How to Protect Your Car From Sun Damage: Tips for Car UV Protection

Car owners know the damage the great outdoors can do to a vehicle. Long periods of sun exposure on the highway, in a parking lot, or even in the driveway can take a toll on car surfaces and interiors over time as paint and interiors fade and deteriorate.

Whether it’s from sunlight, heat, bird droppings, bug guts, dust, or even sodium chloride (all of which are forces strong enough to tarnish the surface of a car), it’s crucial to keep your car protected from the elements.

If you’re concerned about your paintwork, leather interior, windshield, etc., we have some tips for keeping your car in great shape.

Sunlight and Its Impact on Cars and Car Paint

UV rays, or ultraviolet rays, can harm car paint, interiors, and windshields, resulting in discoloration, cracking, and deterioration over time. Just like we need sunscreen to shield our skin from UV radiation, our cars need protection from the damage caused by UV exposure.

Keeping your car exposed to harmful UV rays – even for a few hours a day – can leave your vehicle susceptible to issues such as:

  • Paint fading and oxidation.
  • Upholstery damage, especially if you have leather seats.
  • Dashboard cracking.
  • Other material breakdowns.
  • Damage to electronic systems.
  • Tire degradation.
  • Discoloration of plastic headlight and tail light covers.

Sun damage not only affects the aesthetic value of your vehicle, but it can also impact its resale value.

Maintaining your car in the sun and heat preserves its aesthetic appeal and durability. Proper maintenance of the car’s paint and interior will help to stave off fading, cracking, and other sun-related damage.

Exterior Car Care: Washing, Waxing, and Coatings

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Exterior car care, such as proper washing techniques, waxing, and coatings, helps safeguard your car’s surface from sun damage. Regular car maintenance can act as a “sunscreen” to prevent your car’s “skin” from exposure to UV light, helping it retain its fresh off-the-lot look.

Washing Techniques to Keep Your Car Protected UV Rays

Washing your car every two weeks is an effective way to minimize UV damage to the paint.

One such technique is the two-bucket washing method. This approach involves using two buckets of water – one with soap and one with clean water – to prevent debris from being transferred back to the car’s surface. Removing dirt and road grime safeguards your car’ against UV rays.

To maximize UV protection, avoid improper car cleaning methods such as using an automated car wash, dish soap, detergents, or worn t-shirts. These can cause damage to the paint and clear coat of your vehicle.

Wax vs. Sealant vs. Ceramic Coating

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Wax is a traditional paint protection product that has been around for a long time and has the benefit of being user-friendly. It’s also the most cost-efficient method for protecting your car, but the benefits only last around 6-8 weeks, so you must wax your car regularly to protect car paint from UV rays, dust, bird droppings, and more.

Synthetic car sealants are another option. These offer a clear coat of protection from UV light that can break down paint molecules. They’re also easy to apply and relatively inexpensive. They might be more popular if it weren’t for ceramic coatings.

A ceramic coating also offers a thick, clear coat of vehicle protection from UV light – and it can last up to 2-5 years! They’re like a second skin for your car and are generally applied by a professional. Don’t be fooled by ceramic spray coatings sold in stores because they’re not the same.

Paint protective films (PPFs) protect your car paint from UV rays, oxidation, oils, heat, and even harm like scratches and dings from flying debris. While this type of protective layer makes maintaining your vehicle easier, it is the most costly option.

Interior Car Care: Preventing Sun Damage Inside Your Vehicle

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Protecting your car’s interior from sun damage is equally important. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can cause plastic cracking and discolored upholstery in your vehicle.

Parking your car in the shade is a simple, effective way to protect it from sun damage. Using sun shields or window shades can help reflect UV rays and protect your interior.

When it comes to maintaining leather upholstery, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for care and maintenance to prevent fading and cracking caused by sun exposure.

Windshield and Glass UV Protection

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Most modern windshields are treated to provide resistance to UVA radiation. However, side, back, and sunroof glass may require additional treatments for optimal UV resistance.

One option for enhancing UV protection for side, back, and sunroof glass is using a windshield protection film. This film adds an additional layer of defense for your vehicle’s interior. Installing a windshield protection film is particularly beneficial for vintage cars or older vehicles that may not have built-in UV protection in their windshields.

Guaranteeing adequate UV protection for all your car’s glass surfaces helps preserve the integrity and look of the inside of your car.

Additional Tips for UV Protection

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There are even more ways to protect your car from sun damage. For example, using a car cover or parking in a garage are effective ways to shield your car’s paint from the sun’s harmful rays.

Since sunlight and heat can lead the engine and other components to break down, regularly check your vehicle’s cooling systems and fluids to prevent overheating.

Final Thoughts

Ready to shield your car from constant exposure to sun damage? Remember that even small actions can have a big impact over time.

While parking in the shade may offer some relief, it’s not a foolproof solution.

When it comes to your vehicle’s long-term care, covered or indoor parking spots are the ultimate prevention against UV damage. For private garage rentals in your neighborhood or long-term parking options, peer-to-peer storage marketplaces like Neighbor come highly recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a UV car cover work?

A car cover can protect a car’s paint and fabric from fading in the sun. It creates a barrier against harmful UV radiation to minimize damage and deterioration.

What is the best UV protection for my car’s paint?

PPF, or paint protection film, is the most effective UV protection for car paint. These elastomeric polymer sealants are applied to the surface by a professional. Ceramic coating is a close second.

How can I protect my vehicle’s interior from sun damage?

Park in the shade, use sun shields or window shades and maintain upholstery according to manufacturer instructions to protect your interior.

Do modern windshields have built-in UV protection?

Yes, most modern windshields protect against UVA radiation. Special treatments reduce the amount of UVA radiation that can pass through the windshield.

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