what causes discolouration

What Causes Discolouration and What Can I Do About It?

Everyone loves the look of a new car, or even an older car that’s been well taken of. Heads turn when there is a shiny and sleek vehicle on the road, especially one with a perfect paint job.

To keep a car in mint condition, a vehicle is usually kept in a garage. But in a place like Vancouver, not everyone has that luxury. Many people have to park their car outdoors, where they are exposed to the elements like rain and sun.

As cars age, you can often see the signs in the paint. Things like peeling and discolouration start to occur. It can be disheartening to see a vehicle’s paint job start to weaken and become discoloured. So what can be done about it?

First, a little background on what goes into a paint job. Cars are painted in three layers. The first is a primer to help adhere the paint to the body of the car. Next is the paint itself, which can come in a variety of colour and quality. Finally a top coat is applied to seal it off.

Discolouration occurs over time, when the pigments in the paint begin to dull. This tends to happen more quickly when the vehicle is constantly exposed to Vancouver weather like sun and rain. That’s because the top coat begins to break down and expose the layer of paint below. You might also hear this called oxidation, fading or weathering.

When the middle paint layer becomes exposed, there can be a domino effect. The paint might then start peeling or cracking. If moisture or dirt start accumulating on the paint layer, it can accelerate the problem and the issue can spread. Furthermore, moisture that is trapped under the top coat can bump and bubble. This won’t go away on its own and the bubbling can swell and pop.

But there are a couple of things you can do to protect your car’s paint job so that it stays in top shape.

Prevention is always best. If you can’t park your vehicle in a garage, consider getting a car cover to put on top of your vehicle. Most models will have custom covers that easily slip over the vehicle. If this is not an option for you, one easy thing you can do to extend the life of your car’s paint is to watch where you park. Try to avoid parking under trees that release sap or that birds live in. Also try to stay away from trees that drop fruit like cherries, which can damage and erode the top coat and affect the paint underneath. Basically, try not to park under trees if you can!

Another step you can take is keeping your vehicle clean. If you find bird droppings or tree sap on your car, wash it as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to have regular wax coating including in the wash as this will help keep the top coat sealed and in good shape.

If you see problems in the paint that are starting to spread, it’s a good idea to bring your car in. Unless you are very experienced, don’t attempt to touch up the paint yourself. Most people end up causing more paint problems than solving them. A trained technician can sand down the problem area, ensure that it is clean and moisture free, match the paint exactly, and then apply a proper top coat.

If you have any questions about your car’s paint job, our experienced Vancouver auto body shop technicians are happy to help.