Everything You Need To Know About Paint Oxidation
Everything You Need To Know About Paint Oxidation

Imagine this - it’s time for a brand new ride. You take in your current car for a trade-in, but the price the dealer offers is way below what you think the car is worth. You know it runs great, and it doesn’t have any obvious body damage. What gives?

Did you know that the condition of the paint is a huge factor in a car’s value? As your car ages, the paint breaks down and loses its glossy shine. Eventually it can wear away to reveal the metal body underneath, leaving it vulnerable to rust and corrosion. This process is called paint oxidation, and it can cause problems to more than just your wallet. Read on to learn what paint oxidation is, what you can do to prevent it, and how to treat it when it happens.

What is Paint Oxidation?

As your car ages, oxygen and heat causes the chemicals in the paint to break down. Oils in your paint are what protects it and helps it maintain its shine, but they are slowly broken down over time as they are exposed to the elements. This has a big effect on the integrity of your paint. Eventually, oxidation can strip your car of its paint completely and lead to rust, corrosion, and damage.

How Do I Know If I Have Paint Oxidation?

Just take a look at your paint! The effects of paint oxidation are gradual but noticeable. If your paint is dull, has lost its vibrancy, or has a rough texture, then you’re in the beginning stages of oxidation. As it continues, the clear coat that protects your paint will wear away, causing white or chalky surfaces, and your paint will begin to flake. Finally, the paint will dissolve completely and  bare metals will be exposed to the elements, which can cause permanent damage to your car.

So What Do I Do?

Paint oxidation is unavoidable. Time and exposure to heat and oxygen will eventually affect your paint job no matter what you do. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent oxidation for as long as possible, and once it occurs there are ways to treat it and restore your car to its former glory.

Preventing Paint Oxidation

Paint oxidation can be prevented by properly maintaining your car’s exterior. You’ve probably washed your car before, but have you ever waxed it? Waxing your car is one of the best ways to prevent paint oxidation because it applies a protective coat to your paint. You should wax your car once per month to protect it from the elements, especially if you live in a warm or sunny climate. For best results, use a car wax that is formulated to protect against UV damage.

Another way to prevent paint oxidation is to park your car in a garage or shaded area. When you park your car in direct sunlight, you’re increasing its exposure to heat and UV rays, which will speed up oxidation. If you don’t have access to a garage or shaded area, you can buy canopies or car covers for relatively cheap to protect your paint.

Finally, you should have your car regularly detailed to keep it in new condition. Professionals know how to diagnose paint oxidation and they may have tools and tricks that can’t be applied at home. Auto Craft offers full detail services for the interior and exterior of your car.

How Do I Treat Paint Oxidation?

Even properly maintained cars will feel the effects of paint oxidation. Catching it early and treating it right away are the keys to treating paint oxidation easily and most affordably. Once it gets out of hand, it becomes much harder to handle and may require a new coat of paint. There are two ways to treat paint oxidation depending on if your paint damage is minor or heavy: restoring or repainting.


In the early stages, paint oxidation is minor and can often be treated at home. This means that your paint is dull and has lost its shine, but it has not yet started to flake or look chalky. When this happens, you need to take action right away to restore your paint!

The effects of oxidation can be treated at home by buffing your paint with an oxidation removal product. First, start with a clean car. Then you’ll need to buff the surface until all oxidation has been removed and wipe it clean. Finally, apply a coat of wax to protect the paint. Remember that oxidation can also affect your headlights, so don’t overlook them!


Unfortunately, heavier paint oxidation may not be able to be treated by buffing. Once your paint begins to flake or wear, or if you can see bare metal, it is time to repaint the car. Depending on the extent of your damage, you might need a paint touch-up or an entire new coat. Painting can be pricey, but it’s the best way to treat heavy paint oxidation and will increase the value of your car. We offer touch-ups and full paint jobs that are professional, affordable, and look great. Check out a list of our full painting services.

Paint oxidation is an unavoidable pitfall of car ownership, but by using these tips for prevention and treating it early, you can lessen its effects. If you’re unsure if your car has damage from paint oxidation, its best to seek the opinion of a professional. At Auto Craft, we offer free estimates and consultations to help you keep your car (and your wallet) in peak condition!

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