E39 Accident Damage

My E39 had the misfortune of getting into a little fender-bender a few months ago. The term fender-bender can be used here quite litreally as the damage was mostly to the front left fender With it being my daily driver and needing to use it quite often I was not in the position to send it in for repairs until only very recently.

Initially I was only going to repair the accident damage and get the necessary parts resprayed but when suddenly luck was back in my favor. Nippon Paint Malaysia offered to respray my car for me so I could try out their new Nippon Paint Nax Premila 2K Auto Refinish. Some of you probably have never resprayed your car before so I’m going to take you through the process so you can have an idea of what happens when you send your car for respraying and why it takes so long – more than 2 weeks in some cases.

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The E39 has always been one of the cars that I’ve always wanted and I finally bought it fourth hand from a friend. Prices now for a 1997 model hover around low 50Ks to low 60Ks, depending on condition and how urgent the owner wants to sell the car. The first owner was a Sime Darby company and the second was an advertising agency. It was originally Silver but somewhere along the way it had been painted Sparkling Graphite, which was one of the colours offered on the pre-facelift E90.

The Sparkling Graphite paint was not in perfect condition. There were lots of stone chips on the front bumper and hood, and in one spot a big paint chip mark had started to rust. The rear two doors had lots of bubbling near the window trim and there were loads of marks on the side of the car that looked like tree sap.

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Nax PuttySo off the car went in for repainting at a place appointed by Nippon Paint. As described in one of my previous posts, first the body preparation will have to be done. I was aware of these two dimples on my boot, but little did I know that there was so much surface imperfection on the rest of the car.

Basically the imperfections will have to be filled with putty like Nax Universal Putty or Nax Filling Putty. You can see that the area with the paint bubbles at the top edge of my rear doors have also been treated appropriately. At this point the car would look so bad that you’ll find it hard to imagine it getting back to its original shiny state again but be patient, it will!

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Then the car will have to be sanded down to remove some of the paint and smoothen out the service. The clear coat has to be removed, otherwise a new layer of paint will not stick properly. Above is the result. it looks kinda like a matte version of Sparkling Graphite with little pink patches around.

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Areas of the body where paint is not supposed to touch are taped up. The bumpers have been removed as they will be prepared separately. Bumpers are made of different materials so they use certain different components such as Nax PP Primer, which is different from regular primer as it is designed to work with Polypropylene material such as bumpers, spoilers, and etc.

At this point, the paintshop begins to prep the surface with primer. A primer coat essentially ensures your total paint system adheres firmly to your car (a binding layer) and has other benefits such as increasing entire paint durability, and adding extra protection for the car body. The primer used for my car is the Nax 2400 2K Primer Grey Surfacer. The Nax Premila 2K Auto Refinish range actually has two different kind of body primers – the 2400 and the 1200.

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Both are intended for different usages. the 2400 primer is for repainting jobs such as my car where there is already some kind of layer of paint on the car, or even for spot repair jobs. The other primer is the Nax 1200 Etching Primer and is used for baremetal surfaces, such as when you are restoring a classic car and you’ve decided to sandblast it down to baremetal. It is used as a pre-treatment for the metal or alloy. The metal has to be blasted to a minimum of SA 2.5 or optimumly SA 3.0. SA 3.0 basically means pure metal, while SA 2.5 means the metal is about 85% clean.

Nippon Paint specifies the kind of mix and thickness to use for each of its products. For example, the 2400 primer has to be mixed with a hardener and thinner in a 4:1:1 or 4:1:2 ratio. For plastic parts, an additional half part of softener has to be added too.

The optimum spray gun viscosity, pressure, gun distance, and other parameters are given to ensure the best surface possible. It is important that these settings are followed otherwise undesirable paint details such as orange peel can occur excessively. It is of course hard to prevent such defects, so they will have to be treated more effectively post-paintjob via detailing the car.

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These photos were snapped as the work progressed as I kept checking back at the shop every 2 days or so and lo behold finally the new paintjob was on! In my previous post I’ve explained that a regular two-stage paintjob consists of a primer layer, a base coat where the paint actually gets its colour, and finally a clear coat.

For the basecoat, Nippon Paint specified the Nax Premila 8000 Basecoat system for my paintjob. Basically there are two different basecoats available for use in the system – the 8000 and the 7000. The 8000 Basecoat is used for metallic, pearl, and crystal colours and require a clearcoat while the 7000 system is used for solid colours and a clearcoat is optional.

Sparkling Graphite’s colour code is A22, which is considered a Mica colour (fancy name for pearlescent). Mica paint basically uses a silicate mineral called mica that is ground up and added to the paint, while metallic paint uses metal flakes in the paint.

After the basecoat has been applied, it’s time for the topcoat or clearcoat to be added. Once again, Nippon Paint has different types of clear coats for different purposes. Both are made of acrylic urethane. According to Nippon Paint, the Nax Premila 9400 Clear Coat 4:1 is a fast dry paint, suitable for spot repair work such as accident damage. The one used on my car is the Nax Premila 9600 Clear Coat 2:1 system which uses half the amount of hardener. Nippon Paint says this is a slow dry clear coat and is more suitable for resprays of the whole car. Multiple layers of clear coat may be sprayed.

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Some touch-up polishing work on the paint. You have to sand it a little more wherever there’s imperfections in the clear coat, buff it and glaze it to bring out more of the shine. It’s kind of sad to see the shiny paintjob get dull again with the sanding but this disappears when everything is done.

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Photo by The Agency – click for enlarged image

And then finally… the car is done! Sparkling Graphite is quite an interesting colour. Like most pearlescent/Mica paints you get different shades under different lights. Sometimes the car appears to be some kind of dark Anthracite especially on the indoors, but outdoors it becomes a kind of shiny purplish grey.

I must say I am quite happy with it. The car has been really refreshed now. A big, big thanks to Nippon Paint for the paintjob. If you would like to get your car repainted with Nippon Paint Nax Premila 2K Auto Refinish, a list of dealers are also available after the jump.