What Causes Car Paint to Fade?

What Causes Car Paint to Fade?

Plenty of things in this world are temporary and this includes the glamour of your vehicle’s paint. Once upon a time, you fell in love with its solid color and glossy appearance. Years of use and exposure to the elements can have major impact on its looks.

Your ride needs tender loving care, and in order to deal with fading paint, you do have to know what factors trigger this occurrence.


What Causes the Fading of Vehicle Paint?

For starters, you need to be aware of the kind of paint jobs cars are usually presented with. There are traditionally two kinds of automotive paint jobs and these processes react differently to varying elements contributing to auto paint fade.

Single-stage paint jobs do not have a protective layer, thus they are more at risk from oxidation process and fading.

Clear-coated paint jobs on the other hand, have a layer of clear coat to seal in the paint beneath it, therefore it has more protection compared to single-stage ones.


We now come to the factors that affect vehicle paint and they are the following:

  • Sun exposure

The sun is primarily responsible for fading auto paints. Even during overcast days, the sun emits UV rays that remain powerful enough to cause fading on your ride’s paintjob. It damages the finish or layer which was made to safeguard the surface of the paint.

Due to the damage incurred, the paint gets exposed and becomes prone to fading. Heat coming from the sun can also result in discoloration and fading.

  • Harsh car cleaning items

Not all vehicle maintenance equipment are safe; some are too harsh for paintjobs once used for longer periods of time, thus leading to discoloration and fading. In addition, not all fabrics are meant to be used to wipe down cars. Anything that is abrasive, whether it’s a scrap of cloth or a cleaner, can contribute to the discoloration and fading of a vehicle’s paint job.

When looking for cleaning solutions, waxes or polishes for your vehicle, you need to guarantee that it’s designed specifically for cleaning and maintaining vehicles. In addition, do not make use of harsh, scouring pads and scrubbers on your car. Those rough pads can leave scratches and damage the car’s paint job, too.

  • Lack of sealant and paint protection

Most car owners overlook the use of paint sealants. This might be the time that you consider this practice since it’s pretty simple to work with and it helps safeguard your car’s paint job.

There are available paint protector film kits designed for vehicle use these days and these items can help prolong the healthy look of your ride’s paint job. An additional layer of protection will always assure overall protection for a car’s solid color.

  • Pollution

Certain toxic particles and contaminants present in the air but invisible to the common eye are also attributed to eventual auto paint fading. This is especially true for vehicle owners who live close to areas that experience plenty of vehicle traffic or locations that have many factories.

  • Exposure to grit and gravel

If you are not too fond of touch-up paint jobs, then you may need to understand why your lower fenders are prone to fading and discoloration. Protect these parts from the impact of gravel, grit and pebbles by placing mud flaps or gravel guards.

  • Salt exposure

This issue is frequently experienced by car owners who live close to the ocean. Salt that remains on the car’s surface oxidizes, leading to fading, discoloration and even corrosion if not taken care of immediately. To curb salt exposure problems, you have to clean and wax the car on a regular basis.

caring for your car paint

Tips to Prevent Auto Paint Fading

Here are some neat tips that you can apply to slow down fading of car paint:

  1. Regular waxing provides a slick, protective layer to the surface of your vehicle. Just make sure not to overdo it though; experts recommend that car owners wax their vehicle every three months.
  2. Make sure to park your vehicle always in the shade. If in case it’s going to stay under the sun for an extended period of time, you should use a car cover on it with UV protection.
  3. Wash your ride once every two weeks, at the least. If your vehicle is always exposed to road elements like gravel, grime, salt and the like, then you may need to do cleanups more often.
  4. Consider using automotive paint protection film kits for your ride to prolong its color. You can do this procedure yourself or just have it serviced by your mechanic.
  5. Guarantee that your cleaning equipment, from the cloth (microfiber), cleaning solution (gentle on the finish but effective enough to remove surface contaminants), polish (also gentle on the finish) or any device, are designed for cleaning vehicles.

Your ride’s paint job needs all the upkeep it can get to look beautiful at all times. Take care of your car always by remembering our helpful tips on slowing down auto paint fading and discoloration.


Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

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