AA Car Care: Watch that summer sunburn
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Summer is great. There’s nothing like a Kiwi BBQ with family and friends, or throwing on some jandals and enjoying the great outdoors.
One thing we’ve always got to be careful of is sunburn. And that goes for both you and your car.
Ultraviolet light can burn the clear coat – the layer on top of the paint – causing oxidisation, which creates a cloudy look.
Paint pigments also absorb UV over time, which makes colours change or fade. Plastics and rubbers can 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 of the sun.
Find some shade
By far the cheapest method of sun protection is finding some shade to park under, especially when the sun is at its hottest. In New Zealand, this is typically between 11am and 3pm. Not only does your car’s exterior love the shade, the interior temperature could be up to 20 degrees cooler, making sitting back in the driver’s seat much more bearable.
Slip slop slap
Sunscreen is protection for the skin, and wax does the same for your car. Let’s not confuse polish and wax, as they’re two completely different products. A polish is for those wanting a car show type glossy shine, while a wax is designed to offer a paint protection barrier (although can sometimes still provide a shine). You will not see any SPF numbers on the bottle, but the level of protection should be fairly similar between brands.
Find your personal favourite. Mother’s Brazilian Carnauba Wax has a reputation for doing a superior job (it has a lovely candyfloss smell, too). Brands like Meguiars and Turtle Wax are also good options.
Paint protection won’t last forever, and the chances are the UV would blast away the thin layer after a few months. Two or three coats over the summer period is a lot cheaper and easier than having to carry out repairs after the sun has done its damage.
One thing to watch out for though is to make sure you do not get sunscreen from your hands onto the car. This can cause damage to the paintwork.
Keep your car clean
Wash your car regularly with a quality automotive wash rather than some dishwashing liquid raided from the kitchen (there is a difference). A good wash mitt (available at AA Shop) 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 can sometimes cost a few hundred dollars to apply, but they can also offer longer or even lifetime protection.
You may hear words like nanotechnology to describe 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 already seen the effects of the blistering sun? Unless you like that look, you're probably going to want to know how to remove sun spots from car paint. If you catch the burn during 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 suppliers sell a clay bar product that can be used on most vehicle surfaces, including glass and mirrors.
If that doesn't work, it's time for a bit of elbow grease. You’ll need a rubbing compound (light cut and polish) 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 then apply wax and buff again.
Extensive car sun damage repair requires sanding off the damaged coat of paint, then prep work and respraying new paint and a clear coat. Unless you are very adventurous or have the knowhow, 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.