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Car Clear Coat: What Is It?
old orange car

Car Clear Coat: What Is It?

Clear coat is a thick, transparent layer covering the color coat of your car’s paint. If you have plastic bumpers or other components, this will not be covered by clear coat. Your plastic bumper will be vulnerable to scratches.

Clear coat provides protection for the paint layer below, keeping the color of your car looking flawless. The clear coat also affects the appearance of the paint, such as glossiness. 

A car’s paint has several layers, each having a different function. This article explains the clear coat layer, but also touches upon the other paint layers. 

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What is Clear Coat

Car clear coat is a transparent paint layer on the outside of your car. It is the thickest layer out of 3 different layers of your car’s paint:

  1. The primer layer allows the paint coat to stick to the metal surface of the car’s body.
  2. The color coat gives the car it’s color (this is what we can see).
  3. The clear coat is the top layer which protects the previous layers of paint and adds glossiness.

clear coat scratch vs. color coat scratch diagram

This graphic shows the difference between clear coat scratches and color coat scratches.

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Why Do Cars Have Clear Coat?

The clear coat on your car adds protection to the color layer. The clear coat is thicker than the previous coat and acts to protect the other layers.

Without clear coat, the paint could easily be damaged and would need repainted. Clear coat scratches are common but are easily fixed and don’t require painting.

The clear coat also adds glossiness to your paint’s finish. The thickness of the clear coat can affect the amount of gloss. Without it, the paint would look dull and unreflective.

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How Can I Care for My Clear Coat?

car with faded paint

Your car’s clear coat requires care and maintenance just like any other part of your car.

The best cost-effective way to protect your clear coat is with wax. Wax is cheap, quick, and can be applied by anyone.

There are other more effective methods to protect your car’s paint layers, such as ceramic coating, but this is much more expensive and may need professional installation.

Scratches and swirl marks in your car’s clear coat should be removed before waxing to give your paint the ultimate shine.

Some scratches are very easy to remove, while others can be more difficult and may require professional attention.

After scratches are fixed, it is important to protect your paint with wax.

You should also research proper car washing techniques, as washing incorrectly can scratch your paint.

Although the majority of clear coat care only affects the appearance of your car, you should also fix chips in the clear coat and paint layers to prevent rust.

Leaving these unfixed could cause rust to form or spread, which could cause irreparable damage.

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Is Clear Coat Necessary?

Your car’s clear coat is an important part of your car that many people don’t fully understand. It is a transparent paint layer that keeps your car’s color protected.

To keep it in good shape, it requires care and maintenance.

Without caring for your clear coat, your paint will look worse or your car could become damaged by rust if there are spots exposing bare metal.

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