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Why Does Automotive Paint Oxidize?

Island Detail and Color is the intersection of Your Car, Your Passion, and Your Pride.

Your vehicle’s first impression matters. Whether you want to sell the vehicle to finance a newer model, trade it in when it’s time to upgrade, or drive it until it dies, maintaining the exterior condition of your vehicle is the most important step in cultivating a good first impression. Over time, your paint will experience oxidation that eventually leads to a flaky, white deposit and ugly paint.

Here is the science behind paint oxidization and how you can protect your vehicle from this ugly fate.

What is Oxidation?

Oxidation simply refers to the way any substance interacts with the presence of oxygen. Apple slices turn brown because of oxidation, and aluminum loses its shiny finish for the same reason. Your car’s paint is vulnerable to the same chemical process, eventually resulting in breakdown.

Heat and oxygen exposure accelerate the oxidation process, which is why it’s so important to protect your paint from UV exposure. Whether that’s by applying a ceramic coating, using a car cover, or simply trying to park in the shade when possible, limiting the amount of UV exposure that your paint receives is a key ingredient in protecting it from oxidation.

What Does Oxidation Look Like?

Initially, the effects of oxidation are the reduction of gloss and an overall duller finish. As the oxidation progresses, the paint will lose its vibrancy and begin to fade. Eventually, the finish will feel rough and may leaver a white chalky deposit on your finger if you drag it across the coat. At this point, the oxidation is considered advanced and the clear coat will begin to flake off. Finally, the metal will become exposed to the elements and be vulnerable to rust.

Once oxidation reaches an advanced stage, it is pretty difficult to bring under control. Your best option is to catch oxidation early and stop it in its tracks.

Preventing Oxidation

Short of stopping time or removing oxygen from the atmosphere, there is no way to completely prevent oxidation of car paint. That being said, there are strategies you can employ to dramatically reduce the rate at which your paint will oxidize.

Wash Your Vehicle: Washing your vehicle properly and often is a critical part of vehicle maintenance. Make sure to choose a dedicated automotive soap, as these are formulated to preserve your finish and protect your paint.

Apply Wax: Once your vehicle is clean, it’s important to apply a coat of high quality carnauba-based wax. When purchasing wax, choose a product that is formulated for UV protection. Spray waxes don’t last very long, so experts recommend you use either liquid or paste wax.

Ceramic Coating: If a bi-monthly car wax doesn’t fit your schedule, or you’re looking for a more permanent solution to UV protection, ceramic coatings are for you. These coatings are insanely thin, incredibly hard UV shields. Our sister shop, Island Detail, has the scoop on ceramic coatings – read about them here.

Treating Oxidized Paint

If oxidation progresses past a certain point, fixing it can become difficult and time-intensive. There are two roads you can take, which one you choose largely depends on how far gone the paint is: restoration and repainting.

Restoration: If caught early enough, it is usually possible to restore the original paint through an intensive polishing process. We can remove the layer of faded paint and restore your paint’s original gloss. After this process, it is imperative that the paint is treated with either a UV protective wax or a ceramic coating.

Repainting: If the clear coat has started to chip away or there are significant cloudy patches, it may be impossible to restore the existing paint. Repainting is a significant investment, but the results will leave you speechless. Whether or not your vehicle is worth this investment ultimately comes down to you, but if you own a luxury or classic vehicle, it may be worth it.

Professional Auto Paint Care in Victoria, BC

For industry leading automotive painting repair service on Vancouver Island, look no further than Island Color. We have been serving the region for over 25 years and have helped over 250,000 customers perfect their rides. Most of the work we do can even be done for less than your insurance deductible, saving you time and money. Read more about our painting services here, and get in touch right here.

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