Car paint finishes

Thursday September 23 2021
By Mustafa Ziraba

The used car market is quite fascinating. You can get a car in virtually any colour and configuration loaded with options that would have cost an arm and a leg when new for a fraction of the cost.

That said, because most of the used cars imported into Uganda are from Japan, we are largely stuck with the Japanese tastes and preferences at the time the car was released.

You shall realise that in earlier years most cars from Japan were largely of safe colours including but not limited to white and silver or some shade of those two.

In later model years, we are now seeing grey, more black, red, some blue and even some odd colours like gold.

The thing about colour though is that unless one is very specific or in the market for a brand new car, it’s not always a point of consideration in their car purchase workflow, nevertheless, some colours are just more popular and acceptable than others.

For instance, white, silver, and black are so popular. Cars with these paint colours have stronger resale values. There are also generally more white, black, and silver cars available than any other colour.


People do not have a lot of free time, so when they go car-shopping, they will tend to pick from whatever is available that day.

Car paint colour is influenced by a variety of factors. Look at the same car at two different times of day, or two different angles, and the colour changes.

The colour also depends on how thick the paint is, and what is underneath it, like the rust-protecting e-coat and primer.  There is also the protective clear coat, which is not always actually clear.

Not all car paints are created equal. You shall find that some car paints are more alluring in the way they reflect light or the shine that comes with it.

While it is not an issue in the used car market, new cars have significant cost differences based on the type of paint desired.

Solid, metallic

This choice of the first owner comes to bite the used car owner when they need a re-spray or dent repair and they need to do a paint match up.

There are two most common paint finishes you shall come across - solid and metallic. You shall be surprised at how many cars have solid paint as this colour usually does not add much cost to the car when new.

The majority of cars in white or black when new are often solid colours. These undergo a single application of the colour, followed by a clear coat above it, protecting it from chips, scratches and poor weather conditions.

 Solid colours come with several maintenance benefits. For example,  minor stone chips can be repaired easily with widely available paint. More serious damage can be taken care of as well at little cost in minimal time.

Because this is a cheap finish, it looks dull.

Then there’s the metallic paint finish which is the most common among used cars from Japan.

Pretty much the same as solid paints, metallic varieties differ thanks to the addition of a small quantity of powdered metal usually aluminium added.

The size and type of metal added varies depending on manufacturer choices. The metal particles in the paint pick up and reflect more incident light than the basic paint colours, adding a sleek look that is definitely cool.

However, when damaged, it is much harder to get metallic paint to match properly and it shall cost you a premium to get it right.

There is the very rare pearlescent paints that use ceramic crystals rather than metal particles.

These don’t just reflect light but refract it, too. This splits the finish into different colours by allowing some light in and slowing it down as it passes through, giving the paint a sparkle that varies depending on how you look at the car.

Of course, as you would guess, these cost quite a bit when new and to repair damage as well.

You shall hardly see these on Ugandan roads as the kind of cars that carry this paint finish are not exactly in reach of many buyers.

Some of the richest paint shades need multiple coats to look that way. That adds time and complexity to the production line, which adds cost. It also adds more opportunities for defects to appear, which adds even more time and cost.

If you want a flashy car paint colour, be prepared to pay for it when the time comes.

So you have a cool colour on your car how do you protect it? Well obviously try as much as possible to avoid scratches, not so easy with the number of road users. Clean off bird droppings as soon as possible as these are corrosive.

The longer corrosive substances are allowed to work on the car paint, the greater the damage can become. Those who love their cars wash them at least in weekly intervals. Should you once in a while follow up the car washes with a wax? Absolutely.

So how would you know that your car needs a wax?

Well first of if you have never had it waxed is one way to know. The other is if rainwater does not bead on the painted surfaces of your car.

The wax seals the top coat of the car paint and thus protects it against external effects.

Types of paint jobs

There are three main types of car paint jobs. When you schedule an appointment at an auto body shop, you’ll choose from either a whole body paint job, a spot paint job, or a clear coat paint job. Learn the differences among the three below.

Whole body paint: When you choose this type of car paint job, your ride will get an all-new look from bumper to bumper. Just like the name indicates, body shop techs will completely repaint your vehicle to either a fresh coat of the same colour or a new colour altogether.

Spot paint: Spot paint is a great solution for drivers who have been in an accident and need to touch up damage to get their car looking like-new again. When the auto body techs take on this type of job, they’ll simply repaint certain spots of your vehicle the same paint colour so everything is uniform.

Clear coat paint: Clear coat is what keeps your car looking shiny and new, and it also helps to protect your car’s paint from the elements. If you notice that your clear coat is peeling, this is the type of car paint job you want to schedule.