How to Look After Car Paint & Avoid Damage

Car with immaculate paintwork

A car is an expensive asset and whilst some of us devote copious amounts of time to looking after our cars, many of us simply don’t see it as a priority. However, maintaining the exterior of your car not only makes it look fantastic, it can also help keep its value as high as possible. Repairing paintwork is more costly than simply maintaining it.

So is keeping your car in shape really all that time consuming? The answer is no it isn’t, provided it’s carried out regularly.

Washing Your Car

How to Look After Car Paint & Avoid Damage

Aside from the obvious aesthetic benefits, a clean car always looks better than a dirty one regardless of the model, regularly washing your car can remove a number of substances, which if left, can be potentially harmful to your car’s paintwork. These substances can include the following:

Bird Droppings

It is a well known fact that bird droppings damage paint work; in the past it was believed this was due to the acid content, it was then discovered that the acid didn’t actually effect the paintwork at all, the damage was in fact caused by cooling paint lacquer. To put it more clearly, paint lacquer warms, softens and expands due temperature rises and direct sunlight. If bird droppings happen to fall onto the car as the paint lacquer is warming, they stick to the car’s surface and dry in the warm air. When temperatures fall again, in the evening for example, the lacquer begins to cool, harden and contract. In this process, if there is anything stuck to the car’s surface, the lacquer will mould and harden itself around the texture, be it a bird dropping or a squashed bug, leaving a mark on the paintwork.

Tree Sap

There is nothing more frustrating than parking your car in a nice shady spot, only to return a few hours later and find it covered in tree sap. Extremely sticky, tree sap is also difficult to remove. Attempting to wipe it away will likely spread it into a large sticky smear. Whilst this will not immediately damage the car’s paintwork, over time it will etch away at it causing discolouration and dullness.

Leaves and Debris

Neither pose any kind of threat of immediate damage to paintwork, however to avoid any sort of staining or discolouration, these should be removed as soon as possible.


During the winter months UK roads are treated with salt and grit to prevent lethal ice forming. Those living in coastal regions are also exposed to the salty sea breeze. Salt is extremely corrosive and should be washed away immediately to prevent subsequent rust.

How to Look After Car Paint & Avoid Damage

Washing Your Car Correctly

A poor car wash can damage your paintwork as much or even more than any of the factors listed above. If washing your car at home, it is advisable to buy pH balanced, non detergent formulas to prevent scratches, and use micro fibre washing mitts either cotton or paint safe. Dropping a mitt on the ground may seem harmless, but it instantly fills it with small particles of grit and dirt, and no matter how many times it’s rinsed, some just won’t come out, creating fine scratches and swirl marks. So it’s a good idea to keep a few spare mitts just in case one gets dropped!

Having finished, it is important to dry your car properly, as this prevents water spots from forming.

Auto Detailing Clay

Claying is a technique used to pull or lift off contamination without any abrasion or scratching. The area treated is sprayed with a clay lubricant, then detailing clay is rolled over the area of the vehicle, sticking to any protruding material including microscopic particles. When it is removed, it lifts off any contaminates that were trapped on the paintwork, especially stubborn material such as tree sap, bird droppings etc. that weren’t removed by simply washing. Detailing clay leaves a clean shiny surface all ready to be waxed.

Waxing Your Car

Waxing not only leaves your paintwork with a beautiful shine, helping to maintain the high gloss of the paintwork, it also provides a protective coat on top of the paint work. This minimises damage by creating a slippery surface, helping to prevent dirt from sticking to the surface as this can also scratch the paintwork. Waxing twice a year in most cases is sufficient enough.

Polishing Your Car

The final step to perfect paintwork, is giving it a good polish! There are various different types of foam polishing pads available on the market. Some products however, can be very aggressive, therefore it’s always worth doing a small spot test.

How to Look After Car Paint & Avoid Damage

Repairing Paintwork Damage

If you have damaged paintwork on your car, it's best to let the professionals repair it. Longmynd Service Station specialises in minor scratch repair and full vehicle resprays. Get in touch with the bodyshop today on 01694 771464.