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Summary
  • UV damage, harmful weather conditions, and chemical damage are some of the most common reasons why car paint peels off.
  • To fix peeling paint on your car, you’ll have to remove each coat of paint, prime the surface, and apply two to three layers of paint.
  • Regularly cleaning your car, repairing any scratches or dents, and parking your car safely can help prevent your car paint from peeling off.

Most people notice the color and appearance of a vehicle before anything else. Car paint plays a big role in how a vehicle looks and feels, which is why owners absolutely hate seeing their car paint peeling off. If you’re one of them, then you understand why it’s so important to keep your car’s paint fresh and sleek. 

Why Is My Car Paint Peeling Off?

There are plenty of reasons why your car paint is peeling off, and here are some of them: 

UV Damage

Do you often leave your car parked outside under the sun? We know it’s unavoidable, especially when you’re out and about in the city, but too much sun exposure can damage your car paint. The clear coat on your car can deteriorate if it’s often exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can later cause your car paint to peel off.

There also could be a slight defect from the factory. We’ve all seen those vehicles with the exact same model and same paint that have this faded, peeling paint, and they’re worse than others.

red car paint peeling off
The clear coat on your car can deteriorate if it’s often exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can later cause your car paint to peel off.

Harmful Weather Conditions

The sun isn’t the only thing that can damage your car paint. Harsh weather conditions such as snow and hail can cause your vehicle’s clear coat to turn brittle, which can lead to your car paint cracking and peeling. A buildup of ice, snow, and road salt can also damage the paint. 

Cleaner and Chemical Damage

Did you know washing your car can also damage its paint too? Using harsh chemicals can strip off the protective coat and cause the paint to peel off. As much as possible, only use soap or wax that is specifically meant for cars. 

Improper Refinishing Techniques

In some cases, repainting your car might do more harm than good. Why? Improper refinishing techniques typically cause your car paint to peel off because the new coat doesn’t bind correctly to your car. When repainting or refinishing your car, always follow the paint application instructions to a T. 

Bird Droppings

Bird droppings are a common yet unexpected culprit behind car paint peeling. They’re acidic, which means they can eat away at your car’s paint if you leave them sitting on your car for too long. The minute you see any bird poop on your car, clean it as soon as possible with a pH-neutral cleaner and a soft microfiber towel. 

Tree Sap

People often park their cars under trees to avoid the harsh sun, but did you know this isn’t always a good idea? Tree sap can actually cause car paint to flake and peel off. When tree sap hardens, it strips away your clear coat, damaging the paint underneath. 

You also have to use sharp tools to scrape the tree sap off, which is hard to do without scraping the paint off as well.

How To Fix Peeling Paint on Car

If the paint is peeling off your car, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. Here are some tips on how to fix any peeling or flaking car paint: 

Remove Each Paint Layer

Just slapping a new layer of paint on flaking car paint isn’t a good idea. The new coat will end up peeling off sooner or later. You’ll have to remove each coat down to the primer layer by sanding it down. 

Prime the Surface

After sanding down the affected area, don’t forget to prime the surface before you start painting. This is to make sure the paint doesn’t just slide off the metal but actually sticks to the surface. 

Apply Two to Three Coats of Paint

For the best results, apply a thin, even coat of paint two to three times. Before that, however, be sure to match the paint to your existing coat. You can use online tools to search for the exact color of your car paint by searching for your year, make, and model. 

Apply a Clear Coat

Don’t forget to apply a clear coat once the paint has dried. You’ll want to apply the same number of layers as your paint. In between each layer, let the coat dry for around 10 to 30 minutes before applying another layer. However, if it’s cold outside, it’ll take longer to dry.

How To Stop Paint From Peeling on Car

Fixing your vehicle’s paint can be a hassle, which is why it’s always best to be one step ahead of the game. Here are some tips to stop your car paint from peeling: 

Regularly Clean Your Car

Keeping your car clean is one of the best ways to prevent its paint from peeling off. Regular washing gets rid of any harmful debris or buildup that might damage the clear coat. You’re also more likely to notice any new scratches if you keep your car nice and clean.

You should also apply wax at least once a year. That way, you can keep moisture and water from sticking to the surface and causing the paint to peel off. 

Repair Any Scratches or Dents

Repair any scratches or dents as soon as possible, even if the damage seems small and harmless. Even the tiniest scratch can cause moisture to penetrate your vehicle’s clear coat, which can lead to corrosion and your car paint peeling off. 

Park and Store Your Car Safely

As much as possible, park your vehicle where it’s safe, dry, and away from the sunlight. A garage or a shaded parking lot is the best choice. 

Invest in a Good Car Cover

It’s always best to park your car in your garage or an indoor parking lot. If this isn’t possible, however, a car cover is your next best bet. Invest in a good car cover that snugly fits your vehicle and is made of thick, durable material.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Car Body , Maintenance
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