1. Wash regularly
The first step to preserving your paint job is the most obvious. In the normal course of driving, your car becomes covered in dust, tar and other dirty particles from the environment. Over time, these particles can get imbedded in your paint and become difficult to remove. By washing your car every 2-4 weeks with quality soap, you will prevent stubborn particles from getting stuck in there. Using a reputable brand of soap will protect the finish and prevent streaks and water spots.
2. Park in a garage or covered spot
The summer sun can be harmful to your vehicle's finish if your car is always parked under its punishing rays. Cars that spend their lives in the sun will age prematurely, as the paint fades and the interior becomes dry and brittle. Although we can't always park in a garage or car port, it's nice to find a shady spot when possible. Parking in the shade will also prevent the headlights from fading and yellowing.
3. Remove bird droppings immediately
It's a fact of life: No matter where you park your car, birds are going to find a way to poop on it. If these droppings aren't removed within a few days, they can leave a mark on your finish when you do finally clean them off. When removing dry droppings, be careful not to scratch your paint by scrubbing excessively. Instead, apply some water to the affected area and then after a few minutes, wash the droppings off with a hose. In some cases, you might need to gently agitate with a wet, soapy cloth.
4. Remove superficial scratches
Superficial scratches are a normal part of your car's day-to-day wear and tear. Luckily, these scratches can be removed with special products that you can purchase online or at your local auto parts store. There are a number of rubbing compounds and waxes designed to safely remove small scratches and revitalize your car's finish. You can read reviews about the different products online, and also get advice from the auto-supply store attendant. If you've never done this before, stick to products that are applied by hand without the use of a special polishing machine.
Autozone has several options on its website.
5. Get professional detailing
If your car has extensive fading or deep scratches, you may need the help of a professional. Correcting extensive paint damage is a serious job that requires special tools and knowledge. An amateur mistake can irreparably damage your paint and require super expensive work. A professional exterior detail usually costs a few hundred dollars, but the results can be stunning, making your car look brand new again.
Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide, the online marketplace for used auto parts.