If you have a new car, recently had your car painted, or you just have a car with a good paint job, then you want to keep it in good condition. Failing to take care of your car's paint job, especially metallic or clear coat paint, could mean an expensive repair down the road. It's especially important to take care of your paint if you are forced to park your car outdoors. Here are four things you can do to keep your car's paint in good condition.

Wash Your Car

Washing your car on a regular basis helps to keep dirt from getting too deep into the finish and ruining the paint. You should be washing your car at least once a month, preferably once a week. Use a soap that's specifically made for your car's finish, especially if your car has a clear coat paint. Be sure to dry it off with an absorbent yet non-abrasive towel.

Polish Your Car

Polishing your car helps to further remove dirt and oxidation, and prepares the surface for waxing. It helps to remove small pits and imperfections in the paint such as swirls and lines. Polish comes in sprays, creams and liquids. If you want to fix minor scratches and nicks, gently use a rubbing compound before you polish.

Wax Your Car

Waxing is the last step in cleaning your car, and it's what brings out your car's shine and helps water to bead. It also helps to put a protective shell over your paint so that it resists damage from contaminants, such as bird poop, and the sun. You should be waxing by hand at least twice a year to bring out the maximum shine to your paint. Never apply wax in the sun or while your car is hot. Wipe off the wax promptly according to the instructions or you could damage your finish.

Cover Your Car

Finally, you should be either covering your car, or parking it in a shady or covered area as much as possible. Some types of paint are particularly prone to sun damage. If you get a cover, make sure it's light and breathable. If you're in a rainy area, then you should get one that is also water-resistant or waterproof. You want to avoid any type of covering that traps in moisture, as it can cause damage.

It's important to take care of your car's finish just like any other type of car maintenance. Taking care of your car's paint isn't hard once you get into a routine and you have the right products. Even if you can't do this yourself, there are companies that can help you. Check to see if your local auto care professional offers these types of services.