Unless you keep your car inside a closed, environmentally controlled area all of the time, there is a pretty good chance that dust, dirt, and water are going to come in contact with your car. Dust and dirt are in the air all of the time, and the wind blows it around, leaving deposits on the car exterior. Water comes into contact with your car from rain, washing your car, or from overspray from sprinklers or even windshield washer fluid from another vehicle. Water mixed with the dust and dirt can leave significant amounts of water spots on your car. Also, if you have washed your vehicle but not dried the car immediately, there will be watermarks left on the car.
What are water spots?
All water, with the exception of distilled water, contains some level of minerals, including various salts and calcium. Also, when the water mixes with the dust and dirt on your car, they combine to create different types of water spots or water stains once the water evaporates. The minerals are left on the paint and can be limescale or chalk-like deposits. They can become bonded minerals and challenging to remove.
5 Ways to removing water spots from your car
One of the best ways to avoid water spots is to clean your car regularly. Make sure it is kept out of the rain and away from sprinklers or situations involving random overspray. There are a variety of methods that you can use to remove most water spots. If your washing your car do so in the shade and avoid direct sunlight. Keep the surface wet until it is ready to be dried. Do not allow the water to dry on the car. Wash and dry your car at the same time.
The following are several methods to remove water spots. Note: they may not completely remove all watermarks.
1. DIY Vinegar Method
The DIY vinegar method works well for most water spots that are not baked in the car. Use distilled water with white vinegar mixed 50-50 in a gallon pail. This creates an acidic solution free of minerals, which you can use to remove existing water spots without risking the addition of more minerals from tap water. Test a small area first. Apply the vinegar-water solution for at least one to two minutes and then wipe the area and towel dry. This should remove all but the worst water spots.
Note that the acidic solution of water and vinegar removes any sealants and waxes from the surface of your car. Once you are satisfied with the removal process and have removed all of the water spots, reseal and add a coat of wax to your car to protect your paint.
A white vinegar solution and distilled water will eliminate many of the water spots on your car. Spots that have been baked on to your car by the sun with a variety of dust and calcium/mineral deposits may be more challenging to remove. In some situations, other solutions may be required to remove these more difficult to remove water spots. A white vinegar bath of equal amounts of water and vinegar can be a great glass cleaner, as well.
2. Waterless Car Wash and Wax
Waterless car wash products are becoming more popular. There is a considerable saving in water, and they are popular with the conservation crowd. However, they are recommended for cars with light dirt only. Cars covered in heavy soil or dirt should be washed in the usual manner first and dried immediately to avoid adding water spots to the finish.
These waterless car wash products are also popular because they can be used anytime, anywhere, including while you are waiting for appointments, etc. Just spray the car and wipe off with microfiber cloths. These products should only be used when there is light dirt and with soft microfiber cloths to avoid scratching the car’s paint job. They can be applied to specific areas with a detail spray approach if one area needs to be addressed.
3. Detailing Clay Bar and Synthetic Lubricant
Detailing clay lubricants can be used to remove more difficult to remove water spots. Note: clay lubricant may not remove mineral-based spots from your car. Spray the clay lubricant on the area to be worked on and then rub the detailing clay bar over the area from multiple directions to remove the particles on the surface of your car. Continue to rub the clay bar until it glides smoothly. If it becomes soiled, fold it and continue to rube the affected area.
Use a microfiber towel to remove the residue. Always wipe in the same direction from top to bottom and switch to clean areas of the cloth to ensure complete removal of all residue.
4. Water Spot Remover
There are a variety of water spot removal products on the market that works well for most water spots. Always read the instructions before using them. Some should not be used on satin or matte finishes while others are fine on clear coat finishing paint jobs.
Look for biodegradable products that are friendly to the environment. Some of these products can reduce the effort if you can avoid stripping the wax and sealant from your cars finish while removing water spots. They may not remove some of the more challenging water spots that have a significant buildup of mineral deposits or those that have been etched into the paint of your cars finish. If they claim, removes hard water spots, check the label for specific instructions.
5. Buff and Polish
A tried and true method to avoid water spots is always to keep your car clean and dry. Wash your car regularly and always dry the car. Never allow the water droplets to dry by evaporation. Use clean towels, the softer, the better. Microfiber towels are best to dry your car thoroughly to remove any remaining small particles that may adhere to your vehicle’s paint finish. Apply wax, following the instructions to seal and protect your cars finish.
Never park your car near sprinklers or any area where overspray may cause your car to become wet and then dry, leaving many spots with loads of mineral deposits. If possible, always park your car inside to avoid dust and dirt deposits. Last step to remove hard water spots would be to buff the car.
Here is a quick video from the Chemical Guys that explains how to remove water spots using the previous products:
Other materials you need to remove water spots
Car owners who can dry their cars quickly and keep them clean can avoid troublesome water spots on their cars. The methods discussed earlier in this post can be avoided by simple approaches and will remove all but the most difficult to remove spots. Some products do a great job and make the process of keeping your car clean and removing water spots much easier. Always use high-quality car shampoo and car wax to keep your car looking great. Detailing kits can also be used to help keep your car looking spectacular.
Always use a good quality soft microfiber towel to clean and dry your car. These towels will protect the finish on your car while at the same time removing fine particles and contaminants from the surface of your car.
Once your car is clean, and all water spots removed, apply good quality car wax following the manufacturer’s directions. The wax will protect your cars finish and provide an extra layer over the manufacturer’s clear coat. Always re-wax your car if spot removal products were used that may have also removed the car wax from the finish.
Before using a washing mitt, always rinse loose debris from the car, including dust deposits on the car. Use a washing mitt to wash the car. It should have long strands that avoid grinding debris particles into the finish. Avoid moving the washing mitt in circles to avoid leaving swirl marks.
An electric car polisher can be used to buff the car and spread the wax over the surface. Always ensure the car is perfectly clean and apply car polish as per the instructions on the product to avoid scratches and abrasions to the paint.
What causes water spots on car?
Water, whether it is from the tap, the sprinkler, or just rainwater, contains a variety of minerals and dust particles. Dust, pollution, and dirt are always blown by the wind and deposited on your car if it is left outside. Whenever water is allowed to dry on your car, these minerals, etc. remain and form deposits on the surface of your car. Some are super easy to remove, while others are more difficult. Those that are baked by the sun with a variety of mineral salts are often the most difficult to remove.
How to protect your cars paint with a Paint Sealant
Many car owners use either wax or paint sealant to protect the cars finish from a multitude of environmental contaminants. Paint sealant is a synthetic product developed to protect the surface of the car while maintaining a mirror-like shine. It lasts longer than wax and provides better protection from sap from trees, acid rain, and UV rays.
Water spots may still form even with paint sealant applied to the surface of the car. Removal of the water spots with buffers and various chemicals may also remove the paint sealer. An additional application of paint sealer is generally required in these situations.
Can water spots damage car paint?
Water spots can damage the paint of your car! The amount of damage depends on the materials in the water, such as various minerals, as well as the materials that are already in your car. Water is generally slightly acidic, and some minerals further contribute to the acidic level, which can damage the paint. Also, removal of baked-on deposits can scratch the paint leaving long scratches or circular scratches if you’re not careful.
Should you use tap water or distilled water for washing the car?
Tap water contains a variety of minerals. The amount and type depend on where you live and where the water comes from. In many locations, tap water is considered hard water or full of calcium and other minerals and will cause hard watermarks. These deposits can be observed if the water is allowed to evaporate.
Distilled water has all of the minerals and contaminants removed. There are no minerals that can dry on your car, leaving water spots. Even with distilled water, water marks can form on your vehicle if all of the contaminants on your car have not been removed, and the surface has not been dried properly.
Tips for preventing water marks on your car surface
Water spots on your car’s paint surface can be prevented, and they also can be removed without damaging the finish of your vehicle. Here are a few or some of the tips that can help to maintain the paints finish and preventing water spots on your car in no particular order:
- Keep your car inside as much as possible
- Wash your car once per week and more often if the environment requires it
- Always dry your car, never leaving droplets to dry by evaporation
- Avoid parking near sprinklers or where overspray can place water on your car
- Wash and dry with direct sunlight
- Remove water marks immediately
- Remove external contaminants such as tree sap, bird droppings, pollution quickly
- Use wax or car glass sealant to protect the finish of your car
- Some water spots that have etched into the paint may require professional car detailing
Your car surface needs to be clean periodically, and it should be treated with upholstery care. You can easily remove water marks on your car’s paint surface with a waterless car wash. Also, applying a glass sealant to your front windshield will prevent water marks from building.
Having a water spot remover spray bottle on your garage is another option, so you can easily remove the hard water spots if they don’t come out with a regular car wash. After applying any paint cleaners, make sure you let it dry with direct sunlight. A cheap solution would be to try the vinegar solution first. It is proven to remove swirl marks and also removes hard water spots if regular car shampoo does not get the job done.
We hope you learned some options on how to remove water spots from car.