Monday, May 28, 2012

Easiest Car Buying Experience

I felt I should mention that my experience buying the wife's Rabbit from Dirito Brothers in Walnut Creek was the easiest time I've ever had buying a car. They also have a great service department and a "showcase" dealership. Bringing the GTI in for service is what first impressed me about them, enough to know I probably wouldn't have a hard time buying a car.

I had to really struggle when I bought my car last year from Volkswagen of Oakland. It ended with a vow never to go back for any reason over something small they could have fixed with better customer service. The Dirito Brothers Rabbit was the 13th car I've bought, including some strange scenarios (Ebay From Canada, Ebay from Florida, out of state from dealers, BMW Euro delivery, friends, relatives, a loan shark, etc.).

Friday, May 25, 2012

Car Porn

Posted in the VW Vortex forum in the context of, "it's ok your car has a factory defect because she built it for you." There have been some amusing minor problems reported of late, notably a manual car equipped with paddle shifters, a leather car with a cloth door insert and a car with no rear cup holders. These are the kind of things the JD Powers people would go nuts over, but would easily get fixed for free at the first dealer visit.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Family Member

With 18,000 miles on the GTI, I had enough confidence to buy another one. Well, not exactly. The wife got in an accident with her Scion XB, which was totaled, and with an insurance company check in hand, we made our way to the Volkswagen dealer to buy a 2008 Rabbit.

I had spent a week agonizing over the decision of what to buy and from whom. In fact, I still regret missing the opportunity to buy a cherry 2009 Rabbit on a test drive last week, but the timing was off.

So how did I come to the decision? The only used Volkswagen Consumer Reports recommends is the 07-09 Rabbit, and I honestly couldn't deviate too far from "safe and reliable" on my wife's car for the sake of enthusiast zeal. So I started with some other cars, including a Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester,  Volvo S60, Ford Fusion, a new Jetta and our rental car, a Toyota Corolla. Although she liked the height of her Scion XB and the chick-utes we looked at, they were out of our budget. Even an XB with side airbags, my new requirement, was as much as the Rabbit. After test driving the 2009 Rabbit, she began to dislike the floaty feel of the rental Corolla. She wanted that confident, German handling.

The 2008 Rabbit didn't feel quite as solid as the 2009, but it was adequate. It had around the same amount of miles (35,000) but with a sunroof and better seats. It was a CPO vehicle, so it has another 2-year warranty beyond the standard one, albeit with a $50 deductible. So yeah, I had enough confidence in my own car to buy another one.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wax vs. Polish

Here are a couple photos, the first showing the car shortly after I got it with wax, and the second with polish (Zaino). The look with wax is a kind of deep, warmth. The look with polymer polish is sharp, and highly reflective. I think wax feels more traditional while polish feels kind of techno and cutting edge. The GTI looks great in polymer (either really), while a classic car would look better with wax.

The wear advantage always goes to polymer. My single coat of Zaino lasted about six months before it began to obviously wear down, while wax is good for about three months. There's no way to get around this and even super amazing $300/tin concourse wax won't extend the wear (just the look). If you don't want to detail your car often, polymer is the way to go.

It used to be that polymers required multiple coats, bonding agents followed by polishes. Nowadays, products are all-in-one. My Zaino ZFX involves annoying mixing bottles, with a few drops of the bonding agent put in a small bottle of one time use polish. But it goes on in one coat. Inefficient for sure, as there's always some left over, but much better than applying two coats of product. Competitors mix it for you and claim better product use efficiency. I believe it.

If you want long lasting protection but also the warmth of wax, you can use a polymer polish and then wax over it to your hearts content. That's kind of what I'm going to do. My new Z1 car wash soap has some wax in it, which will add protection and I'll likely use wax between washes, although the Zaino would be just as easy.

If mentioned before that detailing is a lot like miniature painting and that's very true. The key is the prep work. If you can prep the surface so it's clean and able to take the product, then even the cheapest wax will look great. A clean surface also includes not introducing scratches into the surface unnecessarily. I've been to car gathering where people swear by their detailing prowess, only to see a dizzying amount of micro-swirls because they didn't do their prep and most importantly, scratched up their car with cotton towels.

Wax: Meguiers (2 coats)

Polymer: Zaino (1 coat)