When you mention the word “oxidation” in reference to cars, most people will assume you’re talking about rust. Yet savvy car enthusiasts know oxidation can be a big problem for a car long before rust becomes a possibility. Before oxygen molecules can begin to eat away at your car’s door panels, they start to work on its paint job. The scientific explanation is that oxygen molecules constantly cause other molecules nearby to give up electrons, which over time can cause whatever those molecules make up to disintegrate. When that happens to the finish on your car, it begins as a minor change in appearance but can become a big problem, if left unchecked.
The effects of oxidation on your car’s paint job are noticeable at first as a slightly duller appearance. As it progresses, the surface of the paint begins to fade and the color won’t look as vibrant as when you bought it. Heavier oxidation results in a dull, chalky surface as the paint continues to deteriorate. Finally, the oxidation will claim the car’s clear coat, causing patches of paint to dissolve permanently. This exposes bare metal to the air and begins the oxidation process, leading to rust. Although oxidation can be removed in its earlier stages, once the clear coat is gone and the paint begins to come off, you have only two options: repaint the car completely or kiss it goodbye.
Although oxidation is unavoidable, it is treatable. Oxidation can be bad for your car if it’s left unchecked, but it’s not that difficult to deal with, fortunately. If you’ve ever waxed or polished your car, you’re already more than experienced enough to remove oxidation from your car’s finish. If you haven’t waxed or polished your car, now’s a good time to start before oxidation becomes a bigger problem than an afternoon’s work can fix.
To remove oxidation from your car’s exterior, you’ll need a specifically formulated oxidation removal product. These come in polishing compounds for removing light oxidation and rubbing compounds for removing heavier oxidation. You’ll need to park your car in a shaded area where the temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so your garage will most likely be the best place.
First, wash your car thoroughly to make sure all dust and dirt is removed from the finish and let it dry completely. Apply the oxidation removal product gently to a small area, work it into the finish, and remove it quickly with a clean cloth. Continue to do so until all signs of oxidation have been removed from the paint. Once they have, wax your car to help protect the paint from future oxidation. Headlights also can become oxidized, so be sure to polish them with a special cleaner for headlights.
Once you remove oxidation from your car’s paint job, your next focus should be on preventing oxidation from getting out of hand. The good news is that this is relatively easy as long as you stay on top of it. Waxing your car once a month will help keep a protective layer between your car’s finish and the air. Keeping your car parked in a garage and/or under a car cover whenever possible also can go a long way to protecting your car.
Oxidation can damage your car’s looks and finish long before it turns to rust. However, with a little extra attention and the right products, you can prevent it from turning into a bigger problem.
Author bio: Carmen Fiordirosa serves as Director of Marketing at CleanTools. CleanTools provides a variety of drying and polishing products for home, automotive and marine use. When not at work, Fiordirosa stays busy cleaning her own home and taking care of her four children.