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I have noticed on older cars that some color paint (especially enamel paint) seem to fade and loose its luster faster then other colors. What colors other then white gets the least hot from the Sun or last the longest? Do some colors oxidize faster?

  • I think that would depend on the quality and durability of the coating on the paint, if any. Clear coats generally have some sort of UV protective quality. Beyond that, I'd probably say there is no colour that lasts longer, or, this should be moved to a more relevant SE, maybe Physics. – Kitsunemimi May 27 at 21:22
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    Does anyone make unpainted aluminum vehicles? – DaveInCaz May 28 at 0:25
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    @Muze The DeLorean isn't Aluminium, it is Stainless Steel. – HandyHowie May 28 at 6:51
  • @DaveInCaz Not that I know of - there's always the bare carbon Ferrari Enzo or the "KNC" bare carbon Koenigsegg Regera for those who want to avoid the problem altogether. – motosubatsu May 28 at 16:20
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There's a variety of causes for the "faded" effect that you see but the vast majority of modern auto paint finishes (at least in the last 25 years or so) will have a clear lacquer coat on top (often referred to as "clear coat") and most of these that you see as "faded" actually aren't - it's actually that the clear coat has picked up a myriad of very fine scratches that results in diffusion of the light passing through it and results in a over all faded look.

A good going over with a machine polisher and appropriate cutting/polishing compounds will take away the top few microns of the clear coat - and the scratches with it and you'll have a lovely un-"faded" finish again. This also held true on certain single stage finishes (that didn't have the clear coat) as well. A friend and I once took a sorry-looking RS2 from what looked like an almost orange color back to it's proper deep red this way!

So for this flavor of "fading" the color makes very little difference - it's more noticeable on stronger colors such as reds or blacks and less so on paler colors (and the effect is almost invisible on white for example) but this isn't he only cause of faded looking paint.

A second one is where the lacquer has not just been scratched but has peeled entirely - this removes all the gloss from the affected area and the result is a very flat, faded looking panel. Again this is color independent and is usually the result of either a poor quality clear coat finish (the Mk1 Toyota Agyo/Peugeot 107/Citroen C1 in red was notorious for this!) or exposure to environmental factors such as a high levels of acid rain, bird droppings or industrial chemical solvents.

A third one - and the one that is dependent on color (well sort of) is when the underlying colored paint fades with exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. This is usually a particular paint finish from particular manufacturers during a certain time period and is very rare to see these days. The one that springs to mind is the "Ovni" yellow finish that was used extensively on SEAT cars circa 2000 (a few years either side certainly) - this is down to a thin, poor quality clear coat that SEAT used and while you can prevent/slow it with diligent use of high quality sealants from new once it's happened the only resolution is to respray it. The pigments used in yellow automotive paints are in my experience the ones most prone to the UV bleaching effect - although in most cases a good quality, substantial clear coat layer makes it a non-issue. Particularly if decent quality waxes/sealants with UV protection are used throughout the car's life.

A fourth scenario - and one that afflicted solid red Vauxhalls/Opels extensively during the 90's is the color getting a surface coating of contaminants, this could be resolved in the same way as a scratched clear coat in the first scenario. A through machine polishing down to unaffected paint and you were good to go again.

So to sum up - if you want to avoid bleached color on your car always keep a decent layer of protective sealant/wax on there and for the love of all that is holy don't buy an Ovni yellow SEAT from 15-20 years ago.

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