What Is Clear Coat? 6 Reasons Why You Should Use It

24 November 2022 Automotive

There was a time when the topmost layer of car bodywork would have been painted, but as coatings technology and consumer expectations have evolved, it is now common for a clear coat spray – a completely clear, high-gloss lacquer – to be applied over the paint.  To look at a freshly-sprayed paint job, this may seem unnecessary, but a clear coat serves several functions.

View Our Clear Coat Range

1.   Clear Coat Gives Paint A Great finish

Possibly the biggest reason for using clear coat on car bodywork is the fantastic finish it gives – outstanding gloss and added depth and richness to the colour that simply isn’t possible with a paint topcoat. But as we shall see, clear lacquer ensures this finish is maintained for as long as possible.

2.   Clear Coat Protects Against UV Radiation

Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight will damage the surface of paintwork and cause the colour to fade or yellow. In the same way that our eyes and skin need protection against these harmful rays, car paintwork will stay looking beautiful and last longer if it is protected.

Clear lacquers for cars contain additives, similar to those in sunblock, that filter out the harmful rays from sunlight to maintain the colour and integrity of the paint layer (also known as the colour coat, to distinguish it from clear coat).

3.   Clear Coat Protects Against Pollution

Car bodywork is subjected to a wide range of pollutants that contain destructive chemicals and acids – rain, traffic film, bird droppings and tree sap, for example – that will quickly disfigure and damage unprotected paint.

Clear lacquer provides an additional line of defence against these, particularly if a 2k clear coat is used as this offers far greater chemical resistance than a standard clear coat. Pro 2K Clear Lacquer from ProXL combines the protection of a true isocyanate clear lacquer with the convenience of an aerosol – ideal for projects that are too small to justify setting up professional paint spraying equipment or if this isn’t available.

4.   Clear Coat Protects Against Light Scratches And Rust

Small scratches on car paintwork are inevitable, but a clear lacquer will help to prevent visible and unsightly scratches that happen when the paint surface is scratched. Providing the scratches aren’t too deep and haven’t penetrated the clear coat, they can often be polished out without having to go to the lengths of a respray.

A clear lacquer will also reduce the risk of damage that can result in cracking and peeling of the colour coat, exposing the primer and increasing the chance of rust developing.

Clear coats especially formulated for alloy wheels such as ProWheel from ProXL provide the extra protection needed where damage from stone chips and road tar is most likely to happen.

5.   Clear Coat Protects Acrylic Paint And The Environment

The drive to reduce harmful solvents from our environment has resulted in water-based automotive paints, but these aren’t as durable as solvent-based paints. Using a solvent-based clear lacquer on top of acrylic paint means that the paint is protected while reducing the total amount of solvents used.

6.   Clear Coat Preserves Motor Heritage

As we mentioned at the start, the clear coat is a relatively modern innovation in automotive finishing technology – it wasn’t until the 1970’s that manufacturers started to apply a separate clear topcoat.

While vintage and classic car restoration demand that new paintwork should exactly replicate the original, it doesn’t mean old cars cannot be given modern protection. Applying an invisible clear coat will simply ensure the new paintwork is maintained in factory-finish condition and the restored bodywork will enjoy a longer life.

ProXL top coats and clear coats are just some of our professional automotive refinishing products. For more information on our full range, visit us at, or for sales and technical advice and support, call us on 01634 823900.