By: Benjamen Tongson / Hawaii Auto Detail
What are water spots and how to remove them?
Water spots on paint and glass are very unsightly and disturbing in appearance. Water
spotting can also appear as a permanent mark and are most times very stubborn to remove. We
will educate you on this irritating matter so that you can understand what they are, how to
remove them, and how to keep them off.
What causes water spots?
There are 2 types of spotting that occurs on surfaces, Etched water spots, and Surface water
spots. If you can afford to have this corrected by an Auto body shop or a professional Auto
detailing company, I would highly advise it as this may prove to be a very labor-intensive
endeavor. If you would like to try and first remedy the problem on your own and have more time
then money, please read on.
Etched Water Spots
Etched water spots damage the surfaces by eating the paint or glass leaving mini craters
and are by far the most difficult to remove. The term used to describe water Spot etching is called
sulfuric corrosion. Rainwater by itself is normally demineralized and pure enough to evaporate
without leaving any marks but if you live in places of high industrial air pollution or have an
active volcano nearby, there may be chances of having acid rain causing this type of damage.
This type of water leaves behind spotting that is most times permanent if not removed
immediately. To remove them from glass requires buffing with cerium oxide powder and for paint
requires countless hours of buffing with various compounds. In some severe cases, the glass may
need to be replaced and the vehicle may need to be repainted.
Surface Water Spots
Surface water spots are a more common problem and it’s caused by heavily mineralized
liquids known as hard water. Hard water comes from wells beneath the earth’s surface. When
water travels through the earth to get to these wells, the water will absorb a lot of minerals on the
way down. When the water is pumped from the wells and is used to wash your vehicle, it will
leave behind spots if it isn’t wiped off in time. Water evaporates leaving behind the minerals in it
to appear on your paint when it dries. Sometimes when water spots are bigger than a quarter, you
can see the center is clear and the edges are white. Majority of these minerals are calcium and
magnesium. Gravity will pull these minerals to the edge of the water where you will see that
white colored mark. This is why it is important to wash your vehicle in the shade when it is cool
to the touch and out of direct sunlight. Proper wiping of still water is highly advised when drying
your vehicle. Leaving hard water to remain on your paint even if temperatures are cool may still
leave spots if the mineral content is high. Be sure to wipe your vehicle off quickly if the water in
your area has this problem. Leaf blowers make quick work of this task and are a blessing to have
for painless and efficient water removal.
Removing Surface Water Spots
Removal of surface water spots has various techniques for paint and glass. The internet is
plagued with a very vast field of information from using toothpaste, vinegar, baking soda,
oranges, lemons, steel wool, clay bars and tons of other chemicals. All these cheap anecdotes may
work to a certain degree but are useless in coastal areas where mineral content in water tends to
be a lot higher. There is also a multitude of professional products that claim to make this
endeavor less labor intensive but the best thing to do is your own research and drum up your own
conclusions. If you want to cut out all the headaches of seeing what works, I would highly suggest
thousands of dollars to throw away, go ahead and buy every product on the market and see what
works (I’ve already made that mistake). Just follow the instructions on the bottle and you’ll be fine.
Once you are able to remove the spots and have the desired polished look on your vehicle, it
would be best to install a sealant, coating or wax to protect your work. Sealants, coatings, and
waxes provide surface tension which makes the water slide off a lot easier. A lot of people make
the mistake of thinking that there is a waterproof shield on the vehicle which is not the case. If
it is nowhere for the hard water to go and it is left to dry, it may still Spot up. If the surface
has a coating of some sort, the coating then absorbs the damage making it easier for you to bring
the gloss back to your paint and re-coat your vehicle. Think of it like wearing a jacket while you
walk across sprinklers versus having plain clothing. You could easily replace your jacket while
plain clothing would leave you drenched and dirty.
Prevent Hard Water Spotting
The best way to prevent hard water spotting is to just avoid sprinklers, practice proper
drying techniques and wash your vehicle when it’s cool to the touch and out of sunlight.
Coatings, sealants, and waxes are the way to go for easier cleanup and a worthwhile investment
to protect your vehicle. Another sure-fire way to prevent hard water spots from forming is by using
spotbot repel. Spotbot repel was designed to protect your windows from water spots by helping the water
slide off the windows. It has a 2-year protection which means once you apply it, you don’t need to worry
about water spots sticking and can be easily wiped away using a microfiber towel.
We hope this information serves useful to you and stay tuned for more as we are able to
furnish it. Thank you for reading.