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Newer Paint Jobs on Cars


Is it just me, or has the OEM car paint gotten worse and worse? I usually swap cars out frequently, and I swear every few years or so when I get a new one, the paint seems much less durable. I have had my new KIA for 3 months, and today I was already touching up several paint chips and I don’t tailgate on the highway.

I had a bodyshop mix up the touch-up paint for me (know them well), and he told me that they’re using a new water based paint, so it has to dry before it matches exactly. He told me that due to all of the environmental factors, they paints aren’t as good of quality.

Just wondering if anyone else has experienced this? Also, what type of brush(es) do you recommend for paint chip touch-ups?

Thanks much!


water-based automotive paint has been around for a long time now

nothing new about it whatsoever

FWIW . . . you should have contacted Kia about your car’s paint. Now that your bodyshop has literally had their hands on the car, you may have decreased your chances of getting satisfaction from Kia, should you need a paint repair, respray, etc.

let me clarify a little . . . I wouldn’t have gotten that bodyshop involved while your car still has new car warranty

They recommended a body shop for a perfect paint match. The warranty doesn’t cover paint chips. The car was just in for an oil change

Yup, since the '80s or earlier.
Automotive paint jobs were terrible when aqueous-based paints were originally mandate. Some manufacturers had paint peeling off their cars in sheets. It’s improved tremendously, but I have noticed that some manufacturers seem to consider obvious “orange peeling” to be acceptable.

As far as chip resistance, I’m not sure it isn’t actually better than it was decades ago. Manufacturers used to use lacquer, and lacquer does chip and it also cracks over the years. The modern paints don’t crack. The flex agent additive that makes it usable over plastic body panels does, however, show up as weathering of clearcoat over the years for those cars that use it, however, and it does affect fading.

Db may be right, but hopefully since it’s just chip touchups the dealer shop won’t hold it against you. For the brush, I just use the one that comes with the touchup bottle. Any brush should work fine. The trick is to clean and touch up chips immediately, as soon as you see them.

I haven’t had a problem with the hardness of the paint but the Acura paint jobs have a lot of orange peel. Makes you want to color sand it to smooth it out. GM used to have a problem with cars that were less than 3 months old until the paint hardened. But yeah the water based paint has some challenges but it may just be the quality of the paint they are using. Every manufacturer may be different.

The paint on my '11 Cruze has held up well in the 5 years I’ve owned the car, and it’s almost never inside. Still bright and shiny.

Benz had lots of orange peel on the first ML-series SUV, the one that was around from 1998-2005, if I recall correctly

Some manufacturers had paint peeling off their cars in sheets.

My Dad’s 77 Aspen’s hood started paint pealing within months after he bought it new.

A young salesman at a new car dealership told me just the other day that my car looked great.
I told him “I discovered a coating that protects the finish and keeps it shiny”.
He asked “what”?
I smiled and answered “car wax”.
It took a minute for him to process my answer.

"The paint on my '11 Cruze has held up well in the 5 years I’ve owned the car, and it’s almost never inside. Still bright and shiny."

Do you do anything special to protect the finish?

I’ve always liked the Cruze. How’s the rest of it playing out? Is it roomy, quiet, reliable, economical, and fun to drive? Would you buy another?

I myself have not had a problem with the color coat on most cars, but I’ve seen many cars that the clear coat has pealed off many of the horizontal surfaces. My last Dakota…a 1989 lost most of the clear coat on the roof, hood and top of the fenders. My 2002 has two large areas on the hood by the wipers that has pealed to the paint coat, but partly this was from when I blew a radiator hose. The clear coat pealed off right there while I waited for a tow.

I really don’t think it’s from a lack of waxing a car, because many people years ago never waxed their cars either. So why have we not had this problem all along. Prior to 1980, I owned at least 10 cars that were at least 10 years old, And none had any clear coat missing.

I never had pealing clear coat on my cars from back in the 50s to the 70s, but maybe waxing would help with the newer clear coats though.

If I bought a new car, I’m sure I’d be waxing it twice a year…or better yet have someone else do it for me.

I think that because of the better technologies in getting as little paint as possible on the car, yet covering all the surfaces, is part of the problem. Then, less durable paints and clear coats add to the mix.


In my entire car-owning life, I’ve only had paint problems with two cars–a '74 Volvo, and an '81 Chevy Citation.

The Volvo’s paint became totally “chalked” on the horizontal surfaces within two years, but I think that this was likely due to a lot of industrial air pollution in the town where I lived at the time.

The Chevy’s paint was decent–where enough had actually been applied at the factory.
The paint job was so uneven–to the point where primer was showing through the paint in several places–that I was successful in getting GM to repaint the car.

I have had no paint problems whatsoever with any of the cars that I bought subsequent to those two.

It sounds like the OP’s dealer just needed a (lame) excuse. While paints did have problems at the switchover to water-based years ago, I’ve noticed no problems recently. The OP’s car may just have areas that are sensitive to chips due to styling.

I think texases may have the best answer. I have not had any complaints about our vehicles paint for a long time.

I’ve noticed some orange peel on my week-old 2016 Mustang GT, it’s mainly on the driver’s side fender. I’m taking my car in to have a cat-back system put on tomorrow morning, while I’m at the dealership, I’ll stroll around and see if any other cars have the same affliction.

Common Sense:

Do you do anything special to protect the finish?

I give it a coat of Meguire’s best at least 3 time during the summer, and try to get the last coat on as late in the fall as possible. Between coats, I maintain it with spray on detailing wax.

I’ve always liked the Cruze. How’s the rest of it playing out? Is it roomy, quiet, reliable, economical, and fun to drive? Would you buy another?

I now have almost 150,000 miles on it, and it still starts, runs, and handles as well as the day I took delivery. I love the car, and plan to take it well past 300,000 miles. Would I buy another? Yes, in a heartbeat. I’m that pleased with it.

It handles like it’s on rails. I have the ECO version, with the 1.4L turbo and 6 speed stick. It’s a fun car to drive. Since I drive over 120 a day getting back and forth to work, mileage was important to me. (Best tankful mileage I’ve gotten is 46.2mpg) It’s also very comfortable, and has a good sound system. The missus and I have taken several long distance vacations in it, and it works very well for that. If you buy one, make sure you get the sports suspension upgrade. I drove one without it, and it does make a difference.

The only problem I had with it so far is a failed water pump seal. That’s been it.

I never had pealing clear coat on my cars from back in the 50s to the 70s...

Possibly because those cars never had any clear coat.


I have noticed some people ruining the paint on their cars by overwashing,the best protection for car paint is to keep the vehicle inside out of the elements when not in use .The sun and grit wear paint fairly quickly ,though some new clearcoats seem to verge on the miraculous . Beware of the pressure wahers also when cleaning the exterior,I had a boss who washed the "Chrome "off the grill on an almost new chevy truck and then had the nerve to complain to the dealer about it .

Yep, clear coat only began being used in the mid 80’s. Prior to that it was single stage paints of various formulas and qualities. Not sure when the water based stuff started but it was a learning curve. Cars are all painted by robots now so not sure if the orange peel is due to skimping on paint or if its harder to lay down a smooth coating that flows together with water based.

I wash my cars constantly, always have, and they stay looking new for many years, eleven for the current one, and I’ve never worn a finish off. But I also keep them well waxed from the time they’re new. Maybe Chevy grills don’t use a very robust process on their faux chrome.

I also use an extremely liberal amount of water and a clean soft brush… the brush gets cleaned after every use. I believe the soap only breaks the dirt’s bond, the water washes it off, and the brush’s main function is to slosh sudsy water rather than to push dirt. I believe that cleaning technique is a major damager of many cars’ finishes. I even saw a neighbor once trying to get the winter’s grit and grime off his pickup by wetting it and blowing it off with his leaf blower… true story. I cannot imagine where he learned that technique, but definitely not from me.

I’ve never lived in the sun belt, however, and suspect that if I did I’d probably have to have either a garage or a car cover. I’ve seen what strong sun every day can do to paint. It ain’t pretty.