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5 min read

Arizona Sun Damages Your Car's Paint

Published on
April 10, 2024
hood of grey car with a lot of sun damage from Tucson sun
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The Arizona sun can have a significant impact on your car's paint due to the intense heat and strong UV rays. The average car paint in Tucson reaches well over 375° in the summer heat.  At Cool Auto Detail, we make it our mission to keep our customers educated about their vehicles and how to protect them. In this article, we'll cover 4 ways in which the sun is taking a toll on your car's paint as well as 8 tips to help you protect it.

4 Ways The Sun Is Damaging Your Car Paint

1. Oxidation: For starters, your paint's outer clear coat layer is only as thick as a Post-it note. It covers your base coat paint layer and acts as a barrier of protection, sort of like a sunscreen for your car. The sun can cause your car's paint to oxidize, which is when the paint loses its protective clear coat and begins to break down or have what we call 'clear-coat failure'. Your paint then becomes chalky, rough, peeling, bubbly and dull. Over time, both the clear coat and base color layers may begin to peel off of your vehicle.

2. Fading: The sun can cause your car, truck, or SUV's paint to fade over time, especially on the top surfaces that are exposed to direct sunlight. Intense UV rays break down the paint molecules, causing the color to fade and appear dull. Fading is a more common issue with red, blue, and black cars, as these colors tend to be more prone to fading than other colors.

3. Peeling and cracking: The scorching heat in Arizona can also cause the paint to peel and crack, especially on cars that are parked outside for long periods of time and the paint is not maintained correctly with proper waxing or ceramic coating. The intense heat during the day causes the paint to expand and contract, which can lead to cracks, peeling, paint discoloration, fading and inconsistent texturing.

4. Water spotting: Water droplets on your car's surface will often evaporate quickly in Arizona, leaving behind mineral deposits that can create water spots on the paint. These spots can be difficult to remove and can damage the paint if left untreated. Because your paint is porous, it has tiny pores just like your skin. The minerals from the water can build up and create etching on the surface of the paint, making it difficult to remove the water spots.

8 Tips To Protect Your Car's Paint

  1. Wash your car regularly: Washing your car on a regular basis helps to remove dirt, dust, and other contaminants that can damage your car's paint over time. Ideally, you should wash your car at least once a week or more frequently if you live in areas with heavy dust or pollution. Remember to wash your car in the correct and appropriate conditions, making sure that your paint is cool to touch when starting to wash your vehicle. You want to be doing this in an area that has shade or is covered and not in direct sunlight. This helps prevent water spots, and helps with the water drying too quickly on the vehicle.
  2. Use a high-quality car wash soap: Make sure that it is a soap that is a pH balanced so it's not too acidic for car paint. It's important to use a high-quality car wash soap that is specifically designed for use on cars! Don't use dish soap or other household cleaning products, as they can strip away the protective wax on your car's paint and cause damage.
  3. Apply wax, sealants, ceramic coatings: Wax, paint sealants, and ceramic coatings provide a great protective layer over your car's paint, helping to prevent damage from environmental factors as well as prevent oxidation. We recommend you apply a wax or paint sealant a minimum every 3-6 months to not only keep your car looking shiny and new but most importantly, for the health of paint. Keeping the pores of the paint filled in with a wax or a sealant is a vital to the health of the clear-coat. If you do not keep the clear-coat healthy, you will need to repaint the car sooner than later! When you have a clear-coat failure, also known as oxidation, you cannot go and just shoot more clear over your paint you have to actually repaint your vehicle. Think of keeping your paint with a wax or a sealant just like putting sunscreen on your skin.
  4. Research the right products: IGL and Ceramic Pro are brands of commercial grade ceramic coatings we at Cool Auto Detail have been using for about 7 years now. Professional grade ceramic coatings last longer than both wax or sealants as they are chemically designed to bond to the clear-coat. They fill in the substrate of paint; filling in the pores of the paint to create a solid surface. Waxes and sealants do not guarantee against oxidation, bird droppings, and sap. Where as commercial grade ceramic coatings do guarantee against these. Other benefits of ceramic coating include the increase in ability of your paint from the 2 or 3H hardness to a 9 or 10H hardness. Ceramic coating is anti-corrosive, can go up to 1200°F, decreases the ability for marring, scratching, holograms, and creates a hydrophobic surface, which makes your maintenance a dream. Another product to consider for protection is PPF ( Paint Protection Film) The average paint on your vehicle from the factory is 3.5 to 4 mils thick. PPF on average is 6-8 mils. It gives you almost twice as much protection as the thickness that the factory paint has. PPF, also called clear bra, is self healing so when a rock chips it, the sun kind of melts it back together so it serves a little bit different purpose then ceramic coating.
  5. Park in a covered area: Whenever possible, park your car in a covered area. This helps to protect your car from the sun's harmful UV rays, which will fade and damage your car's paint over time.
  6. Try to avoid parking under trees: As tempting as it is in Tucson to park under a tree for shade, this can actually be harmful to your car's paint. Trees can drop sap, pollen, and other debris onto your car, which damages the paint. Additionally, birds often perch in trees and can leave droppings on your vehicle, which can be difficult to remove and can cause damage if left on too long.
  7. Road trips after care: when you’re returning from a road trip, try to get in the habit of rinsing off your vehicle to remove all debris and dead bugs as quickly as possible. The acidic filled up from the bugs can get built up into your clear-coat and create permanent damage.
  8. Monitor your car's paint routinely. Remove any water spots, dirt, grime, debris, tar, road paint, asphalt, etc. on your paint. The sooner you remove these items from your paint, the better it is for the health of your paint. If you’re not sure what to do, please reach out to a professional.