UV protection for your car

Posted on August 22nd, 2019 by Rob Marshall

UV protection for your car

We are told to cover-up our skin, to prevent health issues that are caused by the sun’s ultra-violet rays but can they damage your car? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.


Exterior issues

Apart from the damage that bird excrement causes to your paintwork, especially while it is baked onto the surface during a hot day, ultra-violet rays can fade the colour, especially dark and more vibrant hues.

In the old days, you could restore the colour, by removing the very top oxidised layer of paint with elbow-grease and an abrasive paste. T-Cut is, probably, the most well-known brand for this. Yet, most modern cars have a clear-coat of paint applied over the base colour coat. While this makes the paint longer-lasting, especially as the clear lacquer provides a degree of UV protection, the colour coat can still fade beneath it. Aside from repainting, there is little you can do, because the base colour is trapped beneath the lacquer. UV can also break-down the lacquer, making it crack and peel (see picture) – no DIY technique can repair this damage and repainting is the only solution.

While car covers can protect against UV, some of the cheapest types can scratch the paintwork – plus they are hardly convenient. The best thing you can do is apply a car wax that offers UV protection.

UV light also causes plastic headlight covers to fade. Apart from making the car unsightly, light output is restricted and can, ultimately, cause an MOT Test fail. Fortunately DIY abrasive, or spray, restoration kits are available.


Interior issues

UV can pass through certain car windows, so consider protecting yourself when driving. Within your car, UV dries out vinyl and leather, making them more prone to crack. In some cases, discolouration can occur as well.

The best thing you can do is keep your car clean and apply a UV-protecting interior cleaning spray to surfaces. For leather seats, use a specialist cleaning product that is designed for this material. Yet, it is impossible to ‘feed’ modern leather upholstery, because the hide is protected by a tough, factory-applied sealant. However, dedicated creams are available that help to protect the sealant (and, therefore the colour and leather beneath it) from both UV and stains.