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Car Paint Restoration: Complete How-To Guide (ft. a Lexus IS300 Sportcross!)

by David Gould on Nov 15, 2023

Car Paint Restoration: Complete How-To Guide (ft. a Lexus IS300 Sportcross!)

Undertaking a full restoration is no walk in the park, especially when the guy before you didn’t do his part. I picked up a very rare 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross last week, with a little over 170k on the odometer. This will be my second sportcross, and I’m excited to see how I can take this car from zero to hero in a few weeks.

There’s numerous things wrong with this car, from hanging wires, dismantled engine parts thrown everywhere, lots of rust and paint issues, to the shift linkage not properly aligning. My biggest concern though, is how to manage the rust and paint, and how to prevent it for future occurrences. 

Regular Washing and Cleaning:

Maintaining your freshly restored paint starts with regular washing and cleaning. Use a pH-balanced car wash soap, a soft microfiber mitt, and plenty of water to gently remove dirt, dust, and contaminants. Avoid abrasive brushes or harsh chemicals that could damage the finish. Frequent cleaning prevents the buildup of grime and maintains the paint's luster. Removing this grime and grit prevents corrosion and damage to the paint.

Protective Wax or Sealant:

Apply a high-quality wax or paint sealant such as Blask Classic Wax  to create a protective barrier on the paint's surface. These products help shield your paint from UV rays, environmental pollutants, and minor abrasions. A well-applied wax or sealant not only enhances the shine but also prolongs the lifespan of your paint restoration.

Cover or Garage Storage:

When possible, keep your vehicle sheltered from the elements. UV rays, rain, snow, and bird droppings can take a toll on your paint. If a garage isn't available, consider investing in a car cover to shield your vehicle from outdoor exposure. Protection from the elements goes a long way in preserving the paint's brilliance. Keeping your car covered is also a great idea if your area is prone to hailstorms, as it will protect your car’s paint from being seriously damaged or even totaled.

Avoid Parking in Direct Sunlight:

Whenever possible, try to park your vehicle in the shade or in a covered area. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause paint fading and deterioration. If you can't find shade, consider using a windshield sunshade to protect your interior and reduce heat buildup. Furthermore, if local state laws allow it, consider tinting your front windshield with products such as Rayno Air7090, which blocks out UV discoloration and heat. This will keep your interior in top shape, while rejecting heat on those hot summer days.

Use Microfiber Towels for Drying:

After washing your vehicle, use soft, clean microfiber towels for drying. Microfiber is gentle on the paint's surface and minimizes the risk of creating scratches or swirl marks. Pat the paint dry instead of rubbing it to further reduce the potential for damage. Make sure to glide the microfiber towel in an up to down fashion, following the body lines of the car. Do not wipe it down in a circular manner, as this may create noticeable swirl marks throughout the car's paint.

Regular Inspections and Touch-ups:

Periodically inspect your paint for any chips, scratches, or imperfections. Address these issues promptly to prevent them from becoming more significant problems. Touch-up paint or professional detailing services can help maintain the integrity of your paint. You can also use Blask Detailing products to promptly take matters into your own hands, and make sure the issues are quickly addressed.

Avoid Automated Car Washes:

While convenient, automated car washes can sometimes use abrasive brushes and harsh chemicals that can harm your paint. Automated car washes also have rollers that may contain rock bits in the fibers that will inevitably scratch your paint up when it makes contact with your car. Opt for hand washing or touchless car washes to ensure a gentler and more paint-friendly cleaning process. 


Keep a Safe Following Distance:

Maintain a safe following distance when driving to minimize exposure to debris kicked up by other vehicles. This reduces the risk of stone chips and damage to your vehicle's front end. This is what ate up my silver IS300 Sportcross’s front end, and created the corrosion on the hood / bumper. The previous owner followed cars way too closely on rural, gravel roads sadly.

Silver IS300 Sportcross

Clay Bar Treatment:

Periodically use a clay bar to remove embedded contaminants from the paint's surface. This process helps maintain a smooth and pristine finish by eliminating contaminants that regular washing may not remove. Follow up with wax or sealant application for added protection.


Ceramic Coating:

Consider applying a ceramic coating to your vehicle's paint. Ceramic coatings provide long-lasting protection and an exceptionally glossy finish. They are known for their hydrophobic properties, which repel water, making it easier to keep your car clean. These are usually not for diy use, and instead you should seek out a professional detailer to assist you with this. You can find professional detailers around your area here: Detailers Near Me


Polish and Paint Correction:

Every so often, consider performing a paint correction process to remove swirl marks, light scratches, and oxidation. This helps keep your paint looking fresh and flawless. Follow up with a high-quality polish to enhance the shine. Products such as Blask body exfoliator bring out your car’s shine and elegance.


Avoid Tree Sap and Bird Droppings:

Promptly remove tree sap and bird droppings from your vehicle's paint as they can cause damage if left unattended. Use a gentle solution, such as warm soapy water and a microfiber cloth, to avoid scratching the surface.


Protect the Interior:

Preserving your vehicle's interior can indirectly help protect the exterior. A well-maintained interior reduces the risk of debris and contaminants being transferred to the exterior paint when entering or exiting the vehicle.


Professional Detailing:

Schedule periodic professional detailing services to keep your paint in top condition. Detailers have the expertise, tools, and products to address paint imperfections, rejuvenate the finish, and maintain its overall health.


Rust Prevention:

Be vigilant about any signs of rust, especially in areas with harsh winters or coastal climates. Regularly inspect the undercarriage and consider applying rust protection treatments to prevent corrosion from spreading to the exterior.


By incorporating these tips into your paint maintenance routine, you'll be well-equipped to preserve the beauty of your vehicle's paint after restoration, ensuring it looks impeccable for years to come. We always recommend the use of Blask detailing products, our select choice over anything on the market. We’ve tried and tested the most popular consumer detailing product brands, and Blask really knocked it out of the park for us. Let us know your thoughts below! Are there any additional tips you wish to share?


Stay tuned for more restoration recaps as we build more awesome cars! Our upcoming projects include 2 R32 Nissan GTR's, a Toyota Supra MK4, 2 Honda S2000's, and more! Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when new content comes out!

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