Your car may look like new when it rolls out of the auto body shop, but the collision repair isn’t 100% complete. New paint can take a long time to harden, and until that happens, it’s still susceptible to damage. These tips will help you protect your new paint job until it’s just as tough as what was applied at the factory.
What Makes New Paint Different from Old Paint?
The paint may be dry, but there’s a big difference between drying and curing. Paint is dry once enough of the solvents used to apply it to the body panels have dissipated to make the surface dry to the touch. Cured paint is solvent free, creating a hard, protective layer on the body panel.
Some curing happens at the auto body shop: by placing the car in a heated room, most of the solvents can be baked out of the paint. However, it can still take anywhere from a week to a couple months for the paint to be completely solvent-free. During this time, the paint scratches, chips and peels easily. Taking a few preventative steps will help the new paint survive the curing process.
Even if your car was still mechanically sound after the accident, there’s a good chance it will need some maintenance while the paint is curing. Take extra care when handling petroleum and alcohol-based products including motor oil, transmission fluid, anti-freeze, and windshield washer fluid when you’re near your vehicle.
If you drip gas onto the paint when filling your car’s tank, wipe it off immediately with a damp cloth or sponge. A dry cloth can scratch the paint surface and push the gas into the paint.
Wash By Hand
Anyone who has ever used too narrow of a tip with their home pressure washer knows how much damage a jet of water can do. The spray nozzles at your local car wash are fine for hardened paint, but they’re a little too much for fresh paint. Skip the high-pressure spray and use a wash mitt and a couple of buckets.
When hand-washing, take extra care with your sponges and cloths. If they get dirty, small debris can scratch the surface as you wash. Worse still, if you drop a sponge, it will be covered in thick debris from the ground, turning it into a wet piece of sandpaper. Likewise, it’s a good idea to skip any car wash fundraisers: there’s no telling how much grime and dirt is left on those sponges after washing dozens of cars.
Skip the Wax
Wax fills in imperfections and acts as a shield, protecting paint from damage by water and UV light. However, that same seal also stops solvents from escaping, keeping new paint from hardening.
Avoid Tools that Can Scrape Paint
Using a brush or the head of your ice scraper to move snow can scrape up the paint underneath. If you park your car outside in the winter, invest in a snow brush. The foam end of this brush can push away the snow without damaging your paint. If you need to break ice off of a lock or door handle, use a car deicing spray. These sprays are formulated to be safe for paint.
Stay Away from Dirt and Gravel
Rocks kicked up by tires can chip any paint, but they’re more likely to do damage when the paint is soft. Avoid driving on dirt and gravel roads where you can. If you still need to use these roads, try to keep your distance from other vehicles and be gentle on the throttle so you won’t kick up rocks.
Get the Repair Done Right the First Time
Whether you’re near Pewaukee, Hartland, Lisbon, Sussex or North Lake, go with the shop that has helped Lake Country residents with their autobody needs since the 1940s. To get the perfect factory paint color, we use the Spies Hecker paint system, a set of paint processes that is approved by more OEM car manufacturers than any other paint on the market. We’re located between highways 164 and 83, just south of Silver Spring Drive.