The sun is already shining brightly in beautiful British Columbia, and while this is totally welcome, it poses some trouble to those who want to keep their car’s cosmetic appeal in tip top shape. Being in the automotive industry, one of the biggest questions we receive is how you can prevent your car’s paint from fading in the sun.

In this post, we’ll outline the science behind how the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays can be damaging to vehicle paint finishes, and the best processes and treatments you can use to protect that coat of paint from fading.

What Causes Paint to Fade?

To best understand how to keep your paint looking new, it’s always a good idea to better understand why the problem exists in the first place. There are two types of paint jobs, both of which respond to the various contributors of paint fade differently. Clear coated paint jobs feature a sealing layer of lacquer to protect the paint underneath, and single stage paint jobs have no protective layer.

Single stage paint jobs are, therefore, at risk of paint fade and oxidization before that of clear coated paint jobs. Most specifically in red cars. They can develop an unsightly faded pink look to them over time due to the sun stripping the paint of its moisture and oils.

The main contributors to fading vehicle paint are:

  • Ultraviolet rays, or sunlight
  • Chemical pollutants in the air
  • Salt from road maintenance
  • Bird droppings

Ultraviolet (UV) rays affect the pigment in vehicle paints by slowly breaking them down over time. Paint pigments are, in essence, extremely finely ground minerals mined from the earth and blended into the paint. What’s known as a ‘prime pigment’ gives paint its colour, so when this prime pigment is stripped of its protective qualities by UV rays, chemicals, etc., the minerals lose their lustre.

How Can you Prevent Paint Fade?

The best thing you can do to prevent paint fade due to UV rays is to park your vehicle in the shade as often as possible. Storing your car or truck in a garage, or in a part of your yard that receives considerably less sun than others is a good way to prevent accelerated paint fade.

The next thing you can do is to routinely wash your car – every couple of weeks or so. When your car is exposed to continuous road grime, chemicals from road salt and bug guts, the paint’s protective layer will slowly be eaten away exposing the paint itself to air. Bird droppings, in particular, contain strong levels of acid, which can burn and etch the paint’s surface if left for too long. New studies denote that it’s actually a differentiation of cooling paint lacquer that contracts and hardens around a dropping that contributes to fading paint. So wash, wash, wash – being certain that your soaps and brushes are free of harmful abrasive materials.

Third, and most effectively perhaps, is the benefits of waxing your car. A good synthetic car wax, or carnauba wax – with the mechanical help of an orbital waxing arm – will add a layer of protection to your car’s paint job, unlike polish, which removes tiny bits of the car’s protective layer to leave a fresh surface that appears new. If you don’t have an orbital waxer, good old fashioned elbow grease will do, but prepare to feel the burn in your arms the next morning. Wax provides excellent additional protection by filling in tiny imperfections and smoothing paint, but like everything – exercise caution. Over-waxing can cause build-up on your car’s surface, which is equally as unappealing.


All too often, we’re told by customers or friends that their faded paint job meant having to repaint the whole thing. This is not true. This is likely the response from a paint garage, or technician. 9 times out of 10, a good quality, all-in-one car wax will cut through the layer of oxidization that builds up on the vehicle’s surface to allow the lustre of the paint to shine through again. Restoring this layer of moisture in the paint by adding a wax, essentially replacing a layer of protective lacquer, should protect and restore the colour.

Protecting your car’s paint job is a great way to preserve its value and its aesthetic appeal. By following these few basic maintenance tips for preserving your paint job, you can enjoy a shiny, lustrous paint job for years to come.