How to prevent and repair car paint oxidation

Most car owners understand the importance of having a vehicle’s oil changed regularly, the tires rotated and brakes replaced to keep it running properly. However, one maintenance item many forget can end up costing them thousands of dollars when they try to sell or trade in a car, says Charles Cyrill, spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association. The condition of a vehicle’s paint ranks among the top five items that can affect the car’s value, Cyrill says.

Smyrna member Robert Aspinall learned about the costs of faded auto paint when he tried to sell his 2002 Honda Civic earlier this year. Several buyers tried to negotiate the asking price because the car’s paint appeared cloudy, Aspinall says. To remedy the problem, he hired highly rated Next Level Mobile Detailing of Roswell for a complete auto detail that included buffing out the paint and restoring the car’s color and shine. “I spent $200 on the detail and added $1,000 to the final sales price,” Aspinall says.

David Lonadier of highly rated Lonadier’s Mobile Detailing in Roswell says clients hire him to make their cars’ paint look new again before selling or trading it in. Atlanta sunshine causes significant damage to area vehicles because the intensity of the heat and amount of direct light results in faded areas, white spots and cloudy or swirled patches, Lonadier says. Oxidation occurs when heat and oxygen combine and break down the molecular structure of the paint, experts say. Lonadier says factory car paint typically lasts six to eight years, although Atlanta’s climate may shorten the timeline.

Jerry Hurley, manager at highly rated Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting in Marietta, says some paint damage can be restored with an intensive buff and wax; however, severe cases require a new coat of paint. “If the clear coat starts to turn white or chalky, it needs to be repainted,” Hurley says, adding that basic paint jobs with mid-grade paint start at $300, with higher-end paint jobs starting at $1,000. Repainting a vehicle takes from two to three days to complete, he says.

Lonadier says as long as the clear coat remains in place, he can often restore the paint. “The paint goes from dull and ugly to looking shiny and brand-new,” he says. The buffing process entails using a liquid abrasive on a rotating buffer pad to remove the layers of oxidation. Lonadier’s interior and exterior car detail, which includes oxidation removal, ranges in price from $100 to $250, depending on the condition and model of the car, and takes from four to eight hours. Lonadier recommends professional detailing twice a year.

Hurley and Lonadier say taking simple preventive measures can protect your paint from oxidation. “Wax the car several times a year to protect the paint from sun damage,” Hurley says, adding that keeping the car in a garage and away from direct sunlight also protects the paint. Thoroughly dry your car after washing it and take corrective action as soon as you notice oxidation, Lonadier says. “Oxidation is a lot like rust — the longer you let it sit, the worse it gets,” he adds.

Oxidation also affects headlights. “Headlights get foggy looking and don’t work as well when oxidized,” Lonadier says. “It can be pretty hazardous at night.” Detailing and maintenance help forestall the need to purchase new headlight covers, which Lonadier says can cost $200 each.

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David Lonadier of Lonadier's Mobile Detail of Rosewell, travels to a customer's home to do an intricate, eco-friendly car detail.  (Photo courtesy of David Lonadier)
David Lonadier of Lonadier's Mobile Detail of Rosewell, travels to a customer's home to do an intricate, eco-friendly car detail. (Photo courtesy of David Lonadier)

David Lonadier, owner of Atlanta car detailing company Lonadier's Mobile Detailing, talks intricate car detailing, getting the most bang for your buck and how to remain eco-friendly.

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