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How to Protect and Restore Your Car’s Paint

Published Fri June 16, 2017

how to restore faded car paint


We all know that we have to protect our skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun to prevent skin cancer. We lather on the sunblock, wear hats and UV blocking sunglasses and scientist are constantly coming up with new ways to add sunscreen to cosmetics and even clothing. But when was the last time you thought about your car’s paint? Unless you keep your car in the garage or covered every time you park it outdoors, the paint will fade and oxidize from the UV rays of the sun as well as the extreme weather conditions such as snow, hail, high winds, rain, and even animals. So what can you do to prevent this from happening?


Prevention and Protection


Prevention is the key to saving your car’s paint from needing to be restored later due to sun and environmental damage. Start by keeping a consistent washing schedule. Don’t wait to hope that it will rain soon to wash the dirt off your car. Keeping your car clean protects the paint’s topcoat from any future damage. The topcoat is what the car uses as it’s sunscreen so keeping it clean is like maintaining a consistent coat of SPF 50 on your car. The sand, salt, snow and even rain can damage the topcoat making your paint vulnerable to the elements. Wax is your car’s paint and topcoats best friend. The topcoat does add a layer of protection to the paint but adding wax adds an additional layer that makes it difficult for dirt and other environmental elements to stick to the car. Think of it as adding an extra layer of sunscreen or just amping up the SPF level. You can never have too much sunscreen, right? Well your car will thank you for protecting it by keeping it’s beautiful shiny paint for many years to come.


Restoration – When The Paint Has Faded


Fading and oxidation of your car’s paint is not the end of the world. It will take some elbow grease but you can restore the paint job when fading and light oxidation has begun. After the car has been properly washed and dried you can use a clay bar to remove the junk that is causing your paint to be dull and appear faded. The clay bar will not remove the imperfections, scratches or swirl marks in the paint but will provide a prime surface with a tighter seal to your wax making it look better and last longer. Keep in mind that following the instructions for the clay bar is very important. Be sure to read all package instructions carefully and follow them. According to James at, “Due to the fact that a clay bar never touches your paint, it cannot remove paint imperfection, like swirl marks or scratches, and it won’t improve the shine. What it will do is remove the grunge so you can see a bright, clear finish.


Polishing After Using The Clay Bar


The clay bar alone will not replace polishing your car. What it does do is make polishing the car easier and provides a prime surface for the polish. When washing, drying, using a clay bar and polishing/waxing your car you should always work in a shaded area out of direct sunlight. The surface of the car should be cool to touch as the products used do not work well on a hot surface. Always work on concentrated small areas of the car’s surface and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. On a normal paint job you could use a foam applicator but when the vehicle paint is lightly oxidized and fading you should use a microfiber applicator pad to apply the car polish. When you are done with the entire surface you are ready for waxing!


Waxing Your Car – What Type of Wax Should You Use?


There are basically 4 types of wax products to choose from:


  • Liquid Wax
  • Paste Wax
  • Spray Wax
  • Wipe-On, Walk Away Clear Sealant

When choosing the right wax for your car the paste and liquid formulas appear to provide the best results when you’re trying to restore faded or oxidized car paint. Spray formulas were found to be less effective and didn’t last as long as the paste or liquid formulas. If you live in a state that has harsh winters it’s recommended that you wax your car before the season begins and be prepared to keep up the maintenance every two to three months. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the wax you choose. It’s important to test the product in a hidden surface such as the doorjamb before you use it on the entire car. Take your time and work in small areas.


The Finished Result


Restoring an already faded or oxidized paint finish using the recommended steps above may provide great results that will surprise you. You may also find that the paint is so badly faded, oxidized or damaged that it cannot be restored to its full luster. Some cars just cannot be restored and may need a complete paint job but if you maintain a consistent washing, clay bar, polishing and waxing schedule then you should be able to enjoy a beautiful finish on your car for years to come. Stop by your local Meineke Car Care Center. We welcome your questions and concerns at our Meineke Car Care Centers. Stop by and consult with one of our car care experts. They will be more than happy to answer your questions and get you back on the road.