We’ve all been there. After a handful of years, no matter how often you make sure to park in the very empty back corner of parking lots or remind your children to “Please open your door slowly!” chips, scratches, and dings somehow manage to accumulate nonetheless. It’s nothing to be ashamed about (remember, it happens to us all), especially if you’ve taken the time and money to invest in a new paint job, leaving your most beloved 4-wheel friend looking as he did the first time you drove him off the lot.

Now you want to ensure that this time, he stays that way. Plan beforehand with family to make sure that you are guaranteed a spot in the garage for the first few days after the paint job is complete. Outdoor natural occurrences like bird droppings or the sticky sap from trees can be of real damage to a fresh coat of paint. If they do make contact with your car, make sure to wash immediately with soap and water. Other natural elements like sunlight and wind can dull bright colors, bleach dark ones, and small debris carried by wind can leave unwanted scratches on your car as they blow across it.

Car covers and commercial car washes are great ways to protect your car, but NOT for the first 30 days after a new paint job. If you must wash your car in that timeframe, do it gently by hand while rinsing your sponge often. Have two buckets by your side: one to dip in to get the dirt off and one to re-soak your sponge in after. Be careful not to confuse the two!

Most importantly: Don’t outsmart your common sense. You’ve just had a beautiful paint job done on your vehicle. Do you really think placing your purse (the one with all those pretty metal accessories adorning it) on the hood is such a good idea?

Follow these tips, use basic knowledge, and this time around it may be twice as many years before you’ll be forced to take in your car for an external makeover again!

When it is time for a fresh coat of paint, make sure you take your vehicle to a shop you know and trust so you know you’ll be paying for a quality makeover.