A Beginner’s Guide: How to Take Care of Your Car's Paintwork

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Cars are expensive – and you’d probably want to keep it looking that way. Deteriorating exterior conditions can aesthetically devalue your vehicle, and whilst it doesn’t necessary interfere with its usability, it doesn’t look visually appealing.

Cars can also come off the production line with orange peel. This can be fixed in the aftermarket; paint correction experts are able to flatten the microscopic peaks that are causing the ripples in the paintwork. The smoothened surface can then be polished to a mirror finish.

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But polish isn’t the only way to create a lustrous and lasting shine – in recent years, developments in alternative technologies mean that there are now a few distinct car care camps one can fall into.

Polish And Wax

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The tried-and-true solution. Most of us would have used various polishing compounds and wax in a vain to revitalise our aged car paintwork. Let’s touch on the science behind this process, perhaps starting with the ‘polish’ part of the equation.

Polish is essentially liquid sandpaper. There are many different grits, which allow the detailers to vary the cutting power required in the detail process. A paint job can be dull if it isn’t level. As mentioned above, polish helps to better level the paint job.

Wax is then added. It fills up any microscopic troughs in the paintwork to ensure a perfectly flat and even surface for a nice deep gloss finish. It isn’t a long-term solution though; it offers some protection against the elements. However, wax does not form a chemical bond with the paint, it will eventually be washed out. Expect a quality product to last you up to a month or two!

Ceramic Coating

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Your car will still have to be polished, and the paint made as flat and even as it can be. But instead of them finishing with wax, you can use Ceramic Coating products to seal the paint job.

Pre-application, the paint will have to be decontaminated, and thoroughly. This means no polish residue, dust or oil. The compounds used in the formulation are inorganic, which means it can only be constituted under high temperatures. 

It also forms a chemical bond with your paint job. This combination of factors means that it is superior to Wax in terms of its durability. It is also hydrophobic, making it much easier for you to keep your car clean. Application should best be left to professionals though; incorrect application methods can permanently damage your paint! Most products will last you at least a year, with better ones lasting up to three! 

Paint Protection Film (PPF)

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PPF is a transparent polyurethane film applied to areas of the car that are susceptible to paint chips. Wax and ceramic coatings are unable to resist impact from rocks at speed, whereas PPF can (to a certain degree).

PPF film can also be “self-healing”, meaning minor scuffs can be removed with the use of some heat. Of the three solutions to paint protection, PPF is by far the most daunting to apply, and should really only be left to the professionals.

This is because unlike vinyl, PPF film is less stretchable, and you need a trained pair of eyes and hands to be able to make the various joints less obvious!

Which Is Suitable For Your Application?

Waxes offer the lowest barrier of entry into the world of car detailing and paint protection. There are many brands available, so choose one at a price point you are comfortable with and run with that. These substances are typically easy to use and less harmful to the environment, but as a consequent, is less durable.

Application of Ceramic Coating products should be left to the professionals. As an inorganic compound that can form a semi-permanent bond with your paintwork, improper usage can lead to irreversibly damaged paintwork that will have to be resprayed. Otherwise, when utilised properly, it offers a tough, hydrophobic coating that can last for up to three years.

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PPF films offers the best resistance against rock chips, though their thickness can muddy the reflections of your paint job. This is by far the trickiest to install, and the easiest to mess up in – leave this to the professionals!

Ultimately, you’d find one solution that may better fit your needs than the other two. Waxes are more affordable, though require more upkeep. It is also not uncommon to find detailers using a mix of two different products to protect different parts of the vehicle.

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On frontal areas, think wings, bonnet and front bumper, a seasoned paint restoration guru may opt to use PPF to better fend off rock chips and debris, using ceramic coating elsewhere as it is better suited for those areas.

Regardless of either method, car paintwork detailing can only serve to increase your car’s value. If you are thinking about selling your vehicle, perhaps consider dropping it off at one of our Motor Directory partner’s workshops for a quick detail.

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A cleaner and shinier car will only fetch a higher valuation. If you’d like to seek a valuation for your existing ride post detail, consider filling the form below! We’ll get back to you with the highest offer from our trusted dealer partners within 24 hours!

Claim your free car valuation today!

Read More: Car Servicing: Dos & Don’ts When Speaking to Your Mechanic


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