So you've just spent a heaping pile of money to get your car a proper paint job, and the shop just gave you the green light to take your ride home. It's a satisfying moment seeing a spanking new finish, but don't get too excited to go and do whatever you please on these freshly painted surfaces as you just might ruin it. Keep your hands off first as we explain how to care for that new finish.
1) Don't leave the shop right away.
First things first: While still at the shop, take your car outside under broad daylight to inspect for paint defects that will require rework. If the paint is good but there's too much of an orange peel look on the clear coat, it's better to wait until it's fully cured than to immediately fix it. You've put in hard-earned dough, so it's really up to you to make sure you get your money's worth.
Note that a professional paint shop usually covers the newly-finished car to protect and prevent it from gathering dust, possible overspray and other contaminants. When we say cover, we don't mean putting cardboard panels or newspaper over your car. We're talking about an automotive wrap that allows air between the film and your vehicle’s surface to protect it from the external environment. That said, be sure to check the protocols of a paint shop regarding how they handle everything from ingress to releasing before signing up for the service. Regret is the last thing anyone wants to feel.
2) Don't go for a wash immediately.
It is tempting to go straight to your favorite detailing center to get a wash, but hold your horses! Fresh paint requires proper curing and you shouldn't soap a car down until after 30 days have passed.
Instead, take your car home and simply wash it down gently with cold water and a microfiber mitt in the shade. Be as gentle as possible to avoid scratches. Wipe dry immediately with a microfiber towel or chamois. The last thing you'd want are watermarks or swirls on a pristine finish.
3) Refrain from going on unnecessary drives.
Or worse, fun runs with your crew or club. It is not recommended as it will expose your new paintwork to harsh conditions before it's fully cured.
Instead, let your car be a garage queen for at least two months. Only drive it when absolutely necessary and when the weather is fair. Take advantage of Grab and Uber, or if you have a second car, use that for now. Your patience will pay off.
4) Avoid waxing your car.
Most will think it's harmless and will protect a newly painted finish. Experts will tell you otherwise, as the curing process involves the paint gassing off itself. Applying wax will hinder it from doing so.
Instead, wait for it to fully cure. According to pros, 60 days after painting is the ideal time to wax your car again. Use only real carnauba wax to christen that new coat.
5) Never leave your newly painted car parked outdoors or under a tree.
Tree sap, bird droppings, and acid rain are just a few things that can easily stain or ruin a fresh, unprotected clear coat. Even dramatic changes in temperature from direct solar heat to damp, cool evenings or mornings can affect curing and paint adhesion.
Instead, ensure you have a proper garage or shelter for your steed during the curing period. It is an insult to your wallet, vehicle, and the car aficionado’s code to park your ride on the side of the road, alley or open lot after a repaint. For car lovers, investing in a garage should have been an initial step in vehicle ownership. It's like acquiring a gun but not having a holster or case for it.