Car paint; Do’s and Don’ts

Here’s some basic info about taking care of the paint on your car.

Do’s and Don’ts:

• Don’t sand it down! Yikes. I have seen some information on the internet that you should sand down the paint damage before using touch up paint. That’s a really bad idea for a couple of reasons. One, for best results you need the edge of the chip. It acts like a bucket for the paint to sit in. Paint has a thickness to it, and if the damaged area is smooth, there is no way to make the touch up paint thin enough to sit nicely on the damaged area, so you need the edges of the chip for the new paint to sit against. Also, sanding it down will damage the good paint around the damage. Sanding should be done be a professional, you can very easily go too far and ruin your paint.

• Don’t tape it off and then paint it and peel the tape off. This is another one of those Internet gems (please note that I’m being sarcastic). I’m not sure who started this, but I’m quite sure they’ve never tried it, or their standards of what looks good are very very low. The idea is to tape off the damaged area with painters tape, and then fill the enclosed area with touch up paint and then peel of the tape. It looks ridiculous. Touch up paint is much to thick to do this, and any fluctuation in paint depth sticks out like a sore thumb. It most likely make your little paint chip look huge and very noticeable.

• Don’t use the clear coat touch up paint! Most touch up kits are really nothing more than an income stream for the car dealerships that sell them. They really don’t work very well. This is especially true of the ‘clear coat’ touch up. You can’t apply clear coat with a brush, it’s much too thick. Well… I guess technically you can, but it’ll look awful, and it’s really not necessary. Clear coat needs to be sprayed, and for a very small area that you’d be using touch up paint for, it really isn’t necessary to have clear coat on top of it, the area is much too small for it to matter.

• Don’t use a kitchen scrub pad on your car, ever. Too often I’ve seen people use the scrub pad that you’d find in your kitchen to clean off something on your car. I’ll use this analogy for the ladies, because from experience it’s usually a girl thing to try. I love you all regardless, but sometimes you’re just plain silly. Your car’s paint surface is very sensitive and scratches really easily. For the same reason you wouldn’t use an abrasive scratch pad on your face, you shouldn’t use it on your car. You can very quickly completely ruin your car’s paint.

• Don’t use your fingernails to scrape off something on your car. This is the same as above. Ladies, this might also be you doing this (but not always).   Your fingernail will scratch your car’s finish really easily, especially if you use a fingernail hardener. If it helps you remember to not do this anymore, it’s almost always bee poop that using your fingernail to scrape off. You’re sticking your finger in poop. It’s gross, and it’ll scratch the hell out of your car. I often see a tiny little clean spot (where the poop was) and then fingernail scratches all over the area. The poop is gone, but the scratches won’t go away. If you read the above, you saw that I strongly advised to not use sandpaper. This is an exception. The only way to fix fingernail scratches is to use a very fine sandpaper and some water spray (wet sanding, aka color sanding) and make it smooth and then polish it back out again with a high speed buffer. Again, this should ONLY be done by a professional.

• Don’t ever leave bird poop on your car. The acids from bird poop will leave a permanent mark on your car. The darker the color of your car, the more noticeable it will be. It’s also worse in the spring when birds are eating berries. It’s very acidic. It’s almost impossible to fix, or even make look better. If you’re too busy to regularly wash the car, just a pour some water on it and wipe it with a wet paper towel – but gently, and lots of water.

• Don’t ever EVER put your purse or grocery bags on your hood or roof or trunk lid. I know many of you don’t understand how sensitive your cars paint is, or don’t care. But if you’re ever going to sell your car, it’s best to simply not damage it in the first place. Even very gently placing your purse or grocery bags on the trunk of your car, while you look for your car keys, will leave lots of scratches on your cars finish. They won’t show up right away, but it will show up, and get worse over time. The heating and cooling of your cars surface will open the scratches, and dirt and debris builds up, and then they become very noticeable. It gets really ugly after a while, and reduces the value of your car. This can often be wet sanded (color sanded) to get rid of it, but you’ll need a professional to do it.

And there ya go. I know it says Do’s and Don’ts, but this is really a bunch of DON’TS.   Oh, here’s one last one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Your car’s paint is very sensitive.