Water Spots on a Car Won’t Come Off? This is How You Get Rid of Them

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Every car owner knows how much trouble water spots are. Not only are they an aesthetic detriment but water spots can also lead to scratches that’ll make your vehicle look old. The worst thing about it is that these things can come from absolutely everywhere. Even if the weather is fine, there are things that can create these spots on your car including puddles, sprinklers, kids with squirt guns, and more. Some car owners even experience water spots after washing.

Now that we know where they come from, let’s take a look at how they’re formed on car paint and windows. When not filtered, water has salts, minerals, and dirt in it. And when left to dry, water leaves minerals such as calcium and magnesium carbonates, as well as corrosives behind that will create a tiny crater in the paint. Although not visible right away, these craters get bigger and bigger as new water spots form in the same place. This process is usually referred to as etching, and that’s when damage to your vehicle’s paint appears.

The good news is that you don’t have to let water spots damage the vehicle you love so much. If you’re able to remove them promptly, there won’t be enough time left for craters to appear and etching won’t occur. However, it also works the other way around – if you neglect them, these spots will damage the paint more and more. This is especially the case during summertime when the sun bakes these spots into the paint.

So, how do I get rid of water spots?

We talked about what water spots are and how they appear. The next thing to discuss is how to remove water spots (from car paint). You’ll be happy to hear that the process isn’t tough and most car owners will have no trouble getting the job done. What’s more, there are quite a few ways to get rid of these spots. So, in case you try one of them and there are still water spots visible, you can always give another way a go.

Before you start thinking about which of these ways you want to follow, there’s an important thing to do. There’s no point in trying to get rid of these spots if there are dirt and dust on your car. Therefore, the first step to take when battling water spots is to foam your car up and pressure wash it with water. Washing your car won’t only remove dirt and dust, but it’ll also help you get rid of any traces of salts and acids. When washing, you’ll notice that some water spots on the car won’t come off, no matter how hard you scrub. Those are the spots you’ll have to deal with after washing.

Our four ways to remove water spots

Above, we mentioned that there are different ways to remove water spots from your car. Listed below you’ll find four of these ways that we believe work the best. We recommend checking them all out and opting for the way you prefer the most.

hand scrubbing a black car with a yellow sponge

The clay bar method

A clay bar is one of the easiest tools you can rely on to help you get rid of water spots. The process involves washing your car as usual but using a clay bar instead of a sponge. 

You can get a clay bar in your local automotive store or order one online. They come in a wide price range so figure out how much you’re ready to spend on it and find a bar that fits your budget. 

Scrubbing with a clay bar will effectively pull calcium carbonate out of the high spots on your paint. The problem with this method is that it won’t always remove water spots that have been etched into the paint or have just been on the paint for a long period of time. Therefore, if you’ve been noticing water spots on car body and windows for a while, opting for a more effective way may be a better idea. We should also note that clay bars work amazing when you already have a ceramic coating applied to your paint. More on the ceramic coating and preventing water spots from emerging later.

The distilled water and white vinegar method

If you’ve ever browsed the web for home cleaning hacks, chances are you’ve stumbled upon methods that involve distilled water and white vinegar. Well, this solution can also remove water spots from the windshield and car body. The reason why this solution is so effective is that vinegar contains natural acetic acid. This acid can dissolve calcium carbonate and other minerals with ease and simply put, remove all water spots from your car. 

The way it works is that you mix vinegar with equal parts of distilled water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to spray it generously on your car and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, simply wipe it away using a microfiber towel. In case you notice there are some water spots left, give it another go and it should be enough to remove them. Once the process is over, just rinse the car thoroughly. We recommend working one panel at a time.

The mineral deposit remover method

Another way to do this is to opt for a mineral deposit remover or MDR. Most car care brands produce it and you should be able to find it at your local automotive store or online. What’s special about this product is that it contains phosphoric acid, which is stronger than vinegar. This means MDR is more effective when it comes to removing water spots but it’s also less safe to use. If you plan to clean water spots this way, we recommend wearing protective glasses and gloves as you’ll be dealing with strong chemicals. Also, make sure you rinse once you’re done, even if you wore gloves while applying MDR. The process is relatively straightforward. Start by putting MDR on a microfiber towel and rub it onto the body of your car. Once you’re done, wipe it with a clean towel and look at the results. When the water spots are gone, rinse the vehicle with water to remove the leftover acid.

The wheel cleaning acid

If you were wondering how to remove water spots from car windows and body, the ways we described earlier should do the trick most of the time. Unfortunately, some water stains can be extremely difficult to remove and it means it’s time to take out the big gun – wheel acid. 

This product is designed to clean thick brake dust deposits, meaning that it’s highly corrosive. Therefore, you have to be even more careful with it than with MDR. 

washing car wheel with a red cloth

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the product has to be diluted one-to-four with distilled water. Another thing to keep in mind is to never apply wheel cleaning acid on bare metal wheels. Before you start, it’s a good idea to spot test in a less visible area. Also, wearing all protective equipment is a must. This includes protective glasses, gloves, and a respirator. It’s also necessary to apply the product in a well-ventilated place. 

Spray the solution on your towel and quickly apply it to your car. Leave it on for just a few seconds and rinse it with water. Once you’re done, wash the entire vehicle. The solution should be strong enough to eliminate any hard water spots on the car body.

Can I prevent water spots from damaging my paint?

Getting rid of water spots isn’t that tough but wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to deal with them in the first place? We have some good news for you – it’s possible to prevent water spots from damaging the paint on your car. Whether you’ve just bought your first car or you’ve decided to pay more attention to the four-wheeler you’ve owned for some time, making sure water spots don’t damage it is a great way to start.

The first and easiest thing to do is to avoid getting your car unintentionally wet. This little precaution can make a huge difference for the wellbeing of your car. All you have to do is keep an eye on the road for puddles and be careful about where you park. Of course, it’s impossible to keep water away from your car all the time but the less often it happens, the better.

Staying away from puddles and other water sources when driving will help prevent water spots but there’s another more effective way to keep them away from your paint. It includes creating a barrier between the paint and water spots. 

Wax and sealants can get the job done to some extent but your safest bet is to apply the ceramic coating on your car. An extra layer of ceramic coating will ensure craters made by water spots don’t get anywhere near the paint. What we like about it is that getting DIY ceramic coating for your car should be a real piece of cake. There are numerous ceramic coating kits on the market and the only thing to do is find the one you like the best. Bear in mind that some kits are more beginner-friendly than others and it’s a good idea to do your homework before you opt for one.

The bottom line

Car water spots can be a real trouble and it’s safe to assume all car owners want them gone. If this is the case with you, everything we discussed earlier in this post should help. Opt for the way you think will work for you and do everything as described until there are no more stains. If it doesn’t seem to work, you can always give another way a try. It is also a good idea to consider waxing or applying the ceramic coating to your car, just to make sure any future water spots don’t get to the paint on your vehicle.

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