Stains that appear on your vehicle may not come off after washing. Depending on the stain, it may need to be wiped, scrubbed or washed with a special cleaner. There are ways to get stains off of the car's surface without harming the paint or finish of your car. Once any special cleaner is applied to your car's paint, it should be followed by a good polish and wax to protect the car from further damage.
Grease or Oil Based Stains
Stains that are made of an oil- or grease-based material are often hard to remove even after several washed. These stains can come from several sources, including the material from your last oil change, road crew material from driving in a construction zone or other sources. Once these materials get on the paint, they are hard to remove, especially after they are heated by the sun.
Begin by washing the car with warm water and car wash soap. You can use dish detergent on the stain itself, but avoid using the detergent on the entire car, since it causes the clearcoat to dry out and eventually become dull. Use a small amount of full strength soap directly on the stain. Rub it around using a soft sponge or cotton towel. If the stain is oil- or grease-based, this should remove it completely. Make sure to rinse all of the soap off of the car to prevent soap spots.
Other types of stains may be more difficult to remove, such as overspray from paint or other liquid. There is a product that can safely and completely remove these stains without causing any harm to the car's painted surface. You can pick up a clay bar kit at almost any automotive parts or supply store. The kit will include a clay bar, clay lubricant and possibly a cloth and detail spray. Since you aren't detailing the car, you won't need the cloth and detail spray.
Wash the car and dry it with a chamois. The car must be clean and dry to use the clay bar system. Spray some of the clay lubricant over the stain and surrounding area where the clay bar will be used. Place the clay bar near the stain and rub it back and forth across the stained area, going different directions to make sure the stain is picked up. The clay bar can be folded multiple times to keep a clean area of the bar exposed. Do this until the stain is removed. The clay bar also picks up tiny particles embedded in the clearcoat that can't be seen.
To finish any stain removal process you can polish the car to blend any newly cleaned area with the entire car. Begin by applying a liquid polishing compound to the pad of an orbital polisher. Begin at the front of the car and work your way back, using back and forth and circular motions. The car will have a deep, glossy shine once you are done. You can apply a thin coat of carnauba wax and allow it to stand for five minutes. Buff it off by hand with a cotton cloth.
- Paint & Body; Jim Richardson; September 2002
- Traci Benoit; Hyperformance Kustoms; Lake Charles, LA
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