I heard that water spots can damage my car’s paint. Is this true?

I heard that water spots can damage my car’s paint. Is this true?

Hello Beaverton readers! This month we are going to talk about horrible water spots on our vehicle’s paint and windows.

Compared to other dreaded irritants to your car’s paint (like overspray, tar, squashed bugs, or other debris) water spots sound pretty tame. The fact is, that water spot has the potential to damage your paint every bit as much as many other troublesome contaminants.

Water usually comes in contact with your car in one of three ways:

  1. Overspray (sprinklers, etc.),
  2. Nature (rain)
  3. or washing

So how can a little bit of water hurt your car’s finish?

Water contains varying amounts of minerals and microscopic debris, or particle pollutants, which can not only dull your car’s finish but have the potential to do real harm to your vehicle’s paint.

  1. Common Water Spot

Regular old tap water can cause a buildup of total dissolved solids (TDS) on your car’s paint. Naturally occurring minerals are found in water. Hard water is rich in dissolved minerals, especially magnesium and calcium. These minerals lead to water spots or hard chalk-like deposits (called limescale) that are difficult to remove.

  1. Bonded Mineral

Particle pollutants include microscopic particles from sources such as forest fires, smoke from wood stoves, emissions from industrial plants and vehicles, and dust from construction sites. These tiny particles can either fall on your car in the form of dust or mix with rainwater to plague your paint’s finish.

Rainwater is always acidic to some degree. Acid rain, as we know it, is rain with higher amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids absorbed from the atmosphere. These contaminants combine to create water spots and leave behind hard deposits after the water evaporates. These deposits can bond to your car’s paint and even erode the clear coat If not removed properly.

  1. Etching

Etching is typically seen when water spots are baked into the finish as a result of high heat or direct sunlight. Severe etching can require the use of an abrasive means to correct the situation including wet sanding for severe cases. A qualified professional is recommended in this scenario as improper handling and application can lead to irreparable damage to the car body.

How to remove water spots from your car.

A solid start is a complete wash and dry. Yes, I know you know how to wash a car, but here are a few tips and reminders to make your car washing experience more efficient and successful.

Many dealers recommend using portable deionizers or in-line water softeners for car washing. While water quality is an all-important aspect of water spotting prevention, many consumers do not own or can’t afford these extras.

As an alternative, buy a few gallons of distilled water at your local grocery store to use as a final rinse after washing your car and rinsing with your ordinary tap water.

Tips for Washing your Car

Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight. A shaded area goes a long way to help keep your entire car wet during the washing process so that water does not dry on the car and lead to more water spots.

Be sure that you rinsed all loose debris away from the car. Never wipe a dry car or begin washing before rinsing away debris or you may inadvertently scratch the finish. It’s preferable to use a washing mitt with long strands that will not grind debris into the car.

The all-important rinse bucket will keep your mitt or sponge clear of dirt and grime as you wash so that you are not depositing that dirt onto other areas as your wash. Be sure to replace dirty rinse water as needed.

Wash the wheels first to prevent soot and grime from splashing on the clean car.

Have plenty of clean drying towels on hand. Never air dry your car as evaporation is not your friend. A thorough drying process will go a long way to preventing new water spots and will leave your finish looking much nicer. We recommend using good quality microfiber towels.

White vinegar is a low pH form of acetic acid and is a great hard water spot remover. The minerals found in hard water such as calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) have a high pH factor and usually respond well when treated with vinegar or other low pH removers. Prepare the vinegar solution by emptying equal parts of white vinegar and distilled water into the bucket.

Preventing Water Spots

As with any maintenance and repair, prevention is critical. The best way to get rid of water spots on your car is through routine care.

  • Keep your vehicle clean – Wash your car on a regular basis and never air dry.
  • Always use a clean, soft towel or microfiber cloth to dry your car thoroughly.
  • Use a quality car wax or sealant to keep your car’s finish protected and looking good.
  • Watch where you park – Avoid areas where sprinklers or overspray is likely to occur.

I hope this information is useful, as 3 or 4 people have asked about water spot removal due to sprinklers and not drying their vehicle after washing.

Thank You all for reading.

Please keep in mind if anyone has a vehicle to sell or needs help with a new or pre-owned vehicle, we are a licensed Dealer/Broker and we can help with your automotive needs. We can be reached at fergusonautobrokers@gmail.com or (503) 930-1493. By Larry “The Car Guy“ Ferguson. Image by Neri Vill from Pixabay