We explain everything you need to know about car paint protection, and whether it’s the right thing for you to do.
Regardless of whether you’ve bought a shiny new car or a used one, you’ll probably want to keep it in as good condition as possible. As a result, if you plan on maintaining your car’s paint finish to a high standard, you may want to consider applying paint protection to your car.
As its name suggests, car paint protection will help prevent your car’s paint from being scratched or affected by other blemishes such as stone chips. There are a number of different options, ranging from low-cost methods you can do at home to more expensive solutions that may be more suitable if your car has a fancier and more complex paint job.
Whether car paint protection is right for you depend on a variety of factors, ranging from personal budgets to how often you’ll be driving. We’ve summarised the ins and outs of car paint protection, so you can decide whether this is something worth doing on your own car.
Types of car paint protection
For drivers on a budget, the most affordable way to protect paint is to use car wax and sealants, which you’ll be able to find in autocentre retailers or possibly even in your local supermarket. Both solutions do the same job of providing your car’s paintwork with a small layer of coating, which can help keep your car looking spick and span for longer.
Do bear in mind car waxes and sealants may be inexpensive to buy, but they aren’t always the most effective way of protecting your car from scratches or chips, as you’ll need to reapply them fairly frequently. To do it properly, you’re also likely to need all the right tools, which means buying items such as a machine polisher.
It’s also worth considering that some sealants and waxes need to be left to dry for a good while, so you may want to apply them when your car is parked in a garage or under some sort of cover. And also, you’ll need to give over a fair amount of time and apply quite a lot of elbow grease when doing it yourself – expect a full afternoon of hard work to properly wax and a car.
Professional car protection
If you’re not 100% confident with applying the car paint protector yourself, there are car care professionals who will be able to do this for you, albeit at a potentially higher price in comparison with doing it yourself (especially if you already have some of the equipment you’d need).
While the exact service provided can vary depending on the person or company carrying out the work, by and large a professional car protection job will consist of a spray-on process that should protect your car’s paintwork for decent lengths of time before any additional work is needed.
A ceramic coating is a semi permanent paint protection product that won’t fade away like a car wax or paint sealant after a few car washes. Ceramic coatings are highly chemical-resistant, and abrasion is the only way to remove them; whether from a paint correction or general wear and tear from road debris. It can be easy to get caught up in manufacturers’ claims regarding how long a ceramic coating will last. However, it’s better to consider the number of annual miles a car travels and the climate. Weather conditions are a more significant factor in ceramic coating longevity than time.
Paint protection film
A film covering is often the most expensive way of maintaining your car’s paintwork, though it usually tends to be the most effective. By wrapping a clear film over your car’s bodywork, it means the outer protective layer can take the brunt of scratches and scrapes while hopefully keeping the paint finish underneath intact.
While longer lasting than a more conventional wax or sealant, a protection film will need to be replaced over time, as the effects of general wear and tear will gradually reduce its effectiveness. It goes without saying that scratches and marks will still show up on the outer film, but unless the damage is really deep it shouldn’t cut through to the paint layer underneath.
Is car paint protection right for me?
This will depend greatly on personal circumstance, as not everyone will generally benefit from having a paint protection solution on their car. For example, drivers on a tighter budget may find there’s little benefit in applying wax on their car when they can keep their car’s bodywork and paint job cared for by regularly washing it.
Additionally, if you have a car that you don’t typically drive very often or have regularly stored away from the elements, you may not see the benefits of applying paint protection. Conversely, this may be something to consider if you do lots of longer journeys in your car, as a wax or film will help mitigate some of the chips, scratches and scrapes you’ll inevitably come across.
Likewise, car paint protection will be more effective on a car that that’s parked up outside overnight instead of being tucked away inside a garage or under a car cover. Plus, for some the peace of mind of knowing there’s at least some protection for their car’s paintwork from dings and scrapes will be worth it.