8 Substances That Can Damage Your Car’s Paint and How to Address Them

When you buy a new car, you usually do everything you can to take care of it and keep it looking and working well. Although most people remember to take care of regular maintenance, sometimes they forget about the ways that the paint can get damaged through normal use. There are many normal materials that can hurt your vehicle’s paint, so knowing what substances can cause a problem and how to fix it can help you to keep your car looking great.

Sprinkler and Rainwater

Water seems like a harmless substance, so you may be surprised to know that it can actually damage the paint on your car. It actually isn’t the water itself that causes damage, but the minerals that are found within the water.

The water spots you start to see after water splatters on your car, are deposits of the minerals that are left over after the water dries. These deposits can cause damage to the paint over time as they etch into the layers. You can use a spray bottle of vinegar and water to remove these spots with a dry cloth.

Brine and Salt

The salt that is used to melt snow through the winter months can be incredibly hard on car paint. The sodium in the salt is very corrosive and can damage your paint and eventually the actual body of your car if it isn’t taken care of.

Make sure to wash your car regularly during the winter months so you can avoid that damage, and it is a good idea to wax your car before the winter begins. These steps can help you to keep your car clear of salt and avoid the corrosion.

Bird Droppings

Bird droppings are always annoying, but in addition to the annoyance they cause, they can also damage your car and make life more difficult. The longer bird droppings are allowed to remain on your car, the more damage they have the potential to cause. The best thing you can do to prevent damage from bird droppings is to keep a cover on your car when it is parked outside. But if you already have the droppings on your car, you will need to remove them as quickly as possible. Getting a car wash or spot treating the droppings is the easiest way to prevent damage on your car.

Concrete Splatters

It is a little bit rarer for concrete to get on your car, but during construction at your home or while driving around, it can be a major problem. Concrete is made to be a permanent substance, so removing it can be a difficult challenge. Do your best to avoid getting concrete on your vehicle, but if it does get on your car, take care to remove it as soon as possible. If the concrete is still wet, it is an easier process, but if it has dried it can still be taken care of. Removing concrete from your car without damaging the paint can be tricky, but a high-pressure washer or 20:1 water and muriatic acid solution should remove the concrete and avoid paint damage.

Insects and Bugs

Bug splats are impossible to avoid while you drive around, and it can get even worse if you go on a road trip or drive near water on a summer evening. Bugs can be corrosive to your car and can be challenging to remove but taking care of them early can really help you to keep your car in good condition and avoid any permanent damage.

Baby shampoo or degreaser mixed with water will create a gentle solution that can remove the bugs without causing damage to your vehicle.

Brake Fluid

If you take care of car maintenance at home, you may face the odds of getting some brake fluid on the paint of your car. This fluid can be corrosive and cause permanent damage or markings if it isn’t taken care of quickly and carefully.

The first step is to remove the fluid with a cloth, be careful not to wipe it as this can spread the fluid and increase the area that it affects. Once you’ve gotten as much of the fluid off as you can, wash the area and rinse it carefully to get your car back to a clean state and avoid damage.

Tree Sap

If you park your car outside, you may find tree sap on it from time to time. This can happen pretty quickly, so it is a good idea to check for sap anytime you park under a tree, even if it was just briefly. Tree sap can harden and cause damage, so it is a good idea to take care of it quickly. Sap will damage the clear coat and then the paint if you don’t take care of it sooner rather than later. You can use a cotton ball with nail polish remover to break down the sap and get it off the surface of your car. Once you have gotten the sap off, be sure to rinse the surface so you can avoid further damage or problems.


Sometimes when you pump gas into your car there can be a little bit of splashing that can get gas onto the paint of your car. This can cause big problems, but generally just occurs close to the gas tank of your car. If you don’t take care of it almost immediately, it can stain your paint and become almost impossible to remove. If you take care of it quickly though, it is an easy process that won’t cause any damage. Simply clean it off with a cleaning solution and wipe it dry to take care of the mess before it can cause damage.

Taking care of your car’s paint can be a consistent challenge. But if you stick to it, you can keep your car looking brand new for years into its long life.


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