As a nation of car enthusiasts, there is nothing better than the blinding shine of a brand new set of wheels. For many of us, the perfected appearance of fresh paintwork is often short-lived, merely down to wear and tear. However, this most definitely doesn’t have to be the case. Through taking regular care of your vehicle, along with following our tips on how to make car paint shine, you’ll be able to keep your prized possession in pristine condition, regardless of age.

How To Make Car Paint Shine At Home

There are a whole host of reasons as to why cars begin to look a little worse for wear, even if you take particular care to avoid all forms of scratches, dents and bodywork damage. Constant exposure to varying weather conditions, along with pollution and location can all begin to impact the appearance of your vehicle. Here we run through why paint deteriorates, along with how to restore colour and shine.

Why Does Paint Deteriorate?

As your car begins to age, it is inevitable that the appearance may not look as pristine as the day you drove away from the dealership. Constant wear and tear, sun damage and accidental bumps can all begin to accumulate, causing your prized possession to require a little extra TLC. The car paint colour, in particular, is the most common culprit for dampening the aesthetics of your vehicle. Car paint is exposed to all manner of weather and road conditions, meaning that, with time, it will start to show signs of fading and will no longer have a shine. So, why does car paint deteriorate? Its all down to a process called oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction which occurs when oxygen is combined with heat. Together, they start to break down the structure of the paint, impacting the molecular bond. The process of oxidation can be caused by four main factors, which are:

UV Rays – The sun is one of the most common contributors to oxidation. As your vehicle is exposed to UV rays all-year-round, the heat from the rays begins to damage the clear protective coating over the paint. Over time, the heat starts to filter through the coating and warms up the paint, introducing oxygen to the underneath layers, causing fading.

Salt – Unlike UV damage, salt only proves a problem to those who live in coastal locations. Vehicle owners who are always surrounded by the ocean will notice a layer of salt form over their paintwork. Failing to clean the salt regularly will cause the paint to begin corroding. Particularly if your car is exposed to both salt and heat, the combination will start to eat away at first the clear coating and then the paintwork.

Pollution – We are all more than aware of the ever-growing issue of global warming, but did you know that pollution can also cause your car bodywork to deteriorate? With a growing number of vehicles on the roads, more and more carbon particles are emitted into the air, much of which ends up on your exterior paint. The uneven texture of the particles can start to scar the protective coating over your paintwork, causing fading.

Abrasive Cleaners – You may be surprised to discover that some of your favourite car cleaners are actually causing your paintwork to fade. Any cleaners that include abrasive ingredients should always be avoided as they will start to wear down the protective upper coating.

Polishing car

6 Must-Haves For The Perfect Shine

Now that you are well-informed on why your paintwork is beginning to fade, you can now start to restore both the colour and shine. Luckily, with extra care and some elbow grease, you will be able to successfully achieve that ‘new car’ aesthetic. Here are the six must-haves that you will need to start your restoration project:

Good Paint Condition

For the first year or so of a cars life, oxidation will rarely cause a problem as each layer of paint will be fresh, durable and able to withstand adverse conditions. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t be preparing your car for future issues. In getting into the routine of regularly cleaning your car, you can keep oxidation to a minimum. For those who live in a coastal location, it is highly recommended to wash your vehicle every few weeks to avoid salt damage.

No Contaminants

Even one day of running errands will cause your vehicle to pick up a whole host of contaminants. From muddy roads to rainfall, an array of dust, dirt, debris and bugs will all start to accumulate on paintwork. While, initially, a build-up of debris may seem to do nothing but make your vehicle look dirty, it will begin to damage the paintwork. The longer that you leave particles to sit on the surface, the harder they will be to remove when you eventually schedule a clean. It means that you’ll need to scrub a little harder to achieve a seamless finish, risking scratches and damage to paintwork.


Polish is ideal for removing minor blemishes such as pitted areas caused by stones on the road, along with swirl marks and small scruffs. With a good polish, your cars bodywork will feel perfectly smooth, creating a seamless surface. If you’re on the search for a new car polish, take a look at Auto Express for the best trialled and tested products of the year!


If you have noticed any tiny scratches or swirl marks on your paintwork, then glaze will be able to resolve them. Glazes are a form of paint treatment, which are used to fill in any small-scale damage on the surface of your vehicle. It is applied to the paintwork after you have polished, allowing you to create a super smooth surface before waxing. You can find more information on the difference between glaze, wax and polish on Dr Beasleys.

If you attempt to restore damage using glaze but realise that the marks are a little more severe than you had expected, then do not hesitate to contact our team. As experts in all things vehicle damage from car bodyworks in Aylesbury to car accident repair in Buckingham, we have a wealth of knowledge on how to achieve seamless results. We will always strive to make repairs as discrete as possible, helping your vehicle to look as good as new.


In applying a sealant to your vehicle, you can ensure that the paintwork is protected against all elements. If you are hoping for the ultimate protection, we suggest opting for a synthetic sealant as they are not only more effective but also help to achieve a slick surface. It is thought that synthetic sealants are up to ten times more durable than their carnauba alternatives.


Last but most definitely not least is wax – this is where your carnauba wax will come in handy. For maximum results, always use an organic, pure carnauba wax as this will be filled with both beeswax and natural oils. Applying a wax will help to prevent oxidation and therefore, fading.

Waxing Car

How To Restore Car Paint Shine

Having all of the essentials listed above means that you’re ready to begin your journey to restoring car shine. Take a look at our steps below for a super easy-to-follow tutorial on how to master the perfect colour and shine.

1. Park In A Shaded Area

While it may not seem to make a difference, the location that you park your vehicle while cleaning will impact the quality of your finish. Always aim to clean your car in a shaded area as this will allow you to take your time to ensure that you can maximise results. Parking in direct sunlight, on the other hand, will cause the soap and water to dry too quickly, causing streaks and stubborn marks.

When deciding on a shaded location, aim to steer clear from anywhere with dirt or mud. Even if you are super careful while cleaning, parking nearby to dirt risks getting mud on your freshly-cleaned car.

2. Wash The Car

Next, you can move onto cleaning the car. Begin by spraying the entire vehicle with water; this will allow you to remove any large bits of dirt, making it easier when you move onto handwashing. Start from the top of the car and work your way down.

Fill a bucket with a combination of lukewarm water and automotive soap. Always aim to use an automotive soap which does not include waxes or polish as these will be applied individually later. Use a large, soft sponge to hand wash the car, taking extra care to remove any debris.

3. Remove Surface Contaminants

As mentioned previously, there are tonnes of different contaminants that can begin to accumulate on your vehicle. While handwashing with a sponge is able to remove the upper layer of dirt, it is likely that there will still be tiny particles stuck to the surface.

A simple trick to track down hidden particles is to put a plastic sandwich bag over your hand and run it across the body of your car. Surprisingly, the plastic will make your hand more sensitive, meaning you’ll be able to feel even the smallest of debris particles.

To remove contaminants, you’ll need to use detailing clay. When detailing clay is run across a surface, it picks up any stray particles. You can find a full guide on how to use detailing clay on Auto Geek.

4. Repair Any Damage

Now that your vehicle is clean and free from any contaminants, you can start to repair any minor damage. If you spot any deep scratches, then you should be able to remove these using a rubbing compound or pick up a scratch remover kit. Smaller imperfections, on the other hand, can be resolved through a quality polish.

5. Apply Glaze

It is entirely your choice as to whether you opt for adding a glaze to your paintwork or not; however, for maximum shine, we suggest incorporating this step into your cleaning process. As mentioned previously, the glaze will create a smooth surface, preparing the body for the final stages.

6. Seal And Protect

It’s now time to seal your car, adding a protective layer over the paintwork. As many layers as you wish can be applied; however, it is imperative to ensure that you allow the sealant to dry before attempting to move onto the next step.

7. Finish With Wax

Although it may seem somewhat futile adding wax after you have polished and protected your car, it is the best way to give your car just that extra pop of shine. Wax is ideal for bringing out the richness of your paintwork. To maximise results, gently buff the wax into the car section by section.

And, Voilà – Its Easy As That!

With our top tips, enjoying that ‘new car’ shine needn’t be short-lived. With plenty of preparation and ensuring that you give your car just that extra TLC, you’ll be able to keep your paintwork in pristine condition, avoiding any visible deterioration!

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