How To Restore Faded Car Paint Finish In a Few Easy Steps

man looking at how to restore faded car paint

How to restore faded car paint is something many of you might have wondered about at some point. And that’s because there comes a time when the joy of purchasing a new car becomes a faded memory, together with the smell of the new interior, the flawless dashboard, the sweet texture of the upholstery, and the unbeatable shine of the car’s surface.

How long the excitement of admiring and driving a new car lasts, no one can really say. 

It ultimately depends on how well you took care of your vehicle throughout the years. This includes how well and how often you’ve waxed it and if you’ve ever applied a ceramic coating. There are many car detailing and car care procedures we can add here. At the end of the day, their results will show how long the aesthetic well-being of your car is prolonged. 

However, unfortunately, no matter how well you look after your car, it all comes to a screeching halt at some point: the gloss, the shine, the smell, the newness. So it’s only natural that you start noticing signs of decline. 

Why Your Car Looks Older Than It Is

The first aspect that really holds that image of a beautiful new car, is the way the car paint looks. With time, the paint starts to lose its showroom shine: scratches appear, imperfections get engraved on the car’s surface, and before you know it, your beautiful car just isn’t quite like it used to be. 

When the coat starts to appear dull, the entire perception surrounding your car shifts, affecting also its resale value on the market.

This is precisely how you get to the point of looking into how to restore faded car paint. 

Thankfully, there is a way you can do this, and that’s what we’ll talk about in this article.

Faded car paint really makes your car look like it’s older than it actually is, but the good news is that you can turn things around. And you don’t even need to be an expert or pay exorbitant amounts of money. In fact, all you need to do is read this article, understand how you can become your own self-made expert at car detailing, and carefully implement the steps needed to restore your faded paint. 

There is no quick solution, but there is a steady and successful fix you can opt for so you can see your car shining as brightly as it once did.

What Really Happens To Car Paint Over Time?

Before we keep explaining how to restore faded car paint, we must take a closer look at what makes paint fade in the first place. 

It’s not magic, and it doesn’t simply just happen!

There is actually clear and concise science related to why your car’s paint coating has lost its shine and taken on a dull finish.

While noticing the unavoidable process of fading car paint, many car owners will wonder why this happens. 

Is it truly unavoidable, or is there something you can do about it? Is it your fault for not taking proper care of your car, or is this process inevitable? Will your car’s paint get oxidized no matter what you do? Can you learn by yourself how to restore car paint finish?

To answer all these questions, we first need to look at the factors behind dulling car paint. Indeed, there are many of them, and they all combine together into what sometimes proves to be destructive for car’s paint. Trying to completely avoid them would mean to simply not ever drive your vehicle, which is completely against what any car owner truly desires.

What Actually Causes Faded Car Paint?

If you want to learn how to restore faded car paint, there are a few things you should know.

Some decades ago, car manufacturers were using a terribly thin type of paint that was highly susceptible to oxidation. It was called single-stage paint. However, as signs of rapid deterioration began appearing, manufacturers developed a more elaborate car painting process that involved double-stage paint, which was more durable and resistant to damage.

The science behind fading paint actually points to a process called oxidation. In other words, this is a chemical process that involves heat and oxygen coming together and breaking the paint down at the molecular level. A simplified way to say this is that the heat of the sun has a terrible impact on your car paint’s condition. 

Although this process is not stoppable in any way, since cars are more or less going to be under the sun at some point or another, what you need to know as a car owner is that you do have the power to slow down this process. It’s up to you to learn how to protect your vehicle’s coat, and restore faded car paint when the time comes.

UV Rays

As we’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest culprits of car coat deterioration is the sun and its powerful UV rays. In fact, let’s dispel a partial myth. A lot of car paint damage can indeed come from direct sun exposure, but what many people still don’t know is that, in fact, UV rays have the most severe impact.

So you don’t need to have your car sitting directly under the sun for the oxidation process to begin. UV rays will act no matter where your car is parked. Once oxygen reaches the under-layer of your car’s paint, there’s really no turning back from this awful process called oxidation. 

Thankfully you’ll discover that in learning how to restore faded car paint, the process called car paint restoration can actually reverse most of these negative effects. 

Of course, the success and quality of the process will depend on how much the paint has been oxidized, what type of paint your car has, and several other factors.

Abrasive Cleaners

Remember how you usually go to the professional car wash to give your car that special weekly or monthly treatment?

Although you’re right in doing so, since professionals are professionals for a reason, you need to know there are certain car cleaning supplies out there that are quite abrasive and will bring damage to your car’s paint. You must know this before you even learn how to restore faded car paint.

The effect these have is similar to that of sandpaper, and what they do is simply dig under the surface, leaving the under-layer of the paint completely exposed to UV rays. 

Once this happens, trust us, they will not shy away from breaking down your paint’s integrity. And when oxygen joins the party as well, and it will, there is no stopping the oxidation process.

This is not to say you shouldn’t wash your car or use detailing car services anymore. 

We’re only drawing attention to the fact that some of these products that are widely used can be extremely damaging to your car’s paint. 


To understand how to restore faded car paint, you first need to understand everything that makes paint dull down. A rather unlikely culprit in the process of car paint oxidation is salt. Believe it or not, not many people know just how damaging salt can be. 

However, car owners that live by the ocean or the sea, where the air is salty, have probably already confronted themselves with the unpleasantness of building rust, which is ultimately caused by salt.

The rust caused by salt will typically be noticeable on the exhaust pipes, the undercarriage, the motor mounts, and the body panels.

Salt, or sodium chloride, can be very corrosive when left sitting for too long on the body of the car. It goes straight through the clear coat, to the factory color coat, and even further, to the very metal of the car, where it creates rust. This is exactly where it pays off to learn how to restore faded car paint.


Although much has already been stated on the subject of pollution, it doesn’t mean its negative impact is not as powerful as it’s ever been. 

Air pollution is, in fact, directly related to the severity and speed of a car’s paint oxidation process. The irony here is that most of the air pollution, especially in large cities, comes from cars! This is because the great majority of car engines have been built to only burn 95% of the fuel. 

The car’s exhaust system eliminates whatever fuel hasn’t been burned, which means it ends up going straight into the environment. There really isn’t any protection from this, and your car’s paint will eventually take the hit. Having said that, if you don’t learn how to restore faded car paint, there’s little to zero chance to ever make your paint look great again.

Carbon has a pretty rough chemical composition, and it ends up attacking the car’s clear coat. If we haven’t mentioned before what this is, you need to know the clear coat is the protective coat that comes on top of the factory paint coat to protect it. Once the factory paint remains unguarded and exposed, anything can happen from there on further. Clear coats need the most protection of all.

Acid rain is another result of pollution. Car owners that have been exposed to this type of rain know exactly how much damage it can cause to the surface of the car. 

All in all, pollution is nothing to laugh at. Especially if you are a car owner and would like to maintain the integrity of your car’s paint for as long as possible.

Other Types Of Contaminants

Let’s continue to explore the subject of how to restore faded car paint and see what other factors may negatively impact the integrity of your car’s paint. The ones we’ve talked about above are only the most obvious. But there are others just as impactful!

Just so you get an idea of how unavoidable car paint oxidation can really be, you need to be mindful that there will be other contaminants that can mess with the beauty of your paint coat, and there’s very little you can do to prevent them from occurring. 

We’re talking about birds’ droppings that will corrode the paint, rock chips bouncing from the road and directly onto your car, dirt, grime, and the list can really go on and on.  

Regardless of how well you wash your car or clean off with a microfiber cloth, compound residue will still stick to its surface and gradually attack the paint in ways that are very difficult to correct later on. It’s only a proper car paint restoration that could turn things around for your car.

Can Sun-Faded Paint Be Restored?

Thankfully, the answer to this is ‘yes’ to some extent. Depending on how severely your car’s paint coat was affected by sun exposure, paint restoration should be able to turn things around for your car and make it look shiny again. 

When it comes to how to restore faded car paint, you should know the success of the procedure also depends on the type of color used on your car since not all colors can be restored just as easily. 

Another indicator that can tell you how well the paint restoration process will turn out is the condition of the clear coat. The more damaged the clear coat is, the more difficult it will be to restore the paint. 

How Do I Make Faded Car Paint Shine Again?

shiny paint after learning how to restore faded car paint finish

As dire as it sounds, seeing your car paint growing dull is nothing to be scared of, as there is one solution anyone can resort to, and it’s called car paint restoration. In fact, this procedure is not even optional; it’s mandatory if your car has reached that certain point of oxidation where you feel that something needs to be done.

By reading this article on how to restore faded car paint, you will learn a procedure you can follow yourself and doesn’t require you to be too skilled or experienced. In fact, you can be an absolute newbie. If you follow these steps and implement our tips, you should readily become the owner of a restored, fresh car.

Of course, if you really want to bring back the shine, you should also invest your time and resources into a proper care follow-up. In other words, simply make sure that you continue to wash, polish, wax, and ceramic coat your car regularly, so you maintain its beautiful new shine.

What Can You Do To Postpone The Process Of Fading Car Paint?

The secrets behind how to restore faded car paint are available for everyone to discover. As we’ve said before, car paint oxidation is unavoidable, but the process can be slowed down. There are many good car care practices you can follow to ensure it doesn’t come to car paint restoration:

Wash Your Car Often

Every type of car detailing process starts with a proper car wash. So make sure you thoroughly wash your car by using a professional car wash soap. This will quickly remove any stubborn and more obvious contaminants such as grime and dirt.

Confidently Use the Clay Bar

After washing, it’s always best to use a clay bar that can remove any bonded contamination. 

Polish Your Car

Polishing your car is another extremely important way to help you keep the car’s paint job from fading quickly. 

There are two types of polish you’ll need to use here: cutting or compound polish and finishing polish. When it comes to polishing your car, we recommend using a dual-action polisher since it makes the job easier and helps you deliver more professional results.

Wax Your Car 

Together with car polish, car wax is also a great ally to have on your side in the fight to postpone paint oxidation. It’s recommended that you apply wax to your car anywhere between twice and four times a year. 

There are all sorts of wax you can use. However, our recommended version is the natural one, carnauba wax. The shine and protection you get from it are amazing.

Our suggestion is that you use buffing pads to apply the wax — this way, you’ll get great results and avoid unnecessary imperfections. You’ll also postpone the need to learn how to restore faded car paint for a while.

Ceramic Coat Your Car

If you really want to take car protection to the next level, you definitely need to ceramic coat your car. 

Regardless if you’re opting for DIY ceramic coating or one done by professionals, you can rest assured knowing that the degree of protection against oxidation and other contaminants is as high as it can be for your car. 

In terms of DIY products to use, we strongly recommend Nexgen Ceramic Spray, as it will greatly improve your ceramic coating results and give your car the protection it needs to stave off damaging contaminants. This is, by far, the best DIY ceramic coating on the market due to its high silicon dioxide composition, which actually accounts for the extended level of protection it will give. It lasts four times longer than the average ceramic coating product on the market.

Applying These Easy Car Care Tips

As you can see, these car care tips are easy to implement. We recommend you go through each of them. Why? Because this will keep the process of paint oxidation at bay for longer. It will also help you steer clear of dealing with the ins and outs of how to restore faded car paint finish.

However, what happens if you do reach the point when the oxidation level is so severe that you can’t just solve it by taking better care of your car, and your only solution is car paint restoration? What do you really need to know on how to restore faded car paint? 

Below we’ll show you how easy it can be to make your vehicle look shiny again, even if there’s been a certain degree of damage.

How To Restore Faded Car Paint?

This is perhaps the most essential question of this entire article, and we will address it now. But first, here are the steps the car manufacturer went through in order for your car to end up so shiny and brilliant as it once did:

  • They sanded the bare surface. They did this on the rawest layer of them all — the bare surface, to remove all possible contaminants that were still left there. As you will soon see, the process is a little different than the steps involved in learning how to restore faded car paint.
  • They applied the primer. Similar to the process of painting a mural, for example, painting a car also involves applying a primer first, since it’s the very base that paint will sit on.
  • They applied the actual paint. This is where factory paint comes in and, since it’s applied by the very manufacturer of the car, you can expect top quality.
  • They applied the clear coat. This final step was needed to seal the deal – in other words, to ensure the factory paint is well protected by any possible contaminants, which guarantees its long-term integrity. Without it, spots, swirls, and scratches are also bound to show up on the car’s surface.

On the other hand, the process of paint restoration is a little difficult and follows a different set of rules. However it’s not that difficult for anyone to learn how to restore car paint finish and anyone can follow through with it, including you, as long as you follow these steps:

1. Gather All Necessary Supplies

  • Car Washing Materials
  • Car Buffing Compound
  • An Electric Machine Buffer
  • Microfiber Buffing Pads & Polishing Pads
  • Bucket of Water
  • Any paint protection product, such as car polish, car wax, paint sealant, or the Nexgen Ceramic Painting Spray.

2. Wash Your Car

You won’t want to do anything without first thoroughly washing your car. The classic two-bucket method in car washing may still be your safest bet since, this way, you can remove any unwanted contaminants that may interfere with the process. Let’s now see the next steps in learning how to restore faded car paint.

3. Use a Clay Bar

It’s not enough to only wash your car, as it certainly won’t remove all debris from your car. A high-quality clay bar will help you accomplish just this, so don’t hesitate to use one. 

4. Repair The Car Paint

Closely inspect the paint of your car. Closely inspect the paint of your car. If you notice any minor yet bothersome scratches that don’t affect the clear coat, correct them by applying a rubbing compound that you can find in basically any auto shop.

5. Complete The Buffing Process

To restore your car’s paint to a better condition, going through this part of the process is an absolute must. First of all, you’ll need to wet your buffing pad with water, after which you can apply buffing compound on it. You can apply the same compound to the area of faded paint you’re interested in restoring. 

Start buffing the affected area of the car with the buffing pads and repeat the process at least three times. To see if the compound has had the expected effect, apply water to the treated area of the car. If the paint looks better than before and as if it’s been fixed, apply one more round of compound. 

6. Seal The Job

No job is left complete without the final sealing stage, for which you need a type of paint sealant. We strongly recommend that you do this if you want to protect your paint for as long as possible. For this step of the process, you can resort to any of the following:

  • Car Wax. This can be applied to the treated area and will need a follow-up session roughly every month.
  • Paint Sealant. This requires that you apply it the same way as you would with wax, the only difference being that the follow-up session can come around the six-month mark.
  • Ceramic Coating. If you’re choosing the ceramic coating option, make sure you go with a high-quality product, such as the Nexgen Ceramic Spray, Torque Detail, or Shine Armor. While you’re at it, make sure that you do the entire car instead of a single area.

This exact combination of steps can get oxidized vehicles out of trouble, transforming oxidized paint into paint that looks livelier, shinier, and more solid. 

As you can see, as long as you get organized about it, gather all your needed materials in a handy place from the get-go, learning how to restore faded car paint and implementing these lessons is actually quite an easy task.

What If The Paint Restoration Process Goes Wrong?

Although these steps are quite easy to follow even by newbies, paint restoration is not infallible to mistakes, and you may feel like the end result is not exactly what you had pictured. Don’t fret if this happens.

The good news is that you can quickly correct a paint restoration process gone wrong. To do this, you can either go to a professional detailer that can turn things around. Or do it yourself!

  • Correcting the slip-up with wet sanding should do the trick.
  • Continue with buffing the paint.
  • Wrap it up by polishing the paint.

Regardless of what you choose, remember that almost anything is fixable and just requires a bit of your patience. Eventually, you’ll get that beautiful gloss your car has lost along the way.

Final Thoughts

Although owning a car can bring its share of challenges over time, the automotive industry has no shortage of solutions that can help you get over the hurdles.

All in all, this is the big lesson on how to restore faded car paint — it’s really a necessity, not a luxury, and it can do wonders for your car. The second great takeaway here is that anyone can do it. Unfortunately, a car’s paint has a limited shelf life in terms of brilliance and shine, as several factors can negatively impact its integrity. 

As a car owner, you may have already noticed patches of oxidized paint on your car and, the truth is that, at first, this can feel pretty discouraging. However, there’s great news! Car paint restoration is easily achievable and works wonders on the quality and final finish of your car’s paint. 

As long as you get all the necessary supplies and pay close attention to carefully implementing the steps we described in this article on how to restore faded car paint, you should have a car in which you can proudly ride the streets again.

If you have any questions, simply reach out to us. We will gladly offer support with your car paint restoration process.

In the meantime, why not have a look at some of our other blogs:

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