Auto Body Repair Expert Advice
9 Auto Body Repair Experts Share the Secret to Maintaining a Pristine Paint Job
You want your vehicle to stay in pristine condition, right?
Maintaining your car’s paint job is a huge part of keeping it looking brand-new.
Some might say it’s the most important part.
So what’s the absolute BEST way to keep your car’s paint all shiny and new?
If you’re like me, your car is your baby. You want to keep your baby clean, right?
I asked 9 experts from the fields of auto paint and body repair this question.
What they told me shocked me – I’ve been doing this all wrong for years!
You’ll be blown away by how easy it is to keep your vehicle looking showroom-floor fresh.
Read the tips from the experts below:
Paint Your Car like the Pros to Avoid Depreciation from the Start
Alex Lee of Rhino Customs & Detailing suggests preserving the life of your car’s paint by applying the paint properly. Rhino Customs specializes in detailing services but also offers paint protection film installation.
There are many options these days on how to prolong the life of your paint. The most common methods are Polymer Sealers and Ceramic Coatings.
Before I get into paint protection coatings, a very important part is to properly wash and decontaminate your car before any type of coating installation. Google the “2-bucket method” for the proper washing procedure.
Claying the vehicle properly will give you clean pallet for any paint coating applications. If you are doing any type of permanent coating, I would polish the vehicle to rid of any swirls, but this is for experts only. Properly washing and claying the vehicle will help prevent swirls and marring that can occur.
After the vehicle is properly washed and decontaminated, you can choose a permanent durable and high-gloss coating that lasts for a few years without too much maintenance. However, because the coating is much harder and stronger than the traditional polymer or waxes, the installation is much more difficult.
I also like the polymer coatings. These types of sealants typically lasts about 6 to 8 months. Both are great ways of keeping your paint clean, glossy, and help prevent premature clear coat failure and oxidation.
Ditch Your Wax and Synthetic Sealants for Smarter Products
Chris Parker, of Detail Boss and Scottsdale Car Detailing, issued this wake-up call about the old wax and synthetic sealants we’ve used for years. Scottsdale Car Detailing offers a line-up of unique protection services beyond the scope of traditional detailing. Follow Detail Boss on Twitter.
Apply a ceramic coating to the vehicle. Our technology is now light years ahead of the traditional Carnauba wax days and the synthetic sealants. Modern ceramic coatings use nanotechnology to form a bond to your vehicle’s clear coat, and acts as a much more durable clear-coat on top of the factory coat. Aside from protection, ceramic coatings also add an extreme depth, gloss, and slickness to the finish.
Pete of Southwest Rod and Custom in Lewisville, Texas also suggests abandoning the standard commercial products in favor of something more effective. Check out a gallery of Southwest’s latest projects here.
The best products on the market are the various durable wipe-on wipe-off sealant against all weather-related conditions that could harm your vehicle’s finish. 95% of all store bought waxes and cleaners are sales gimmicks.
Become a Cleaning Nazi to Extend the Life of Your Paint Job
Zach McGovern is the owner/operator of Attention to Detailing in Peoria, Illinois. He recommends a regular maintenance routine as an easy low-cost alternative to other protection methods:
Proper maintenance starts with routine cleaning. Your vehicle should be washed using safe wash methods, such as the 3-bucket method, to help minimize the risk of introducing scratches and swirls into your paint. It is also important to maintain a healthy layer of protection on the surface of your vehicle to protect your paint from environmental contamination. In general, you should use a natural wax every 6-8 weeks or a synthetic sealant every 4-6 months. A clean, well-protected vehicle will look great for years and years.
Avoid Paint Trauma Altogether
Marcus Jones of Ray’s Auto Body in Vienna, Virginia shares this time and money-saving tip. Ray’s Auto Body has been in business fifty-one years, specializing in returning vehicle paint to its original condition.
Clean tree particles (sap, leaves, acorns, etc.) off your vehicle ASAP. This will help mitigate possible refinish blemishes that can only be corrected by an expensive re-painting of the entire panel.
Jody Gatchell, owner of A & J Collision Repair in Conway, Arkansas, shares a few similar tricks. A & J maintains a really useful blog, which you can read here.
One of the most important things is to keep the surface of the vehicle clean, a routine washing with non-harsh soap is always beneficial. It is equally important to use a soft cloth or mitt to wash the car. If there are a lot of bugs on the front of the vehicle, it is best to use a bug sponge to help remove them, along with some type of paint-safe chemical. I prefer Simple Green diluted to 75%. Once the vehicle is clean I recommend putting a coat of wax on the vehicle to help protect it.
Protect Your Ride from Weather, Debris, and Harmful UV Rays
Matt Parker owns Parker Auto Body in West Monroe, Louisiana. Parker Auto Body is one of the top-rated body shops in all of Louisiana, according to Yelp. Mr. Parker is running for Louisiana Insurance Commissioner.
Keep it clean. Keep it out of the sun. Keep it waxed. Keeping your vehicle’s paint protected and preserved can help maintain the value and also keep it looking sharp. Parking in the shade any time you can will not only protect your paint from debris and sap, it will also keep harmful UV rays from reaching it. Washing your vehicle will prevent anything from staining or corroding the finish. Waxing will help keep it clean, enhance the luster, and even put a thin protective film that will help protect the paint from the elements.
Five Steps to Winterize Your Car – Let Your Paint Hibernate
Roger Patrick is the owner of Leo’s Body Shop in Houston, TX. I interviewed Roger because Leo’s Body Shop is my go-to spot for paint and repairs. They don’t have a website, but check out these Yelp reviews. Roger suggests taking steps to protect your paint from the winter – even in a mild climate like Houston.
- Start with a polymer wax layer to protect your vehicle from road grime, snow, ice, and salt. I only recommend this type of product during the winter months.
- Use a spray wax for additional paint protection. You can re-apply this spray wax once a month if the winter is extra-nasty.
- Use a high-pressure sprayer to get grime off your vehicle after every winter storm. The most important places to wash are the tires, wheel wells, and undercarriage. Damage in those areas is generally permanent and expensive to fix.
- Invest in a soft snow brush, or at most a foam snow brush. Scrapers and other gadgets for getting ice and snow off cars is the number-one offender in my shop.
- Finish your winterizing by spring-cleaning your car at the end of the winter. This will work away any lasting dirt or grime, prevent lasting damage into the next season, and extend the life of your vehicle’s paint job even more.
Looking over these answers as I put this post together, I thought it was interesting that we basically got a start-to-finish breakdown of how to improve the life-span of vehicle paint.
Based on what our experts share, it looks like the secret is to protect the paint from before it’s applied through every season of its life, including lots of maintenance and a little extra expense to find the sealants, coatings, and other chemicals that really work to prolong paint’s life.
Some of the tips are simple, requiring little in the way of expense or hard work. Sweeping your car with a soft brush, rather than a hard scraper, is an easy tip that can last a lifetime. Other advice you’ve read, such as claying a vehicle and performing a swirl-proof polish, may be best left up to a professional.
How much of your car’s value is locked up in its appearance?
How much of that overall appearance is related directly to the paint job?
You’ve heard from the experts – now it’s up to you to drop some knowledge on us.
What tips do you have for preserving your vehicle or motorcycle’s paint job?