We get many questions about when to wash and how to wash a vehicle after a touch up paint repair. Below is a conservative timeline for when to wash the car, and what to avoid during the first 30 and 90 days after a paint job. 

For aerosol repairs (or a complete car paint job), we recommend following these guidelines

  • In the first 30 days
    • Don't use a commercial car wash. Also, stiff brushes or sponges could mar the finish and damage the surface. Wait two weeks after the paint job, then first wash the vehicle by hand (no hot water!) and a mild car wash solution. Make sure to use a soft cloth or sponge.
    • Always wash in the shade - not in the sun.
    • Don't “dry wipe” the vehicle - always use clean water. Dry wiping can scratch a new finish.
    • Avoid extreme heat and cold. Keep the vehicle parked in the shade whenever possible.
    • Try to avoid gravel roads. Chipping the finish is more easily done in the first 30 days.
    • Do not park under trees, or birds, Tree sap can mark or spot a freshly painted surface. Bird droppings have a high acid content and can damage a newly painted surface. Wash off bird droppings as soon as possible.
    • Do not spill gasoline, oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid or wind shield washer fluid on the new finish. If you do immediately rinse it off with water.
  • In the first 90 days
    • Do not use silicone wax or polish the vehicle – this will allow the finish to dry and harden completely.
  • After 90 days
    • Polish then wax paintwork approximately every 3-4 months using micro fiber cloth only.

 

For touch up paint by brush repairs, we recommend these guidelines

  • In the first 30 days
    • Wash the car by hand only, to let the paint and clear coat repair fully cure.
  • After 30 days
    • The durability of the repair in an automatic car wash should be fine. The clear coat hardens well enough to protect against normal hand and automatic car washes. However, I don't use a pressure washer style car wash on the repair. Remember that a repair by brush is not as durable as your factory finish, which was sprayed and hardened by baking in an oven. Also, single component (1K) clear coats (such as come with a touch up kit) are not as durable as two component (2K) clear coats (factory finish).
  • In the first 90 days
    • Do not use silicone wax or polish the vehicle – this will allow the finish to dry and harden completely.
  • After 90 days
    • Polish then wax paintwork approximately every 3-4 months using micro fiber cloths only.
 
General Note:
The overall adhesion of the repair is a function of applying the paint and clear coat over a good substrate, so make sure it is clean and free of grease, and if the scratch goes down to the metal or plastic (if a number, for example), the use of primer is required for good adhesion. Primers are, by their nature and high solids content, very high adhesion, so primer creates a very good bond for the paint layer.