Taking Care of Carbon Fiber Panels
Those who’ve heard of carbon fiber panels on performance cars already know that carbon fiber provides a lightweight, durable alternative to traditional steel sheeting. The material, consisting of extremely thin fibers (0.005–0.010 mm in diameter), is popularly used in military, naval, aerospace, civil engineering, and most commonly auto sports. Some cars, such as the Buggati Veyron Super Sport or Zonda F, boast an entire clear coated carbon fiber body while others, such as Mercedes’ E63 AMG, have a carbon fiber roof feature. Protecting these panels may not be as tough as you’d think, so here’s what you need to know…
Customers ask me all the time (mostly E63 owners), “Do I need to do anything special with my carbon fiber?” Some even mention that they tell their detailers to “watch out for the carbon roof.” Well, sorry Charlie, but even though your carbon fiber looks great, it’s not all that special when it comes to detailing, albeit this feature is typically an option on cars over $80,000. Care is the name of the game, and no matter the surface, cars of this stature should be handled with care if not by the owners hands alone.
Because carbon fiber panels are clear coated, protecting them is very similar to a typical clear coated finish. With these cars, however, the level of protection is more important. Although carbon fiber wont fade like normal paint, you never want the clear coat to diminish or damage from environmental factors. For these unique panels it’s best to provide the surface with an initial layer of paint sealant, a long lasting polymer protection that will keep the surface protected from UV rays, environmental debris, and more. Because these cars with carbon fiber finishes are usually designed to show off, whether on the track or on the town, it’s also recommended that another layer of protection be applied; this time in the form of carnauba wax.
By adding an additional layer of carnauba, the initial polymer protection receives added depth and durability, meaning your finish will stay protected for a longer period of time. If a poly sealant is covered by a carnauba its integrity and protective qualities increase greatly. Better yet, the finish looks deeper and increasingly clear. If you’re lucky enough to own one of these cars, protecting it should be a top priority, as fixing a scratched carbon fiber panel isn’t as easy as a painted panel would be. Always, always, always take extra care and caution with carbon fiber features, whether it be a hood, a roof, or an entire car; remember to protect these rare finishes.
Curious about the process of producing carbon fiber? Check out this interesting video: Carbon Fiber Fabrication