How To Fix Peeling Clear Coat (Pro Guide)

on December 21, 2021

The paint on your car is the first thing that other people will see. One of the first steps on the car detailing checklist is to wash and wax your paint. The best way to leave a good impression on anyone that sees your car is to keep your paint clean and protected. 

Part of what keeps your paint shining and safe is called the clear coat. The clear coat was applied whenever your car was being built. Without proper care and maintenance, the clear coat will eventually start to peel off, which will leave your paint vulnerable to damage. 

 

What Does Clear Coat Mean? 

Clear coat is the final layer of paint that’s applied to your car whenever it’s being manufactured. From a chemical standpoint, clear coats are essentially the same thing as the paint that gives your car it’s color. 

The solvents, fillers, additives, resins, and hardeners that make up ceramic paint are also found in clear coats. The key difference is that the clear coat doesn’t contain pigment, so it’s transparent. Hence the name “clear” coat. 

The basic function of clear coats is to protect your car’s pigmented paint and help keep it glossy. The problem is that clear coats are usually only about two millimeters thick at most and can be easily damaged. 

Although clear coats are designed to protect your pigmented paint, they are still soft enough to be scratched by your fingernail. It’s best to give your car an additional layer of protection by using a fortifying ceramic quick coat spray

 

What Causes Clear Coats To Peel?

There are all kinds of hazards out on the road that can damage your clear coat. You should keep a close eye on your clear coat because once the damage starts, it can spread pretty quickly. 

These are a few of the everyday circumstances that can damage your clear coat:

 

Ultraviolet Rays 

Ultraviolet rays are the most dangerous hazard to your clear coat and can cause a lot of damage in a little bit of time. There are two types of ultraviolet rays found in sunlight. Both of them can damage your clear coat in different ways. 

Ultraviolet A radiation dries out the resin in your paint, which will make it crack, separate, and peel. Ultraviolet B radiation causes your clear coat to experience oxidation. 

 

Road Debris

The road is full of all kinds of sharp objects and debris that can easily scratch your clear coat. Rocks, broken glass, loose concrete, sand, and tire rubber are just a few of the possible hazards that can scratch your clear coat.

It’s best to repair any scratches that you see as soon as possible. If left untreated, the scratches can lead to peeling and ruin your clear coat and the paint underneath it. 

 

Corrosive Chemicals 

The corrosive chemicals found in acid rain, bird droppings, and splattered bugs are a few environmental hazards that can cause damage to your clear coat. Tree sap is especially dangerous as it’s difficult to remove and can quickly eat away at your paint.

Make sure you are washing your car often so that these chemicals don’t have a chance to soak in and eat away at your clear coat.

 

Extreme Weather

The cold temperatures in winter can make your clear coat even more brittle. That can result in some big problems when combined with heavy winds blowing ice, snow, and road debris all over your clear coat. 

Another major problem of winter is road salt. Road salt is a very common way to deice the roads in winter, but it can destroy your clear coat. Road salt is very abrasive, so it can easily scratch up your clear coat.

Road salt is also highly corrosive, so it will eat away at your paint if you let it sit on your car. If you live in an area that uses road salt, then you’ll need to wash your car often to keep it from doing too much damage. 

 

Harsh Cleaning Material 

It’s a common mistake for people to use household cleaners and soaps to wash their car. These cleaners aren’t designed to clean paint, and they can have a very harsh effect on your clear coat.

Most household cleaners are very high on the pH scale and considered alkaline. Chemicals that are too high or too low on the pH scale can be very dangerous for your clear coat. Stick to using car wash soaps that are specifically made for cleaning cars and leave the household stuff inside the house. 

 

How Do You Repair a Peeling Clear Coat? 

Trying to fix a clear coat after it’s started to peel can be a little bit of a headache. It’s best to prevent it from happening if you can. If you can’t prevent it then at least try to catch it before it spreads too far. 

Follow these steps in order to repair your clear coat:

 

Steps One Through Three

1. Thoroughly wash the panel where the damage has been done. Make sure you remove any wax or foreign substances that might have gotten underneath your clear coat.
2. Apply painter's tape an inch away from the damaged area in order to create a border. 
3. Use a heavy sandpaper (800 grit should be fine) to scuff off the large flakes of clear coat first. Then start around the edges of the damaged area and move into the center. Be gentle as you get closer to the edges of the damaged area.
You don’t want to remove any more of the clear coat than absolutely necessary. Keep going until you can’t feel the clear coat anymore.

 

Steps Four Through Six

4. If you are planning to use an electric sander, then you should take proper safety precautions. The dust that will come off during the sanding process is highly abrasive. It can damage both your lungs and your eyes, so wear safety glasses and a dust mask.
5. Use a microfiber cloth and some rubbing alcohol to remove anything that might have been left behind during the sanding process. 
6. Shake up the aerosol clear coat spray for at least a minute before spraying on a light coat. Make sure that you cover the entire area that you sanded.

 

Steps Seven Through Nine

7. Let this coat sit for about five minutes before adding a second light coat. Repeat this process one more time for a total of three coats. 
8. Wait for about two hours before you slowly remove the painter’s tape. You should notice a fairly significant difference between the new clear coat and your older one. 
9. Let the clear coat sit and settle in for between 24 and 48 hours before continuing. 

 

Steps Ten Through Twelve

10. When the time is up, use finer grit sandpaper (2,000 grit will do it) and shave off the border of the repaired area. You don’t need to go too hard on this area, as you are only trying to blend the two together.
11. Use a buffer and apply some polish to the area that you’ve been working on. Start off on a lower power setting and slowly work your way up to further blend the new clear coating with the old.
12. Give it a few weeks to settle in before washing the area and applying a coat of preventative wax.

 

How Can You Prevent Your Clear Coat From Peeling? 

The best thing that you can do is to park your car indoors and out of the elements whenever possible. That will help limit the damage done by the sun, weather, or corrosive chemicals that might find their way onto your paint. 

Another crucial step for protection is to wash and wax your car often. By preventing any of the hazards mentioned earlier from building up on your clear coat, you will limit their potential damage. 

Applying wax to your car after a thorough cleaning will provide an additional layer of protection. One way to think of it is that wax is sort of like a clear coat for your clear coat. The wax will take the majority of the abuse and prevent your clear coat from getting damaged. 

 

Prevention Is Power

Clear coat is designed to help protect the paint of your car, but it can still be damaged from ultraviolet rays and other road hazards. Once a clear coat starts to peel, it can spread pretty quickly. If you don’t catch it fast, then you might need to enlist the help of a body shop professional. 

It’s so much easier to prevent the damage than to try to fix it. Using the Spray Wax Quick Coat spray from Shine Armor can help provide a brilliant shine for your paint while also protecting against ultraviolet radiation and other environmental contaminants. Keeping your clear coat protected will help keep your paint looking great and prevent any issues with peeling. 

 

Sources:

Tree Sap and Paint Jobs Are Natural Enemies | Los Angeles Times

What Does Road Salt Do to Car Paint? | Corner Magazine PH

How to Wash Your Car | Consumer Reports

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