How Can I Remove Water Stains From My Car Paint?

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For car lovers, a bright, shiny finish on their machine is a must-have. And, few things frustrate that ambition more than a clean car with "water stains." Many things can cause this, though the root cause is always the same. By itself, water won't stain a car's finish; rather it is the dissolved chemicals carried by the water. After it evaporates, the minerals remain behind. It's possible to tackle the problem.

Dissolve The Stains

  • If the staining on your paint is light, wash the car with the warmest water you can. Warm water will help dissolve the existing mineral deposits. After washing, dry the car thoroughly to remove any water remaining on the paint. If the problem persists, try using warm white vinegar on the stained areas. Vinegar is slightly acidic and will dissolve many common minerals such as calcium chloride. After treating the stained areas, wash them down with mild soapy water, rinse and dry them with a towel.

    If the staining still persists, a number of automotive products are specifically formulated to remove mineral staining. Most are available at auto parts stores. Be warned that some mineral stain removers are only to be used on glass or chrome, and will permanently damage your paint. So read the application instructions before buying and avoid making a bad problem even worse. After removing the stains, wash and dry the entire car and apply a coat of premium car wax. Wax lays down a coating atop the paint and protects the finish.

Avoid the Problem

  • If you park your car in a parking garage, the staining may be caused by mineral-laden water dripping from the overhead concrete surface. Consider parking in a different location, or up on the rooftop level.

    The automated car wash you frequent could be part of your staining problem as well. If its wash/rinse water is "hard," this will cause the mineral staining your car is experiencing. Try to find a car wash that offers either a hand or warm air drying service. Some car washes advertise that they have soft water. If there is one in your area, consider using it, especially if it also offers a hand drying service as well.

    If you wash your car at home, try adding a water softener to the wash water and begin using soaps designed specifically for washing cars. Acid rain has also been linked to causing mineral deposits to build up on car finishes. If your home has a garage, park your car inside.

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