AA Motoring says car paint protection is more than just a carwash
When it comes to protecting your car from the elements, the first line of defence is cleaning and polishing.
Without regular cleaning, conditioning and treatment, your car’s shimmering exterior is prone to fading, cracking and peeling, courtesy of UV damage, road grime and those pesky bird droppings.
How often a car needs to be detailed is dependent on how often the vehicle is driven, the conditions it’s exposed to and the length of time it spends sitting under the sun.
There are, however, things that drivers can do themselves to prevent damage to their vehicle. Cleaning Giving your car a weekly wash will prevent pollen and dirt embedding itself in the clear coat. On top of that, a quarterly wash and wax will ensure the shell of the car remains covered with a shiny shield.
But if you don’t have the time to wax your car four times a year, we recommend you schedule it in for the end of spring and the end of autumn to protect it against summer’s harmful UV rays and the harsh elements of winter.
Applying sealants and coatings such as 3M Scotchgard or DuraSeal is a procedure best left to the experts, but it should be attended to every few years, depending on the product used. When washing a vehicle, it can be easy to ruin a perfectly corrected finish by not taking the proper steps to eliminate swirling patterns and paint marring.
If you’d rather tackle the wash yourself than take your car to the car wash, make sure you use clean water and your brushes or cloths are soft and clean. Avoid washing in direct sunlight, as the vehicle can dry before it has been washed, leaving soap or dirty watermarks. At the same time, a wax can be used when washing the car to give a shine to the paintwork.
Polishing is the next level of cleaning and it’s something you can do yourself but, if you don’t have the time or the expertise, a professional would be happy to help.
Polishing cream is applied to the vehicle, using a soft polishing disc or pad, or an electric polishing tool. The purpose of this is to heat the clear coat so it can be more evenly distributed across the car, thus filling in any surface scratches and making it shine.
Mild rubbing compounds can be used during this step, but care should be taken, as too much pressure will cause swirl marks and “burning” of the clear coat.
Excessive polishing has a tendency to damage or wear through the clear coat, so it’s not something we recommended doing often. This process may also help to remove sunscreen or hand sanitiser marks from paintwork.
The distinction between car wax and a sealant is that wax, true to its name, always contains some type of natural wax-like substance. A paint sealant is always wax-free. It’s usually made from synthetic compounds and contains polymers as a substitute for wax. A coating, done by a professional, can offer a longer-term solution.
This is a much harder, more permanent product, which is typically resin or quartz-based and offers more protection than wax and sealant combined. This harder and thicker layer of protection will often last for a year or two, whereas wax and sealant treatments may need to be reapplied every month or so.
At the end of the day the choice is yours but, although it costs a bit more to do, a fresh coat on a car will keep it protected longer.
So frequent cleaning executed properly, regular waxing or sealing and the use of quality products at the appropriate time will help you to keep on top of your car’s upkeep.
Taking action as soon as a problem is detected is also an important step. For example, you may find your car under fire from contaminants such as sap and bird droppings, which become more difficult to remove once they harden. Preventative maintenance can be just as important as the detailing process itself and, if you live near the coast, the salt environment is harmful so you should wash and wax more regularly.
A car’s finish is all that is protecting the paint from the elements. If it breaks down, the vibrancy will fade, opening the risk to more permanent damage, such as rust.
Think about it this way, if you were looking to a buy a car, would you be more attracted to one with richly coloured and well-protected paintwork, or one showing signs of wear?
A well-looked after vehicle speaks volumes about the quality of the rest of the car. A good approach to maintenance could boost trade-in or resale values.