How Long Does Clear Coat Last?

Clear car coats are common in car paint jobs, and many cars have them. However, most people out there have only basic knowledge regarding the process. For some, the question remains: how long does clear coat last? Unfortunately, many of the available answers do not adequately satisfy the majority.

To clear everything out, we wrote this article to explain what a clear car coat is, how long a car clear coat lasts, the features, and the pros and cons of a clear coat. Let’s begin!

What Is A Clear Coat?

The clear coat is a transparent paint layer applied to your car that enhances the paint color by giving it a deep shine. Clear coats are normally applied over an existing coat of car paint. The car paint process involves using the car’s primer that bonds the paint to the car. Secondly, the car is covered with a base coat which is the actual paint of the car, and eventually, a clear coat is applied over the actual car paint. The primer and colored base coat are matte surfaces.

What Is A Clear Coat

In addition, automotive clear coats are of different thicknesses and finishes that determine how glossy your car looks and how the light behaves in the paint layer.

Despite the popularity of the automotive clear coat, it is not mandatory to spray it on your car. You can choose to use the “uni paintwork” or the “single-stage” paint. For these surface painting ways, you don’t need a clear coat. However, such painting ways result in a matte finish surface, which some find attractive but difficult to clean.

Why Should You Apply A Clear Coat? (Features Of A Clear Coat)

Why Should You Apply A Clear Coat

1. Protects Against The Environment

Applying a vehicle’s clear coat will create a protective layer against environmental factors such as sun, rain, air, dirt, and other hazards and debris, which helps prevent your car’s paint from degrading.

In addition, clear coating your car prevents rusting and weakening of the metal underneath that can lead to your car’s structural damage or even engine damage. Usually, without a clear coat, paint is porous. So, water and debris will directly contact the car’s metal surface, which results in rusting.

Equally important, clear coats help prevent oxidation of your car’s surface. Oxidation occurs as a result of exposure of the car to air. With time, your car’s base painting oxidizes, showing imperfections. To avoid this, spray a clear coat on your car since it is more complex and does not fade quickly.

However, prolonged exposure of a clear coat to air leads to its oxidation which needs addressing early enough to avoid repainting the car. An oxidized clear coat will have ugly discolored peeling paint patches that stand out from the car’s base paint. To prevent this, address clear coat oxidizing earlier since a professional can remove the patches without repainting the car.

Not to mention, clear coating saves you the cost of paint maintenance. In addition, you are likely to spend a lot of money on expensive repairs for the paint, engine, and structural damage of the car without it.

2. Increase The Paint’S Thickness

Clear coating your car increases the paint’s thickness, saving you money. Usually, the actual paint is expensive compared to the clear coat. So, when you spray a few clear coat layers, you increase the paint thickness without incurring more costs.

In addition, increasing the number of clear coat layers will increase the durability of the car’s surface, hide some imperfections there, and increase damage resistance.

3. Changes The Gloss Level

Applying a clear coat to your car will give it a shiny, glossy, and mirror-like shine to your car’s surface, which enhances your car’s look and protects it. In addition, a clear coat can act as a cosmetic role when it comes to selling the car. Usually, car buyers look at the shape and dynamic of the vehicle, which is based on the gloss and shine of the vehicle and reflective index. These properties are present in a clear-coated car, making it easy to sell.

4. Acts As First Line Of Defense

A vehicle’s clear coat will act as a defense for the car paint in a car scratch. So, you don’t have to worry about deep scratches in your clear-coated car since the scratch may have only penetrated the clear coat. Professionals easily polish clear coat scratches.

However, if the clear coat scratches are left unattended, they may cause the clear coat to peel.

Pros of Using a Clear Coat
  • Enhances paint color
  • Environmental paint protection
  • Increases paint thickness
  • Mirror-like shine surface
  • Structural protection
  • Scratches easily
Cons of Using a Clear Coat
  • Fades quickly without care
  • Damaged by external factors over time

The Duration Of A Clear Coat

The period that a clear coat will last depends on the care given by the car owner. If the car is well maintained, including cleaning it regularly, waxing, etc., a factory clear coat will last 10 to 15 years.

Cleaning your car is essential as dirt and other debris that comes into contact with the clear coat cause degradation over time, resulting in as quick as five years of clear coat life span after application.

Clear-Coat Failure

In some worst cases, a clear coat failure can occur due to scratches or swirls present or UV sun rays burns; the result of this is patchy peeling clear coat paintwork that can be compared to the shedding of the surface “skin.” In case of a clear coat failure, please consult a professional for its removal and repainting.

How to Take Care of a Clear Coat

To keep your car’s paint looking new for many years to come, you should take good care of it. The following instructions can help you do that.

Image Of Car With Text Pulled From Article

1. Clean Your Car Regularly

Washing your car helps maintain the clear coat of the vehicle. While cleaning your vehicle, use a premium soap as the quality of the soap determines the shiny mirror-like gloss you will get and the removal of dust and debris effectively. However, don’t wash your car or take it to the car wash if the car paint has not dried, a process that takes 30 days. The soap used may damage the paint. For a clear coat, it takes 12 to 24 hours to dry, depending on the type of the coat.

In addition, avoid abrasive material or coarse material that will damage your car’s clear coat by scratching it or leaving swirl marks. Coarse materials are like rough brushes and pads; they ruin the clear coat rather than help.

2. Wax Your Car

When your car has a clear coat, waxing is not mandatory. However, waxing your car will help maintain its clear coat and strengthen its gloss. Wax forms a protective layer on the clear coat responsible for deflecting debris that may otherwise damage the clear coat.

In addition, waxing your car helps reduce the UV rays that come into contact with the clear coat. The UV sun rays can cause your car’s clear coat to peel off since the rays degrade the clear coat slowly by burning it, and finally, you are left with white patches. For better results, wax your car after cleaning since you may end up grinding dirt and debris or any other particles into the clear coat, damaging it. In addition, take care of the clear coat as you wax it to avoid any scratches.

3. Park Your Car Properly

Where you park or store your car determines how long the clear coat will work. If possible, park your car in a garage where it is not exposed to environmental damage such as UV rays, dust particles, sand, and other debris.

If a garage is not available, you can use a tarpaulin cover to protect your car from the environmental elements.


1. Does A Clear Coat Protect Your Car?

Yes. A clear coat protects your car from environmental elements such as dirt, UV sun rays, harmful particles, oxidation, as well as rain.

2. What Are The Benefits Of A Clear Coat?

A clear coat protects your car paint from environmental elements, increases the thickness of paint without adding more costs, and gives your car a shiny glossy mirror-like look.

3. How Do You Care For A Clear Coat?

First, wash your car regularly without overdoing it since you may accelerate the clear coat damage. For better results, wash your car at least once a week.

Secondly, wax your car for at least two years, depending on how frequently it comes into contact with environmental elements. Thirdly, store or park your car away from environmental factors that may damage the car’s clear coat.


Applying a clear coat to your car will help protect your car’s paint. In addition, it will save you the money you would have used repainting your car. A clear coat will also give your car a shiny glossy mirror-like look which is advantageous.

Finally, the answer to the question of how long does clear coat last depends on how well the car is maintained. A clear coat is a worthwhile investment if taken care of since it lasts long.

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