A query regarding used cars in general. Most owners don't wash their cars properly - rules such as microfiber towels only, proper shampooing + regular waxing etc. all go amiss.

To what extent do such practices result in irreparable paint damage? It is easy to find cars that have been garaged and regularly washed albeit with the wrong technique so can a modern clearcoat survive this sort of treatment?

  • I really think this question may be too subjective to be answered fully. There are two main things which leave it wide open. 1) Different manufacturers paint their cars differently (techniques) as well as using different paints/clear coats (if they use a clear at all). 2) It really depends on how bad the mistreatment went. With this in mind, it makes the question way too broad. I'll wait for others to chime in, though. Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 15:52
  • I understand, yes it is rather broad. I thought almost every car today comes with a clear coat though? In general, do bad washing practices make irreparable damage or is it an overblown concern? Thank you Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 16:26
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    This also depends on the climate. My truck won't fit in the garage, so it sits outside under a tree. I wash it probably once a year on average. I think a solid cleaning, maybe some clay-bar work, and the paint would be indistinguishable from a truck that was washed weekly. Highway miles (paint chips), climate (salt-belt, southern sun), and manufacturer all matter here.
    – cory
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 17:12
  • I wonder if dirt acts as an acid eating away at the clear coat or if it acts as a protectant. Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


Paint damage is caused by stone chips, hail, clumsy parking etc. "Improper washing" is so far down the list as to be unnoticeable. Sure, you're going to find a few scratches if you go over the paintwork with a microscope, the best way to cope with that is to ignore them.

  • And fading from the sun - that's pretty high up the list in some climates!
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 18:25
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    And that many American vehicles made in the late 1990's to early 2000's have a serious issue with the clear coat, causing it to peel off. They probably should have a recall or class-action lawsuit about that major issue. Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 21:11

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