Car Care: Summer sunburn
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AA Motoring on protecting your vehicle
Summer. It’s the time to get out the barbecue, dust off the jandals and enjoy the great outdoors. One thing you’ll want to avoid is sunburn, and the same goes for your vehicle.
Ultraviolet light can burn the clear coat — the layer on top of the paint — causing oxidisation and creating a cloudy look. Paint pigments also absorb UV over time, which makes colours change or fade. Plastics and rubbers can also be impacted and become misshapen, faded or brittle.
The good news is that with a bit of forward planning and some elbow grease, you can prevent your vehicle from becoming another victim.
Find some shade
By far the cheapest method of sun protection is finding some shade to park under, especially during times when the sun is the harshest, typically between 11am and 3pm. Not only does your car’s exterior love the shade, the interior temperature could be up to 20C cooler, making sitting back in the driver’s seat more bearable.
Slip, slop, slap
Sunscreen protects the skin and wax does the same for your car. Let’s not confuse polish and wax as they’re different products. A polish is for those wanting a car to have high glossy shine while a wax is designed to offer a paint protection barrier (although can still provide a shine). You will not see any SPF numbers on the bottle, but the level of protection should be similar between brands.
Find your personal favourite
The Mothers Brazilian Carnauba Wax has a reputation for doing a superior job, and has a candyfloss smell, too. Paint protection won’t last forever, and chances are the UV would blast away the thin layer after a few months. Two or so coats over summer is a lot cheaper and easier than repairs.
Keep your car clean
Wash your car regularly with a quality automotive wash rather than some dish washing liquid raided from the kitchen (they are different). A good wash mitt can also help remove stuck-on road grime, dead bugs and bits of tar which can permanently damage the clear coat and paint.
There are some paint protection coatings that cost a bit ($300 starting price) to apply but can offer a longer or some cases life-time (ceramic coatings) period of protection which also helps the dirt that does land on the paint, easily clean right off. You may hear words like nanotechnology to describe a ceramic/glass-like coatings or hydrophobicity (which simply means liquid beads and runs off). These are most often applied to new cars prior to being subjected to the big wide world of paint contamination, but can also be applied to an older car after some touch-ups like a cut and polish.
Sure, knowing how to avoid sun damage is great for a new car owner, but what about a used car that has seen the effects of the blistering sun. Unless you like that look, you’ll want to know how to remove sun spots from car paint.
If you catch the burn at the early stages, you’re best to start with a clay bar — it’s affordable, easy, and can scrub off that outermost layer of haze. Most automotive part supplies sell a clay bar product that can be used on most vehicle surfaces, glass and mirrors. Quality brands include Turtle Wax, Mothers and Meguiars.
If that didn’t work, it’s time for elbow grease. You’ll need a rubbing compound and buffer (preferably dual action). Apply a small amount of compound and work one small area at a time, even if the entire bonnet needs work. Follow that with buffing by hand, and then apply wax and buff again.
Extensive car sun damage repair requires sanding off the damaged clear coat or paint, then prep work and respraying new paint and clear coat.
Unless you are adventurous or have the know-how, it’s best to leave that to the professionals, and remember the wax next time.
What about the rest of the car?
Don’t forget there are different products tailored to protect or rejuvenate plastic bumpers, polycarbonate headlamp lenses, or make your glass and tyres shine. Using the correct product will slow the ageing process and try and keep that resale value higher.