There are a handful of things that can make your car look ugly – dust, stains, dents, just to name a few – but nothing upsets you more than damage to its exterior paint. Not only are car paint defects and damage unsightly, but they are quite hard to get rid of as well. Even more frustrating is the fact that it’s almost impossible to find a specific brand of paint that matches your car’s original exterior paint so the blemish will have to stick around for a while until you find a proper fix.

What is car paint made of?

To find out how to deal with car paint damage (or maybe to have a good sense of how difficult it is to restore damaged car paint), you first have to know what kind of paint your car has and how it was applied. Automakers throughout history had experimented on a plethora of substances before they were able to come up with today’s high-quality and eco-friendly car paint products.

The most widely used car paint type is the water-based acrylic polyurethane enamel, which is known for having the least impact on the environment. Most commercially available car paint products are also made from this substance, but the one automakers use are of higher quality as evidenced by the out-of-this-world appearance of brand new cars. It’s a paintwork you cannot easily mimic even with the most expensive car paint products obtainable on the market.

How is car paint applied?

The superior paintwork of cars isn’t solely attributed to the superior quality paint automakers use. Several other products and methods have to do with it as well. The process generally starts with pre-treatment, which involves dipping the auto body in electro-coat. A high voltage is applied to let the e-coat stick on the auto body surface to give it 100 per cent protection against corrosion. This technique also promotes the adherence of the primer and the paint.

Primer is applied on the pre-treated auto body surface to achieve three things – smoothen or level the surface by filling defects; provide protection against chipping, extreme temperatures, and ultraviolet rays; and allow for easy paint application. After priming is done, the base coat, which is essentially the main paint material, will be applied. This can be any of three common types – solid (recognisable for its lack of sparkle), metallic (contains aluminium flakes that create sparkling and grainy effect), and pearlescent (contains iridescent pigments).

Finally, clear coat is applied on the fully-dried base coat to give it a glossy appearance. The clear coat also serves as a shield for the base coat, which is why it is basically made of a substance that is tough enough to resist abrasion and chemically stable enough to resist colour-degradation through UV radiation.

What can damage car paint?

Despite the multi-faceted process of car paint application, the result isn’t indestructible. Alas, we are still many generations away from inventing a paint product that can resist all kinds of natural and manmade forces. Or possibly, there already is such a product but it would still take a while before it becomes commercially available. Meanwhile, here are some of the major auto paint problems and causes that you should keep an eye out for to preserve the pristine beauty of your vehicle for as long as possible.

  • Acidic Beverages

    – If you are the type that drinks coffee or soda outside your car and you use your car’s roof or hood as a coaster, you are in for some serious car paint problems. Most beverages have high acidity levels that the clear coat as well as the base coat cannot tolerate.

  • Brake Fluid

    – Most of today’s brake fluids are silicone based. If your vehicle belongs to the 90s or 80s models, the fluid in its brake system may have glycol or any other caustic substance. Be careful not to spill this fluid on your car’s exterior surface because it can act as a thinner, whose primary purpose is to liquesce paint.

  • Animal Poo

    – Any substance that contains acid is harmful to your car’s paintwork. As it turns out, poo is one of them. Whenever you take your car to the outback or even simply park it outside your house, you are making it an easy target for animals to poo on. Birds are the most common culprit. Either you stay away from tall trees or cover your car with a plastic-based material to keep it safe from droppings.

  • Ashes

    – The carbonised remains of both organic and inorganic materials also have a harsh effect on car paint. When left sitting on the surface of your car’s exterior, it only takes little moisture to turn into mordant, which can cut into the paint and etch itself altogether. Paint correction without scraping off a huge portion of the affected layer of paint can be almost impossible with this kind of damage.

  • Dead Insects

    – At high speed, your vehicle can be a threat to anything that stands in its way, especially to insects. With insects’ fragile bodies, they can easily get crushed as they smash against your moving car. Unfortunately, their guts contain fluids that become acidic as they decompose. If you don’t deal with their acidic remains on the surface of your car within 48 hours, your car’s surface will start corroding.

Car Paint Protection

Thankfully, there’s a way to improve the resistance of your car’s paint to damage. That is by applying car paint protection, such as wax or synthetic paint. There are car paint protection products available at your local hardware store but it helps to seek professional assistance when handling and applying any of them on your vehicle.

For best results, it’s highly suggested that you simply take your vehicle to a car detailing shop. Part of the detailing process is the application of car paint protection, and unlike you they are highly trained to carry it out seamlessly. Some detailers offering paint correction service use ceramic car paint protection, the best available product on the market.