Just like the sun’s UV rays can cause tremendous havoc to the skin it can also cause tremendous havoc to your car’s paint. So, how can you prevent the sun from damaging your car’s paint?
You can prevent sun damage to a car’s paint by reducing exposure of the car’s clear coat to UV rays through various films and coatings. It’s a lot like wearing sunscreen, but for your car.
How does the sun cause damage to your car?
UV rays cause the paint to fade and clear coats to become yellow, making it look less reflective and appealing to the eyes. Ultraviolet rays (UV rays) are a form of electromagnetic energy. When this energy hits the surface of the vehicle it induces the surface to react, producing some counter energy, often given off as heat.
The energy your car is forced to give off results in a breakdown of the molecular bonds breaking. This causes the paint to fade and the clear coat to crack over time. Over time when the clear coat cracks and flakes off from UV damage, it leads to corrosion and oxidation, and eventually rust.
Other factors to paint fade
Along with UV rays you also have to consider other factors that can affect the paint of the vehicle, oftentimes made more destructive with UV exposure.
Bird droppings contain harsh chemicals such as uric acid which can accelerate the breakdown of the paint. The breakdown can begin in a matter of hours. Made even worse if it sits on a hot vehicle and is baked on from the heat and UV rays. You will often see the result as a light outline of where the dropping was if it’s not wiped off fast enough, usually called etching. This is where your clear coat has been damaged by the bird dropping and is not more susceptible to UV damage.
Bugs are another source of harsh chemicals, as bug guts contain acids that are corrosive to paint. Combined with UV exposure, these materials can cause significant damage to the paint in a short amount of time.
Road grime made up of tar, oil, gravel and other toxins is also detrimental to your car’s paint. Made worse if it sits on the paint being warmed by the car and UV exposure.
So what can you do about it?
Start with regular car washes
One of the first ways is to make sure the vehicle is washed regularly. If you go on to ceramic coat or apply paint protection film to the vehicle this is also a good way to get the most out of those products so that they last a long time. You will want to make sure and pre-rinse the vehicle with a hose (or pressure washer if you’re knowledgeable about how to use it on your car) to help remove some of the dirt and grime. This step can help to reduce swirl marks and make the actual washing process easier.
You will want to make sure to start at the top of the car and work toward the lower sections as those tend to be the dirtiest. Rinsing off the wash mitt as you go to remove any dirt that builds up in it. And finally when drying off use a clean rag/towel/shammy and use a side-to-side wiping motion, never in circles.
If you’re interested in learning more about proper car washing techniques check out our blog post here.
Use ceramic coating to prevent sun damage
Most people use wax or paint sealants to block UV rays. And while they are good options their not the best options available. One of the best ways of protecting the paint from UV damage is ceramic coating.
Ceramic coating provides a durable layer of protection that prevents UV rays from affecting your car’s paint and clear coat. This is done by using nanotechnology to fill microscopic pore spaces present in the clear coat and paint, making a layer impenetrable to harmful UV rays.
Ceramic coating is transparent, and will not affect the color of the paint. It actually tends to enhance the paint adding more depth and an intense gloss finish. Hydrophobic qualities mean environmental contaminants like hard water, bird droppings, road grime, and bugs, don’t bond as well to the car’s surface. The coating is also more resistant to staining and etching than the factory clear coat.
The hard surface created by ceramic coatings also makes it more resistant to corrosion and oxidation. It also means the car is less prone to scratches. Offering comprehensive protection for your car.
Ceramic coating typically lasts for 3-5 years depending on how the vehicle is stored and maintained. It does not require waxing or additional paint sealants, saving time and money.
Longer term protection: Paint Protection Film
Paint Protection Film (PPF) is composed of multi-layer polyurethane material with an automotive clear coat on top. They are clear and designed for one purpose – providing a barrier between the car’s paint and the elements. You may have heard them referred to as clear bras on occasion. PPF is highly durable and resistant to environmental factors such as UV rays and heat from the sun.
To offer maximum protection, the top layer of PPF is made of an elastomeric material, ensuring it retains its shape. This property also enables the PPF to self-heal in case there are minor scratches, such as swirl marks. And offers hydrophobic qualities to the film’s surface allowing water to bead off rather than sit, and making dirt, bird droppings, and bugs less likely to stick to the surface of the film as well.
The car will still need to be washed (using water and not just with a waterless wash). Bird droppings can etch into the film, especially on hot days. Dirt can also be absorbed into the clear coat and stained if the car is constantly dirty and never or rarely washed.
The whole idea of installing paint protection film is to protect your car long-term, with the film becoming damaged from normal wear and tear and not your car’s paint. It also protects the clear coat from wearing down or needing to repaint the vehicle. If your PPF is applied by a professional and well-trained installer, you should expect it to serve you for at least 10 years.
Sun exposure is one of the greatest causes of paint damage. Living in California we get a lot of sun all year round, in addition to all the environmental contaminants on our roads (or in our skies). Having ceramic coating or paint protection film installed is a worthy investment if you want peace of mind about your new vehicle. And saves you time and money in washing, waxing, or having to re-clearcoat or repaint your car.
All while offering peace of mind about UV damage to the paint of the vehicle. Insuring that the factory finish stays just as glossy as the day it was driven off the lot.