How to Remove Water Marks from Your Car

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What do tree sap, dust, grime, dead bugs, bird droppings, and water have in common?
When left to sit on your car’s exterior they cause unsightly marks that could result in lasting damage. Water may seem like the most innocent culprit of the bunch, but hard water spots can prove equally corrosive to the other items on the list if they are left unchecked.
Unfortunately, air-drying your vehicle usually doesn’t suffice. If your car has been exposed to heavy rain or you drive through a car wash, you should hand-dry your car using a microfiber towel. If you neglect to properly clean your car, it can result in hard water stains on your car’s surface.
Here’s what you need to know about removing water marks from your car.

What are water marks?

Water contains trace amounts of minerals and acid. When water is left to evaporate on your car’s surface, some of the mineral and acid content is left behind, resulting in white, cloudy marks.
If left to sit on your car glass, paint, or clear coat for too long, it could corrode your vehicle’s exterior.

How to remove water marks

If you’ve spotted water marks on your car’s finish, it’s overdue for a good clean. If the spots are minor, you might be able to remove them with a simple clean and a microfiber cloth.
However, if there are still water marks left behind on your paint surface, try removing them by using one of these methods:
Clay bar treatment: Make sure the surface of your car is wet and soapy before rubbing the clay bar over any stubborn water marks. With a little effort, they should come off in no time.
Vinegar solution: Because of its acidity, white vinegar does a wonderful job of removing calcium carbonate and other minerals. However, it is too strong to use on its own. Make sure to combine equal parts vinegar and distilled water before applying it to your car. Let the solution sit for a couple of minutes and remove it with a microfiber towel.
Water spot remover: You can also purchase professional or industrial water spot removers. They are available at auto stores, hardware stores, or online.
If the water spot has sat for too long on your car’s exterior, it may have caused damaging chemical etching. If that is the case, removal techniques will not be sufficient and you will have to polish or wet-cut the clear coat.

How to prevent water marks

If you’re noticing regular water spots on your car, here’s what you can do to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Ceramic coating: Spray-on ceramic coating will provide a protective layer on top of your car’s paint job, making it hard for any buildup to stick.
Avoid water: Make sure not to park your car near water-prone spots such as in the proximity of sprinklers or underneath a tree after it has rained. Also towel-dry your car after you wash it.
Regular washing: If you remove any buildup from the surface of your car fast enough, you won’t give it time to do much (or any) damage.

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