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Protecting Your Car's New Paint After Collision Repairs

If your car has been at the collision repair shop after an accident, it will likely return to you with newly-repaired surfaces. Auto body technicians use a meticulous process to ensure that the freshly-painted parts match the rest of your car’s original factory finish. That involves applying several coats of primer, paint and clear coat, and then the finish is carefully buffed out to give it that like-new glossy appearance. But when the body work is completed it’s your responsibility to protect your car’s new paint, notably within the first 30 to 90 days. That’s because the fresh paint needs time to cure and harden. Not protecting it properly could damage the paint’s finish, leading to noticeable imperfections which the shop will not be liable for. To keep your car’s finish looking great, use these paint protection tips for at least the first month after the collision repairs are done.

Avoid Commercial Car Washes

Okay, you’ve had your car out of the shop for a few days and now it’s dirty again. Your first instinct is the take it through a local car wash to remove the dirt. Not a good idea, as most commercial car washes use stiff brushes or sponges that can scratch the delicate new finish. Instead, only wash your car using these recommendations for the first 30 days:

  • Hand-wash your vehicle with cool water and a very mild car wash solution employing a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid using dish soap or laundry detergent.

  • Use only water that’s clean and fresh.

  • Wash your car in the shade and not direct sunlight.

  • Never “dry wipe” your car with a cloth.

In addition to these precautions, avoid waxing or polishing your car for 90 days after a new paint job as that can damage the finish and cause paint discoloration.

No Scraping or Chipping Allowed

Let’s say it’s wintertime when you pick up your car from the body shop and you wake up one morning to find it covered in snow and ice. Of course you need to scrape off your vehicle’s windows, but that’s as far as it goes. Don’t use a hard scraper on the new paint job or you’re asking for paint scratches, and that includes chipping ice on the repaired area. Use a soft brush or your hand instead. Try pouring warm water on any ice buildup to melt it away.

Chemicals and New Paint are a Bad Mix

If you’re vehicle needs some engine work done right after it’s had body work, be extra careful not to allow automotive solutions or chemicals to come in contact with the finish. Those include antifreeze, oil, gasoline or transmission fluid. Even windshield washer solution can harm fresh paint. If your vehicle is going in for some routine engine maintenance or repair work, point out to the technicians where the repaired areas are, and politely ask them to be extra careful. Also be cautious when filling up your gas tank at the pump. When spillage occurs, use a soft wet cloth or dampened sponge (never dry!) to immediately wipe it off.

Steer Clear of Gravel Roads

The next thing to steer clear of when your car has been freshly painted is loose gravel. Avoid gravel roads as much as possible, along with driving through construction zones. The new paint’s finish is vulnerable to chips from flying rocks because it hasn’t had enough time to harden into a protective barrier. Deeper paint chips can even expose your car’s metal to water and promote rust formation.

Reliable Body Shops Share Paint Care Tips

Any collision repair technician worth their salt takes a great deal of pride in their work, and that includes the paint job. They want you to be pleased with the outcome, and when you pick up your car someone at the body shop should explain how to protect the finish for the first few months after the repairs are completed. To ensure that your vehicle’s paint looks great for many years to come, carefully follow their instructions. In addition, you should get your car’s exterior professionally detailed at least once a year, and that’s another service that many body shops offer to their customers.

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