How to Restore Faded Car Paint
If you want to put the shine back on your car, you need the right tools, chemicals and a lot of patience. Here's how to do it.
Your vehicle is going to be exposed to all kinds of detrimental factors, both when driving and when parked, that will impact its overall appearance. Therefore, as a car owner, you need to know harmful elements, such as road salt and sunlight, that your car will become subject to and also know how best to avoid them. However, it’s impossible to keep a well-used car in pristine condition forever, and that new car gleam is sure to dim over time.
In this article, we will explore how to restore faded car paint and identify the means of preventing it. So without further ado, let's get into it.
What You’ll Need
- Buffing compound
- Microfiber buffing pads
- Car washing kit
- Electric buffer
- A bucket of water
- Car wash/polish
- Clay bar
Washing the Car
The first stage of restoring faded car paint is to give the car a good and thorough wash all over – not just the areas you are going to fix! We’d recommend doing the two-bucket method - one bucket with water and washing product and the other with just plain water.
Buffing the Car
Next in the washing process, you’re going to want to buff the car. For this, you should use the clay bar. All clay bars are different, so please refer to the instructions provided by whatever product you purchased. The goal is to expunge all removable debris and dirt. One way of checking if you’re buffing correctly is by running your finger over a section you’ve recently buffed and seeing if it feels any smoother.
After you’ve gone over the car from top to bottom with the bar, it’s time to work on the buffing compound. Wet the microfiber buffing pad with water and lightly pour some of the buffing compound onto both the buffing pad and the areas of the car where the paint is particularly faded.
Then, just as before with the bar, buff the car while going over the areas that are the most faded at least three times. Once finished, pour a bucket of fresh water over the vehicle and inspect your work again by running your finger over the damaged areas and assessing the smoothness.
Even if the results seem positive, it is recommended by professionals to buff the car one last time for good measure! Your car should now be free of damaged paint.
Waxing the Car
The buffing process got rid of all the damaged paint. However, it also opened pores on the surface of the coating of the car. To prevent further damage to the surface of the car, you’ll need to give the car a good waxing either with wax, paint sealant, or ceramic coating.
Using wax has its limitations, as it won't last much longer than a month and will require additional applications as time goes on. Paint sealant is similar. However, it can last up to six months.
The best option for this stage is to give your car a ceramic coating, as this tough coating can last for up to two years. We’d recommend using Armor Shield IX. To get the best results, apply it to your entire car. A ceramic coating also gives off a gleam like no other and will have your car looking almost as good as new afterward.
Your car paint may be irrevocably damaged and in what we call an oxidized state. You will be able to tell if this description matches your car if the above instructions failed to improve the car’s look and feel no matter how much buffing it received.
In this case, the only way you can truly restore it is by carrying out the far more arduous task of repainting and refinishing the car. This may be a case of painting just a small area that has been affected, but often, the entire car would have to be repainted. The latter would be the best option because if one part of the paint is starting to reach an oxidized state, the rest of the car will no doubt soon follow suit.
This task may be too risky to carry out as a DIY job, so you may need to call in the professionals. A collision repair technician should be your first port of call because they could at least point you in the right direction in terms of what kind of coating is required.
What Causes Car Paint To Fade?
This may not be great advice for someone who is trying to fix already faded car paint, but be sure to consider the following methods to avoid it from happening again or to prevent it from happening to your car in the future.
The biggest reason that car paint fades over time is UV rays from the sun – which is a bit hard for a car to avoid! A lot of car manufacturers coat their cars in a special sun-protective paint. However, the fading process occurs due to the build-up of heat on the surface of the paint throughout the day. In response to this, it would be a good idea to keep your car in the shade on hot days when not in use.
Another major cause for faded car paint is the grit salt that lines the streets on snowy days. It may help us walk the street or drive straight, but when this salt builds up around the wheels, it leads to major corrosion of car paint. To avoid this, be sure to hose down any areas of the car where grit salt may stick.
Other factors that cause the paint to fade over time include bird droppings, cleaning chemicals, and pollution.
Hopefully, if your car paint isn’t oxidized, you’ll now be ready to make a start on your DIY faded car paint restoration. Remember, unless you’re keeping your car in your garage 24/7, it is impossible to avoid some degree of paint fade over time. At least you’ll be ready to combat it as soon as you notice it, though.
I grew up working on my own cars and motorcycles and 15 years later I love still getting my hands dirty.