Long-term update: Our Honda S2000 gets paintless dent removal and paint protection
We have to say we’re pretty disappointed at Honda’s cosmetic durability. Maybe they do it better for Accords and Civics for all we know, but the S2000 has obvious signs of cost-cutting, not least of which is the thin body panels and the even-thinner paint. We bought the car just 18 months ago in pristine always-garaged condition, and park it under the sun at our place. Since then, the paint is full of swirl marks, the body has easily-attained dings, the headlights have gone foggy, and the black roof has turned permanently brown, especially after a sandstorm a few months ago. At least the cheap seat “leather” has survived, if only because we started driving the car sitting on a beach towel after we noticed the first signs of wear. This Ramadan, we took it to a place called Automotive Repair Systems in an attempt to clean it up a bit.
Mind you, a car shouldn’t look this beaten-up in such a short time, even if it’s left under the sun. Our old black Jeep Grand Cherokee lasted much longer with looking like poop, that too with an illegal dude washing it back in the day. It’s as if all the money went into the S2000’s unique engineering, leaving little for basics such as body and paint. We washed it once a week, mostly using car-wash places and those “waterless” mall cleaners rather than any random roadside scrubber, and it still didn’t help. So we were interested to see if a detailing/repair place could fix it up.
Our car had two dings on the rear-right fender near the door edge, one of them with white scratches on it. There’s also a small dimple on the aluminium bonnet, as if a pebble fell on it. There’s also chipped paint on the front bumper from the time some 4×4-driving moron probably backed into it and ran away. We handed in the car at Automotive Repair Systems near Oasis Centre in Dubai for paintless dent removal, smart repair for the front bumper, paint protection and headlight rejuvenation, while hoping for the best.
We got back the car looking almost brand new again. The two dents on the fender are gone, the roof is black again, the headlights are clear, and the front bumper is unmolested now. However, they could not fix the bonnet dent, citing the nature of the “pit” and its awkward location that makes it hard to reach from underneath, and thus recommending a full bonnet repaint at a body shop instead. We skipped some of the smaller unnoticeable bumper scratches because the “smart repair” process, which involves painting over the scratched bit and blending it in with the rest of the panel, can get very expensive if you try to obsessively cover all imperfections at anywhere from Dhs 400 to Dhs 700 per “area”.
We also got “GardX” paint protection worth Dhs 1500, having seen how well it worked on our already-protected Mitsubishi Galant, done by the previous owner. Part of the application process also involved a full detailing at SunProtect next door. So now the car’s paint looks fresh as well, while the interior gets some minor spill protection as well. Dust and water just roll off the smooth paint, although maintaining that level of smoothness will be a battle.
The final bill came up to Dhs 2,115, and that’s with some Ramadan discount kicking in. The British-run place actually handles a lot of “smart repair” jobs at some of the major car dealerships as well, but it’s better to deal with them directly, and they tell you what they can and can’t do.
Incidentally, as soon as we drove the car out of the workshop, we heard a noticeable rattle coming from the engine. Whether it’s coincidence or something else, we didn’t want to take a chance and went straight to the dealer service-centre nearby. We also took the opportunity to do an oil-change service and a full check-up, even though we did it in February already.
We were later told by the service advisor that it was a loose bolt in the exhaust manifold and it was tightened up for free. The service itself cost us Dhs 490, and that includes synthetic oil as well as one new wiper blade. Which means our Honda S2000 is a whole lot cheaper to dealer-maintain than the darling Toyota 86, whose owners have been complaining about Dhs 700+ bills for minor service!
Original Mileage When Bought: 14,900 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 19,200 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 13.8 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 2115
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 490
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 3795