Cars, don't forget to wear sunscreen

Car paint
Polishing your car is a great way to protect it from all the surprises the great British weather can throw at it – but have you ever thought of applying a coat of sunscreen?

As the UK basks in some unseasonally warm sunshine, Chevrolet engineers have revealed that they've developed a special sun cream to protect cars from harmful UV rays.
Just like human skin can burn and peel when temperatures rise, so too can some paintworks – but the American firm says it now has an answer.

Engineers discovered the Corvette sports car's carbonfibre panels were susceptible to damage from the sun so spent three years creating a clear gloss paint that shields the components.

"Not many people realise the paintwork of your car burns when exposed to the sun," explained Mark Voss, senior design engineer for the Corvette ZR1. "But rather than turning red or tanning, UV rays degrade the protective outer clear coat that protects it from scratches.

"In extreme cases it peels, much in the same way as your skin a few days after you've been to the beach and got sunburnt. Not only does the colour fade, but it creates lasting damage to the vehicle."

Automotive paintwork is designed to be extremely thin and every time the surface is exposed to harsh UV rays some of the paint's compound is broken down or even removed. Most original finishes are tougher on the outer surface than the underneath layers so the outer layer needs to be preserved as much as possible.

"Everyone said it couldn't be done, and we were crazy for trying," added the engineer.

"Automotive paint experts said it was nearly impossible and that painting over carbonfibre was the only option.

"Our challenge was finding a way to give our customers the exposed-weave carbonfibre look they demanded. The UV coating looks glossy, has similar UV properties and works on the same principle as sun screen by creating a protective barrier that guards against sun burn and premature ageing over the lifetime of the vehicle."

But what about other cars? Should owners think about protecting their paintwork too? Voss certainly believes you should.

He says owners should try and keep their vehicles out of direct sunlight when parking and wash and wax it at least once a month.

"Never wax in direct sunlight, as this will cause the wax to bake and will deteriorate and stop being effective," he explained. "If you are able to keep your car in a garage, carport or under a car cover, do so, especially, if you live near the ocean, or a large body of water. These climates degrade car paint faster than anywhere else."
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