There’s nothing better than having a car that looks shiny and new all the time. A new car or a new paint job can make the world of difference, but a few years down the line you might find that your car’s paint job has faded and looks nothing like it did before.
However the AA has some good news and suggests some great steps and precautions to help you keep that shiny, vibrant colour for as long as possible.
“The key is to be aware of the main culprits and to know how to combat and treat them before the damage is caused,” says the AA.
Enemies of the paint
Think of your vehicle’s paint as its skin. Just as you take precaution against sun damage to your skin, the paint needs protection too. Much the same as your pores expand in the hot sun, so do the pores in your vehicle’s paint, allowing dirt and moisture to be absorbed.
Parking your vehicle in the shade of a beautiful tree might protect it against the harmful rays of the sun, but it exposes it to a completely different threat. Bird droppings are very acidic and as such can erode the clear coat paint finish on your vehicle.
An additional problem with parking under a tree is the possibility of sticky blotches of tree sap landing on your vehicle. Not only does this trap dirt and grime but tree sap can literally be baked into the paint surface by the sun and leave unsightly stains.
Dead insects can leave a sticky residue that can be difficult to remove if left for too long. Likewise, ash – when mixed with water – can create an alkali solution that will damage your vehicle’s paint.
Human skin is oily and oil traps dirt. Resist the temptation to run your fingers along your vehicle’s exterior to check for dirt. Also, running your fingers over an already dusty or dirty paint job could cause unsightly scratches.
It’s a harsh reality that the air we breathe contains airborne particles that are not only harmful to humans but to a vehicle’s paint finish too. This includes by-products from construction, manufacturing and, of course, vehicle emissions.
Car wash soaps and waxes are specifically formulated to protect your vehicle’s paint job and keep it shiny for longer. Using other abrasive products to clean your vehicle or remove stains could do exactly the opposite.
So apart from taking steps to avoid these hazards, what can you do to maintain that beautiful paint finish for longer?
Caring for your paint job
Wash or rinse off dirt and other debris as soon as possible. Use car soap rather than detergent, for example dish washing liquid, and make sure that the sponge and cloth you use are clean and soft.
Concentrate on one section of the vehicle at a time and use long, light strokes.
If possible, use two buckets. Fill one bucket with soapy water and the other with clean water. Dip the sponge into the clean water first in order to get rid of grit and dirt and then dip in into the soapy water before washing each section of the vehicle.
When drying off the vehicle, blot rather than wipe in order to avoid scratching.
The next step in the process is waxing, which not only protects the paint but also covers small stone chips and scratches. It might require some elbow grease, but in the long run waxing will be worth it as it keeps your vehicle looking cleaner for longer, creates a protective film against pollutants, and lessens the effects of the sun.
The truth is that automotive paint is not only there to enhance your vehicle’s looks. It has a much more important function, namely to protect the metal body of the vehicle against corrosion, rust and deterioration. So keeping it clean and blemish-free keeps it looking sparkling, attractive and new for much longer but also prolongs the life of your vehicle’s body.