Piston Slap: Paint Protection Possibilities?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap paint protection possibilities

George writes:


I’m the owner of the dark green 1999 Honda Accord Coupe that appeared in prior editions of Piston Slap. Its paint is failing (clearcoat starting to peel and gray patches showing) after many years of sun exposure here in the Dallas area and it’s time to get a new car. I have a garage to protect the car at night, but my engineering career requires that my car spend the day out in the sun on a concrete parking lot. The good news is my cars never get exposed to road salt and snow, ice, frost, and morning dew are pretty much a non-issue for cars that spend the night in a garage.

1) What color paint resists damage from sunlight best?

2) Do any waxes or other products work significantly better than others?

3) Would covered parking during the day add years to paint or are pollutants like ozone attacking the finish in the shade?

Sajeev answers:

Clear coat only lasts so long, even on vehicles that spend the majority of their lives in a garage. And if you own one of those vehicles from the early 1990s that were on the losing end of paint booth/environmental regulations, the clear coat failed far too early. You could easily repaint your Accord and be happy, but maybe it’s time to find a new “paint job” to call your own.

To answer your questions:

1. I’m no experienced body shop dude, but I know a couple. Ordinary white (like you see on fleet vehicles) is probably the most durable color against the elements. And the most forgiving to hide/repair scratches, which is worth considering.

2. That’s hot button issue. I will stick with one big generality: the caranuba-based waxes don’t hold a candle to the newer polymer based waxes. I’ve even heard manufacturers mention that the polymer waxes last many months longer than the traditional stuff.

3. I think covered parking improves the lifespan of any paint job, not to mention the well-being of your rubber bits and interior fabrics. This is a no brainer….right, B&B???

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 26 comments
  • Tinker Tinker on Aug 22, 2012

    Buy a good quality car cover, use it religiously. It preserves the paint, the interior, and the plastic exterior bits from the sun.

  • Petrol42 Petrol42 on Aug 25, 2012

    If you want to take the lazy way out, then use a paste wax on your car every 3 months. That way, even with just a rinse most of the dirt just rinses away with the water. Also, a nicely waxed car (4 times a year is considered nicely waxed) will be so much easier to wash since the dirt just effortlessly wipes away. The drying time is cut down a little too since the water just beads off the car leaving a mostly dry surface. As for car wash, do you mean the kind where they roll your car thru a big conveyer belt and these dudes wipe it down at the end? I really don't like these since the water they use is their own recycled rinse water but you can't tell since it's so super sudsy. Also, those huge towel looking things that scrub over your car are heavy and leave tiny scratches on the clear coat. Also, when you dry your car, you should use straight strokes that are longitudinal with the car. Never in a circular pattern like ALL those dudes that dry your car at the car wash do. The circular motion creates the swirl marks that are on 99% of cars out there. A good 2 stage polish will get your car looking like new. I could totally make that cars surface that's in the pic above look like new. The clear coat is just oxidized and needs to be smoothed over with a nice 3 stage polish and a nice coat of paste wax.

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂