The emperor’s new paintwork?

I’m in the process of buying a new car, and I’m bemused by the fact that every dealer wants to sell me a ‘paint and upholstery protection’ package, typically with a name like ‘Safegard’, promising a Teflon-based coating that saves my paintwork from nasty pollutants, saves me having to wash the car, and ensures that spillages of coffee etc inside will cause me no future problems.

All of which sounds attractive, but it could also be the emperor’s new clothes. These highly-efficient protective barriers are conveniently ‘invisible’, and who’s going to spill something on their new car seat just to test it out? More to the point, has anyone done a side-by-side test where they also spill something on an ‘unprotected’ car seat?

I’ve had fun asking dealers questions like, “What deficiencies in Volkswagen’s paintwork is this designed to address?”, but I’d really like a scientific answer to this. Many dealers persuade you to protect your precious shiny new vehicle in this way, and they tell me that they have a good take-up rate. If it’s that good, though, why don’t the manufacturers do it? Does anyone know of a Consumer Association or similar blind-test report on this? – I couldn’t find one.

Are huge numbers of people being conned? Is this just a cunning way of charging you £300 for a wash and wax?

6 Comments

Thankfully this is something you’re spared in the motorbike world, at least so far. But I have been inspired by your question about the paint deficiency – if I ever need to look at cars at some point I’ll have fun asking that one 🙂

Reminds me of the Dilbert strip, where he negotiates a good price for his new car, but that’s before the invisible rust inhibitor, and so on, are added in…

great post……looking at new cars myself and wondering the same thing … 🙂

must say i did have it on my last car ,well on paintwork,not interior, and it was fab never needed a wax but is this ture of new cars anyway

Q – my advice to you would be to decline such a package. Having worked at a large dealership, I know the margins on these products are astronomical (cost of materials is negligible, plus a couple of hours labour to apply it all). The other thing to consider is this: should you be unfortunate to have any accident and require paintwork repairs, there’s a risk that the bodyshop won’t be able to match the finish between your “supaguarded” paintwork and the fresh paintwork.

If you’re not into car cleaning yourself, the best advice I can give to keep your new purchase looking tip top is to visit your local Eastern European car wash once a fortnight and get them to vacuum and wash the car by hand (avoid automatic car washes as they apply very fine scratches to the paintwork). Think how many washes you could get for the cost of the treatment! If you do spill some coffee, pick up some own brand upholstery cleaner from Halfords and a soft brush… it works a treat!

Thanks Steven – most helpful!

What interesting paths your career has taken!

The Skoda dealer didn’t offer such an extra. Steven’s advice sounds very sensible. I can recommend the car wash guys outside Mount Pleasant – their prices are very affordable.

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