OK, I finally did it. I've had new BMW motorcycles, but in May I bought my first new BMW car, a special order 2005 325Ci in Jet Black with Natural Brown leather, brushed aluminum interior trim, five-speed manual gearbox, sport package, and xenon headlights. In black, the E46 coupe manages to be both elegant and menacing. Almost contemporaneously, my colleague Les Bidrawn bought a slightly used E46 M3 in my favorite color, Laguna Seca blue. He may have outdone me, but it's one thing to have an M3 to carve canyons in So Cal; it's quite another matter when you run 25,000 miles a year like me, about half that in snow. Bidrawn also makes the big bucks at the Corporate HQ; I'm just a hunyock gearhead from a coal crackin' town.
I know what you're thinking: "Miller got a black car, so now we have to hear about detailing products while he tries to keep it clean." First off, my philosophy for black cars is that dirt sticks to all colors the same way; your car is either clean or it's not, and if it's not then you need to wash it. It doesn't matter what color it is. Yes, I do use Zymol detailing products on cars worthy of them. But this Tool of the Month is not about detailing-it's about emergency paint service.
At 5,000 miles, not even properly broken in, my 325Ci became covered in miserable overspray, and it was my own stupid fault.
"Overspray" is the term applied to floating semi-wet paint particles that float through the air and stick to all surfaces in the shop when you're using a spray gun or even a spray paint can. Don't you think I would know better? Well, I do. That's why I parked my 325Ci in the shop and did my spraying outside the shop, on the other side of a wall, without any direct line of sight to the car. However, the overhead door was open, and that's where I screwed up. I used Wurth Silver Wheel Lacquer spray cans to spray a new set of BMW 7x16-inch steel winter wheels for the car. Incredibly, the overspray wafted about 40 feet, around the corner, into the shop, and laid itself quite evenly all over my 325Ci, which was then metallic black. If it were clear coated, it actually would have looked kind of cool. But it wasn't.
Paint clay is not something Zymol invented. It is a very old detailer's trick which became popular in the mid-20th Century for removing industrial contaminants from automotive paint. Back then, you'd wash the car and then lightly run a flat piece of paint clay over the finish-LIGHTLY is key. And the paint had to be wet. It works like a charm, but also removes wax, so afterwards it was time for a wax job, too. It is also perfect for removing overspray, the alternative to which would involve use of solvents or a buffer. Not nice things to do to fresh German water-based paint.
Today, Zymol has taken paint clay to what may be the ultimate iteration. Naturally derived and produced from kaolin clay from Africa and chalcedony quartz from North America, Zymol Lehm-Klay is a superior remedy for acid rain etch, moderate abrasions, bird droppings, light oxidation and overspray. Lehm-Klay removes paint marring and soil through microscopic polishing and cleaning without causing harm to new or old paintwork.
Lehm-Klay is used in conjunction with a special Lehm-Lube, not water as in days of yore. You hand wash and dry the paint, spray Lehm-Lube on one foot square sections, and work the paint with Lehm-Klay using very light pressure. Too much pressure and you'll scratch the paint. Just the right amount of pressure achieves the desired results, in my case, no more overspray. Once the car is done, a warm rinse is all it needs prior to waxing. I cannot emphasize enough that minimum product application is all that's required. Lehm-Klay is not for regular use; it is an emergency paint service product. I had an emergency.
Now, here's the rub: Zymol considers Lehm-Klay a professional detailing product and will only sell it to professional detailers. And it costs $95 for two bars of Lehm-Klay and one bottle of Lehm-Lube. If you're confident in your detailing abilities, then tell Zymol you're a professional detailer. As for the price, the local detailer wanted $300 to get rid of the overspray. I politely declined. On my way out of his shop I happened to notice some well-used Zymol Lehm-Klay.