Automotive Paint Blog

How long does car paint last?

We date the revolution of auto paints back to the 1970s when the dual coat concept was introduced. The same concept we use today — a pigment coat protected by a clear coat.  Throughout the years manufacturers of auto paint developed new clear coat formulas that would help to protect the pigment layer.  From the 1970s up until late 1980s, a car paint would include fewer components that were less advanced and would fade within 3-5 years. Nowadays, a standard paint job, with the use of premium materials, would run for about 10-15 years before it would start to fade.

Let’s take a look at the causes of auto paint fading:

  1. UV Rays.
  2. Road Salt.
  3. Eggs.
  4. Bird Droppings.
  5. Chemicals.

1. UV Rays Vs Auto Paint

UV Rays – Enemy #1.  UV rays react with the paint and break down particles which in result cause oxidation and fading. In severe cases, paint could flake off in patches due to the protection layer being damaged, and the paint is exposed to direct sunlight. In this case, your car might need some attention immediately, because the longer you wait, the more time rust has to develop and take over the metal of the car’s body.

As we found out UV rays are the main reason for the paint to fade due to oxidation and damage to the protection layer. Less light is reflected therefore more UV rays are breaking down the paint.

2. Road Salt

Not only salt can damage paint but it can eventually eat through any metal body parts and give green light to rust.

3. Eggs

Could’ve been an accident, could’ve been on purpose… If you’ve been ever “egged” or ever will be — egg whites serve a function of an adhesive for the yolk, which contains acidic fats that destroy paint layers.

4. Bird Droppings

Bird poop can do some serious damage too if not cleaned quickly due to its acidic structure that can eat through paint. Try not to park your car under the trees or poles!

5. Chemicals

A lot of harsh chemicals could damage your car’s paint. For example, sprays that are used in any mechanic shop: brake cleaners, rim cleaners, WD-40, detergents, acid, etc.

How to prevent my car’s paint from fading?

Now that we have looked at some primary causes for fading, let’s tackle them all and find out how we should fight each one.

  1. Rinse off regularly.
  2. Park in Shade and use UV protective covers.
  3. Be cool.
  4. Avoid parking under Polls, Trees, and wires.
  5. Avoid accidental spills and inaccurate ways of using chemical products.

1. Rinse off the salt regularly

If you live in Ontario, you know that our winters can get a little crazy. One of the main weapons that our cities have against snow and ice is salt. Unfortunately, if you would like to drive your car in the winter you will inevitably expose it to road salt. Now that the salt is on your car the only thing that can be really done is to rinse it off regularly. To be realistic, a couple of times a week should be enough to prolong the lifetime of a paint job.

2. Park in Shade and use UV protective covers

Similar to the salt situation, the sun is out all year round and it’s impossible to not get your car exposed to it unless you don’t drive. However, there are a couple of preventative ways to reduce that exposure.

  • Park your car in the shade/garage
  • Cover your car with a Special UV protection blanket

3. Be cool

Just be nice to everyone and don’t drive around on Halloween or through public gatherings.

4. Avoid parking under Polls, Trees, and wires

Have you ever parked your car under the pole and come back to a few surprises from our feathered friends? The easiest way to avoid them? That’s right! Avoid parking under the poll parking spot. You could also scan for wires or trees, which birds really like to land on and do their business.

5. Avoid accidental spills and inaccurate ways of using chemical products

Chemical damage would be mostly under our control. Careful research is required before using any chemicals on any of your car’s parts. For example, if an acidic rim cleaner is used in an inaccurate way, droplets may fall onto the car’s paint and stay there unnoticed. If that occurs, the chemical eventually eats its way into the paint materials. An accidental spill that was left behind or the use of a wrong cleaning product on the body of a car – all can be standing behind paint fading.

Tip: Do not wash your car under direct sunlight, especially at times when the sun is at its peak.  Water drops work as little magnifiers that greatly increase the damage caused by UV rays.

How to fix faded paint?

If you are too late to utilize preventative measures, let’s talk about ways to bring your paint the original shine and color.

  1. Buffing
  2. Repainting the car

1. Buffing


This method would be an easy way and would work in the early stages of fading. Buffing a car requires a rotary tool with a soft disk and a special two-stage buffing compound. The compound is applied to the car’s body parts and then is buffed using the tool. The compound seals all the micro scratches on your car’s clear coat and polishes it to a factory shine.

2. Repainting the car

painting car

If buffing didn’t work you might consider repainting your car especially if you own a luxury, classic, or exotic car. Repainting the car includes taking off doors, hood, trunk, fenders, and bumpers to be repainted individually. This is a hard way but worth it in the end. Your car will look like a brand new one!

Let Alliance Auto experts handle the work…

Both buffing and repainting require skill and a special environment in order to be done correctly. At Alliance Auto, we have the tools and facilities for auto paint jobs of any difficulty. Also, if your car was damaged in a collision, we offer auto inspections and collision repair services.

Contact us today for a quote on your next paint job!