7 Simple Reasons Why Your Car Paint Is Not Shiny

Generally, car paint should last between 10 to 15 years because, like many things, they wear with time and won’t look the same.

However, if your car paint’s shine has dropped and you’ve only had it for a couple of years, the problem will hardly be because of use.

But what could cause your car’s paint to fade? 

Quick Answer

As a whole, the reasons your car paint is not shiny are due to sunlight, scratches, harmful chemicals, bird droppings, low maintenance, and more. 

The sun is one of your car’s paint biggest enemies, and consistent exposure to it will ultimately fade out your paint.

When you combine that with other factors, there’s no telling that your car won’t look as great as it used to.

Therefore, it is important to know all the possible factors that can lose the paint’s shine to avoid them.

Why Is My Car Paint Not Shiny?

When cars are new, they look shiny, vibrant, and attractive. Unfortunately, they don’t last forever.

Some car paint’s shine fades faster than others due to different reasons, while others live out their lifespan.

However, if the paint loses its shine too quickly, it’s unlikely to be natural, but due to some factors.

Quick Answer

As a general rule, your car paint is not shiny due to the following factors: 

  • Road salt
  • UV rays
  • Bird droppings
  • Scratches
  • Harmful chemicals
  • Paint type
  • Lack of maintenance

Different factors can harm your car’s paint.

When the paint’s pigmentation breaks down, and the clear coat gets damaged, you will notice that it isn’t as shiny as it used to be.

Besides outliving its shine due to use, your car’s paint can lose its gloss because of the following:

Road Salt

In snowy areas, road salt is used to defrost snow and ice and enable citizens to use their cars.

While the purpose of road salt is for great good, it doesn’t benefit your car’s paint much. 

When you drive your car through road salt often, the salt accumulates in your car, causing the paint to lose its shine, and may eventually lead to rusting if not removed.

Salt contains corrosive properties that eat at your paint. 

Therefore, you should wash your car often if you live in cold areas.

This will prevent the salt from accumulating and ruining the paint.

Otherwise, beyond losing its shine, eventually, you will have to deal with car rust. 

UV Rays

Sunlight is one major factor that diminishes a car’s aesthetic. The UV rays from the sun affect a car’s paint pigmentation.

The rays break down the pigmentation, causing oxidation in the paint.

The oxidation affects the paint molecules, making them lose their reflectivity.

With time, the paint will dull, crack, and in extreme cases, flake off the car.

Therefore, you must keep your car from the sun as much as possible if you want it to last long. 

Park your car in a garage or use a fabric cover to protect it from UV rays.

Furthermore, you should consider waxing, wrapping, or ceramic coating the car for more protection. 

Bird Droppings

The harmless bird flying over and perching over your car or even taking a dump over it isn’t as harmless as you think.

Bird droppings are highly acidic and dangerous to your car’s paint. 

Ignoring and leaving bird poop and urine on your car will affect the paint in the long run.

Therefore, you should remove bird droppings from your car immediately. 

Clean the surface with a wet towel and shampoo.

Avoid scrubbing dried bird droppings on the car hard to prevent scratching. 


Another reason your car paint has lost its shine is due to scratching.

Microscopic scratches on your car make it look less attractive. These scratches are often due to aggressive hand or automatic car washing.

Scrubbing too hard and the harsh washing tools at the car wash will leave minor scratches.

Therefore, ensure you wash your car more carefully. 

Use a soft wash mitt, scrub gently, and avoid using abrasive cleaners.

Furthermore, a touchless car wash will hardly leave scratches on your car. 

Harmful Chemicals

Another culprit that dulls out your car paint is harmful chemicals.

Many car washing processes involve using harmful chemicals, especially cleaning agents.

Some car washes use harsh chemicals to remove dirt from cars, which affects the paint.

Furthermore, washing your car with harsh detergents is a problem.

Chemicals from gasoline, coffee, and brake fluid spills on your car will make the paint fade.

Therefore, ensure you use only car wash shampoos for your car. 

Paint Type

The type of paint used on the car will determine how fast it will lose its shine.

For example, a single-stage paint is more likely to fade faster than a separate base coat and clear coat. 

The clear coat guards the base coat against UV rays, preventing it from fading faster.

Ensure you get a proper coating on your car if you want the paint to shine for a long time. 

Lack Of Maintenance

Lack of or low maintenance will cause your paint to dull out quickly.

If you wash and wax often, the paint is unlikely to fade faster. 

However, if you don’t and you expose the car to the elements, you should expect the paint to lose its shine.

Waxing protects the car from UV and other contaminants that may fade out the paint.


You must protect your car if you don’t want the paint to fade.

Washing and waxing the car is one way; protecting it from the sun, road salt, bird droppings, and harsh chemicals is another way to do that.

Wax your car often or get a ceramic coating; then, park your car in a garage.

Key Takeaways:

  • UV rays affect the paint pigmentation, preventing it from shining.
  • Wash and wax your car often to prevent fading.
  • Park your car in a garage to protect the paint from UV rays and bird dropping.
  • Use only car wash-specific cleaners to clean your car.