How to protect your car paintwork

car being cleaned with a microfibre cloth

Nyasha Jokomo

Posted February 14, 2024

The intense sunlight, heat, and dust of Australia's climate can take a toll on your vehicle's paintwork. Here is a guide with tips to help shield your car from paint damage. 

Exposure to harsh weather conditions, such as sunlight, rain, and hail, can lead to fading, peeling, and corrosion of your car's paintwork over time. Other hazards include bird droppings, tree sap, and road debris, which can leave permanent stains or scratches.

Why you should protect your car's paintwork

Protecting your car's paintwork offers numerous long-term benefits. It helps maintain the resale value of your vehicle. A well-maintained paint job can help increase the appeal to potential buyers.

You can also preserve its overall condition, helping avoid the need for costly repairs or repainting in the future. Additionally, maintaining the integrity of the painted surface reduces the risk of rust and corrosion, which can lead to more severe structural damage if left unchecked.

To effectively protect your car's exterior, there are a number of things to consider, from where you park your car to techniques that you can use to preserve the paintwork for longer.

Here are tips on how to protect your car's paintwork

car with cover parked outdoors

Using a car cover helps to protect the paintwork and increase longevity. Image: Getty

Tips on shielding your car's paintwork

Use a car cover

Using a car cover is an effective way to shield your car exterior from harsh weather conditions. If you park your car in a garage, a cover provides an extra layer of protection against dust and dirt, while a car parked outside is protected against bird droppings, and harmful UV rays. Look for a cover made from breathable material to prevent moisture buildup that could damage the paintwork.

Wash your car regularly

Washing your car once a week helps remove contaminants like dirt, grime, and grit that can lead to paint corrosion. Even better, learn how to properly wash, clean and detail your car. Use a mild car shampoo and a soft sponge or microfiber cloth, and avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbing brushes that can damage the paint. Don't forget to dry your car thoroughly to prevent water spots. 

Watch out for hazards that could scratch your car

Avoiding rough surfaces is equally important to protect your car paintwork. Rough surfaces, such as tree branches, bushes, or construction areas, can cause scratches or scrapes. When parking, choose a spot away from potential hazards and be mindful of any overhanging branches that could brush against your car.


person using vinyl film to wrap car

Vinyl wraps offer a layer of protection against scratches, chips, and fading. Image: Getty

Advanced techniques for protecting your car

Use vinyl car wrapping

Paint protection films and vinyl wraps offer a layer of protection against scratches, chips, and fading. These transparent films or vinyl wraps are applied to the car's exterior, creating a barrier between the paint and external elements. They are especially useful for high-impact areas such as the front bumper, bonnet, and side mirrors. If you want to maintain the original paint colour while adding an extra layer of defence, this method is worth exploring.

Use wax and sealants

Another way to protect your car's paintwork is by properly using wax and sealants. Regularly waxing your car helps to create a protective layer that shields the paint from UV rays, dirt, and other contaminants. Apply a thin layer of wax using a soft cloth or applicator pad, following the instructions on the product label. Sealants, on the other hand, offer longer-lasting protection and require less frequent application. They provide a durable shield against environmental pollutants and make it easier to clean your car.

Ceramic coating

Ceramic coating is a cutting-edge technique that offers long-term protection for your car's exterior. This liquid polymer is applied to the paintwork, forming a chemical bond that creates a hydrophobic and glossy surface. The ceramic coating acts as a protective barrier against UV rays, oxidation, bird droppings, and chemical stains. It also makes washing your car easier, as dirt and grime are less likely to adhere to the surface.

person washing car with microfibre cloth

Washing your car regularly with a mild car shampoo will help maintain its paintwork. Image: Getty

Addressing common car paintwork damage

Treating bird droppings and tree sap on your car

Bird droppings and tree sap may seem harmless, but they contain acids and substances that can corrode the paintwork if left untreated. The longer they linger, the more challenging they become to remove, potentially leading to permanent stains and damage.

Act Swiftly

Time is of the essence. The sooner you address bird droppings or tree sap on your car, the easier it is to remove without causing damage.

Wet the affected area

Gently spray the affected area with water. This helps to loosen the droppings or sap and makes the removal process smoother.

Soak with a wet cloth

Lay a wet, clean microfiber cloth or sponge over the affected area. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to soften the residue.

Gently wipe away

With the soaked cloth, gently wipe away the softened droppings or sap. Use light pressure to avoid scratching the paint.

Use a cleaning solution (if needed)

If the residue is stubborn, you can moisten the cloth with a mild cleaning solution. Ensure it's suitable for car paint and won't cause damage.

Avoid scrubbing

Refrain from aggressive scrubbing, especially if the droppings or sap are still hard. This can lead to scratches.

Rinse and dry

After removal, thoroughly rinse the area with clean water. Pat the spot dry with a clean microfiber cloth or allow it to air-dry.

Treating stone chips damage

Stone chips, a common consequence of driving on roads, can mar the paintwork. Swift and effective treatment of these chips is essential to prevent further damage and maintain the aesthetic appeal of your car.

Assess the damage

Begin by closely examining the stone chip to gauge its severity. Determine if it's a surface-level scratch or if the paint has chipped off, exposing the metal beneath.

Clean the area

Before attempting any treatment, ensure the affected area is free of dirt or debris. Gently wash the area around the stone chip using a mild car-wash soap and water. Pat the area dry with a clean, soft cloth.

Use a touch-up paint pen

For surface-level scratches, a touch-up paint pen matching your car's colour can be an effective solution. Shake the pen well and carefully apply the paint to the chip, ensuring it fills the damaged area. Allow it to dry completely.

Buffing for smoothness

Once the touch-up paint is dry, gently buff the treated area with a polishing compound. This helps level the paint surface, making it smoother and more aligned with the surrounding paint.

Address deeper chips

If the stone chip is deeper, exposing the metal, additional steps are needed. Clean the area thoroughly, then use a rust converter to prevent rust formation. Once dry, apply an automotive primer to prepare the surface for paint.

Apply touch-up paint and clear coat

Use a small brush or the tip of a touch-up paint pen to carefully apply matching paint to the chipped area. Allow it to dry before applying a clear coat for added protection and gloss. Ensure each layer is completely dry before proceeding to the next.

Final polishing

After the clear coat has dried, give the treated area a final polish to blend it seamlessly with the surrounding paint. Use a fine polishing compound and a soft cloth for this step.

Consider professional assistance

For extensive stone chip damage, seeking professional help from an auto body shop or paint specialist is advisable. They have the expertise and tools to address more complex issues and achieve a flawless finish.

Preventive measures

To minimize the risk of future stone chips, consider applying a clear paint protection film to vulnerable areas like the front bumper, hood, and side mirrors. This provides an additional layer of defence against road debris.



person using buffing machine on car body

For severe paint damage, it's best to seek professional paint repair services. Image: Getty

How to treat severe paint damage

For more severe paint damage to your car, it's advisable to seek professional assistance. Professional paint repair services have the expertise and specialised tools to restore your car's paintwork effectively. They can fix deep scratches, scuffs, and other major imperfections. Contact a reputable car detailing or paint repair service to assess the damage and provide appropriate solutions.


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