6 tips for car paint protection & repairs
The ol’ spit-n-polish isn’t just for the car-obsessed amongst us – keeping your car’s paintwork in top condition can extend its life and add value on resale. So how do we keep our cars looking showroom-ready? Here’s six tips for keeping your car paint protected and sparkling-clean!
Understand what lies beneath
Just like your own skin, your car’s paint is more complex than you think! Most modern vehicles have three basic layers: a primer that bonds to the base material of the panel (be that steel, aluminium, plastic or a more technologically advanced composite), a base coat that provides colour and various finishes (solid, metallic or pearlescent), and a colourless topcoat that provides protection to what lies below. Each of these layers is applied with micro-millimeter precision, using the kind of advanced technology that requires a degree in chemical engineering to understand! But it’s the topcoat that we’re most interested in when it comes to protecting and maintaining your vehicle’s appearance, as this is where durability of your car paint comes from, helping it to resist abrasion and withstand UV exposure. Once you’ve suffered damage that has made it through to the base or primer layers, you’ll need professional repairs to avoid irreversible oxidation, so the better care you take of your topcoat, the better!
Don’t let the grime get under your skin
You know that overwhelming instinct that kicks in to wipe down the kids’ faces after they’ve enjoyed an after-school snack of Vegemite on toast a little too much? It’s time to bring that same approach to your car. The longer that dirt, debris, insects, seaspray, petrol dribbles or little presents from birds are allowed to stay on your car’s surface, the longer they have to break down that critical topcoat that protects your paintwork. Try to avoid parking under trees with sticky gum residue or large families of birds living in them! If you do fall victim to a passing magpie or drive through a swarm of locusts, be sure to gently brush or wipe the debris away before their acidic properties have a chance to break through. Specialised bug removal solutions or higher-pressure water applications may be required if you’ve been unfortunate enough to collect several-thousand insects on a sunset-drive.
Do your car wash homework!
Regular washing is the best way to extend the life of your topcoat. And while drive-through car washes are certainly convenient, poorly maintained machines can lead to an accumulation of debris in brushes that may scratch your vehicle – even the smallest scratches will degrade the condition of your paintwork over time! Brushless car washes are less likely to damage painted surfaces, but water applied too closely and at high pressure may also be harmful. So if you know that you’re going to stick to the drive-throughs, do your homework and find a service that is regularly cleaned and maintained.
The right way to wash by hand
Your car has a pretty tough job, weathering polluted urban conditions and being exposed to the elements, so where you can, treat your car kindly with a gentle hand wash. We recommend a monthly wash if your car is stored outside in urban areas, or a little longer if you’re able to store your vehicle in a garage. If you’re taking regular trips to coastal areas, be sure to hose down your vehicle to keep it free of damaging salt deposits. Always rinse your vehicle before washing, starting at the top and working your way down to the dirtier areas exposed to road surfaces. Wash your vehicle with a specialised mild car detergent with a low pH value, preferably using a clean microfibre towel or mitt. Avoid using other household detergents – they may smell nice, but they contain salts and acids that are particularly damaging to specialised car paints. We find that wiping with a lateral movement (rather than in circular motion) results in better coverage, and it pays to work panel-by-panel, rinsing after each section for a clean finish. Dry your vehicle (again from top to bottom) with a large and clean microfibre towel for the best car paint protection.
Wax on, wax off
Do as Mr Miyagi says and apply a wax to your car on at least a quarterly basis, gently applying a thin coat to your car after washing. Again, a clean microfibre towel is your best application tool, allowing you to gently apply a layer of protection to your car paint. When applied correctly, a wax coating can restore shine and prevent dirt and debris from sticking to your car paint. A word of caution if your car has a matte finish: wax sealants can be damaging, so make sure you seek out specialised solutions for your vehicle.
Car touch up paint
Have a couple of chips or scratches that are still visible even after washing your car? Minor scratches can be touched up with various products sold by reputable retailers, including paint pens and car spray paints. You can identify the correct paint colour from the panel inside your door panel (or with your VIN) to ensure colour-matching. Exercise caution and always undertake car paint repairs in a ventilated area, as even these minor repair chemicals can be very dangerous. Larger chips or damage will require professional touch ups or repairs.
Chat to us next time you’re in for a service if you need advice on whether your chipped paint is in need of professional help. We treat all vehicles to a complimentary hand car wash with every service, so you’ll be driving home with a car that feels and looks brand new! When you service your vehicle at Cox Auto, we’ll meet your logbook servicing needs in a welcoming and flexible environment. In a hurry? Pre-pay for faster pickup. Need a loan vehicle? Just ask! We’re committed to providing you and your vehicle with the best service experience with a human touch.