technician fixing auto paint on a vehicle


Over time, the paint on your car can begin to fade and lose its shine and vibrance. Unfortunately, even durable types of car paint can fade, chip, peel, and wear down over time due to environmental stressors.

Whether your car’s paint has major or minor fading, it’s important to know what causes auto paint to fade, how to fix it and get it back to its original condition, and ways to prevent fading in the future. Keep reading to learn about common causes and proven fixes.

Why Does Auto Paint Fade?

technician spraying paint on a black vehicle

The paint on your car isn’t invincible and can start to lose its shine and pigment over time. Fading can be caused or exacerbated by a number of environmental factors.

Common causes for auto paint fading include:

  • Sunlight: When your car is exposed to direct sunlight, harsh UV rays begin to break down paint and cause it to oxidize; over time, this can cause paint to discolor and fade.
  • Road salt: Typically used to melt snow in colder months, rock salt is corrosive, meaning it can slowly eat through your paint over time.
  • Bird poop/pee: These substances are highly acidic, making them harmful to car paint if they’re not washed off immediately, thoroughly, and properly.
  • Certain types of paint: Some paints, especially those traditionally used to paint older types of cars, are more susceptible to fading over time.
  • Improper care and washing: Not properly washing or waxing your car or the use of harsh and abrasive chemicals can cause debris to build up and scratch your paint.

How To Fix Faded Car Paint

faded paint on an old blue car

There are a few ways to restore faded paint on your car. If the fading is minor, you can try to buff the paint to improve its appearance and shine. For major fading, it’s usually best to take your car in to be professionally restored.

1. Buff Your Car

Buffing your car can help improve the appearance of faded paint and make your car look shiny and vibrant. This is an ideal solution if the paint has only faded mildly. To do this properly, it’s best to follow a 7-step process to make sure you do the job right. 

  1. Wash your car thoroughly using a sponge and car-washing soap.
  2. Spray the areas of fading with a thick layer of automotive clay lubricant.
  3. Using an automotive clay bar, rub over the faded areas to remove dirt and grime.
  4. Attach a wet orbital buffing pad to the rotary disc of an electric buffer.
  5. Apply a buffing compound to the pad.
  6. Carefully and thoroughly polish the faded paint with the compound.
  7. Once the paint looks shiny, wipe the compound off the surface of the car using a clean microfiber cloth.

2. Take Your Vehicle In For a Professional Paint Refresh & Restore

man using a yellow microfiber towel to polish and buff a black mercedes benz

If your car has severe fading, buffing may not make a significant difference to the fading. If this is the case, your best bet is to take it into a certified collision auto body shop like Mackin’s Auto Body to get the paint professionally restored. Look for a shop that has a trusted reputation and a proven record in your local community. Mackin’s has been in business for more than 75 years in the Portland, OR and SW Washington area. We’ve built a longstanding reputation for quality repairs and paint restoration, in addition to our commitment to transparency and old-fashioned customer service.

Our technicians at Mackin’s are well trained and skilled in all aspects of car painting, from color-matching to restoration. We follow a 1) prepare, 2) prime, and 3) paint process, utilizing top-of-the line equipment and technology to get your car fixed up and back on the road. To make sure we get the color just right, we utilize computer-assisted color-matching technology to deliver the results you want with consistency and precision.

Auto Care Best Practices To Prevent Paint From Fading

The best way to avoid having to spend valuable money and time on restoring faded paint is to maintain your car’s existing paint as much as possible on a day-to-day basis.

Here are some best practices to remember that help prevent paint from fading:

  • Whenever possible, park in covered areas away from direct sunlight.
  • Wash your car regularly with a gentle cleanser and use gentle car-safe towels; this can be done professionally at a car wash or done by yourself.
  • Wax your car to revitalize the appearance and vibrance of paint; do this every three to six months for best results.

Turn to Mackin’s Auto Body For All Your Repairs

Mackins Dent Repair

Throughout our more than 75 years in business, Mackin’s Auto Body has earned our reputation as a local leader in auto-collision repairs. We put our customers first. Serving our local community and doing our part to keep it safe is a priority for us, and it makes us proud.

We’re certified, local, and family-owned. We’ll deliver superior results and quality customer service in a timely manner. Stop by one of our 9 locations or contact us online or by phone at 1.800.653.0665 to tell us how we can be of service.