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How to Restore Faded Car Paint

Updated April 17, 2017

Cars with original factory paint jobs have thin paint. Automotive makers use thin coats of paint to be economical, but this causes the paint to fade after a few years of being exposed to the elements. Older cars fade fast because they did not have clear coats to protect the base paint. If your car is faded, learn hot to restore faded car paint and get it shiny and looking like new.

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  1. Wash your car with car wash soap and a soft sponge. Remove all dirt, mud and build-up of any kind. Rinse the car with water and allow it to dry completely before moving to the next step.

  2. Apply liquid rubbing compound to the buffing pad on the buffer. Start at the front of the bonnet of the car and slowly work your way to the back of the bonnet, then to the top of the car and then to the boot. Next, start at the front of the front fender and work down the side of the car until you reach the rear bumper. Repeat on the other side of the car. Press lightly on the buffer, but don't push down too hard or it will burn through the paint.

  3. Wipe off all excess rubbing compound with a soft, clean rag. Change the buffing pad on the buffer to a polishing pad. Apply car polish directly to the polishing pad. Begin to polish the car's surface in the same manner as the rubbing compound was applied. Wipe excess polish away with a dry, clean rag.

  4. Tip

    Always buff your car in the shade or inside and away from direct sunlight.


    Don't use dish soap to wash your car. This soap eats away at the protective layers in the clear coat of the paint job.

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Things You'll Need

  • Car soap
  • Sponge
  • Orbital buffer
  • Buffing pad
  • Rag
  • Polishing pad
  • Liquid rubbing compound
  • Car polish

About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.

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