What’s Causing My Car’s Paint to Fade?

Repair of Aluminum Panels Shows Our Shop’s Commitment to Future

Have you noticed your car’s paint isn’t as shiny and vibrant as it once was? Although vehicle paint can withstand a lot, it’s not invincible. There are many things that can cause the paint to become dull or faded over time. Thankfully, understanding why this happens can help you take steps to protect your paint and preserve its longevity.

Some of the most common reasons car paint becomes faded include:

  • Sunlight
    The number one cause of faded paint is oxidation from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays cause heat to build up underneath the clear coat, which mixes with oxygen. This causes the molecular breakdown of the paint’s structure. In the early stages of oxidation, the color will begin to fade and become noticeably less vibrant. As the damage progresses, the surface of the paint will start to feel rough or dusty. Then, the clear coat will begin to flake off. If the metal underneath the paint becomes exposed, it’s at risk of developing rust—which can compromise the vehicle’s structural integrity and safety.
  • Salt
    Salt is very corrosive, especially if it’s left on the paint for an extended period of time. The sun’s UV rays will heat up the salt crystals, which can cause them to eat away at the paint and cause the color to fade. Salt can also cause rust formation.
  • Exhaust
    Believe it or not, even the unburnt fuel from your car’s exhaust can damage the paint. Carbon particulates are typically hard and jagged, which allows them to bind to the clear coat and cause the paint to become exposed. Exhaust particles can also contribute to oxidation.
  • Car Washes
    Some car washes use spinning plastic brushes that can damage the paint and cause the clear coat to look dull. They may also use strong soaps that can lessen the shiny finish of the clear coat.
  • Improper Hand-Washing Methods
    Just like the spinning plastic brushes at the car wash, improper hand-washing methods can affect your car’s luster. Harsh soaps and bristle brushes can lead to paint damage and an overall dull appearance.
  • Acid Rain
    Acid rain contains acidic elements that can cause damage if they’re allowed to accumulate on your car’s exterior. Studies have even shown that acidic material can remain on the paint after the water has evaporated. Over time, this can ruin the paint and even weaken the metal below.

Fading Prevention and Repainting

To prevent your paint from fading, it’s best to park your vehicle in a garage or shaded area whenever possible. If you don’t have a garage or shade to park under, you may want to consider using a car cover. Since various impurities (like bird droppings, dead insects, sap, salt, and exhaust) can damage the paint over time, you should also have your car professionally washed and waxed every few weeks.

If your car paint is faded or has been damaged in an accident, contact Cline Collision Center for expert paint matching and repainting services that will help your vehicle regain its luster in no time! Contact us today at (707) 591-9909 or request an appointment online.