If you are a car owner, you understand the need to care for your vehicle. This means washing and cleaning, regular tune-ups, and other maintenance along the way. Without this kind of attention, your vehicle will begin to show signs of age more quickly and will face more problems than it needs to.
One of the ways that cars begin to break down is in the very foundational structures, otherwise known as polymer degradation. This article will answer some questions about polymer degradation, like what is that?! is my car at risk? and how can I prevent it?
First an explanation of polymers. Polymers touch every aspect of our lives and in some ways are the building blocks to our modern world. They are materials made of long, repeating chains of molecules. The resulting materials have properties that depend on what type of molecules are being bonded and how, but almost everything manufactured these days are the result of polymers. There are those that bend and stretch, like rubber and polyester, others that are hard and strong, like epoxies and glass.
If you think about your car, you can probably start to recognize where polymers are used in the design and manufacture of different component parts, including panels, paint and topcoats and so on.
As car designs improve, designers and engineers are constantly pushing the limits of what materials cars are made of. The goal is to make cars lighter but safer, and so a fine balance is needed. Too light a car and the car becomes unsafe, but sturdier lab-made materials increase safety, too. Polymers are employed more and more in the creation of modern vehicles.
So what about polymer degradation?
Polymer degradation is “a change in the properties of a polymer, like tensile strength, color, shape, under the influence of environmental factors like heat, light or chemicals like acids, alkalis, and salts.”
Over time, polymers begin to break down. Even those that are incredibly sturdy, stable and long-lasting, eventually degrade as the bonds holding the molecule chains together begin to break down.
And the process is accelerated if and when and how often your vehicle is exposed to harsh environmental conditions. If your car goes through prairie winters with salt on the roads, that salt will affect the integrity of the polymers. If your vehicle is parked in the harsh sun for an entire summer or is constantly being targeted by birds and their droppings, these are elements that destabilize the bonds that hold polymers together.
Whether or not you’ve heard the phrase polymer degradation, there is a good chance you are dealing with it when it comes to the care of your vehicle. And the best way to slow down the process is to keep up with vehicle maintenance by washing, waxing and protecting your car from the elements as much as possible.
We can’t control nature, but we can do our best to protect our vehicles from facing harsh conditions.
If you want to talk more about how to keep your vehicle in great shape, bring your car into our auto body shop and we can talk maintenance.