Why is my car’s clear coat failing?


I was in a parking lot here in Bel Air and saw a car in which the paint appeared to be peeling away from itself.  Have you ever seen something like that here in Harford County?  It’s called delamination, and it is where the top layer of paint (the clear coat) begins to pull away from the paint layer below it.  It has a similar appearance to a car that someone has taken sandpaper to.  Basically, it’s pretty ugly to the eye and only gets worse if not treated.

So you’re probably wondering how you can keep from being that sad car in the parking lot.  Well, did you know that delamination is sometimes due to a faulty paint job in the first place?  A car’s paint usually begins with a base coat, then a clear coat.  If the two coats aren’t compatible, clear coat failure can erupt over time.  We see this happening in lots of cars built in the early-to-mid nineties. 

However, delamination can also be caused by exposure to the elements or due to surface abrasions.  And these are certainly preventable by following a few steps:

  • First, park carefully.  Always park in a garage or under a carport whenever possible to avoid damage from the elements.  Here are the major elements you’ll want to avoid:

  • Air pollution.  Yep, even in Bel Air and the rest of Harford County, pollution exists and it can be as damaging to our cars as it is to us, so watch out for high traffic roads, unpaved areas, and any construction sites.

  • Salt.  If you ever drive down to the shore, be careful–salty air can weaken your car’s paint.

  • Sun damage.  Summers in Maryland can be pretty sunny, but so can the winters and the sun’s rays can cause a great deal of fading to your vehicle’s paint.  If you can’t park in a garage or under a carport, try to find a shaded area.  Although you’ll want to avoid trees that shed any debris (see the next point).    

  • Dirt and debris.  Dust, pollen, dirt, tree sap, leaves, sand, bird droppings, etc.—all of these can cause major damage to your paint.  If any of these land on your vehicle, you’ll want to be sure to clean them off right away.  

  • Wash your car all the time.  You are going to need to wash your car frequently and with the best materials, such as a non-abrasive mitt and a good quality automotive soap.  Make sure you rinse thoroughly, since any soap left behind can wreak havoc on your paint.  Dry your car thoroughly afterwards with a non-abrasive chamois or cloth, since water spots can affect paint.  I am a big fan of something called a Clay Bar. A Clay Bar is like a Magic Eraser for your car and can clean grime that you weren’t able to remove while washing. 

  • Keep your car waxed.  Waxing your car is one of the best things you can do to preserve the health of your vehicle’s paint.  Do it every time you wash and you’ll have a gorgeous shine to your car and a layer of protection from the elements.

At Bel Air Autobody, your vehicle’s health and appearance are important to us.  If your car’s clear coat starts to fail, give us a call and we’ll be happy to get your paint looking brand new again. 


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