9 Fundamental Car Paint Damage Types You Need to Know About

Ollie Barker

Car Paint Damage Types

Car Paint Damage Types

Scratches, swirls, and other defects to a vehicle’s paint are something no owner wants to see. However, automotive paint damage appears to be unavoidable no matter how careful you are. There are several car paint damage types that you should be aware of.

Understanding Car Paint

Car paint is a crucial element of a vehicle’s appearance and protection. It is designed to enhance the aesthetics of the car while providing a shield against environmental factors and corrosion. To understand car paint damage types, you should have an insight into car paint layers and their purposes.

Car paint typically consists of multiple layers, each serving a specific purpose.


The primer is the first layer of paint applied to the car’s surface. It acts as a foundation for the subsequent layers and provides several important functions. Firstly, it enhances adhesion, ensuring that the paint adheres well to the metal or other underlying surfaces. Secondly, the primer helps to prevent corrosion by forming a barrier between the bare metal and external elements. Lastly, it promotes an even color and finish for the basecoat.

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The basecoat is the layer that provides color and visual appeal to the car. It is typically a pigmented layer that contains the desired color or combination of colors. The base coat may consist of multiple coats to achieve the desired depth and richness of color. In addition to the color, the basecoat contributes to the overall protection of the car’s surface.

Clear coat

The clear coat is the final layer applied to the car’s paint. It is a transparent layer that adds depth and gloss to the finish while offering protection to the underlying layers. The clear coat acts as a shield against UV radiation, oxidation, and environmental contaminants, such as dirt, chemicals, and road debris. It also helps to prevent the color from fading over time and provides a smooth and glossy surface.

The combination of these layers, primer, basecoat, and clear coat, forms a durable and resilient paint system that enhances the visual appeal of the car while safeguarding it from external elements and wear. This multi-layered approach ensures a long-lasting and high-quality finish, contributing to the overall value and longevity of the vehicle’s appearance.

The severity of the damage depends on which layer it has touched.

car paint damage types

Car Paint Damage Types

By recognizing and understanding different types of paint damage, car owners can take appropriate measures to prevent and address specific issues. This knowledge allows them to implement proper maintenance routines and use suitable products and techniques for preserving the paint’s quality and appearance.

1. Damage from the sun

Damage from the sun seems unavoidable as leaving your car uncovered and exposed for long periods of time will almost certainly result in pale, blotchy markings caused by the sun. This can be avoided by parking in the shadow or using a car cover. Furthermore, cleaning, waxing, and adding a sealant to your automobile on a regular basis might assist to reduce the effects of sunshine on your vehicle.

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2. Paint oxidation

When you don’t pay attention to how you park your car in open locations, you’ll almost certainly have to cope with paint oxidation earlier than you imagined. While paint oxidation is inevitable over time, it can be fully avoided if the automobile is well maintained.

Natural factors, primarily rain and sunlight induce oxidation. This type of paint damage might occur if the car is caught in an acidic downpour. Unfortunately, this impact is not noticeable at first and only becomes visible once a big area has been impacted.

I don’t recommend leaving your vehicle in the rain overnight. If you don’t have access to a garage, find some shade or use car coverings to protect your car from acid rain.

3. Swirls

Swirls are one of the most common types of paint damage on automobiles. They don’t technically harm your car’s paint, but they distort its appearance, diminish shininess, and make it unattractive to look at. This damage is frequently caused by how you wash your car.

Swirls can emerge on a car’s paint when it’s washed or dried with normal towels. As a result, if you need to wipe down your automobile with a fabric, it is recommended that you use microfiber cloths or towels.

Microfiber clothing can be used for automotive waxing, detailing, and cleaning. Swirls can also emerge if you use automatic car wash facilities frequently.

Swirls are usually caused by the way you wash your car. As a result, you need to pay greater attention to how you wash your automobile to avoid them.

4. Bird droppings

bird droppings on car paint

Bird droppings can harm a car’s paint. The pH of bird excrement ranges from 3 to 4.5, making it acidic. Because of the Uric Acid in these droppings, they can cause significant damage to your car’s paint. Besides, bird droppings are acidic and can harm your car’s paint and wax layer.

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You should prevent parking your car under trees to avoid this form of automotive paint damage. When parking in open areas, you should also consider using car covers. If you discover bird excrement on your automobile, wash it off right away to avoid damaging the paint.

5. Paint fading

Car paint fading is usually caused by prolonged exposure to the sun’s harsh rays. Other factors could include the use of strong cleaning chemicals and a salty environment. Regular cleaning and waxing your car will help to avoid color fading. Parking the vehicle in the shade or covering it with a cover will also help a lot.

When parking outside, using car coverings will help avoid this damage. Waxing your automobile will also provide it more protection and help it last longer while maintaining its luster.

6. Peeling clear coat

Peeling clear coat is caused by a variety of circumstances. The age of your vehicle’s paint, prolonged exposure to the outdoors, and inadequate car maintenance are all examples.

There’s no guaranteed way to avoid this kind of harm. Waxing your car, on the other hand, can provide further paint protection and resistance to peeling.

Maintaining a maintenance regimen is also important, as is being aware of the liquids you use on your automobile, whether for washing, detailing, or scratch removal.

7. Tree sap damage to car paint

Have you noticed some glue-like spots on the paint of your car? Tree sap likely is to blame. Ignoring these areas can lead to costly body repair procedures in the future. As long as you detect them, get rid of them. Otherwise, they would harden and adhere to your car’s clear coat, making it hard to remove them without ruining the paint. This can be avoided by not parking your automobile under a tree and frequently cleaning and waxing it.

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8. Water spots

As odd as they may seem, water spots can deform your car’s paint, especially for black cars, giving it an ugly aspect. If there are too many water spots on your car, you will probably dislike how it looks.

These marks are most frequently caused by using hard water to rinse your car or by splashes of unclean water that were not cleaned immediately.

Therefore, washing your car with clean water is one of the ways to avoid water spots damage. If the spots are already visible on the car’s body, you should wash them with vinegar; it is one of the most effective ways to eliminate water spots.

9. Paint chips

Gravel or small rocks are blasted into the paint as the wheels crush them, resulting in paint chips. As a result, this form of automotive paint damage is unavoidable. There are, however, ways to strengthen the surface of your vehicles, such as using a car paint protection film or a glass coating.

Check out this video for a detailed explanation of paint damage types!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent scratches on my car’s paint?

You can take a few measures to prevent scratches on your car’s paint. And the 3 most important things are:

  1. Park your car in a covered area or shade to minimize exposure to potential scratch-causing objects
  2. Avoid using abrasive materials while washing or drying your car
  3. Applying a protective wax or paint sealant to create a barrier against scratches.

What is the best way to remove swirl marks?

Using a dual-action polisher is considered the best way to remove swirl marks because it provides a balanced approach to paint correction.

The dual-action motion of the polisher combines both rotation and oscillation, which minimizes the risk of causing further damage to the paint. This motion allows for controlled and even polishing, effectively breaking down and removing the swirl marks without creating new ones

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Can I fix deep scratches myself?

Fixing deep scratches yourself can be challenging and often requires professional assistance for optimal results. However, you can try a DIY approach by cleaning the scratch and surrounding area first, then applying touch-up paint that matches your car’s color. After allowing it to dry, gently sand the area and polish it to blend with the surrounding paint. Keep in mind that deep scratches may require professional repainting for a seamless repair.

How can I prevent paint chips?

Here are some useful tips to prevent paint chips:

  1. Avoid driving too closely to gravel trucks or other vehicles that may kick up debris
  2. Maintain a safe distance from construction sites or areas with loose stones
  3. Applying a clear paint protection film or using mud flaps can also help minimize the risk of paint chips caused by road debris.

What is the difference between touch-up paint and professional repainting?

Touch-up paint is typically a small bottle or pen filled with color-matched paint that covers small scratches or chips. It is intended for minor repairs and may not provide the same level of finish as professional repainting.

On the other hand, professional repainting involves stripping the damaged paint, preparing the surface, and applying multiple layers of primer, the basecoat, and clear coat for a more comprehensive and seamless restoration.

How should I clean bird droppings and tree sap without damaging the paint?

To clean bird droppings and tree sap without damaging the paint, it’s important to act quickly.

Start by using a gentle car wash soap mixed with water to soften and loosen the droppings or sap. Then, use a soft microfiber cloth or sponge to gently wipe the affected area gently, ensuring not to rub vigorously as it may cause scratches.

Rinse the cloth frequently and repeat the process until the residue is completely removed.

How can I restore oxidized paint?

You can begin by thoroughly washing and drying the car. Next, apply a specialized oxidation remover or a compound designed to restore paint clarity. Use a dual-action polisher or a microfiber cloth to work the product into the oxidized areas. Finally, wipe off any residue and apply a protective wax or sealant to maintain the restored finish.

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Does waxing protect against acid rain damage?

Waxing can provide a certain level of protection against acid rain damage, as it creates a barrier between the paint and harmful contaminants. However, it is not a foolproof solution, and prolonged exposure to acid rain can still cause damage over time. It is advisable to regularly wash your car and reapply wax to maintain its protective properties.

How do I remove water spots from my car’s paint?

To remove water spots from your car’s paint, wash the car to remove any loose dirt or debris. Then, soak a clean microfiber cloth in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Gently rub the water spots using the cloth, applying light pressure. Rinse the area thoroughly and dry it with a clean microfiber towel.


Car paint damage is caused by a variety of sources, including tree sap and paint chips. Stop parking in open locations, wash your car with clean water, use car coverings, and be proactive to avoid these distinct sorts of car paint damage.

Regular maintenance would also go a long way toward preventing these problems. While some people may be unconcerned about preventing most things that could harm their car’s paint, I recommend that you pay greater attention to the potential factors of car paint damage.

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