If your car paint is faded and dull, there is still hope for it, particularly if it is an older paint job that does not have a clearcoat. Over time, automotive paint oxidises from exposure to sunlight and becomes scratched and dirty from the elements. Even if your car has a clearcoat, you may be able to restore much of its shine, as long as the clearcoat has not burnt off or cracked.
If your paint is severely faded, it still may be possible to restore much of the paint's original sheen. To get the best results, you will need a rubbing compound, which is a type of wax that is more abrasive than regular wax, a polishing compound and a wax to give the paint a deep shine and to protect it from the elements. You will also need a high-speed buffer or at least a cheap orbital buffer from an auto parts store.
The first step in restoring your paint is to thoroughly wash the car. Dry it with a clean, lint-free towel. Work on one panel of the car at a time. Apply a portion of the rubbing compound to the pad on the buffer and to the car and smear the compound around on the paint. Start the buffer and buff the paint until the rubbing compound is gone. Do not press to hard if you are using a high-speed buffer or work on one area too much, as you may burn through the paint. Once you have gone over the entire car with the rubbing compound, switch to a new, clean pad and buff the car in the same manner with the polishing compound, working on one area at a time. This should remove a lot of the swirl marks from using the rubbing compound. You can spend a lot of time polishing, and the more time you spend the better the paint will look. Just be careful not to burn through the paint. After the polishing is done, wax the entire car with a high-quality finish wax to give it a protective shine.
Touch Up Scratches and Chips
Once the car is waxed, use a bottle of touch-up paint and a small brush to cover up any small scratches or chips. The touch-ups will be detectable upon close examination, but at a glance will blend right in.
Preserving the Restored Paint Job
Now that you have gone to the trouble of restoring your car's paint, keep it looking good by washing it regularly and then waxing it every three to four months. That should prevent you from having to go through the process of restoring the paint again.