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Protecting your car’s paint finish

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Value your car by protecting its paint finish

Value your car by protecting its paint finish

Protecting your car’s paint finish protects the investment you made in your car. And you can ride with pride. After all, many people object to a dirty car. But no one objects to a clean one.

Sun is the absolute destroyer of paint finishes. Tree sap and road grime also contribute, but to protect paint you have to first protect it from the sun. Do that with car covers and wax. Preferably both. Let’s start with car covers.

Auto enthusiasts can find a wide variety of car, motorcycle, and truck covers. There’s such a selection that you might feel overwhelmed. Basically, though, there are two broad types of covers: outdoor and indoor.

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Indoor covers protect against dust but little more. They’re just the thing if you garage your vehicle. They’re not meant to get wet at anytime, indeed, if they do get wet you’ll find a mess on your hands. Pulling off a wet indoor cover will leave dirt and dust streaks all over your car. You’ll need to wash your car. And then your cover. Don’t be tempted to buy a cheap indoor cover for use outside in sunny weather. You’ll never know when a rainstorm will hit.


What kind of indoor cover to get? There are all kinds, from generic fitting covers to covers fitted just for your make and model automobile. Fabrics vary, especially when it comes to the softness of the material. Soft is good. Make sure your cover does not fit tightly around corners. It’s here that scratches and rubbing can occur if the cover is too tight or the fabric too harsh. When in doubt deciding, call the cover company. They can help.

Now, on to outdoor covers. A well made, water resistant cover can fight the rain but also protect against things like bird droppings and dust. Water resistant covers are a great idea but make sure they breathe. You don’t want condensation forming under the fabric. Prolonged exposure to moisture under a cover can lead to paint softening. If you think wetness is forming, remove the cover and allow the car and the cover to dry. There are different things to consider with an outdoor cover. Select the quality you desire most: rain protection, breathability, dust protection, softness, and so on.

Specialty covers like bras cover the hood to protect against rock damage from the road. While valuable for that purpose, they must be removed before every car washing and in winter. Left wet and soaked, they will soften paint. So, it is important, and often difficult, to remove them every time they get wet.

Protecting your car’s paint finish also means a good deal of wax. You can find a nice selection of detail shop grade products. They carry mostly paste based waxes. Carnauba waxes are worth the price.

You should try to wax your car at least twice a year, four times a year if possible. Each layer you put on adds to the paint’s shine. To preserve the wax, think hard about how you wash your car. If you don’t have mud, just light dirt or dust to remove, don’t use soap when you wash. It will soften the wax. Modern paint finishes really don’t need soap to get clean. Two rinses with clean water should be enough to wash any car.

Most people don’t wax out their vehicles because it is so time consuming. You can try to speed up the process with a random orbital buffer, but practice first on a vehicle that you don’t value too much. Using a buffer is a skill. Always work in high shade and not in the full sun. Be prepared to remove swirls by hand after using the buffer. Work one section at a time. Like the hood, the doors, the trunk lid and so on. That applies to hand waxing, too.

Waxing by hand is tough and slow, but unlike using power equipment, you can do little harm. Put the car out in full sun after you wax it. You’ll see swirls you missed when you applied the wax in the shade. Keep a polishing rag in the trunk. Many times you’ll come back to your car and you’ll see another spot you’ve missed. Rub it out right then and there. Remember, by investing a little time and money, you’ll help preserve the investment you put in your vehicle.


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