Direct Line magazine

Is it worth buying paint protection for a new or used car?

Updated on: 14 September 2023

a car with a shiny coat of metallic blue paint

When drivers buy a new or used car from a dealer, as sure as the showroom floor’s shiny and the coffee machine pours lava, they’re asked if they’d like paintwork protection applied to their new car.

Paintwork protection is big business for dealers who can increase their profit margins on car sales by upselling the service.

What you’re paying for is an invisible seal over the top of the car’s paintwork which promises to preserve its glossy appearance. The seal is hard-wearing and protects against swirl marks caused by poor cleaning techniques, such as washing with a sponge that contains tiny particles of grit and debris, or putting the car through an automated car wash.

Paintwork protection is big business for dealers

Over time, these marks allow contaminants through which cause the paint to fade and deteriorate. Paintwork protection products claim to prevent those tiny cuts and guard against exposure to sunlight, tree sap, bird droppings and tar.

So, do you really need to pay for extra protection?

Yes… says Richard Tipper, owner of Perfection Detailers

“A good quality ceramic clear coat protection product should last around seven years. But the important thing is that the product is applied by a professional car valet. Much of the performance and durability of the product comes down to the application. If it’s done in a rushed and slapdash fashion, because there are another 10 cars to get through that day, it won’t perform well.”

No… says Rupert Pontin, head of valuations, Glass’s

“There is no tangible difference in value between identical used cars with and without paintwork protection. However, it does make a difference to the appearance and saves drivers from having to wash and wax a car too frequently. Dealers are quick to offer paintwork protection because it’s highly profitable. But there are plenty of after-market paint-care products drivers could go out and buy that will do a good enough job for their needs.”


If you’re buying a moderately-priced car, then paintwork protection is a large expense relative to the cost of the car. It may not necessarily be covered by your insurer though, so check with them. If you’re not fussed about your car looking showroom fresh, then it’s probably not worth having. 

If you decide paintwork protection is for you, make sure you’re getting a good quality product that is applied by a professional valet who isn’t going to rush the job.

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