Scratches, dings, and chips in the paint are inevitable in cars that aren't properly protected. If you've just bought a new car or you've jazzed up an older one with a new paint job, you want to do everything in your power to keep that coat shiny and new. Here are some great tips for preventing minor body damage and making sure the outside of your car looks great for years to come.
Put the Phone Down
It seems like a no-brainer, and the government agrees. A grand total of 44 states now make it illegal to text while driving.
But what if you're on private property or in heavy traffic that doesn't seem to be moving? Many people make the mistake of thinking it's okay to take a quick peek at that message while backing out of the driveway or send a quick "OTW" while inching forward in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
What happens next? You guessed it. You end up grazing the mailbox or bumping into the car in front of you, leaving a devilish little scratch to contend with.
And don't assume the rules don't apply to you just because you've been driving for a long time. According to the Washington Post, drivers who are older and more experienced are under the false impression that because they're more mature and have more miles under their belt, that they will be able to tune out distractions better than their younger counterparts.
But this isn't the case. When tested in a simulation, a whopping 100 percent of drivers aged 45-59 actually veered into another lane while responding to text messages, whereas only 25 percent of those aged 18-24 did.
Don't ever assume that it's safe to text while driving, no matter the traffic or how slowly you're moving. If someone is in the car with you, have them type and send. Keep the phone put away until you are at your destination or completely pulled over, stopped, and out of traffic.
Keep a Simple Repair Kit On Hand
You know how it is—you're out of town at a friend's wedding or you're on a family vacation. You walk to your automobile and notice that some jerk keyed the hood of the car. Or maybe you opened the door a little too fast and hit the side of the parking garage wall.
There's no need to tap into those anger management skills. While you may not be able to completely keep this one a secret from the wife or hubby, you can repair it pretty easily if you know what to use and how to use it.
All you need is a paint pen, a primer pen, some car wash, and a rubbing compound.
Once you've cleaned the scratched area with the car wash, look at the scratch itself and see if it goes all the way to the metal. If it does, apply a coat of primer and allow it to dry. Afterwards, you can begin applying the paint, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying more. Keep doing this until the coat matches the original paint or you no longer notice the scratch. When you're finished, apply a rubbing compound to smooth out the finish.
Wash Your Car Correctly
Did you know that how you wash your car can make or break the paint? It sure can. Follow these simple tips to keep your paint job looking great while washing.
No dish soap. No matter what you've heard, it's best to avoid dish soap as it can strip away the wax and the protective coating on the paint. This can accelerate the oxidation process, which is a fancy way of saying it can make your car rusty. Instead, use car soap.
Microfiber or sheepskin cloth only. You can't see them, but you know there are hundreds of dirt particles covering your car. When you wash it, you risk rubbing these particles into the paint and scratching the surface. Microfiber is super absorbent and can pick up those particles of dirt and debris so they don't get rubbed across the surface of the paint.
Side-to-side strokes. As you're washing, avoid moving in circular strokes. This circular action may get your vehicle clean, but it also creates swirl marks on your car, leaving it with that "cobweb" appearance. Move the cloth back and forth across the length of the car instead.
Wax on, wax off. Applying a coat of wax adds a protective layer to the car that will minimize the chance of getting unsightly scratch marks.
Invest in Plastic Paint Protectors
While it can be more costly than simply waxing your car, it certainly provides much more thorough and durable protection. Paint protection film, also known as a clear bra, can work wonders at keeping your car protected from dings and scratches. This added layer of protection is a great choice if you travel on dirt and gravel roads frequently or just seem to be a magnet for rocks and road debris.
Think of paint protection film as a plastic wrap for your car. You can have it professionally installed on just the front hood, the side doors, or your entire vehicle. As long as you avoid the cheaper ones and go with a quality brand that's installed by auto body professionals, it should offer about 3-5 years of protection.
Any issue bigger than a minor scratch or ding, and you'll need to bring your car into a collision repair shop for professional help.