Stone Chips and Paintwork Damage
Fig 20. Excessive stone chips
You are going to get stone chips, there is no way of avoiding them altogether. Nothing causes stone chips like tailgating, so if you get a lot of chips you should change your driving style and avoid driving so close to the car in front. This will greatly reduce the problem. (It will also help to avoid damage to your windscreen)
For certain models of car there are self adhesive plastic coating, these kits are not available for all cars and are aimed mainly at sports car owners. Although the kits are exceptionally good, they are also rather expensive and probably not a cost effective solution for most lease cars, especially as they only really protect the most vulnerable areas.
Another method of reducing stone chips is to have your car treated with a paint sealant package. Sealants form a tough coating over your paintwork and also fill microscopic holes making it much stronger and thus reducing chips and scratches. It won't make your car bullet-proof but will greatly increase protection over the whole car.
As well as the danger from stones and pebbles, you can also chip doors and other edges of panels. You can get plastic/rubber guard to fit to the edges of doors, which will protect them - they are not aesthetically pleasing but if you are likely to have a problem, then they are well worth getting (the kind that clip on trap dirt and grit which scratch your car as they slide around are worse than useless, but self adhesive strips are very good and they can be removed at a later date). At this point it may be worth following our advice about looking for the problems your old car had.
If your old car had lots of chips, your new one probably will too - next you should try and identify why. If you are just generally clumsy, then you should consider the stick on door protectors, but if you identify that you are bashing the door in the garage because space is tight, then you can try and re-organize your garage to make more space. You can also fix a strip of padding in a strip along the wall that your door bashes against. We have recently discovered a company which supplies a number of products which aid parking and prevent chipped and dented door edges. Click here to read a review of WallGuard and BumpBuster.
Fig 21. Stone chips and scratches on an abused vehicle. This kind of damage often comes from parking your car into undergrowth, be sure to trim back bushes from your driveway.
Fig 22. These scratches (which show up white under bright light) are cause by washing the car with brushes and sponges which are contaminated with grit. It is important to take great care when washing your car.
Scratches are a problem which come from many sources and so are far harder to guard against. The car in Figures 21 and 22 is covered in scratches from various sources. It appear that the driver has been parking in a hedge.. over-hanging vegetation WILL scratch your car so if you have bushes on your driveway that are overgrown trim them back. You should also be careful in country lanes.
Another cause of these scratches in figure 22 seems to be using unsuitable equipment to clean the car, using dirty brushes and sponges will also cause damage... kitchen scouring pads cause damage even when they are clean! Please don't use them - we mention this because some people do!
If you have a jet wash at your local garage you should take care not to drag the hose across your paintwork. They usually have a brush for you to use at the jet wash, often these brushes are far too harsh and will cause scratches, but the problem is often made far worse because the brush is kept in a metal tray which gets filed with rust and dirt and dead leaves.
When you clean your car make sure that whatever you use is soft and clean, and designed for the job. When you get your new car it is probably worth a trip down to Halfords and investing in a sponge, a chamois leather and some proper car shampoo. (you can get yourself a bucket from the supermarket for about 99p). If you keep this gear clean and use it instead of car washes you will not go far wrong. It is very important to take great care when washing your car!
Fig 23. Damage on a sunroof caused by a car wash.
We advise against using automated car washes because although they are easy to use, they are quite expensive when you consider that the vast majority of them will scratch your car - doing far more harm than good. [link]Car Wash Damage - Article.
Any stone chips or scratches can lead to to more serious problems if not attended to. You paintwork protects your car from the elements and if the paintwork is broken, water and salts will get in and lead to rust. Therefore it is very important to address any damage.
Light scratches can often be polished out but any scratches or chips which break the paintwork will need to be touched in with a touch-up paint/pencil. We strongly recommend buying a touch-in paint when you first get the vehicle. You can either get one from the dealership where you get your car or you can get one from Halfords when you are buying your bucket and sponge.
More about scratches on the previous page [link]11. Body Damage - Scratches
We have a full article on how to touch in stone chips and scratches on the following page [link]Stone Chip Article
If you have stone chips and you are wondering if anything can be done about it, upload a photo to Ask the Experts and we'll advise you - no obligation.
Our End-of-Lease Services provide quality repair for excessive wear and tear, and is acceptable and appropriate for Contract Hire, Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), Private Lease, Contract Purchase and Lease Purchase. Fleet managers wishing to efficiently prepare off-lease vehicles can contact us or send their drivers directly to our Q&A. Our advisors are trianed by Manheim to work to the BVRLA guidelines.