• 2017

Luster’s Last Stand


PAINT REPAIRcleaner_wax

Over the life of a vehicle, the paint is exposed to a wide variety of natural elements. These range from ultraviolet radiation from the sun, to bird droppings, to stones and gravel kicked up off the road. The net result is a degradation to the quality of the finish. All is not lost, though, as this damage can be repaired to restore the factory luster and beauty of the paint.

Environmental effects range from ultraviolet (UV) light to road salt used to melt ice and snow in the winter. Let’s look at some of the more common environmental effects in a little more detail.


Probably the most common environmental effect is ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In more basic terms, let’s just call it sunshine, or natural light. It’s everywhere, literally. And, while clouds block sunshine, clouds don’t block natural light and its UV radiation.

This is the same radiation that gives you a suntan, but it can damage and fade paint colors, the most obvious being the color red. It can also be devastating to plastic. For this reason, special UV protectants are mixed with plastic pigment or paint.

FCA US LLC has a complete line of premium Mopar® products to help your customers maintain and preserve the paint and finish on their vehicles. For fading and damage from natural light, the ideal solution is Mopar Cleaner Wax (P/N 04796237AD). This product is designed to maximize the beauty of the finish. It also removes swirls, light scratches and surface pollutants, restores paint nutrients and provides durable wax protection.

To prevent this type of damage, apply Mopar Finish Enhancer (P/N 04796238AC). It maintains and protects the gloss finish between car washes and waxes. Simply mist it on and wipe it off to renew the gloss and shine of the paint.


Industrial fallout is only a problem if the vehicle is driven in an industrial environment with corrosive deposits from the chimneys of foundries, ironworks and steel mills. Obviously, these facilities are concentrated in industrial cities like Cleveland, where steel is still being made.

Industrial ash is found in areas where welding and grinding operations are performed. The hot, and sometimes glowing iron particles burn right into the paint surface (Figure 1).

To avoid damage from industrial fallout, immediately remove any metal particles that have fallen on the vehicle. Regular polishing and waxing with a product such as Mopar Cleaner Wax will also help. If the vehicle will be parked in an area where industrial fallout is known to occur, park it in a garage, or cover it to protect the finish from damage.


Everyone is aware of the damage that stones, small rocks and other debris thrown up from the road can do to windshields, but the paint finish can also be damaged (see Figure 2). With the superior paint and clear-coat products available today, paint finishes have never been stronger. With that said, it’s unlikely that one small stone that bounces off the fender or side panel will leave a chip mark in the paint. However, larger stones and pebbles, and repeated exposure to stones and pebbles, can cause damage.

In this case, it comes down to where the vehicle is driven. If the vehicle is driven in the country on unpaved, or gravel roads, the likelihood of stone chips in the paint is greater. And, of course, off-roading increases the chances, too. The car doesn’t have to be driven in the country to suffer this type of damage. Stones, small rocks and loose gravel are all over urban areas, especially within the cities where winter can damage road surfaces.

The stones that are found on the road come in a variety of shapes, sizes and weight. Thrown onto the paintwork at different velocities and impact forces, the topcoats, as well as surface and primer coats, can be damaged down to the substrate. Moisture can penetrate the paint film and cause additional flaking.figure2

Simply put, there really isn’t any way to totally protect a vehicle from stone damage. Debris can be found on most any road. Those areas that are most susceptible can be treated with anti-chip protection to minimize the possibility of damage.
Stone chip damage in the paint should be touched up and repaired as soon as it is noticed. Sand out the chip and build up the area with the correct primer and/or topcoats, depending on the depth of the damage.


Most car owners wash their vehicles. Some do it themselves, by hand, in the driveway or garage, while others have it done at an automated car wash. There are many types of car washes, but each one has a number of rotating brushes that clean the body of the car. While brush quality has improved (some car washes have soft cloth brushes), it’s still plastic brushes moving quickly over the finish of the vehicle.

Over time, scratches can appear on the surface. This damage can be the result of brushes that are coarse, dirty or worn. In addition, if there is an insufficient amount of water in the pre-wash, scratches can result. Finally, if fresh paintwork is washed too soon after being applied, the new surface can be scratched. Depending on the paint used to repair the vehicle, always tell your customers if there is a waiting period before washing the car.

Surfaces that have been scratched at car washes appear to have thread-like scratches, often in parallel lines. These scratches are much more visible on darker colors such as black and dark blue. The surface can also appear to be grayish in the shade and to have lost some gloss.

To prevent car wash scratches, be sure the brushes are clean and not worn. This might be tough, though, for your customer. No one checks the brushes at a car wash. But, the car must be thoroughly wet before the brushes start cleaning the car. This can be noticed by the driver. And, of course, let your customer know if there is a waiting time before washing fresh paint.

Fortunately, car wash scratches are not very deep. These scratches can be Figure 2 polished with a fine polishing paste and finished with a high gloss polish.