AUTO BODY REPAIR SPECIAL – Complete Carbon Fiber #2: Doors
Pricey auto body repair rides side-by-side with the striking visual impression and enhanced performance of aftermarket carbon fiber parts. We're here to ensure that Tempe auto modification enthusiasts have all the facts before giving their cars and trucks a dramatic facelift.
In our first installment of Complete Carbon Fiber, we outlined the benefits and drawbacks of swapping in ultra-lightweight, highly durable, exceptionally pricy and irreparable carbon fiber wheels in favor of a steel factory set or slightly less expensive magnesium alloy. Since we're keeping to our promise to discuss the performance and logistics of carbon fiber from the bottom up, let's continue by having a chat about carbon fiber doors.
PREFERABLE TO PAINT?
To revisit a point we highlighted in the guide's first chapter, don't buy into the myth that carbon fiber cannot or explicitly should not be painted. Provided one ensures proper bonding by sanding down the surface, painting any carbon fiber part is not only very doable, but even quite beneficial. An attractive coat of paint can prolong carbon fiber's life by providing an an additional protective layer that holds out elemental damage and direct sun exposure. Any paint job should end with a clear coat that adds both one more line of protection and a more polished aesthetic to your aftermarket enhancement.
Carbon fiber doors unavoidably come with an often prohibitive price point that can and, reasonably, sometimes should supercede the three equally essential considerations that should inform any aftermarket part's purchase decision. If money is no object to your modifications, however, it bears remembering price in auto body customization indicates quality.
Make no mistake, carbon fiber doors are fashioned from quality lightweight materials refined through an advanced process. They dress a vehicle in the product of technology prized by elite racing teams worth millions of dollars who accept nothing less than micro-managed manufacturing tolerances vetted down to the finest fiber.
Virtually no major aftermarket installation comes without some necessary adjustment to parts that work in conjunction with the swapped components. Carbon fiber doors are a rare exception.
The OEM specifications virtually every carbon fiber door has been engineered to meet guarantee a straightforward installation no different from fitting new stock or steel doors. Still, we strongly recommend leaving the process to an experienced professional mechanic or installer due to the needed integration of door glass and mechanical components into the carbon fiber structure. It's a doable task for a mechanically savvy DIYer, but when in doubt, foot the bill for knowledgeable handiwork.
As is a given with carbon fiber wheels, there is no downside whatsoever to the stylish and unique slightly gray, blue or yellow appearance of intertwined carbon fibers. We may recommend painting to suit your intended aesthetic impression, but it is hardly necessary. Naked carbon fiber doors give off an intimidating, sleek air that doesn't do justice to their surprising durability. Should you decide to paint, the surest results are likely to come from qualified professional auto body painters familiar with carbon fiber's distinguishing properties.
Carbon fiber is tougher stuff than its shockingly feather-like weight would suggest. It isn't invincible, however, and best stands the test of time with attentive care, especially regular cleaning, waxing and polishing. Sweating the details and regularly getting one's hands dirty ensures the impression these handsome aftermarket doors leave will endure as starkly as the day they were installed.
Best of all, carbon fiber doors don't demand any more extensive TLC than stock doors and hoods. The material needs little more than a stock paint job's ordinary waxing and polishing to turn heads virtually as long as you own your vehicle.
Like any other carbon fiber aftermarket part, these expertly crafted doors best suit a ride with an already on-point look. A $10,000 carbon fiber kit has no business on a rusted-out clunker that couldn't fetch five grand from a blind buyer. Almost more awkward: adding a single aftermarket component without the barest attempt to match it seamlessly to the rest of the car's design, whether with matching paint or committing to going all the way with a complete carbon fiber body-swap. Remember, carbon fiber should be a thoughtfully integrated accent to your car's look, not a carelessly slapped-on modification expected to elevate a vehicle's presence without any effort into planning.