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Paint Protection & Maintenance

BMW Germany's Perspective

My trip to BMW's Dingolfing plant began in Stuttgart. My wife and I were visiting her sister and her husband in Vaihingen (location of the US Forces Europe Headquarters) and next door to Mercedes Benz in Sindelfingen. We drove from Vaihingen to Dingolfing in two cars, one of which was a Z3. My brother-in-law is a navy commander, who took European delivery of the Z3. At the time of the trip there were very few Z3s in Germany and, strange as it my seem, we received more appreciative stares on the auobahn than we would have, if we were driving an 850.

I had arranged the meeting with the BMW paint process management over three months in advance and I had requested the opportunity to have a tour following the meeting. I had submitted specific and detailed questions relating to the subject of paint protection and maintenance. When we arrived, I was told that there had been a joint effort on the part of the BMW paint process management people at both the Munich and Regensberg factories in the development of the responses (I saw some of the hand written notes that had been assembled - unfortunately they were in German).

Dingolfing is BMW's largest manufacturing plant. There are over 24,000 employees with three shift operations. Most of the employees are bussed to work in large, very clean, double deck busses. The cafeterias are absolutely phenomenal. You can have a complete meal including a hot entree, desert and a liter of beer for about $3.50. One thing you cannot do is take photographs. I found out the hard way. I was politely instructed that I should leave my camera at the office of the tour guide. This was after I had taken a picture of my wife enjoying a beer.

The plant uses robots everywhere it is economically feasible. There are hundreds of them. They are more efficient than manual labor and less costly to operate. The mating and matching of the body and the doors is controlled by a system which includes "smart boxes" attached to the body with magnets. The doors are trimmed on a separate floor and then lowered into position on the body shell. Each car is driven off the line and given a complete check of the electronics.

With all of this control and testing there is still a substantial amount of rejection due to failure to meet quality standards. Correction is accomplished off the end of the assembly line. Automation increases constantly and new robots are always in development. The average hourly wages of the plants employees, including benefits is over $55.00 an hour. The total number of vacation and holidays is just under two months per year. It probably goes without saying that many employees never change employers throughout their entire working

Before I go any further, I want to say that I was disappointed with the responses I received. This comment should not give the impression that I am dissatisfied with BMW in general. I have owned BMWs for 25 years and bought an M3 in May of this year.

I can make an educated guess regarding why I received only broad generic and overly general responses to my questions in most cases. I'm afraid that there was a review of the material by other BMW organizations (possibly marketing and legal). The result was that I am not able to provide more specific answers to the readers of this article. Having made this introduction I will proceed with the answers that I received to my questions.

/Meeting With BWM Factory Engineering

Paint Protection and Maintenance Discussion

Dingolfing, Germany

March 25th 1997

Factory Level Paint Processes and Repair


1. Does the Factory use low VOC, high solids for all paint

Yes. As an additional clarification on the standard factory paint processes and point of significant interest, BMW has been clear coating all color options for the last three model
years .

2. What is the percentage distribution among the various manufacturer's paint products used at the factories?

Glasurit 45% /

Heberts 40%

Bollig & Kemper 15%

3. What are the Glasurit paint lines used, following shipment from the manufacturing plant, at sales locations?

The 21, 22 and 54 Lines are used, depending on legal /

regulations at the receiving location.

4. What is the rust prevention and metal prep process that is used?

The rust prevention and metal prepping is based on a Zinc-Nickel phosphating process.

5. Is there a written description of the factory paint processes in


The description of this process is not available in

6. Is there a video tape of the paint process


General Questions Raised by the BMW Digest

1. What are the types of paint protection products (natural waxes and synthetic resins) packaged and sold by

A list of products is available in the BMW manual (Original BMW Accessories).

Editors note: There are both wax and polymer products available from BMW AG. In addition there are other manufacturer's products sold by BMW dealers in the US (both natural waxes and

Is there a preference for either type of product (wax or


Is there a description of the content/composition of the BMW

appearance products?

No answer/information

2. What do you recommend (products and/or techniques) to both prevent and subsequently, remove surface scratching and swirl

Both synthetic and natural waxes are fundamentally suitable for prevention of scratches and swirl marks. BMW recommends the use of brushless car wash facilities and regular hand polishing/waxing of the paintwork. We also recommend products from the 3M company and Mequiars (e.g. Finesse-it) for removal of swirl

3. Do you have a recommendation for how to protect and preserve the clear coat finish on the factory wheels (brake dust accumulation problems in particular)?

No. BMW does not recommend any specific

4. Can you compare the current water based paints with the older (solvent based) formulation?

Water based paints in combination with 1K or 2 K clearcoats have the same durability and all quality attributes of the prior solvent based paints.

BMW agrees that the new generation of clear coats appears to be softer. This system is more flexible and, for example, scratches with no abrasive characteristics are regenerable (flow effect). The big advantage of the clear coat is high acid rain

Regarding damage due to rock chips, it is difficult to make a statement. There is the need to observe the cars at the dealers and to find out the kind and cause of the damage.

5. Is there any type of paint surface protection product you recommend to prevent rock chips?

The factory uses PVC paint surface protection for rocker panels and under-body protection. For stone chip resistance all bumpers are produced using special plastics and flexible painting. All other parts of the body are protected with a special stone chip resistant primer.

6. Do you recommend a different type of paint protection for the clear coat (two stage paint) from the single stage

No. The same type of product can be used on both

7. Do you have any recommendations regarding paint

Paint shampoos should have paint protection

8. Do you have any comments on the "Wash and Wax"

These products have only small paint protection

9. Are there any types of paint protection products that you would not recommend?

Silicon based products are not allowed for use at any BMW facility (Up to the point of delivery to the customer). It is

the customers responsibility from that point forward. BMW dealers offer various products.

10. Is there a generic type of solvent product that you recommend to remove road oil and tar deposits on the paint?

BMW recommends Isohexan.

11. Do you have any comments or suggestions regarding the use of clay to remove overspray and

To remove overspray and contaminants, it is helpful to use mild solvents, like Isohexan. In case of older marks, polish with abrasive additives is necessary.

Editors note: Since there was no direct response to the question regarding clay, I would like to stress that this is an excellent generic product for removing overspray and other

12. Do you recommend the use of auto solvents to clean the paint prior to using either a wax or a synthetic


13. Do you have a recommendation for the removal of

To remove oxidation (fall out particles), we recommend a

mild acid based cleaner.

14. Do you have a recommendation for removal of water

Water spots should be removed with mild acids in combination with a following car wash.

15. When paint touch up is required (repair of rock chips), do you have a recommendation for cleaning the surface before applying the paint?

Dust, rust, grease and other pollutions should be removed prior to use of the touch up paint.

Editors note: No specific recommendation was

16. Do you have any type of paint repair facility qualifications or product standards for non BMW dealer facilities?

No. Non BMW dealer facilities should conform with original

BMW dealer's systems.

17. Are there any recommendations that you would like to give to BMW owners in the United States?


General Comments Regarding the Meeting and PlantTour

We came away with a strong sense that BMW wanted to provide us with a responsive effort to answer all of our questions and in particular the ones regarding the portions of the plant that cannot be seen first hand (This includes the body dipping, priming and color/clear spray painting). It is very fair to state that the plant managers do not appear to recognize the extent of the criticism that the water based paints are receiving. This is not a high priority activity that they are working on to

There was a clear effort on BMW's part to not show favoritism toward any individual product line or type of protection product. They would only give specific product names when pressed hard for an example. As a general statement they have no preference for either natural of synthetic products and BMW offers both types under their brand

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