Why Is My Paint Dull?


Why Is My Paint Dull?

Automobile Paint Will Fade & Oxidize…

If your car isn’t garaged or covered when parked, the paint and trim will fade away under the sun’s brutal UV rays. If you don’t provide proper care with regular polishing and waxing, the car’s paint will oxidize as well, accelerating the damage.

Above is an image of a car’s clear coat failure caused by UV exposure and oxidation. It may not have been totally prevented but it could have been delayed or mitigated by better care. Such auto paint damage cannot be fixed by just polishing the car’s painted surfaces, but can often be restored, depending on several factors including the type of auto paint finish (clear coat or non-clear coat) and the auto paint color.

A an automobile’s paint clear coat finish restoration is possible only up to the point where clear coat failure begins (blotchy white areas). On a traditional auto paint finish, without a clear coat, restoration generally isn’t realistic once the color coat weathers away and exposes the primer.

When either of these two situations occurs, the affected panels or the entire car will need to be repainted.


Prevention is Best

If you must park your vehicle outside, you can avoid sun fade and oxidation damage with regular polishing and waxing, and by using a car cover.

You can see on this automobile’s trunk a high level of oxidation that had set in, since the paint is very dull (not yet chalky) and covered with water spot stains. Left unprotected and out in the elements, your car’s paint will quickly oxidize. You won’t notice the damage over a period of a month or two, but it’s there. After a year in the elements without protection, your paint will be noticeably dull and rough.

Auto paint oxidation isn’t the end of your paint finish as light oxidation is easily removed through regular paint cleaning with a clay bar. Once the car’s paint surface begins to dull and fade, you will need to clean away the dirt and oxidation with detailing clay and restore the shine by polishing.

Heavy auto paint oxidation, recognizable by a completely dull, chalky surface, is usually beyond complete restoration, but even heavily oxidized paint can be polished to bring back shine.

As with any form of automotive paint damage, use the least abrasive polish necessary to get results. Even moderate paint oxidation causes paint thinning. As you polish, the oxidized (dead) paint is quickly removed.

Once a clear coat fails, due to heavy oxidation, it cannot be restored by polishing. In this regard, solid body paints are far more resilient. In any case, the best way to restore the shine and color lost to oxidation is to polish the damage (if possible) using a dual-action car polisher.


Resolving Severe Paint Oxidation

Here are the step-by-step instructions to restore a paint finish that is severely faded (excluding paint that has completely failed):

When paint oxidizes, dead paint and dirt build up on the surface. The first step is to clean the oxidation and dirt away.


Start by Cleaning the Paint

The first step is to thoroughly wash your car with Dawn dish washing liquid and then use a clay bar to remove the bonded contamination and dead paint. As your car’s paint oxidizes, small particles of the top layer of paint flake off. This “dead paint” and the grime that sticks to it need to be removed.

After clay bar detailing your oxidized paint, it will feel slick and have a little more shine to it, but the damage needs to be repaired.

A good automotive clay bar system is the fast and easy way to remove the dead paint and bonded contamination. You might as well use the least expensive detailing clay you can find, because it’s going to be trash when you’re finished with it.


Polishing the Paint is Next

The cleaning step was the easy part. Now the fun begins. You need to polish your car with two different grades. The first grade is a cutting polish, commonly called a compound. Second is a finishing polish.

We use a micro abrasive technology that removes the top layer of damaged paint without scouring the finish. This is important because you need to remove as little paint as possible. After all, the oxidation has already taken its toll.

We follow the first step with an All-In-One Polish. It uses chemical cleaners with its super-fine polish to get deep in the pores of your paint and bring up the shine. It cleans, conditions, and protects the paint surface. Plus, it’s easy to apply.


Can a DIY Do This?

The answer is “yes,” but it won’t be easy, fast or the best job possible. To use a micro-abrasive cutting polish, you really need to apply the polish with a dual-action car polisher.

Polishing your paint removes a thin layer of paint to cut away the damage. This allows the shine to be restored.

Using a safe dual-action polisher and the right polish, a dull, lifeless finish like this can be restored in  4-8 hours depending on size of vehicle, severity of oxidation, pad choice, & compound choice.


WARNING: If your car’s paint is badly oxidized, be very careful polishing plastic bumper caps, plastic mirrors and anywhere with a raised edge. Painted plastic parts oxidize faster than painted metal parts. Polish these areas by hand using a finishing polish only.

Also, do not use a cutting polish on painted plastic parts. Be careful on raised edges, too, as the paint tends to be thinner.

After polishing the paint has full color, gloss and depth again.


Don’t Forget to Seal the Paint

The final step is to use a paint sealant. A paint sealant has a longer life span than wax. You can apply wax on top of a paint sealant giving at least 6 months up to a year of protection depending on your daily driving habits, element exposure, washing procedure, etc.


Click HERE or call 910-769-0503 to speak with us about paint correction today!