How important is it to have a clean car? A freshly washed vehicle looks nice and professional detailing can help sell a vehicle, but there’s more at stake: leaving your car dirty can accelerate aging and reduce the safety of your car. Understanding how dirt ages your car and addressing the root causes can help you keep your vehicle on the road.
Dirt is abrasive. A rain storm might wash off some dirt, but that dirt is slowly sliding down the body panels, scraping off some paint with it. Insects are even worse, as their hard outer shells act like pebbles, scraping even deeper into the paint, ruining the surface.
Bird droppings aren’t just gross, they’re acidic enough to do damage to your paint, going through as much as one-third of the paint layers. A few days later when you get around to cleaning the car, a dimple will be left behind where the paint was removed.
Breaking Through Clearcoat
Modern car coatings are made up of a primer, a color coat, and a clearcoat. Break through the layer of clearcoat, and your car’s paint will age a lot faster. The clearcoat is there to protect the underlying colored base coat from UV light and physical damage so your car stays the same color for years. Once that protective layer is removed, the color will bleach out from light exposure, while it will wear down faster because it isn’t as abrasion-resistant as the top coat. Primer is designed to adhere to the metal and provide a surface for the paint. If it’s exposed, it will draw in moisture, further accelerating paint damage.
Corrosion and Rust
Remove enough paint, and the underlying metal will be directly exposed to water and moisture in the air, leading to rust. Even if all the paint is intact, there will still be small unpainted areas at the edges of panels that are still susceptible, especially when salt is present.
How does this happen? Rust is iron oxide, a molecule made up of iron and oxygen. These two elements bond so easily that mined iron usually comes in the form of powdered rust. Salt water acts as an electrolyte, speeding up the time it takes for the reaction. Even the best paint job won’t get perfect coverage, while small bumps and scrapes can remove paint, providing a path for this reaction. Before long, the rust spreads underneath the paint, causing it to bubble.
Even if you don’t care how your car looks, there’s no doubt that a few years of winter driving here in Wisconsin can really take a toll on your vehicle. However, the more you let the paint wear down, the faster your vehicle’s fenders and frame will be eaten away.
Scratching and UV damage isn’t just limited to the paint. The headlights are subject to all the dirt, road grime, insects and light as the front end of your vehicle, which can quickly eat into the lens surface. This can severely reduce the spread of the headlight beam, making it harder to see and be seen.
Keeping Problems at Bay
Keep your car clean, washing it every couple of weeks to every month to keep dirt to a minimum, and always clean the undercarriage after a snow storm to remove road salt. Under ideal conditions, wax will last up to three months, but snow and rain can shorten its lifespan considerably.
A quick detailer spray can help you remove bird droppings before they have a chance to affect the paint.
Never use a towel on areas covered in bugs. Instead, use a special insect-removing sponge: this has a netting that keeps the bugs you’re removing from contacting and scratching the paint.
Before winter weather sets in, have your car rust proofed. This creates a coating that will keep rust from getting a foothold on your car’s body panels and frame.
Losing the finish on your paint? Have cloudy headlights? Need to have your vehicle rust proofed? Merton Auto Body can fix these problems so you can keep your car on the road. We offer services ranging from detailing and headlight restoration to repainting and body panel repair, undoing the damage that dirt and weather have done to your vehicle.