Faded Car Paint: Causes and How to Prevent It?

Have you ever had a chance to take a look at a freshly polished car? If you never had, then you missed out on such a beauty. The glossy surface, the sparkling shine, and the glamourous color; this look drives you crazy to pat your speedy as you get inside it to take a ride around the corner.

Honestly, you would never want that luster to go away. However, it is the universal law that nothing lasts forever, and so neither this paint would. You might go for several hacks to save it like waxing your car. Eventually, this car paint would fade away.

But what is the reason behind the car paint to fade?

There is no need to mention the environment and pollution around. You already have an idea about the exposure of UV rays and contaminants. The rest of the credit goes to frequent car washing, which actually becomes a requirement. However, there could be different factors contributing to your car paint to fade like not being a fan of NASCAR. No, I am not kidding. Ha-ha – you got me.

Let’s move forward and see what takes away that shine from your car so you can save it and playing the role of life-saver; we would tell you how you can avoid your car paint to fade away. Yes, you can thank us later, but before that, make sure you went through everything mentioned here.

How is Car Paint Applied?

Before you jump into the reasons, you need to know how it is actually applied. It takes four basics steps to apply automotive paint.

Step 1: Sanding to Remove the Contaminants

First off, you need a bare surface for which little sanding is done to remove the contaminants over it. It cleans the surface to give a microscopic cross pattern for the paint to bind.

Step 2: Applying a Primer

The next thing to do is to apply primer like you do when you paint walls for the base coat.

Step 3: Applying Real Paint

The third step is applying real paint. You may apply more than a layer to make sure that the entire surface is covered, and there is not empty area left.

Step 4: Applying Protective Coating

The last thing, a protective coating is applied as an added layer of protection. This coating is the actual layer where you find swirl marks and scratches.

What Causes Car Paint to Fade Away?


Let us connect you with the science behind it that is oxidation. I assume that all of you are familiar with rusting. It happens in a similar way. The oxygen, at a little heat or slightly higher temperature, reacts with coating molecules breaking the bonds in the paint layer. You cannot stop this reaction just like that. It’s natural just like that iron rod in your store keeps on rusting. However, you can slow it down or prevent it from happening right off the bat.

What Causes Your Car Paint to Oxidize?

1. UV rays

You might confuse it with sunlight exposure directly, but this is not true in this case. The normal sunlight that we receive daily is not enough to produce the heat required for oxidation. The combination of oxygen and heat is actually derived from UV rays. The UV rays are absorbed by the clear coat, and it starts heating up.

If it is exposed for a longer time, the coating is heated up enough to make the reaction possible. The oxygen starts reacting with the layer, and now it could penetrate into the coating. As the metal keeps on absorbing heat, the paint keeps on fading.

2. Salt

Communities residing near the marine drive or in the areas around it usually complains about early fading paint. You may witness similar phenomena in colder regions as well. You know the culprit here is not the temperature, but it’s salt. Salt doesn’t only damage the paint, but you may also find the exhausts, body panels, and undercarriage rusting if you live by the sea.

All goes back to the salt, which is neutral all alone but can be corrosive. But how? Well, its about the composition. It is made up of sodium and chloride that together is not reactive at all, but when you leave it on the hot surface exposed to the UV rays, its crystal starts acting up over the coating, eating away the whole thing slowly. This exposes the paint surface open to the environment; hence you see your car paint fading eventually.

3. Abrasive Cleaners

Some automotive cleaner available in the market are good for cleaning, but it may be poison to your car paint. These products contain abrasive materials, so if you are using one, then say a big no to it. They actually act like sandpaper on your car surface scraping the paint off.

Whenever you use them, even if that’s states to have microfiber, it scuffs of the protective coat exposing the paint to oxygen and UV light. We would recommend you to avoid local wash as well in this case.

4. Pollution

Did you know that not all the fuel that you put it inside the engine is burnt? The most efficient engine can only burn 95% of it. Using the most refined one doesn’t change the results. You can’t even imagine how much would have gone in waste with diesel and other refined fuels.

So what happens to that unburnt fuel? It is a waste product, so it is expelled out of the exhaust system of your cars, contributing to the existing pollution in the form of smoke. Apart from this, burning coal can also result in releasing carbon particulates in the air.

All this ends on your car surface. Carbon has a tough makeup. Its microscopic molecules cause scarring on most of the surface they land on. This gives rise to the same chain again; scrapping, oxidation, and eventually, you would see the car paint fading.

How to Prevent your Car Paint from Fading?

After understanding the common causes behind your car paint fading, now here is what can help you to save your car paint. It’s quite logical to go for prevention first. You must be thinking that the only way to work it out is to wrap your car in a bubble wrap, look it inside the garage and never take it out? Ha-ha, no, it’s not totally impossible.

If you have applied a professional paint protection film covered under the best DIY ceramic coating, then all you need is to wax your car surface and replace it quite often, and the chance for that shine to fade would fall drastically. However, you can’t afford to do it over and over, and it’s equally a mass to go through the whole process again and again.

So, here are some more hacks to calm your driver’s heart and making it easier for you to save your car paint.

Hack # 1: Natural Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax directly comes from a special Brazilian palm tree. The leaves of the tree grow at a constant temperature, mostly above 80 degrees, to be exact to roast it in sunlight. This produces the godly wax that protects its leaves, allowing it to thrive even in that harsh climate as well. Fun fact – yes, the Carnauba wax is the dung of those palm trees.

 Stop laughing and take that natural Carnauba Wax to apply on your car surface. It produces sufficiently a hard protective layer. Just like the sunscreen you wear before going into the sun, it blocks those UV rays, salt, and pollution from getting on the car surface.

Disclaimer – it will not work with abrasive cleaners, and it doesn’t have a really long life, it might be a month or even less. It requires constant revamping. Remember, polishing has nothing to with protection; it only makes the paint shine.

Hack # 2: Paint Sealants

The paint sealant is the best thing to enhance the appearance of your car paint. Although, it serves the same purpose as the natural carnauba wax but is man-made. Being tough, resilient, and of industrial- strength, it last around eight months and sometimes even a year.

Hack # 3: Ceramic coating

The ceramic coating or nanocoating, as it is also known, is formed with a unique formulated blend of silica, quartz, and different synthetic polymers that binds to the surface directly, giving it a clear coat. It works on every type of surface, whether it be plastic, vinyl, metal, and even glass.

It doesn’t take really long to dry. Initially, it would be a matter of a few minutes, and in a few days, you will find it all cured. So, it presents quickly at work to block salt, chemicals, UV rays, and pollutants from getting to the paint surface. 

Hack # 4: Paint protection film

The paint protection film is composed of clear vinyl wrap with a steroid base. It is actually made up of a urethane polymer. The best part about it is not just the protection it provides against oxidation but the slim and thin layer that gives a sleek look to your vehicle. It comes with an added bonus of lasting up for five years, at least.

Can you Fix the Faded Paint on your Car?

As most of the car repairs depend on the damage done to it, the same is the case for your car paint.

Paint Correction or Paint Restoration

If it’s just the clear coat behind the scenes that is appearing hazy, so a little buff can make things as good as new. This faded car paint fix is also known as paint correction or paint restoration.

Check the Type of Paint on your Vehicle

Before you try fixing the faded car paint, first check the type of paint already present on your vehicle. Don’t forget the level of clear coating here. A dual or a single stage paint system is in use these days, especially for modern trucks and SUVs.

Single-Stage Paint System

The single-stage paint system blends both the layers while the dual one sprays the base paint first and add the clear coating layer after that.

Dual-Stage Paint System

The dual-stage system has a urethane paint with a clear coating, which forms multiple layers of the same paint but without color. It makes the layer tougher. However, if you go the second option that is a clear coat on top of the paint as a base, there are other ways to make the surface shine.

You can tell this quite easily if you got a clear coat at first by looking at your VIN plate. It’s mounted right in the inside of your car door. It has a label with a code, which is a certification label for service part identification. You can find one for the paint here too.

You can also take your car to the nearest service center and give them the code. They will make it easier for you to understand what exactly do you need to apply to your vehicle.

Use Light Grit Sandpaper or Paint Thinner

Now for the last part – the final touch. Use light grit sandpaper or paint thinner – like a 2,000 grit. Look for a section of paint on the car that doesn’t come in the view directly. Apply some pressure there and see if the dust is of the same color as your vehicle is. If not, then the clear coat is still intact.

Opting for Thinner

If you opt for the thinner option, use some on the surface and wipe it off the surface; if you don’t see any color, then it’s intact. Here you can easily work on the clear coat. But if the results are otherwise, then you first need to get the paint job done. The least you can do is to even try a new clear coating.

What is the Best to Use for Fixing your Faded Car Paint?

We have discussed a lot of things here, so you might be confused about choosing the best product to prevent your car paint from fading.

Armor Shield IX

We have a pretty good DIY ceramic coating suggestion named Armor Shield IX. You don’t have to worry about UV light, pollution, salts, or abrasive cleaners with it as it amazingly deals with everything.

Think about the second layer of skin. The ceramic coating works just as same as a sacrificial layer to protect the clear coat present on your car surface.

Benefits of Using Armor Shield IX

The magic of the ceramic coating lies in the nanotechnology it uses, which is the tiny particle present in a thin layer that forms over the service as clear as water.

Nano-Particles Seal the Pores

As the name suggests, their nano size allows them to seal all the pores on the surface on which they are applied. They are hydrophobic, so now you don’t have to worry about the water.

Provides Ultimate Protection

they are also resistant to UV, scratches, chemicals, extreme heat, and even anti-graffiti. The best part – it’s invisible to the eye.

Lasts up to 5 Years

Ceramic coating can last as long as five years. If the prep work is not done nicely or the paint surface condition is not that good so it will last for around two years even then. As compared to the car wax, it around ten times longer. It does take more time and cost to complete, though.

Our Opinion

The environment we thrive in is not car paint friendly. Also, if I were to say that the paints aren’t also as good as the ones that were regarded for their premium quality in the past, that would also not be wrong at all. But yeah, I was trying to avoid that old times’ talk.

However, we need to do the best in any given situation. The easiest way to prevent the paint from fading is by hand washing the car. You should use the two-bucket method and, obviously, get a high-quality paint protection solution (Example: Armor Shield IX).

This is a fairly easy thing to do. Hand washes the car every two weeks. Make this a practice. It will keep the car surface free from dust, debris, dirt, and other contaminants. This is especially for people living in regions that have cold climates, areas near the coasts, or where the harsh wind blows.