I've had a car that was getting quite old, and the paint on the top of the car is peeling away rapidly. Is this just for cosmetics, or should I seek to re-paint the vehicle to protect it for the future?
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If you've exposed bare metal, then your vehicle could start to accumulate rust, which can, over time, destroy your vehicle and be costly to fix.
This Automotive Touch Up Video demonstrates how you can take care of small dings in the paint yourself. The video is 11 minutes long and uses inexpensive tools to repair the damage.
If rust has started to form, I've had good luck with Napa's Rust Permatex Treatment. It turns rust into a gray primer, which might look a little ugly but not as much as a rusted-out car.
Paint does more than look nice; it also protects the underlying metal (or other material) from the elements. If there is still some paint under the peeled-away layers, then the matter is only cosmetic for now. If and when the primer is exposed — or worse, bare metal — then the car will begin to rust.