While carbon fiber isn’t something you see everyday, it is definitely not rare. There can be some confusion concerning proper care for carbon fiber.
Ryan of RS Detailing in Kentucky, USA is no stranger to handling carbon fiber and shared his expertise in this guide. Not all shops are equipped to handle carbon fiber, so find a professional like Ryan if you have a large project!
What is carbon fiber?
Most carbon fiber that you will encounter isn’t purely carbon fiber. Typically, carbon fibers are used to reinforce polymers that results in a light, but strong and stiff material that lends itself well to automotive purposes. OEM and aftermarket carbon fiber body parts are typically painted with gelcoat or clearcoat.
Carbon Fiber / Gelcoat Care
Regardless of the chemistry of the paint on carbon fiber, you do not have to take any special steps to care for your carbon fiber. You do not have to use gelcoat specific products (including polishes) if you know your carbon fiber is gelcoated. Don’t fret about trying to identify gelcoat vs clearcoat in this scenario. It is more important to follow good polishing procedures by performing a test spot on each set of carbon fiber accessories. A test spot should be done on each set as it is possible that they could come from different manufacturers unless you are completely sure that all of the carbon fiber is made by the same manufacturer.
For those using paint gauges while polishing, please be aware that your gauge will not likely give you a reading as they are designed to measure coating thickness on metals. Finally to reinforce good polishing techniques, you should be aware that carbon fiber is subject to the symptoms of clearcoat failure such as fading.
In conclusion, carbon fiber isn’t much different than caring for other painted surfaces. Go out and detail some carbon fiber!
Carbon Fiber Restorations
Mikey from Mikey’s Pro Detailing in South Carolina, USA shared these photos for reference.
“Test spots for orange Lake Country pad and blue Lake Country pads didn’t cut enough. Uro fiber 50/50 with my preferred polish did every panel in one step with great results.” — Mikey