Best paint treatments for cars and airplanes?

I am concerned that there hasn’t been enough disagreement here on this blog on religious topics, e.g., whether mask use by the general population reduces or delays coronavirus infection (masking K-12 students doesn’t help, according to the CDC, but let’s order it anyway!). So it is time to introduce the topic of wax, polish, and other paint treatments.

An aircraft mechanic here in the Florida Free State swears by Nu Finish for boats and planes and says that it actually does last for nearly a year. This product is top-rated by Consumer Reports as well, being super durable and almost as easy to apply as the other top-rated product, Meguiar’s NXT Generation Tech Wax 2.0.

Here are the patients:

  • 2005 Cirrus SR20 with original white paint plus some decals. It looks reasonably good after a wash, but could be glossier. The plane has lived in a hangar for its whole life, but is exposed to the sun for days at a time when on trips.
  • a 2022 Chevrolet that will be arriving soon. It will be garaged, but exposed to the sun when driving and this might be a car worth handing down to the kids so they can remember when internal combustion was like before President Harris banned it

(Our beloved 2021 Honda Odyssey won’t get any treatment because it is leased and will go back to Honda in January 2024. When turned in, the 2018 Odyssey still had new-looking paint despite never having been treated in any way.)

Both Nu Finish and Meguiar’s claim to offer UV protection. Does anyone have experience with these? Each bottle is supposed to be enough for one regular-sized car? So you’d need two bottles for a pavement-melting SUV and three bottles for a four-seat airplane? What kind of rags do you use for application?

Also, what about ceramic coatings for paint? I haven’t seen an objective comparison of this expensive process (many $thousands for an airplane) versus spending $7.59 every year on Nu Finish. The people who make money applying ceramic coatings swear by them, but consider that the people who made money putting COVID-19 patients on ventilators back in the spring of 2020 also said that was the best possible medical idea. If ceramic coating is such a great idea, why don’t Ferrari and Rolls-Royce do it at the factory?

A friend owns a car wash/detail operation. Here’s what he had to say:

We do lots of detailing on exotic cars etc. c8 [Corvette] more impressive in person than just about anything. Gm also finally figured out how to make a good looking interior. The detail shop team prefers c8 over Mclaren’s!

Be sure to get a ppf film on hood and ceramic coat as soon as u get. Worth money. GM paint is quite soft. As a result they pick up swirl marks easily.

[follow-up after I queried “Ceramic coating is not a snake oil scam? What about for airplanes ? We had some exotic formula tested on a square in our PC-12 near exhaust stack. Made no difference in glossiness or ease of cleaning.”]

Not snake oil at all.

Works 100x better than wax. The key though is the paint correction step. You have to buff paint to a very smooth finish then seal it.

The airplane stuff is a joke bc airplane paint is garbage in most instances. On cars you are actually sealing the clear coat.

The cost for ceramic on a car isn’t the coating, it’s the labor on the buffing step.

It really helps with acid rain degradation dulling of clear coat on east coast.

He’s smart and I respect his opinion, but I can’t get over my Efficient Market Hypothesis question: If ceramic coating makes sense, why isn’t it the final step at the car factory? The paint shouldn’t ever be smoother than when the car is brand new, right? Why not apply the magic elixir when the paint is new and doesn’t need the expensive “correction” step?

The PPF film that he mentioned is made by 3M, so that suggests it isn’t a total scam. On the third hand, despite the heavy truck traffic on the roads here in Florida, there doesn’t seem to be enough gravel to create a significant paint chip risk. God ran out of rocks somewhere in Georgia? And, again, if this is such a great idea why don’t they put it on at the factory, at least as an option?

Full post, including comments

Rent our your new car via Turo for tax savings?

Cars have never been in such short supply. Rental cars that I’ve been lucky enough to find, in our inflation-free economy, cost 2X what similar cars at the same locations cost in 2019, e.g., $120/day for a Camry at Dulles Airport.

The Democrats who rule in Washington, D.C. have promised higher tax rates on the subjects. Sales tax on a new car is a “state and local tax (SALT)” deduction that was limited during the Trump administration. (The richest 1% get more than half the benefit form a big SALT deduction, so the Democrats who say that they’re upset about inequality would have some explaining to do if they were to restore this and were unlucky enough to encounter an independent journalist.)

What if we combine the above trends? Any new car that we happen to have ordered should be rented out via Turo! People who can’t find cars at Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise will be forced onto the Turo platform out of desperation. Rates obtainable via Turo should be much higher right now than in previous years. Suppose that the new car is used primarily or exclusively for Turo rentals for a year or two. Wouldn’t you then be able to deduct sales tax, insurance, garage space, depreciation, and other car-related expenses?

Suppose that the U.S. economy goes from boom to bust? (after all, we’re told that low-skill migrants are the primary driver of U.S. economy prosperity and the Biden administration is talking about deporting thousands of Haitians) We get back to the days when anyone could walk into a car dealer and buy a car and anyone could go to the Hertz counter and rent a car for $45/day. Shut down the Turo operation and convert the car to personal use, having managed to cover much of the cost of the car via rental income that was mostly balanced out by deductible expenses and therefore that didn’t get taxed.

Some Lamborghini owners working the tax angle or would it work in a tax-free environment (these seem to be all in Beverly Hills, but there are also some in Miami)?

There are perhaps 100 Corvettes available from Turo in Southeast Florida. They range in price from $85/day (2010) to $200-400/day (2020 and 2021 C8 version). Here’s a 2020 in NW Miami that has been rented 55 times at $299/day:

Omar lets people run up 200 miles per day as part of the price. Let’s say that he’s rented it for 110 total days (2 days per rental) and that Turo takes 30 percent of the revenue. Omar’s revenue is about $23,000. Suppose that people actually drove it 15,000 miles during these rentals (i.e., not quite the full 200 miles). Omar is charging $1.50/mile for extra miles driven. So if that number reflects the cost of depreciation and marginal maintenance from miles driven, he has actually not made any money (since $1.50 times 15,000 is $22,500). This YouTube enthusiast, at about 6:00 in, says that the C7 depreciated 48 cents/mile driven and predicts the same rate for the C8. On the third hand, 60 cents is probably the new 48 cents in our inflation-free economy. So Omar’s costs are perhaps 75 cents/mile driven (depreciation plus tires/oil). That leaves a profit from $23,000 of rental of only $11,750. That hardly seems worth it unless he is getting some huge tax savings on what would otherwise have been a non-deductible personal purchase. The IRS allows depreciation of $18,200 in 2021 and $16,400 in 2022 for a car placed into service in 2021. For a Californian or New Yorker in a roughly 50% state+federal tax bracket, that’s a potential tax savings of over $17,000 from the depreciation (though if the Turo business never makes any money, the IRS has a better chance of saying “that Lambo is a hobby”).

What about humbler vehicles? In our vicinity, I found a $30/day Hyundai Sonata 2016 (joined August 2021; never rented), an $87/day Tesla 3 2018 (joined April 2018; never rented; “The host cancelled this trip 11 minutes before it started.” and “The host cancelled this trip 3 hours before it started.”), a $48/day Kia Sorento 2017 (9 trips), a $35/day 2012(!) Camry (24 trips), a $39/day Volkswagen Jetta 2018 at $39/day (70 trips; this one must actually work as a business).

Readers: Did Turo get much more popular during the rental car famine of 2021? And will the Biden tax rates boost Turo yet higher? When the UK had high tax rates, one response was that nearly all cars of any value became company cars, paid for with pre-tax dollars (of course, the most sensible response was to emigrate to Australia, Canada, or New Zealand, and that worked out great for most of those who abandoned the sclerotic U.K.).


Full post, including comments

LCD or e-ink screen instead of grille for the front of electric cars?

Electric cars don’t need a cooling airflow from the front, thus rendering grilles superfluous. The Tesla 3 has a flat nose and a slab where you’d expect the grille:

Some competitors have figured out more aesthetic solutions. The Kia EV6 replaces the traditional gasoline-car grille with… multiple grilles:

Here’s a Mercedes concept, suitable for Burning Man:

Could we find a more interesting use of this space? With an LCD or e-ink screen, the car could have different personalities at different times of day or for different drivers. The e-ink approach would consume much less battery power, of course.

A Maskachusetts driver could, for example, mirror the state-run highway signs that urge motorists to get vaccinated (but there are no vaccine clinics at the state-run highway rest stops). Alternatively, he/she/ze/they could turn the car nose into an extension of his/her/zir/their lawn. The nose display could read “Black Lives Matter” and then change automatically to “#StopAsianHate” if a gold Lexus were approaching. A Floridian, unable to choose among the 100+ specialty plates available, could rotate among the designs (no front license plate is actually required in Florida, but many of these are fun designs, especially if the mournful “save the…” messages were removed):

(Why do people want to concentrate on the negative? Wouldn’t it be just as effective to say “Celebrate Our Seas” as “Save Our Seas”? To say “Manatee Friends” rather than “Save the Manatee”? Why does the sea turtle plate need a written message at all? People who see the plate will be reminded that Florida is home to sea turtles and to respect their nesting sites.)

Full post, including comments

Good news for dogs: Tesla 3 dominates Hyundai, Audi, and Polestar

“Hyundai Ioniq 5 vs Q4 e-Tron vs Polestar 2 vs Model 3 group test (2021) review” (Car, an English magazine) says that the Hyundai is huge and maybe better for carrying adults in the back seat. Also, the Hyundai has tremendous style and cleverness. But the suspension isn’t adequate for the massive weight and the (“Long Range”) Tesla has better range than any of the competitors. What did more than 100 years of history do for Audi? Got them into last place! The Chinese/Swedish Polestar was “let down by ride, packaging, range”.

The Tesla 3 turned out to be the best all-around car, though they didn’t have the Mustang Mach-E to compare to. This is Car and Driver‘s favorite, but it lacks dog mode so I think a Tesla 3 would be way better for Florida, even if you don’t have a dog.

How is it possible that the experienced car manufacturers cannot knock Tesla out of first place when it comes to building a car? I’m amazed by this every day! (For haters who say that electric cars are bad, I guess the argument is that the Honda Accord is still a way better car than the Tesla 3 and therefore Tesla is not in first place.)

Full post, including comments

Express lanes: dumbness with concrete for a country that can’t be intelligent with electronics

As part of our escape to the Florida Free State, I drove our minivan down I-95 from Maskachusetts. Mindy the Crippler and I hit traffic in Virginia, associated with an I-95 Express Lane extension project (massive traffic jams now with the promise of clear sailing in the future).

A friend who is an expert on these matters told me that the entire concept was a terrible idea. “Adding two express lanes in the middle of a highway requires building two extra shoulders and lots of overpasses for the exits,” he pointed out. “It is spectacularly high cost compared to adding two lanes to the main roadway.”

In other words, instead of having two new express lanes, for the same cost we could build six new lanes on the main road.

What about the congestion and tolling angle? These new express lanes will require a fee to be paid (or an EZ Pass set to “HOV mode”). If we had gotten organized with in-car transponder electronics and a display reading “You’re now being charged 30 cents/mile,” we could just designate the leftmost lanes of a wider main road as toll-required express lanes. It should also be safer and easier to have the HOV mode set automatically by the car, e.g., with weight sensors on the seats or an in-camera camera that can count the number of occupants and subtract for canines. (Our 2021 Honda Odyssey, relying on weight sensor alone, gets upset when Mindy the Crippler sits in the front seat and is not belted.)

We’ll be fueling inflation by printing money to spend on infrastructure (see “Inside Biden’s $4.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan”). If my friend is right about the off-the-charts dumbness of the highway-inside-the-highways express lane idea, I wonder if most of the $4.5 trillion will be wasted.


Full post, including comments

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) was itself the cause of loss of pressure…

The idea of indirect monitoring of tire pressure with sensors already on the car, e.g., wheel speed from the ABS system (just look to see if wheels are spinning at different speeds and/or look at GPS distance traveled versus wheel rotations), seems to be unpopular. In trying to clean up our 2007 Infiniti M35x so that the hulk could be sold (rather than moved to the Florida Free State where one gets no points for being a frugal Yankee driving an old car into the ground), it turned out that the slow leak in one tire was actually being caused by the TPMS sensor itself. Also, the shop said that the systems in older cars usually accumulated programming mistakes that led to the display being inaccurate regarding which tire was at what pressure. An indirect system wouldn’t be subject to these human errors.

A good example of how a system that is great in theory is weak in practice? Direct TPMS is presumably engineered to work well for the three-year standard new car warranty. But the service life of a car is closer to 20 years (average age of a car on a U.S. road right now is 12.1 years).

Would it have been smarter if we’d insisted on indirect sensing that couldn’t be a new source of leaks?

Full post, including comments

Should Toyota bring back the Corona?

From the Henry Ford Museum:

“Toyota Corona” was a good name in 1966. Could it be considered a great name for the 2022 model year? The trim levels can be “Wild type” (or “Not Chinese”?), “Delta”, and “Lambda”.

Too morbid? Consider that the car in which JFK was assassinated was patched up and used by succeeding presidents for another 14 years.

The biggest tragedy for light aircraft is that Chrysler gave up on mass-producing turbine engines:

In 1930, Americans were sufficiently fond of each other that a family could live together in a 1,017-square-foot house:

Full post, including comments

Hidden car price increase: destination charge inflation

My mid-life crisis order from General Motors was pushed from the 2021 model year to the 2022 model year. There have been two price increases since the order was placed in January, but there is also a hidden price increase. The “destination charge” for getting the vehicle from the factory in Kentucky to the dealership has gone from $1,095 to $1,295, i.e., reflecting 18 percent inflation.

Full post, including comments

Envy in the Home Depot parking lot

In prep for our move to the Florida Free State, we stopped at Home Depot in Waltham, Maskachusetts to pick up some packing supplies and a trash barrel (out of stock, of course, like everything else in the U.S. economy).

Here’s a rare situation in which the owner of a Ferrari 458 Italia would have to be envious regarding our Honda minivan:

(And what do they sell at Home Depot that would fit into a Ferrari?)

Readers: What do you think about the yellow brake calipers? Has this trend run its course, so to speak? Why can’t wheels be wheels, including everything that is part of the wheels? Why do they have to be part of the body?

Full post, including comments

German Emperor (BMW) has no clothes?

Our recent trip through the charred American economic landscape involved three rental cars and five Uber/Lyft rides. Nobody in Detroit wants to work, apparently, so it was tough to get rides. We ended up having to pay over $100 for a 20-minute trip in a “luxury SUV” because nobody was available at 5 pm in any of the other options. One out of five Uber/Lyft drivers wore a mask correctly and consistently.

Our National Ford Fusion in Cleveland smelled like it had been owned and driven for all of its previous 50,000 miles by a chain smoker. Hertz in Niagara Falls didn’t deliver the car to the airport as promised (“we don’t have enough staff”), but then “upgraded” us to a BMW X3. The ride was harsh, the electronics were confusing, and the kids gave the prestige SUV a thumbs down. As an example of how bad the user interface on the car is, here’s the key fob. Unlock is an unlock symbol. To lock the car, press the BMW logo:

Note that they still had to put a subtle lock symbol next to the logo, as a guide for the bewildered. That the interface had to be patched like this did not prompt any second thoughts!

In Oshkosh (Appleton, actually, since we wimped out on the KOSH VFR arrival), Enterprise gave us a new BMW 530i, offering some dual instruction on how to change gears “because nobody can ever figure it out.” I was prepared to love this expensive machine, but the suspension interacted horribly with slight waves in the Interstate 41 pavement. The BMW bucked for every highway mile and let us feel every pothole. Maybe it was the suspension configuration? We found a “Comfort setting” next to the gear selector, which didn’t seem to help, but led to a fun exchange with the kids. “Put in on Comfort” they shouted when we entered the highway. “I don’t have any comfort!” said the 7-year-old after a minute or two. Thumbs down on this one too!

Maybe the answer is that BMWs offer race car-like performance and therefore we shouldn’t expect the suspension to be compliant? The 530i didn’t seem to corner especially well or handle nimbly. The thing weighs as much as our Honda Odyssey minivan and seemed to have almost as much body roll in corners, a poor showing considering that it is 2X the price and 1/2 the interior volume.

Can someone explain why BMWs are good?

Bonus: Niagara Falls…


Full post, including comments