10 Ways to Ruin Your Car’s Paintwork Without Knowing It

Taking care of your car’s paintwork isn’t just a matter of keeping it looking its shiny showroom best; it’s about preserving its bodywork, protecting it from rust spots, and boosting its resale value should you want to sell it on.

Sadly, it isn’t just car park dings and malicious acts of vandalism that can ruin your car’s paint. From fingerprints to bird droppings; there are lots of innocent, everyday things that can blemish your car’s exterior. Here we highlight 10 ways to ruin your car’s paintwork without even knowing it.

In this guide, we highlight 10 ways to damage your car’s paintwork without knowing it, and provide practical steps on how to remedy common car cleaning issues — like safely removing dust and sap from the bodywork.

If you’ve got a specific car cleaning query you’d like answering, use the links below to quickly find the information you’re looking for in the article:

  • How to remove dust from car paint
  • Does tree sap damage car paint?
  • What does brake fluid do to paint?

At-a-Glance Guide to Solving Common Car Cleaning Problems

Use our handy at-a-glance guide below to quickly find the right fix for your car care woes.

FingerprintsWash and dry car thoroughly. Apply polish in smooth, circular motion.
Stone ChipsPaintwork filler and paint. Or, leave it to the professionals.
BugsTry Simoniz Insect & Dirt Remover.
Bird DroppingsTry Simoniz Insect & Dirt Remover.
Tree SapTry Simoniz Tar, Sap & Glue Remover
Water SpotsWash and dry car thoroughly. Apply a coat of good-quality vehicle wax to protect the car from future blemishes.
Fluid StainsWash and dry car thoroughly. Apply polish in smooth, circular motion. Finish with a coat of wax to avoid future staining and blemishes.

 ve Commons. Credit: Josh Evnin

1. Fingerprints

Children or annoying passers-by love to write “Clean Me” onto a dirty car. Little do they know however, that their fingertip graffiti can cause lasting damage to a vehicle’s paintwork. How? Fingerprints grind dirt and debris into the paint, leaving a lasting blemish that can be very difficult to remove.

How to remove fingerprints

Give the paintwork a thorough wash and check for any scratches or abrasion. Then, use a good-quality polish to remove any light marks or scratches, applying the product in a circular motion to ensure an even finish.

2. Stone Chips

Paint chip

When it comes to ruining a car’s paintwork, chips caused by loose stones and pebbles are a repeat offender. Stone chips can cause lasting damage to your car — particularly on its bonnet and bumper.

How to remove stone chips from vehicle paint

While stone chips can be difficult to remove, a professional should be able to restore your car to its best. Alternatively, you could have a go yourself using the Simoniz range of paint and maintenance products.

3. Bugs

Dead bugs are surprisingly acidic and difficult to remove, and can cause lasting damage to your paintwork if not dealt with swiftly. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid bug splatters while driving, but you can do something to stop them impacting on the finish of the paint. To remove the insects easily, try our specially developed Insect & Tar Remover trigger spray.

4. Bird Droppings

Bird Droppings

Bird droppings aren’t just unsightly, they’re acidic and can cause permanent damage to your car’s paintwork. Not only that, but birds often eat nuts, seeds and bits of gravel which can scratch your paint on impact.

Removing bird droppings from a car

To remove bird droppings, try the spray mentioned above and use a gentle, lifting motion so as not to grind the substance into the paint.

5. Tree Sap

Park beneath a tree for long enough, and your car will receive a covering of sap which can be difficult to remove — especially if it dries hard. Sap is incredibly sticky, and any attempt to wipe it off without using the proper product will only spread the problem to a wider area. You also run the risk of scratching and damaging the paintwork if you scrub at tree sap with the wrong type of tool or product.

How to remove tree sap from your car

Use our Insect & Tar Remover spray and a quality microfibre mitt to gently remove the sap. Once you’ve cleaned it all off, it’s a good idea to re-apply a layer of wax to the vehicle for protection against future deposits.

6. Water Spots

Water spots

Live in a rainy part of the country or park near an automated sprinkler, and your car will soon end up covered in water spots. While you wouldn’t think water could cause lasting damage to your paintwork, these annoying spots are difficult to remove due to the minerals they contain.

How to remove water spots and marks

To remove water spots and marks from your paintwork, wash your car with a car shampoo, the dry it thoroughly with a microfibre cloth. After you’ve removed any water blemishes, apply another layer of wax to your car to protect the paint from future imperfections.

7. Forgetting to Wash Regularly

A man washing a car door with a sponge

Cars require regular washing to keep their exteriors in tip-top condition. If you don’t clean it regularly rust patches could soon develop, particularly if the car is left uncovered through the winter months.

At Simoniz, we’d recommend washing and shampooing your car on a fortnightly basis, especially during the autumn and winter. Waxing is also a very important step in taking care of your car’s paintwork; wax at least twice a year for complete protection.

How to remove dust from your car

One of the major oversights of neglecting to wash your car is the amount of dust that can build up on the paintwork, dulling the finish and causing visibility problems. When your car is clean but covered in dust, giving it a full shampoo can seem like overkill. Instead, use a high-quality duster to gently sweep away the dust from your paintwork, without having to wet the car. Make sure to use a premium-quality duster that’s designed for use on cars, to avoid small scratches and abrasions. Use a slow sweeping motion to lift the dust from the surface, and avoid applying too much pressure.

8. Fuel Stains

Whether your car has sprung a leak or you’ve had a spillage while refuelling, fluids like petrol, diesel, engine oil, and brake fluid can cause damage if they come in contact with the paintwork – leaving marks and stains which can be virtually impossible to remove if left for too long.

Removing vehicle fluid stains from your car

Give it a wash as soon as possible and, using a circular motion, remove the stain with a clean microfibre cloth. If the stain won’t come off, wash the area again before drying it thoroughly with a second microfibre cloth. Then, apply good-quality car polish to the affected area, again using a circular motion. The micro-abrasive action of the polish should help lift the stain. Once the stain has been removed, apply a layer of wax to help protect the car from future stains and imperfections.

What does brake fluid do to paintwork?

As car paints and brake fluids have advanced, there’s now less danger of causing damage to your car in the event of a spillage. Old types of brake fluid were very caustic, and would act like a stripper when coming into contact with car paint. Now, advanced vehicle lacquers mean that metallic paints are less susceptible to acid damage from brake fluid. You should still be careful, however, especially when using an older form of brake fluid, such as DOT 2 or DOT 3.

9. Prolonged Exposure to Sunshine

Thanks to the UK’s reliable cloudiness, it isn’t often cars suffer prolonged exposure to sunlight. If you live in a hot country however, or Britain enjoys a particularly long and sunny summer, sun exposure can cause your vehicle’s paintwork to fade — and this damage that can be difficult to reverse.

The best way to avoid prolonged sun exposure is to park in a garage or cover the car with a specially made car cover. Failing that, try to park in a shady spot wherever possible.

black car clean paint

10.      Incorrect Cleaning

Regardless of how often you wash and shampoo your car, incorrect cleaning can cause permanent damage to the paintwork. Below, we list common car cleaning issues and how to avoid them:

  • Dirty wash accessories — As soon as a cloth, sponge or other accessory gets dirty, it’s easy to transfer that muck back on to the paintwork, which could result in swirl marks or other areas of abrasion. To avoid this, always use two buckets when cleaning your car — one for clean wash water and the other for rinsing your accessories. This makes sure that no dirt can come in contact with your car after it’s been removed.
  • Shampoo errors — Make sure the shampoo lathers well on the paintwork, with a good amount of suds and foam. It’s this creamy lather that lifts dirt and muck from the paintwork. Use too little shampoo, and you’ll find you have to work harder to get your car clean — and all that scrubbing can soon lead to small scratches and swirl marks. You should also never allow shampoo to dry; rinse it off straight away to prevent it from setting.
  • Waxing errors — Never wax your car in direct sunlight. The heat causes the wax to set hard before you’ve had chance to buff it, and this can be difficult to remove. Instead, park in a shady spot and work periodically, applying wax to a single panel and buffing it to a high shine, before moving on to the next one. This ensures the wax doesn’t have time to dry hard on the paintwork.

If you’re proud of your car, don’t let everyday life ruin its showroom finish. Instead, keep your car clean and protected with Simoniz’s range of cleaning products. To find out more about our products, visit the Simoniz website.

Images sourced via Flickr Creati