Second `skin’ a cheap way to change car colour

February 14th, 2009 - 10:38 am ICT by IANS  

Remscheid (Germany), Feb 14 (DPA) Bored of the colour of your car but can’t afford a re-spray? Then why not join the growing club of drivers who have had their car clad in a thin protective foil which not only makes the car look brand new again but in the colour of your choice.

It is a relatively new trend among private car owners but began with taxi drivers and managers of police car fleets trying to improve the resale value of their vehicles. In Germany, taxis are traditionally painted ivory white and police cars in green - colours that prove unpopular when it comes to selling second-hand.

So fleet owners can now buy the cars in popular colours like metallic silver and have the paintwork covered in ivory white foil which is then removed when the car is put up for resale.

The foil is made from the same materials as PVC, but a different glue is used. Manufacturers offer a range of foil colours and metallic tones.

During the last World Cup and European football championships, some owners even had their cars covered in a foil showing the colours of their national flag.

“Today a growing number of people simply want to drive their car in a different colour,” says Dirk Schaden from the Allfolio firm in the Germany city of Remscheid, that specialises in the foil method.

“Some motorists find the new trendy white attractive but still buy their car in silver because they are not quite sure how long the trend will last,” Schaden points out.

Schaden points out.

Carsten Graf, a car paintwork expert at Germany’s automobile association ADAC, says there are other more practical applications for the colour foils. Leased cars are returned after two to three years needing pricy repair work after the paintwork has been damaged by pockmarks caused by gravel or pebbles.

Owners however, should not apply the foil themselves. If you are not an expert, air bubbles and folding marks can form. According to Schaden, even professionals need between one and two days to do a complete foiling job, depending on the size of the car at a cost of between 700 and 1,300 euros ($900 to $1,670). A complete re-spray can easily cost twice as much.

Once the job has been completed, the motorist can relax and forget about it. The foil lasts between seven and eight years. It can be driven through the car wash like any other car, but hot wax washing should be avoided, says Schaden.

ADAC expert Graf says that the foil has the same shiny glow as ordinary paintwork, but that there have been cases where glue marks and dirt showed up on the edges, especially with bright colours.

But overall the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Car makers have realised this.

Volkswagen is for instance offering the second skin Protector V. The transparent foils are applied around sensitive areas such as door handles, front skirts and bumpers. They mainly have a protective function with the colour of the car remaining unchanged.

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