We expose car paint to several external and damaging factors. These include UV radiation, bird droppings and, in winter, road salt. The car cosmetics market offers us many solutions for car paint protection, such as sealants, waxes and ceramic coatings.

Early development of car paint

The history of these products is closely linked to the “evolution of car paint”. Until the 1990s, the automotive market mainly used single-layer paints, which represented a combination of one color mixed with a colorless layer. 

However, these coatings had the major disadvantage that they quickly faded because of UV radiation and oxidation. In addition, after a few years, the coating changed color, for example from red to pink. Chemists and engineers improved these coatings to result in a two-layer coating.  Such a product comprises a layer of paint covered with a colorless layer of lacquer.

To protect the paint, they added a large amount of UV inhibitors to the clear layer to protect the paint from sunlight.  However, these inhibitors only protect for a while. It has been scientifically proven that clear coats lose 50% of their UV value every 5 years, so the coating loses 50% of its UV protection after 5 years and another 25% after 10 years.  After 10 years, only 25% of the original UV protection is left.  This problem is problematic in countries with strong solar radiation.

Necessity of paint sealants

Because of this, scientists and chemists created products that supplement the UV inhibitors in the coating. Using products with UV inhibitors causes them to penetrate deeper layers of paint. Such products were a combination of carnauba, polymers and UV inhibitors. This is how the first paint sealing products were created. The problem of UV protection was solved, but it was not a long-term protection and did not offer protection against oxidation, bird droppings, and strong chemicals.

Oxidation

Oxidation is the destruction of the top coat by oxygen.  This process is further speeded up by UV radiation.  We can observe this reaction when the top coat of the paint becomes milky (not transparent) and peels off. When polishing relatively new cars, oxidation is easy to detect. We can again see the gloss effect of the paint after a short polishing time.  That the car becomes matt is not the effect of scratches on the car, but the effect of oxidation and its acceleration by UV radiation.

Bird droppings

Bird droppings contain uric acid and numerous digestive enzymes that literally break down the paint. Leaving droppings on the paint leads to so-called burn marks. For this reason, companies developed products containing a thin layer of silicon carbide (SIC) that protects the paint 100%. Silicon carbide binds molecularly to the clear lacquer and remains there permanently. However, this coating is not smooth. If you want to achieve the effect of a smooth coating, combine several ceramic sealing products.

Besides ceramic coatings based on SIC technology, there are coatings based on other technologies, for example SiO2 technology. The higher the SiO2 concentration, the more expensive the product.  SiO2 does not bond molecularly with the paint but remains on the paint surface and needs to be reapplied after the time specified by the manufacturer.

Cleaning and sealing the paint

Every time your car leaves the garage, it gets into endless dangers – bird droppings, bugs, microscopic germs, dust, sand and rough weather including sun heat. No wonder that these put a lot of stress on your car’s paintwork, making it look rusty, dirty and with a poor finish. Dirt and dust stick to the paint, making the surface rough and less shiny. Even the scorching sun and harmful ultraviolet rays cause considerable damage to the car paint.

The best and easiest way to protect the color of your car is to clean the car. After you come home from a long drive, you can wash or at least rinse off the dirt from the car as soon as possible. The longer it stays on the body, the more it penetrates deeper into the paint and causes damage. Only use mild, pH balanced car soap and a fresh sponge to clean your car.

Make sure that you only rinse one part of the car at a time and clean from top to bottom. Do not scrub hard on the paint; instead, use long, light movements along the entire length of the car. Dry the car in the shade (not under the sun) and use blotting paper instead of wiping it down.

The next step is to protect the paint from damage. Remember that there is no shortcut to waxing. It not only improves the beauty of the car paint but also protects it from UV rays and dirt. Various types of wax and sealant products are available ranging from quick coats to natural hard wax and from hybrid synthetic sealants to nano ceramic coatings.

A UV protective coating can ward off the chalking and matting effects of the car paint. A car cover is also a good way to protect the car from harsh weather and sunlight.

Which car care product provides the best protection?

Washing, waxing, or even a permanent nano paint sealant – car care has become complicated. But there is also something good about it: the paintwork is no longer being neglected.

Rubbing the car with a miracle product once and then never having to wash it again is something many people dream of. A nano coating protects the paintwork from weathering and from fading because of sunlight for a few years, but it can be expensive.

Other natural and hybrid sealing products provide solutions that need periodic application after a few months. Working out a suitable product involves many factors like price, durability, application time, composition, type of sealant, frequency of application, pre and post application stages, natural or synthetic, etc.

Correctly waxed, polished and protected paintwork gets more gloss and achieves a deeper color effect. Real car enthusiasts swear by classic care with hard wax because of its special shine and spare no effort for a perfect result.