How do you keep your car looking its best? For most people, a trip through the car wash is enough. Over time though, the accumulation of dings, scratches and fading can make your car look older and less attractive than it was when you bought it.
Easy Car Paint Maintenance Tips
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to keep your car’s paint looking fresh and new. With the good habits below, you’ll feel proud of your vehicle’s appearance, no matter what its age.
Wash Your Car by Hand
Regularly washing your car is the best way to keep your paint looking its best, but there’s a catch. As convenient as they are, automatic car washes can scratch and fade your paint more quickly than hand washing. Because they are made to remove mud and other stubborn materials, automatic washes can be aggressive and abrasive on your car’s finish. Washing your vehicle by hand allows you to dictate the amount of pressure being applied to the paint.
There are a few tips to remember when washing your car:
- Always rinse with water first to remove dust that could scratch the paint when you rub the exterior with soap.
- Always use a paint-safe mitt and car-wash liquid. Detergent-based cleaners like dishwashing soap can strip your car’s wax. Use soap made specifically for cars and a mitt, not a sponge, to prevent scratches.
- Always dry your car with cotton or sheepskin to prevent water spots without scratching the paint. Avoid microfiber or polyester towels.
Use a Protective Coat
While polish makes your car look shiny, it may contain abrasives that will eventually degrade your paint job. Use wax to seal the surface and protect the paint from UV rays and debris that can compromise its appearance. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when it comes to the amount and frequency of wax application because too much can cause buildup that will dull your car’s finish over time.
Avoid Debris Damage
Dings and scratches look unattractive and can result in flaking paint and patches. Avoid driving too fast on dirt roads and other unpaved surfaces, and avoid driving close to the rear of trucks on freeways and interstates — they can kick up rocks that will damage your car. If you do end up with a chip in your paint, you can fix it yourself before it rusts or grows larger.
If your car has accumulated dings and scratches, you can fix them yourself with touch-up paint. It won’t be the same as a professional paint job, but it can still improve your car’s appearance and prevent rust-through of exposed metal. Follow these steps when touching up paint:
- Use the correct shade. If you use a paint that’s not your car’s exact shade, it will look worse than if you had never fixed it. Order paint using your car’s VIN to ensure the right shade.
- Purchase the right supplies. To successfully fix dings and scratches, you’ll need to buy a spot-sanding tool, paint, wax and grease remover (and rust remover if you see any rust).
- Prepare your car. Wash your car’s exterior. Once dry, apply the wax and grease remover to the areas you want to touch up. Sand the surface to remove any flaking paint. Apply rust remover if necessary.
- Use paint sparingly. Too much paint can result in an unsightly blob after it’s dry. Use a small amount of paint applied with an applicator or syringe. It’s better to apply several thin layers than one thick one.
If you have scratches that don’t go all the way through to the metal of your car’s body, you can polish them away with a dual-action polisher. Otherwise, use a paint pen and the steps above to fill in any scratches that do expose metal.
The sun is your paint’s worst enemy. UV rays cause fading and splotchy surfaces over time. When possible, park your vehicle in a covered space or in a spot where your car will not be in direct sunlight. You can also purchase a car cover for times when your car will be sitting for an extended period of time.
Save Time and Money With Do-It-Yourself Maintenance
You can find out more about maintenance that you can perform yourself with Rainbow Muffler & Brake’s blog post, Preventive Maintenance For Your Car. It provides all of the insights you need to make sure your car is performing its best while keeping you and your family safe and stress-free.
For everything you can’t do on your own, simply bring your car into any of our six Rainbow Muffler & Brake locations. We’ve been proudly serving the Cleveland area since 1980. Our team of experts can help you with all of your car care needs, from routine maintenance to major repairs. Come visit us today!