What’s Polymer Degradation and Is My Car at Risk of it?

Many car owners aren’t familiar with so-called polymer degradation. This is why they fail to understand how it impacts their insurance and how it affects their vehicles. It’s one of the buzzwords of the automotive industry that all drivers should be aware of.

What is polymer degradation?

Your car has a rubber, vinyl, and plastic parts. These are polymers, which are basically the components of your vehicle that aren’t made of metal. It can be painted or not, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

However, when these polymers get exposed to outdoor elements, it will start to degrade. Wind, rain, heat, pollution, and other harsh elements can cause the polymers to sustain damages. The more it gets exposed to these substances, the faster it gets damaged.

Polymer degradation is equal to rotting in food. However, it doesn’t decompose or spoil as the latter used to. Instead, degradation manifests in the form of cracking, chipping, and fading. Over time, the rubber parts will become brittle and less flexible as it used to be.

Take note that polymer degradation is easy to spot among dark-colored components. However, some think that the faded color is the result of leftover wax after buffing. However, if you tried to wipe it and it didn’t go away, chances are your car’s polymer parts are starting to degrade.

UV exposure is the number one enemy

Of all the outdoor elements, UV exposure is the leading cause of polymer degradation. Intense exposure to UV can cause the polymer’s color, tensile, and shape to change. Over time, it will start to show signs of damage, thus the onset of polymer degradation.

Aside from the plastic and rubber components of your car, you should also note that paint itself is a kind of polymer. Over time, it will start to lose its coat strength and begin to crack and chip. If your vehicle’s exterior paint gets easily scratched, it’s a sign that the layer is starting to degrade.

Take note that even if you wax or avail a protective layer for your car’s paint, it will not save it from photodegradation. As much as it will reduce the impact of UV rays, it’s no match if ultraviolet is paired with dirt, oil, and air pollution.

How to prevent polymer degradation

At some point, polymer degradation is inevitable. Still, you can fight premature damages with some simple steps. First, always keep your car clean, especially after a long drive. Also, get your vehicle details at least twice a year to check on potential damages.

Also, consider using products that will reduce or delay the onset of polymer degradation. You can ask an auto shop about this so they can treat your car right away. Carnauba wax is one of the widely used products, but you can also explore other options.

Lastly, avoid abrasive detergents when washing your car. Use only cleaners that are approved to keep your vehicle’s paint intact and safe from damages. Also, avoid washing under intense heat. Look for a shaded spot and wait until the temperature gets a little cooler.