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Do Heat and Sun Damage Car Paint?

sun damage car paint

While we relish the warmth of the sun, the same can't be said for our cars. The harsh UV rays that cause sunburns can also fade your car's shiny paint, particularly darker hues, often leading to unsightly peeling or flaking. Sun damage is a gradual process, often unnoticed until it's too late. However, don't fret, as not all sun damage is beyond repair.

If you've ever wondered, do heat and sun damage car paint, this article has all your answers. We'll also guide you on how to prevent, repair, and even eliminate sun damage on car paint, ensuring your car's coat remains as fresh as the day you drove it off the lot.

Buckle up, it's time to outshine the sun!

How Heat Affects Car Paint

Heat can be a silent adversary to your car's glossy finish. A car's paintwork is composed of multiple layers including the primer, the basecoat, and the clear coat. The clear coat, although designed to protect the underlying layers and enhance the paint's finish, is sensitive to extreme temperature fluctuations.

When subjected to intense heat, this clear coat undergoes thermal expansion. However, as temperatures drop, it contracts. This continual cycle of expansion and contraction due to heat variations can result in micro-cracking on the surface of the paint. Over time, these microscopic fissures can cause the clear coat to appear dull and hazy.

In addition, heat can exacerbate the damage caused by environmental contaminants. For instance, bird droppings, bug splatters, and tree sap, if left uncleaned, can get baked onto the paint's surface due to the heat. This not only makes them more difficult to remove but also increases the risk of them causing permanent staining or etching on the paintwork.

How Does Sun Damage Car Paint?

The sun, with its powerful rays, can wreak havoc on your car's paint over time. This process, often subtle and unnoticed at first, is largely due to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation—a component of sunlight notorious for its damaging effects.

UV rays are energetic enough to break down the chemical bonds in the pigments of your car's paint, a process known as photodegradation. Over time, this leads to a noticeable fading of color, particularly in darker shades such as black or blue, which absorb more light and thus undergo more significant photodegradation.

Car Sunburn Repair: DIY Fixes

Car Sunburn Repair

Addressing sun and heat damage to your car's paint can seem like a daunting task, but don't worry! There are several DIY fixes that can help restore your vehicle's shine. Here are a few steps you can follow:

  1. Assess the Damage: Start by washing your car thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Dry it off and inspect the affected areas in good lighting to assess the extent of the damage. Sun damage can range from minor discoloration and fading to severe peeling or flaking.

  2. Use a Clay Bar: If the damage isn't too severe, a clay bar can help remove surface contaminants and smooth out the paint. Spray a lubricant on the area and gently rub the clay bar across it, following the instructions on the package.

  3. Polish the Car: After using the clay bar, apply high-quality car polish to the affected area. Use a polishing pad and work in a circular motion. This step can help remove minor scratches and restore some of the paint's lost luster.

  4. Apply Wax: Waxing creates a protective layer over your paint, sealing the polish and adding an additional layer of protection against future sun damage. Apply the wax in a thin layer, let it dry, then buff it off using a microfiber cloth.

  5. Use a Paint Restorer: If the sun damage is more extensive, a paint restorer might be necessary. These products are designed to restore faded paint and bring back the original color. They're typically applied in the same manner as polish.

  6. Consult a Professional: If your DIY efforts don't yield the desired results, or if the damage is severe (such as deep cracks or peeling), you might need to consult a professional. Auto body shops have specialized tools and expertise to repair sun damage and repaint your car.

Remember, prevention is the best way to protect your car's paint from sun damage. Regularly washing, waxing, and parking in shaded areas or using car covers can go a long way toward keeping your car looking its best.

Best Way to Protect Car Paint From Sun and Heat

The elements can be hard on a car, particularly the sun and heat, which can lead to fading, cracking, and other damage to your car's paintwork. To preserve the aesthetics and integrity of your vehicle, consider implementing these effective protective measures:

  • Park in the Shade: As simple as it sounds, parking your car in a shaded area or garage can significantly reduce the amount of direct sunlight and heat it experiences. This is an easy and cost-free way to reduce potential sun damage.

  • Use a Car Cover: When shade is not an option, a car cover can be a great alternative. Car covers protect your vehicle from direct sunlight and also keep the temperature down, preventing heat damage. Choose a cover that's designed to block UV rays for maximum protection.

  • Apply a Protective Sealant: A variety of protective sealants, such as car wax or paint sealant, can be applied to your car's paint. These products provide a protective layer that shields the paint from UV rays and heat. They also give your car a nice glossy finish.

  • Regular Washing and Drying: Dust and dirt particles can act like a magnifying glass, intensifying the sun's damaging effects. Regularly washing your car can prevent this. Dry your car thoroughly after washing to avoid water spots which can also amplify UV rays.

  • Use a UV Protectant Spray: These sprays are like sunscreen for your car. They contain chemicals that block harmful UV rays, reducing the risk of sun damage. They can be applied to your car's exterior and are usually easy to use.

  • Regular Maintenance: Regularly inspect your car for signs of sun damage. Catching the damage early can make it much easier to deal with.

Remember, your car is a significant investment, and protecting it from sun and heat damage not only keeps it looking its best, but it can also increase its resale value and longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How hot does a car get in the sun?

The temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can rise rapidly to dangerous levels.

On average, the air temperature inside a car can rise about 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit above the outside temperature within an hour. For example, on a 70-degree day, the inside of a car could heat up to 110-120 degrees. On hotter days, this increase can be even more significant. It's important to note that cracking windows does little to alleviate this heat buildup.

Does car paint fade in the sun?


Safeguarding your car's paint from sun and heat damage is no small feat. It involves a combination of regular maintenance, strategic parking, and utilizing a range of products specifically designed to shield your vehicle from the harsh effects of the sun and heat. However, sometimes the damage may extend beyond the point of repair. In such instances, replacing the damaged part can be the most effective solution.

At Painted OEM Parts, we understand the importance of not just the function, but also the aesthetics of every component of your car. That's why we offer pre-painted auto parts that are painted to match your car perfectly, saving you the hassle of color matching and painting. This ensures your car retains its original allure, irrespective of part replacements over time.

Why wait for sun damage to take its toll? Explore our wide range of pre-painted auto parts at Painted OEM Parts and give your car the care it deserves. Click here to find the perfect match for your vehicle today!


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