How to Remove Oxidation From Car Paint: 6 Methods You Can Try

A car that’s fresh from the dealership looks all smooth and shiny, but as the days go by, the beautiful exterior will slowly lose its shine and gloss. The paintwork may also start to flake due to oxidation. Thankfully, there are many remedies for this problem.

In this article we’ll take a look at the best ways to remove oxidation from car paint. Read on to know what to do with each method and how to choose the right one based on the severity of the oxidation.

1. Rub Baking Soda Paste on the Surface

Baking soda has a wide range of uses, from cleaning stains to removing odors. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s among the products you can use to get rid of oxidation from car paint.

It works in this application because it has abrasive properties and contains no preservatives or chemicals that can interact with your paint. Knocking up some soda paste and smearing it onto the affected parts will help remove oxidation from car paint. The process is straightforward:

  1. Add some tablespoons of the baking soda to water to get some paste plentiful enough to cover the affected area.
  2. Smear the mix over the oxidized area using a soft, clean toothbrush and allow the mix to sit for half an hour.
  3. Wipe the surface clean using a damp microfiber cloth to expose a shiny finish.

2. Use an Electric Buffer

For large-scale paint oxidation, you’ll need powerful hardware that can get the job done. An electric buffer will simplify the process a great deal for you. The DEWALT Buffer/Polisher is a good product to use here. It has variable speeds, and the durable construction makes it a powerful tool you’ll own for a long time.

To use one for this job, you’ll need to also get the following:

  • Soft to heavy-duty buffing pads.
  • A standard car wash kit, including microfiber towels, several drying cloths, a bucket, soap, and a sponge.
  • Car bodywork masking tape.
  • Car wax and polish.
  • Rubbing compound.

Here’s how you can complete the process:

  1. Wash the vehicle properly. You need to be thorough with the washing process to ensure you get rid of all dust and debris.
  2. Park under shade or cover. The paint and sheet metal will get hot under direct sunlight, which you don’t want for this process.
  3. Cover all plastic or trim pieces around the area. Any areas you have to avoid during the oxidation removal process need to be properly taped off.
  4. Apply some rubbing compound to the area. Don’t go overboard with the application. Just enough to cover the affected area.
  5. Get to work with the electric buffer. Using a gentle, circular motion, go over the affected area several times with the buffer. Start with the softest pad on the lowest setting and move to a heavy-duty pad and a faster setting only if necessary—especially for stubborn portions. Be sure to take things slowly. You should see the paint come back to life after a few passes.
  6. Wipe off any excess compound. Once you’re done buffing the surface, use a microfiber towel or soft cloth to get rid of the excess compound on the surface.
  7. Apply the car polish and repeat the buffing process. The car polish will add even more shine and glossiness to the paint. Remember to wipe down the area using a soft towel to get rid of any excess polish.
  8. Apply wax to the surface. After you’ve completed buffing and polishing, applying wax will give a layer of protection to the paint, preventing future oxidation. For the best results, apply the wax by hand using a soft cloth.

If you go with this method of removing oxidation from car paint, you should consider completing a light buff and polish of the car’s complete exterior to ensure it has a consistent appearance. Otherwise, the affected parts you worked on will stand out.

3. Scrub the Surface With Chalk Paste

Using a chalk paint scrub on your car can revive the oxidized paint. Chalkdust has abrasive properties, making it a good option when you’re looking to remove the oxidized top coat of paint to highlight the fresher paint in the layer below. The process is straightforward:

  1. Mix some chalk dust in water to get a smooth paste.
  2. Spread the paste around the affected area, rubbing it in properly.
  3. Wait for half an hour.
  4. Rinse off the paste with fresh water.
  5. Allow the surface to dry.
  6. Use a microfiber towel to clean off any remaining residue.
  7. Add a new layer of paint sealant or wax to ensure the longevity of your results.

4. Use Sugar Scrub on the Surface

Sugar scrub works against oxidation because it acts as a mild abrasive that can operate at a microscopic level to deliver a layer of clear coat of paint. The small crystalline particles in sugar make it an effective DIY polishing compound anyone can use to restore oxidized car paint. Here’s what to do:

  1. Mix some granulated sugar with vegetable oil at a 2:1 ratio.
  2. Using the resulting sugar scrub, polish the car surface to get rid of light-to-moderate oxidation with microfiber polishing towels or lint-free cloth.
  3. Rinse the scrub off the surface to complete the job.

5. Scrub the Surface With Some Toothpaste

Toothpaste works well when it comes to removing stains on teeth because it contains some abrasives and other elements. These properties make it a decent solution to work with when you’re dealing with surface oxidation on a small portion of the car.

By applying toothpaste onto the affected areas of the paintwork, you can reverse the damage and deliver an even appearance for your car. Here’s what to do:

  1. Wash off dust and dirt from the car using soapy water.
  2. Press a sizable chunk of toothpaste (in relation to the surface area you’re working on) onto a clean piece of microfiber cloth.
  3. Apply the toothpaste over the area you’re working on, maintaining gentle and circular motions.
  4. Wash off the toothpaste with some water and clean the surface with a clean cloth.

Don’t use a brush when applying the toothpaste. You’ll only worsen the appearance of your paintwork around the affected area.

6. Rub Some Organic Hair Conditioner on the Surface

Organic hair conditioners can rejuvenate oxidized paintwork just as they can bring back the shine to dull-looking hair. If you have some of these lying around, you can use them on your car paint. Here’s what to do:

  1. Mix hair conditioner and water in a 1:4 ratio.
  2. Rub the solution onto the oxidized paintwork.
  3. Wash the surface completely with fresh water.
  4. Dry the area using a soft microfiber cloth.

Be sure to check the label on the hair conditioner bottle to confirm it doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients that can exacerbate the issue. Hair conditioners containing Shea butter are very effective in restoring the oil content of the oxidized area.

These approaches are some of the best solutions you can rely on to remove oxidation from car paint. The best one to use will come down to the severity of the problem. While most are DIY projects, don’t hesitate to take your car to professionals if you’re unsure of your ability to get the job done.

What Is Paint Oxidation?

Paint oxidation occurs when oxygen molecules interact with your car’s surface long enough to affect the molecules in your car’s paint. Over time, the molecules in the paint will fall off, leaving the dull appearance associated with oxidation.

During oxidation, the chemicals in paint break down because the oil in the paint dries out—hence the flaky appearance.

A vehicle that’s regularly exposed to the elements is more likely to show signs of oxidation faster. The UV rays from the sun, rainfall, snow, road salt slush, etc., combined with atmospheric oxygen, can accelerate the problem.

Preventing Car Paint Oxidation

You can’t prevent oxidation completely. However, you can extend the longevity of your paintwork a great deal by adopting some basic car exterior maintenance approaches. Here’s what you should do:

  • Wax your car at least once a month to give it a protective layer against oxidation.
  • Park your car in a garage if you’re parking for long periods.
  • Wash off any debris or slush as quickly as you can to reduce the chemical process that’s bound to ensue as the foreign material sits on your car while it’s acted on by oxygen.
  • Don’t allow small oxidation to spread.

Final Thoughts

Paint oxidation can ruin the appearance of your vehicle, but you don’t have to live with it forever. For serious oxidation, you can grab some power tools and get to work on buffing and waxing the entire car surface. If you’re looking to correct oxidation on a small portion of the car, you can use any of the less demanding approaches we’ve discussed above.

When you’ve restored your car’s gloss, don’t forget to adopt some preventive measures to prolong the lifespan of the paintwork a bit longer. Oxidation is not completely avoidable, but proper maintenance can stall it.

Related: How Fast Does Rust Spread On a Car?

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