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How to Protect Car Paint and Your Car’s Undercarriage

The fresh coat of wax on this sports car will protect car paint.

Car paint isn’t just there to look good. It’s what keeps the metal underneath from being exposed to rust. Here are three easy ways to protect car paint, so it protects your vehicle longer, and one way to ensure your undercarriage also gets the love it deserves.

1. Keep It CleanA car in mid-wash.

Wash your car regularly and often. It’s the first and easiest way to protect car paint. That’s not just dust that builds up on your car when you go too long without a wash. It’s tree sap, road grime, bugs, leaves and pollution … any and all of which can fade, discolor and even eat your paint away.

Washing your car is a great do-it-yourself project, and there’s a wide array of washes, cloths and complete kits that can help you give your car a professional-quality wash at home.

2. Work Wonders With Wax

Once you’ve cleaned your car, it’s essential to protect its paint from future damage. That’s where car wax comes in. Wax puts a barrier between your paint and the elements, while enhancing your car’s shine. Car wax comes in pastes and easier-to-use liquids, and applying it is another job that you can easily do in your own driveway.

3. Block the Sun

Just like your skin, the sun can harm the finish of your car. Instead of burning, though, it’ll fade. There are a few ways to protect car paint from the sun, like simply parking indoors, or using a car cover. If you don’t have access to indoor parking, there are many different types of covers, including ones that lock.

4. Don’t Forget the Undercarriage

Nobody is suggesting you should wax the undercarriage of your car, though some classic and show cars do get that treatment. But shouldn’t you give the essential mechanical and structural parts of your car — like the floorpan, wheel wells and suspension — some tender, loving care, too?

The objective here is pretty much the same as protecting car paint. It’s to remove dirt and debris that contains elements that can corrode coatings and encourage rust. After a good wash, applying undercoating to a clean undercarriage can help protect your vehicle.

Most of these tips you can do at home, but if you’re not comfortable with getting under your car, or aren’t sure you know what you should and shouldn’t be undercoating, you may want to consult a professional. Whichever method you choose, make sure you protect your car’s paint, so it protects vital components from the elements.

Check out all the paint & body products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to protect car paint, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Mike Hagerty View All

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and Previous outlets have included KFBK and in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and

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