The Paint A Part Blog

How Do Sun and Heat Affect Auto Paint?

sun in orange sky with clouds sun and heat damage to car paint

The Weather IS Your Car Paint’s worst Enemy: Fading, Cracking, Peeling, and More.

You’ve probably seen the effects of sun damage on pictures, clothing, or your skin. The sun can wreck your car paint too. The same UV rays that can burn your skin can break down the molecules in your vehicle’s paint job, gradually destroying it –so gradually that you may not even notice it. Sun damage is more noticeable on darker paint colors, like blue or black, because the sun damage causes the coat to fade and lighten in color. You may also notice a peeling clear coat or flaking paint job.

This may sound stressful, but some sun-damaged paint can be repaired. Extensive sun damage can only be fixed by an auto body shop. Small areas of your paint job that have been sun damaged can be treated by yourself at home. There are plenty of different parts of your vehicle, inside and out, that can be damaged by UV rays –your dashboard, seats, and tires to name a few. We’ll go over the different parts of your car that can become prone to UV rays, and what you can do to protect car paint from sun damage.

Fixing Sun-Damaged Car Paint

Painter fixing sun damaged car by painting it

Your vehicle’s paint job is under constant exposure to UV rays, and how fast your paint fades will depend on your paint color. Bright colors like red paint, for example, will fade faster than darker colors.

There are several easy ways that you can prevent sun-damaged car paint. The first is by using covered parking. Keeping your car or truck sheltered from UV rays will help cut down on long-term sun exposure. Keep your car or truck in a garage at home and use parking garages when you’re out running errands or at work. Indoor parking isn’t always available but try scouting out shady spots and using them as often as you can. Even partial coverage goes a long way in protecting car paint from sun damage.

Another good way to prevent sun damage is by regularly washing your vehicle. Your vehicle’s paint job has a special protective coating that keeps UV radiation from getting into the paint and destroying it. Unfortunately, over time this overcoating grows less and less effective at protecting your paint because your paint gets contaminated by debris. A damaged, peeling clear coat is naturally less effective. Leaving bugs, road salt, mud, and other debris on your paint will cause your overcoat to deteriorate faster. You can help protect your paint overcoat by regularly washing it. Use non-abrasive cleaning materials to prevent damage to your paint coating and wipe your vehicle down instead of letting it air dry.

Hand washing and waxing a car

What is the final easy-care measure for preventing sun faded paint? Wax your car. Your paint’s overcoat isn’t invincible, and car wax gives your vehicle an extra barrier against the sun. When choosing a car wax, make sure that it doesn’t contain any abrasive materials that might strip off your paint’s protective layer. Waxing is an inexpensive way to protect your paint job, but if you want even more protection, you can look into getting a paint protection film to put over your vehicle.

Dashboard Damage Due to the Elements

Your dashboard can develop sun damage over long-term exposure, causing the plastic to fade, crack, and warp. Because of the size and difficulty of replacing your dash, it’s much easier to prevent long-term damage to it than it is to reverse it. The easiest way is to avoid direct sun exposure. It’s easy to avoid damaging UV rays with a sun shield over your front window or a custom-made dashboard cover.

Sun and Heat Damaged Seat Upholstery

Your car’s seats are customizable, so what kind of protection you want depends on the material your seats are made of. If you have leather seats then you can help protect them by regularly applying leather conditioner. Leather conditioner is a special formula that has been specially designed to prevent the leather from cracking or tearing from the heat.

No matter what materials your seats use, any seat can be easily protected with the use of a seat cover. You can find custom-fit or universal fit covers to slide over your seats and protect them from not only sun damage, but also spills and tears.

Tire Rot Due to Weather and Sitting

pile of used and damaged tires

Heat exposure is a constant threat to your tires. When they’re up against the hot pavement, an underinflated tire risks blowing out. Even if your tires aren’t underinflated, they can gradually lose pressure from the heat. Even well-maintained tires risk losing a pound of air pressure a month under high temperatures. The easiest way to prevent this is by being diligent and checking your tire’s pressure often in extreme heat. Whenever you’re filling your tires, always use your manufacturer’s recommended settings.

Your tires are also susceptible to dry rot. Dry rot happens to tires that are under-inflated, rarely used, or frequently exposed to high temperatures. Tires that sit in the sun will deteriorate faster. The only way to fix dry-rotting tires is to replace them, but you can help prevent dry rot by regularly cleaning them with a mixture of water and dish soap.

Engine Damage

Sun damage isn’t just cosmetic; in addition to sun-faded paint, extreme temperatures can even stop the function of your engine. The easiest way to prevent your engine from overheating is regular maintenance. This means routine tasks like changing your belts and engine fluids, including the engine coolant/antifreeze. Low fluid levels for your motor oil, transmission oil, power steering fluid, and brake fluid put your engine at risk of overheating. Staying on top of engine care keeps it from working harder than it needs to.

A/C System to the Rescue

Mojave Desert in US.

Having a solid A/C system isn’t just for your comfort; keeping your interior cool prevents heat damage to your upholstery and under the hood. If your interior temperature is too high, your dashboard and seats are at higher risk for sun damage. Make sure your A/C system is fully charged and working effectively. The easiest way to chest your air conditioning’s refrigerant charge is by having it looked at by a professional.

The good news is when your vehicle suffers damaged paint due to sun fading, excessive heat breaking down the clear coat, or even scrapes, scratches, and scuffs from daily use Paint A Part has you covered with our affordable pre painted auto body parts like replacement bumpers, fenders, hoods, and more. Just give us your factory paint code and we will match the paint on your vehicle the day it rolled off the assembly line.