How To Remove Water Spots on Car
Compared to other dreaded irritants to your carís paint like overspray, tar, squashed bugs, or other debris, water spots sound pretty tame. The fact is, that water spots have 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 including overspray (sprinklers, etc.), rain, or washing your car. 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.
Types of Water Spots
1. Regular Water Spot
Regular old tap water can cause a buildup of total dissolved solids (TDS) on your carís 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 limescale, hard chalk-like deposits that can prove difficult to remove.
2. 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 carís paint and even erode the clear coat If not removed properly.
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.
Washing Your Car
Letís first consider the most straightforward avenue for removing water spots from your car. A solid start is a complete wash and dry. Yes, 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 canít afford these extras.
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.
What you will need:
Tips for Washing your Car
The Vinegar Method
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.
What you will need:
Prepare the vinegar solution by emptying equal parts of white vinegar and distilled water into the bucket.
Tip: Distilled water allows for a more acidic solution as it is free of any minerals that may weaken the pH of the vinegar.
Test a small area using a clean sponge wet with the vinegar solution. Apply to a water spot and allow it to remain for up to one minute to loosen, and hopefully dissolve, the water deposit. Rinse and gently wipe the area dry.
Continue to apply the solution to affected areas, keeping the water spots wet with the vinegar mix for at least 1 to 2 minutes. Gently wipe the water spot, rinse thoroughly with water, and towel dry.
Tip: Use a light touch. Do not aggressively rub the spot as this may lead to a scratched finish.
The vinegar solution will likely remove any sealants or waxes. If you use a vinegar solution to remove hard water spots, re-apply paint sealant or wax to restore and protect your car`s finish.
Detailing clay can be effective at removing contaminants in water spots such as metal fragments, ash, dust, and other particle pollutants. It also works well on removing water spots from car windows and the windshield where the hardened residue does not penetrate the glass surface. Be aware, however, that claying may not resolve water spots from mineral deposits. Read our detailed guide to claying your car here.
What you will need:
Lubricate a defined area with a clay lubricant to prevent scratches to the finish as the clay bar is moved over the surface of the car.
Gently move the detailing clay over the area. The clay bar will grab areas where contaminants and grit are present.
Work on noted spots from multiple angles.
Continue to lightly rub the clay bar over the area until it glides freely without grabbing at the surface.
Tip: As the clay bar becomes soiled, it can be folded to expose a clean portion of the bar.
Wipe each section with a clean, dry microfiber towel when finished.
Water Spot Remover Products
When all remedies fail to remove water spots on your car, etching may be the reason. Older, hardened water spots lead to etching of the paintís surface, leaving a cavity in the finish. Etching then leads to increased water retention and encourages a build-up of contaminants as the sunken cavity, however slight, tends to attract and hold water.
Abrasion of the carís surface may be needed at this point to level the finish. The paint is an important factor as to the level of difficulty with this process. We recommend seeking a qualified professional to complete this process.
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.
I've been away a while and see this wonderful post. Thank you. When I see my brother's 63 Nova in July I'll keep it in mind. Hopefully he just needs a wash and wax. I'll be sure to do a light finger check with regards to a clay job.
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