plus compound that is layered 5 times on top of each other. The layers are made up of other products as previously explained and also depends on the package chosen.

Total Package Price = Products cost + labor charges

55k + taxes, Discount = GST waived off. Total Price paid = 55k

Ceramic coating Procedures:

There are a lot of preparatory steps for a ceramic coating application.

I have listed all the steps in the order in which they were carried out at Feynlab Studio.

Step 1: Inspection Phase:

Upon very close initial inspection it was found out that there were very minute Nano scratches and very light Nano swirl marks on the vehicle. Don’t be surprised as that would have happened at the showroom as they clean and wash the vehicle and wipe off the dust before delivery. That is not visible unless you see it under very bright focused lights. This would normally be on every delivered vehicle.

Step 2: Clean Water Wash:

The vehicle was thoroughly cleaned to remove all the contaminants. This was done to avoid any kind of swirl marks that may occur during the cleaning/drying/buffing process. In this step it was cleaned with high pressure water wash followed by a decontamination wash or also known as foam wash using a high quality shampoo [Pure wash] which strips the loose dirt and debris from the paint surface. This included engine bay and under-body cleaning as well.

Step 3: Foam and Steam wash:

High quality foam shampoo [PURE WASH] was sprayed all over the vehicle and left for about 5 minutes to remove all the dirt. It is also known as decontamination wash which strips the loose dirt and debris from the paint surface. This is purely a touch-less approach and was done to avoid any kind of swirl marks that may occur during the cleaning/drying/buffing process.

Steam wash was not done as it was a brand new vehicle and interior cleaning was also not done as the plastic covers were still on the seats. They ensure that the vehicle is thoroughly cleaned in this phase. Every panel was cleaned very well, including the door beading's and every small accessible crevices were checked and cleaned with a microfiber cloth.

Step 4: Clean Water Wash:

High pressure water was sprayed again to clean off the remaining foam residues.

Step 5: Blow drying:

The vehicle was then purged with compressed air and then dried with a premium microfiber towel.

Air Force Master Blaster Car Dryer:

A high-powered car dryer was used to completely dry the vehicle in 15 minutes or less. The dryer uses warm, dry and filtered air to dry all parts of the vehicle including the engine, panel gaps and other hard-to-reach locations. It literally blasts water off the surface and the water evaporates before leaving any water spots.The touch less drying process won’t cause scratches, streaks and spots on paint and chrome finishes.

With a high speed air blower, all the water was dried off the surface.

Step 6: Clean Wipe:

With a clean micro fiber towel, the vehicle was wiped and completely dried.