When it comes to keeping your car in tip-top shape, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. At the end of the day, this philosophy truly does apply to your vehicle—and, more specifically, its paint job. Having pristine paint year after year will require you to invest in some preventative measures and protectants from time to time, but it’s certainly worth it to ensure that your vehicle looks great and keeps looking great even after years of exposure to the elements. With that said, here are five tips to help you keep your car’s paint looking brand new all year long!
1) Regularly Wash Your Car
This is probably obvious, but worth repeating: keep your car clean. Even if you live in a temperate climate and don’t drive much in winter, mud, salt and dirt will still build up on your car over time. A good wash can help prevent rust from developing under that layer of grime. Make sure to use a shampoo formulated for cars (not dishwashing liquid, hey) and be sure to rinse it well—you don’t want any residue left behind. If you have access to a hose or pressure washer, use it; otherwise, opt for an automatic car wash (not recommended as it can slightly scratch the paint but better than nothing!).
2) Detail Spray
A detailing spray is something every driver should have. It can do everything from protecting your car’s paint to helping you clean it. There are hundreds of detailing sprays on today’s market, and they’re all targeted toward different goals. The best ones contain silicone (SIO2) as it will add a layer of water-repellent protection for months of spotless car paint!
Waxing your car is much easier and cheaper than getting it professionally detailed. Wax works by creating a protective barrier between your car’s paint and environmental elements like dust, dirt, tree sap, bird droppings, scratches and dings. If you drive regularly in areas that are prone to rain or snow, waxing should be done every 5 months so that water beads off instead of soaking into your car’s surface. Polishing: A good polish provides shine and protection for your paint job. It also brings out little imperfections on your finish, like swirl marks (which indicate damage caused by washing), holograms (tiny rock chips) and other nicks and scratches.
4) Paint Sealant
In addition to waxing, you should consider using a paint sealant. Paint sealants create a slick layer of protection that prevents dirt from sticking and protects against mild abrasions. The best part about sealants is that they don’t require a lot of upkeep—you only need to reapply them once every few months or so. Even better: Because they don’t require as much attention as waxes, they can actually extend your car’s lifespan by protecting against paint-fading road grime and ultraviolet rays. How do you know when it’s time for another coat? Some experts recommend judging by feel rather than sight; after all, if it feels gritty (not smooth), then it might be time for a new coat.
5) Ceramic Or Graphene Coating
Two of today’s most popular ways to protect your car’s paint, ceramic coatings and graphene coatings both go beyond simple waxes or clear coats. A coating is a protective layer that bonds with your vehicle’s exterior paint, creating a tough shield that can handle everything from bird droppings and bug splatter to small rocks kicked up by passing vehicles. These products are good for about two years before you have to reapply them, but if you want something longer-lasting, opt for paint protection film (often referred to as PPF).
When applied by a professional, a Ceramic coating can cost between $1,000 and $3,000 and can last up to 5 years.
6) Protective Film Or Protective Wrap
One of your best bets for keeping your car’s paint protected is a protective film or clear bra. It provides protection without being noticeable on your vehicle and can be easily removed. When done right, it will protect against scratches, dings, bird droppings, bug splatter and other wear-and-tear. A clear bra can also help maintain resale value over time by keeping your car looking like new when you go to sell it or trade it in. You might have to pay more upfront but with a clear bra, you can reduce potential future costs.
When applied by a professional, a protective film can cost between $1,500 and $5,000 and can last up to 3 years.
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