How to Remove Car Paint Oxidization and Clear Coat Failure

Do you want to restore the beauty and shine of your car’s paint? Dealing with issues like oxidized paint and clear coat failure can be challenging, but not impossible. 

In this article, we will explore the causes and characteristics of oxidized paint and clear coat failure, as well as provide you with methods to restore oxidized paint and protect against future damage.

Without any fluff, let’s get right into it!

oxidized paint before after

What is Car Paint Oxidization?

Oxidized paint occurs when the car’s paint and clear coat are exposed to the sun’s UV rays for extended periods. Factors such as the lack of a garage or car cover can contribute to the acceleration of paint oxidation. 

The sun’s UV rays break down the chemicals in the paint, leading to a dull and faded appearance.

Oxidization of car paint can also occur when the car exterior is exposed to harmful contaminants such as tar, bird droppings, iron, sap, bugs, and water spots. So, avoid parking your car under a tree for a long time if you have that habit.

Oxidization may also occur if you use harsh chemicals and tools to wash the car repeatedly, such as waxes or ceramic coatings.


oxidized paint 2

What is Clear Coat Failure?

Clear coat failure is a more severe issue than oxidized paint. When the clear coat layer starts to deteriorate, it can exhibit several noticeable signs. 

These signs may include flaking, bubbling, or peeling of the clear coat.

The main cause of clear coat failure is prolonged exposure to UV rays. Similar to oxidization, the sun’s harmful UV rays break down the protective clear coat layer, causing it to lose its adhesion to the base paint. This leaves the underlying paint vulnerable to further damage.

If left untreated, clear coat failure can have serious consequences for the overall appearance and protection of your car’s paint, including fading, discoloration, and even corrosion.

It’s crucial to address clear coat failure as soon as possible. Depending on the extent of the damage, repainting the affected areas may be necessary to restore their appearance and protect the underlying layers. 

To minimize the risk of more extensive and costly repairs in the future, you should take your car to a professional car detailer, like River Islands Car Salon. Not based in California? To find the best car detailer near you, read our guide for tips.

How to Restore Oxidized Paint

Restoring oxidized paint involves several steps. First you need to gather the following materials before you can start on the journey of restoring oxidized paint.

  • 2000, 2500, and/or 3000 grit sandpaper
  • Dual-action machine polisher (5in or 3in)
  • Microfiber cutting pads
  • Medium cutting foam pads
  • Polishing foam pads
  • Compounds and polishes suitable for paint restoration
  • Ceramic coating or wax for protection

Step 1: Prepare the surface

  1. Wash the vehicle thoroughly to remove any surface contaminants.
  2. Tape off surrounding areas that do not require restoration to protect them from the sanding process.

Step 2: Wet sanding

  1. Soak the sandpaper in water for several minutes to ensure proper lubrication during sanding.
  2. Begin with the least aggressive grit (e.g., 2000) and progress to finer grits as needed.
  3. Sand the oxidized areas in a consistent, circular motion, keeping the surface wet.
  4. Wipe the surface periodically to assess progress and prevent over-sanding.

Step 3: Machine Polishing

  1. Attach a microfiber cutting pad to the dual-action machine polisher.
  2. Apply a suitable cutting compound to the pad.
  3. Work the machine over the sanded areas, applying moderate pressure.
  4. Continue polishing until the desired level of gloss is achieved.

Step 4: Polishing and Protection

  1. Switch to a medium cutting foam pad and a polishing compound to refine the finish.
  2. Use a polishing foam pad with a fine polish to further enhance the gloss.
  3. Apply a ceramic coating or wax to protect the newly restored paint surface. If you do not have a shaded area you can apply wax properly even without shade.  
  4. Follow product-specific instructions for curing and buffing.

Step 5: Final Inspection

  1. Inspect the entire treated area for uniformity and desired results.
  2. Address any remaining imperfections with targeted spot treatments if necessary.

When Repainting is Necessary

In cases of severe clear coat failure, where the clear coat has completely worn away or been damaged, repainting is often the only solution. 

If the color coat has also weathered away, exposing the primer, complete repainting of the affected panels, or even the entire car, may be necessary. You must take your car to a professional car detailer for a repaint.


Regular cleaning and detailing play a significant role in preserving the finish of your car’s paint. 

Removing dirt and contaminants, using detailing clay to eliminate bonded contamination and dead paint, and polishing the paint with the right products and tools can all help.

Additionally, parking your car in a garage or using a cover shields it from harmful UV rays and other external elements. It’s so simple, yet many people forget this.

If you need a professional to take care of the oxidization or clear coat failure on your car, we can help!

We provide paint correction and buffing services in the following cities:

So, what are you waiting for? Contact us and schedule your service today by calling or texting (408) 614-4593!

The quality of our services will be unmatched and your car surface will be left looking brand new. See it yourself: