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Why Does Car Paint Fade, and How Do We Slow It Down?

July 27, 2015 2 min read

Whether you're driving a brand new car or a beat up old junker, eventually, your vehicle's paint will fade. There's just no stopping the power of the sun and outdoor elements -- but there are things you can do do slow it down and keep your car's paint job looking good for longer.

Why Car Paint Fades

All paint fades, and a major contributor to paint fade is the sun. Ultra violet rays are the primary contributor to paint fade. However, pollution, salt, insects, residue, and even bird droppings can dish out a beating to your car's finish. But it's not all out of your control: abrasive cleaners can cause damage as well.

Other Exterior Damage from the Elements

In addition to dishing out a beating on your paint, the sun and other elements can damage your headlights and rubberized trim. And if you don't have tinted windows, your interior may fade and crack as well.

How to Protect Your Car's Paint Finish

    • Park under the shade: Whether you're in a garage, car port, or other cover for your vehicle, shade can protect your finish from ultraviolet rays. Look for spots under a tree or other covered parking while you're out, too. If you'll be parking your vehicle under the sun for a while, use a car cover with ultraviolet protection.
    • Wash your car regularly: Every one to two weeks, give your car a good wash to remove pollutants, bugs, tar, and everyday chemicals that can eat away at your finish. Be sure to avoid abrasive washes, and instead of scraping off dirt or bugs, use an automotive clay bar. Dry your car completely to protect your car's paint from minerals left behind by evaporation.
    • Use car wax: Every three months or so, wax your car to give it a better shine and added protection against the elements including the sun, dirt, and pollutants. Think of it as sunscreen for your vehicle. But be careful not to wax too often, as it can build up. Don't wax the car when your paint is hot, or in the direct sun.
    • Consider tinted windows: Protect your car's interior from sun damage with tinted windows that block out ultraviolet rays. Or, get a windshield screen to put up when you're parked.

How to Fix Faded Car Paint

If your vehicle's paint begins to oxidize, you'll need to act quickly to stop it. You'll need to thoroughly wash your car and use an automotive clay bar to remove dead paint and other contaminants. You'll then need to use a polish and finish it off with a car wax.

For paint with flaking clearcoat and other more serious issues, it may be necessary to repaint parts of the vehicle, or replace them with painted parts, as they can't be restored just by polishing them.

Nothing can stop paint from fading in the sun and other elements, but with good care, you can slow down the fading process and keep your vehicle's finish looking new.