DETAILING MY CAR > The 4 Causes of Dull and Faded Paint

The 4 Causes of Dull and Faded Paint

Why is my cars paint looking so dull?

Why Does My Car’s Paint Look Dull?

The paint on a car is subjected to many things that can cause premature aging and surface damage. Some of the culprits are sun damage, old automatic car washes, improper hand washing, and even acid rain. Let’s look at each of these sources. This problem absolutely kills a car freak like me!

1. Dull Paint From Sun Damage

A car’s paint job works pretty hard at blocking out sun damage. However, over time it can lead to some serious fading. At the very end of the spectrum this damage can even lead to the paint peeling off the car. You can think of this like a sun burn. After the red goes away the skin can flake off – yuck.

2. Old-Fashioned Car Washes Can Scuff Paint

Another thing that can damage car paint is old-fashioned automatic car washes. I am referring to the old type that scrubs the car with spinning plastic brushes. This is very different than the newer types that use soft cloth and foam brushes, which are much gentler. The plastic brushes actually scuff up the paint. This causes the top clear coat to look dull. Also, some car washes use very strong soap that can also contribute to dulling.

3. Improper Hand Washing – Learn How to Make Car Paint Shine

The method you use for washing your car at home can have a direct effect on the look of your car. A car’s paint job can be scuffed up if you wash with a scrub brush with bristles that are too hard. The type of soap you use can also have a dulling action. As a rule, I have found that kitchen dish soap is just too hard on paint. Select a real carwash soap because they don’t contain detergents that will dull the car down. I have always had great results washing my cars with a slip-on hand mitt.

4. Acid Rain and Car Paint

Depending on where you live, your car could be exposed to acid rain. This is a situation where the Ph factor of rain water is tilted toward the acid side of the chemical spectrum. This is caused by air pollution and can really have a bad effect on car paint. In this situation, frequent car washing is your best defense. Power polishing is about the only way to correct this type of paint damage.

How Cars are Painted Makes All the Difference

Up until the early 1980s most cars where painted in enamel. This method involves a fairly hard coating of paint. This paint was thick enough that some aggressive power buffing could dig down to a fresh layer of paint to recreate a deep shine.

After that point in time the painting process evolved. Now cars are painted in a process called base-coat, clear-coat. The paint is made up of a softer acrylic urethane. You can almost think of this as layers of plastic. The job is a sandwich of two paints. First comes the color coats which are then topped with clear paint. This results in a durable paint job that has a superior shine and depth to it.

This type of paint needs to be polished very differently than the old enamel method. Now we can only use clear coat compounds and polishes – very mild and non-gritty products. The goal of these new products is to gently polish and restore the top clear paint without digging deep down to a lower layer.

Lack of Wax Hastens Paint Fading

Car wax and polish act like sunscreen for your paint job. They provide a protective barrier form sun and soap damage. In my experience as an OCD car detailer, I have found it best to wax cars at least twice a year – if not more. I have seen quite a few older cars that have never been waxed. The result is most often paint that is very dull and peeling, which requires a trip the body shop for a new paint job. That’s quite a bit more expensive that waxing the car on a regular basis.

Now we know the major culprits that can lead to dull paint. Buffing dull car paint like a pro will restore its shine. As a car fanatic I just can’t stand the thought of my paint job looking dull and faded – or the paint falling off the car.

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