How to fix faded car paint

Updated April 17, 2017

A car's paint fades due to a combination of time and ultraviolet rays from the sun. Given enough of each of these factors, even a beautiful, bright red paint job will end up as a dull, faded red. This will happen faster on older cars, as they usually do not have a clear coat that protects the initial paint job. Fortunately, in about one weekend, you can restore most faded paint jobs.

Wash the dirt off of your vehicle with car wash soap and a sponge. Make sure you clean off everything you can, as this will have a direct impact on how well you can repair the faded paint.

Dry off your vehicle using a chamois. Do this in the shade to avoid water spots from the sun drying the water too quickly.

Select either a polish, a polishing compound, or a rubbing compound. A polish is designed to clean up minor details, while a polishing compound removes the first layer of paint, allowing the next, unblemished layer to shine through. A rubbing compound does the same job as a polishing compound, only it is far more abrasive and should only be used a last resort, as it may strip through all paint layers.

Apply the polish or compound to the vehicle using either a terry cloth or the applicator that comes with the polish. Use straight back-and-forth strokes. Do this in sections, working on a particular area of the vehicle at a time. After polishing that area of the vehicle, remove the polish before starting on another.

Rinse your vehicle down with warm water to remove any excess polish.

Dry your vehicle with the chamois. Again, do this in the shade to prevent water spots.

Apply carnauba wax, and polish it off with a soft cloth. If your car doesn't shine like new, you may need to repaint.

Things You'll Need

  • Car soap
  • Sponge
  • Chamois
  • Car polish or polishing compound
  • Terry cloth
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About the Author

Alex Zang has been freelance writing since 2004, specializing in sports and technology. His work has appeared in "The Calgary Herald" and "Western Canadian Condos & Resorts," as well as online. Zang studied film production and screenwriting at Mount Royal College.