Does water spots truly damage your car’s paint?
The answer is both yes and no.
Well, we can categorize the water spots in different types.
Each of the types has a certain level of impact on the car paint, and they require different methods of treatment to remove the stains properly.
Of course, you have different ways to prevent water spots too.
So, be on your toes.
Because in this article, I’m going to let you know about how to remove water spots from a car in 5 simple ways, why water stains appear, and how to prevent them.
Let’s get this show on the road without any further delay.
Before I write anything about different ways of water spot removal, first, let me tell you the types of water spots.
Types of Water Spots on Car
Typically water spots on the car can be divided into three types.
- Hard water spot
- Bonded mineral
- Chemical Etching
Let me give you a brief idea about each of these types.
Hard Water Spot
Hard water spot is the most common type of water spot, and it’s caused by excessive calcium or mineral deposits.
Once you are done washing your car with tap water and let the water dry on the car’s surface, the water evaporates leaving the minerals. Which eventually turns into hard water spots.
It can be caused by rain or sprinklers too.
While hard water spot is pretty common, removing the stain is not hard at all. I will talk about this later in this article.
Don’t get confused with the hard water spot as this type of spot is also caused by mineral.
But this time, I’m talking about bonded mineral, which is stronger than the hard water spots and requires a bit different approach to remove the marks.
Bonded mineral spots are caused by dirty water or water that has a high concentration of minerals or contaminants.
For example, acid rain because it contains a high amount of sulfuric and nitric acid.
This happens when you let the mineral deposits dry for a long time under the sun. Mainly when the weather is too hot, the mineral deposits etched into the car’s surface.
Correcting this type of stains is difficult but not impossible. Perhaps you will want to hire a professional for this job.
Chemical etching spots develop on a single-stage paint job (without the base coating / clear coating) as well as on factory paint job.
Ok, now let’s get to know the different ways of removing hard water spots efficiently.
How to Remove Water Spots From Car
Well, you have a couple of ways to remove hard water spots from your car.
I’m going to show you 5 different ways.
- Washing and Drying
- The White Vinegar Bath
- Clay Method
- Using Spot Remover Products
- Paint Correction / Polishing
Let’s go through one by one.
1. Washing and Drying
Look, I’m not going to write down the process of washing a dirty car (e.g., pressure washing a car) because that’s a whole different thing. Instead, I’m going to talk about the washing procedure of removing hard water spots.
If you can manage the deionizer to do this job, then it’s great. But if you can’t afford it, nothing to worry about. Just buy distilled water and use it for the final rinse.
Here are the steps with some crucial tips.
- First of all, don’t wash your car under direct sunlight. Why? Because you don’t want to allow the water to evaporate, right? It won’t help to remove the water spots. In fact, it will lead to more water spots (more on this later). So wash your car towards the end of the day in a shaded area.
- Next, to avoid any accidental scratch, it’s vital to remove all the loose debris from the surface. You can use a car wash solution to remove any loose dirt. But it’s optional.
- You can pre-rinse the car by spraying water over the car’s surface. Or make the surface wet with a rag or damp sponge.
- Use a separate sponge or wash mitt to wash the wheels/tires and the surface because it’s quite usual that the tires collect metal particles or rocks and pebbles. If you use the same mitt to wash both wheels and the surface, very likely, you are going to scratch the paint.
- Now wash the car from top to bottom one segment at a time. Wash the roof first, then the middle part, and then the lower part. You don’t have to be too fancy here. I mean no need to pressure wash the car. Just use wash mitt and any car washing shampoo (pH neutral) to complete the job.
- Use a wash bucket with a grit guard because the grit guard will trap any dirt particles and let them stay at the bottom of the bucket.
- Give a final rinse with distilled water.
- Once you complete washing your car, use a microfiber drying towel to dry the car immediately. Letting the water to evaporate will lead to more water spots rather than removing them. I have a separate article to guide you if you want to know the best way to dry a car properly after washing.
Once you wash and dry the car completely, hopefully, you won’t see any more water spots on the surface.
2. The White Vinegar Bath
Vinegar is said to be the most excellent solution to remove hard water spots.
The excessive calcium or other mineral deposits that caused the water spot responds well if you treat it with vinegar. Vinegar contains acetic acid, and it plays a significant role here to remove watermarks.
So if you still see some water spots after implementing the previous washing and drying method, apply the white vinegar bath.
Here is how to remove water spots from a car with vinegar:
- First, mix equal parts of white vinegar and distilled water in a bucket or spray bottle.
- Now start applying the solution to the affected areas. Test a small square first.
- After applying the solution, let it soak for 1 minute and then wipe with a soft microfiber towel.
- If you see it works, then apply the solution to the remaining affected areas and wipe after 1 minute of implementing the solution.
- Remember, while applying vinegar is an excellent way to remove hard water spots or bonded mineral spots, very likely, it will remove any wax too. So, better re-apply wax to protect the finish after completing the vinegar bath.
3. Clay Method
Apply clay treatment only if the above two methods fail.
Clay barring a car can remove contamination in water spots like dust, ash, or other particle pollutants. It also eliminates the wheel dust and brake dust.
Here is how to apply the clay bar method to remove contamination in water stains.
- Get a handy clay bar, clay lubricant, and a microfiber towel. You will find different clay bars for different types of jobs like light-duty clay bar for newer cars, medium-duty clay bar for cars having moderate contamination, and heavy-duty clay bar for older cars and cars that have heavy contamination.
- Next, apply the clay lubricant on the surface. Start with a particular panel.
- Better apply the clay lubricant generously to avoid any scratch.
- Then take the clay bar and gently rub the surface left to right or up and down but no circular pattern.
- After rubbing the surface with the clay bar, use the microfiber towel to dry the surface immediately.
- Move to the next panel and repeat the same process.
Now you should see a shiny surface free of any water spots.
4. Using Spot Remover Products
Still, you are finding more hard water spots? Why don’t you try a good water spot remover then?
Let me introduce some of the quality water spot removers and brief instructions on how to apply them properly.
- Chemical Guys Heavy Duty Water Spot Remover – This water spot remover neutralizes alkaline stain with a mild acid to remove stubborn water spots. At first, wash any debris and abrasive specks of dirt. Then apply this remover with a microfiber towel to the affected area.
- 3D Eraser Water Spot Remover – Another marvelous water spot remover that softens the hard mineral with its acidic mixture. Apply a small amount on the water spot and rub the area with a microfiber towel. Like always before applying this remover, wash the debris and abrasive dirt.
- Meguiar’s Water Spot Remover – Meguiar’s water spot remover works the same way as the other spot removers I mentioned here. The applying procedure is also the same.
5. Paint Correction / Polishing
Apply this method only if your car has a chemical etching water spot. While you can follow my instructions to do it yourself, I recommend consulting a professional for this task to get the best result.
For polishing, get a good polisher. A polisher levels out the upper layer of the paint to the lower layer. That means it removes a little bit of paint from the top layer.
As a chemical etching spot develops on the first layer of paint, so this process should correct the spot quite quickly.
Again, as I said, if you find it difficult or not confident enough to operate a polisher, then ask an expert to help you out.
Why Do Water Spots Form in the First Place?
Well, that’s a good question.
I believe, to prevent water spots instead of removing them, you have to know the reason behind their formation first.
- First and foremost, it appears on the cur’s surface if you let the water evaporate after washing your car.
That means if you don’t dry the car immediately after washing, then the water will evaporate, leaving different minerals and other substances. Later these minerals and elements turn into water stains.
No matter if you wash your car under direct sunlight or not, drying the car right after you wash a must. Otherwise, get ready to see some water spots.
- Second, if your car comes into touch with raindrops and you don’t wash and dry the car immediately expect the same result.
- Because, if your car’s surface has dust or pollen, it will stick to the rainwater droplets and form water spots once the water evaporates.
- So, letting the rainwater for air-drying is another reason for forming water spots.
- Third, not using a quality sealant or wax to protect your car’s finish is something that gives the water spots an open space to form.
So, basically, no matter how your car comes into touch with water, not drying the vehicle immediately after washing is the primary reason for water spots’ appearance.
How to Prevent Water Spots
Ok, now let’s find out how to prevent water spots. It’s always better to prevent than cure, right?
- Keep your car clean and always dry it manually right after you wash it every time. Don’t let the water evaporate or air dry.
- Follow any drying method correctly to make sure you are drying the car properly.
- Use a high-quality sealant or wax to protect the car’s finish adequately.
- Park the car at an appropriate place. Mainly watch your parking during the rainy season. Avoid sprinklers too.
- Wash your car at the end of the day, when the weather is not too hot.
- Does vinegar hurt car paint? – All it will do is dulling your car paint. So you have to re-wax your car.
- How do I remove etched water spots from my car? – You have to do paint correction or polishing. I’ve already discussed this above.
- Does rainwater leave water spots on the car? – In general, no, unless it’s acid rain. Natural rainwater usually doesn’t form a water spot. However, if your vehicle has dust and pollen on the surface and it comes to the rain droplet, you must dry the rainwater before it evaporates. Otherwise, it will be a cause of water spots.
- How stubborn or damaging the stains are on car paint? – If it’s merely a hard water spot, then you can remove the spot easily. If it’s a bonded mineral spot, then it’s removable too. But if it’s chemical etching spot, then you can call it stubborn. You need to do paint correcting or polishing the car paint to get rid of it.
- What is the best way to remove water spots from windows and windshield? – Any method that I discussed earlier should do the work. My favorite is clay detailing or using any water spot remover to treat the water spots on windows and windshields.
In this article, I’ve left no stone unturned to describe different water spots that form on a car, how they affect the car paint, how to remove water spots from a car, why the water spots appear in the first place, and how to prevent them.
Now make it happen.
I recommend you to prevent water spots instead of letting them form and remove later.
But it’s quite usual that you won’t be able to prevent them always.
In case you find water spots on the car’s surface, go and follow the spot removal procedures immediately.
Good luck, and let me know if you are not sure about anything I’ve discussed above.