Wet car bonnet with a racing stripe

When drivers buy a new or used car from a dealer, then as sure as the showroom floor is shiny and the coffee machine produces lava, they’ll be asked if they’d like a paintwork protection product to be applied to their new car.

Paintwork protection has become big business for dealers who make a surprisingly modest profit just by selling the cars themselves. Every franchised dealer in the country will offer the service, which is designed to safeguard the glossy appearance of new or restored paintwork for years to come.

Some dealers are selling it to about 50 per cent of new car buyers, according to industry sources we spoke with, a success rate that been rising recently as finance becomes the way the majority of cars are bought. By absorbing the cost into the finance package, it’s an easier pill for drivers to swallow.

Paintwork protection costs from £200, depending on the car, and different dealers will recommend different products. These work by forming an invisible seal over the top of paintwork. It 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 has become big business for car dealers

These marks then allow contaminants to penetrate which cause the paint’s condition to fade and deteriorate over time. A paintwork protection product will claim to prevent those tiny cuts and guard against exposure to sunlight, tree sap, bird droppings and tar.

But surely, cars’ paint is already treated with a seal. 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 valeter. 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 appearance and saves drivers from having to wash and wax a car so 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.”


Buyers of modestly priced cars will view paintwork protection as a large expense relative to the cost of the car. Anyone not fussed about their car looking showroom fresh for longer won’t view it as worth having. If drivers do decide it’s for them, they should ensure they’re getting a good quality product that is being applied by a professional valeter.