As a vehicle owner, you never want to see any nicks, scratches or marks on your prized possession. However, there are many potential hazards that can cause paint damage throughout the year. Some can be avoidable, but it’s impossible to stop them all. The good news is with proper precautions and good habits, you can avoid costly damages and help keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.
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As much as we love the warm and sunny days of a Vancouver summer, vehicle owners need to be aware that excessive sun exposure and high temperatures can lead to unintended damage to their vehicle’s paint.
Just as the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be harmful to our skin, they can also be detrimental to our vehicles. These UV rays deteriorate the car’s protective coating, causing it fade and crack. Without proper care, the paint will degrade further and be prone to rusting.
How to Protect Your Car from Sun Damage
- If you can’t access indoor or underground parking and need to park on the street, find areas where your vehicle can be covered like beside a building
- Wash your car regularly in the summer to keep the surface of your vehicle clean from dirt, debris, grease and other substances.
- Consider waxing your vehicle in spring ahead of rising summer temperatures
As we all know, Vancouver has only 2 seasons: summer season and rainy season (We’re only half kidding).
While Vancouver does get a lot of rain and is generally harmless to a vehicle’s exterior, contaminants and pollutants in the air that is absorbed by the falling rain can produce acid rain.
As the acid rain evaporates and dries, it can leave a thin layer of pollutants which can build up over time and lessen the luster or shine of your vehicle.
How to Protect Your Car from Rain Damage
- Wash your car after the rain to remove any harmful substances immediately
- Consider installing rain guards and window visors to help deflect rain, snow, hail away from your vehicle.
Vehicle Fluid Stains
When dealing with chemical liquids around your vehicle such as brake fluids, coolants, and gasoline, accidental spills can happen.
Without taking immediate action after a spill, these fluids can quickly stain and corrode the vehicle paint’s top layer of protection and cause irreversible damage.
How to Safely Clean Spilled Vehicle Fluids
- Immediately use a clean towel to soak up as much fluid as possible by pressing on it lightly. Avoid wiping it to prevent spreading the fluid and expanding the affected area.
- Wash the affected area immediately with car wash detergent (or any soap as emergency) with a clean sponge or rag.
- Flush the area thoroughly with repeated rinsing to help nullify the fluid’s corrosive properties.
The Greater Vancouver area is basically a giant forest with millions of trees scattered across city’s many parks, as well as both commercial & residential neighbourhoods. It’s almost unavoidable for your vehicle to come into contact with some form of tree sap or pollen during the spring and summer months.
It may seem like an annoyance, but the stickiness of the tree sap can act as an adhesive for dirt and debris. If you leave the sap or pollen unattended for too long, it will shrink, harden, and potentially chip the surface of the car’s paint.
How to Safely Remove Sap or Pollen on Your Vehicle
- Materials needed: a couple of buckets of hot water, a hose or power washer, sponges, car shampoo, and a microfiber cloth.
- Rinse your vehicle thoroughly and let it dry so you have clean surface to work with
- Once the vehicle has been rinsed, scrub the sap and entire car with a clean sponge or washing mitt and soap.
- Rinse and repeat until the sap is no longer visible.
- Let the car dry completely and consider applying a coat of car wax.
It must be someone’s cruel prank when you see a bombardment of bird droppings on your vehicle. Not only does it look embarrassing, they can actually cause considerable damage to the car paint.
Bird droppings contain uric acid, with acidity levels ranging from a pH of 3.5 to 4.5. With these levels, the acid can begin to burn and erode the paint’s surface. Additionally, sun exposure can expedite and compound damage if bird droppings are left untreated for too long.
How to Safely Clean Bird Droppings From Your Vehicle
- If you’re at home, your garden hose may be all you need to remove fresh droppings.
- If the droppings have hardened, you’ll need to soften them. Some safe solutions to help with removal include: baking soda and water mixture, wd-40, detailer spray, seltzer water or club soda.
- Let the solution sit for 30-60 seconds, then lift the poop away with a soft microfiber towel. Do not wipe as the fecal matter may contain hard minerals that can scratch the surface.
Insects and Bugs
As the weather gets warmer from spring to summer, many of us can’t wait to head out and explore the great outdoors – from road trips, to camping, to hiking and many other recreational activities. No outdoor adventure is complete without a few bug splatters across your car!
However, similar to bird droppings, insect body fluids can be highly acidic and leave permanent stains to your paint, head lights, bumper and other car parts if left unattended.
How to Safely Remove Insects and Bugs From Your Vehicle
- If you’re at home, your garden hose may be all you need to remove the bug splatters.
- If the insects have dried, some safe solutions to help with removal include: detailer sprays, car soap and bug remover sponge, wd-40, citrus based degreasers
- Let the solution sit for 30-60 seconds, then lift the insects away with a soft microfiber towel. Do not wipe as the insects may contain minerals that can scratch the surface.
At any given time, road maintenance and construction work is happening across Greater Vancouver. As you pass through these construction zones, road work equipment and other vehicles may unintentionally fling up tar from the asphalt onto lower sections of your vehicle.
This may include lower parts of your side doors and behind the wheel wells. In other cases, tar may splash onto your bumper, grill, headlights, hood, and even windows.
Remember to drive slowly through construction zones to avoid splashing tar and other material onto your vehicle.
How to Safely Clean Tar From Your Vehicle
- Materials needed: bucket, the tar remover spray, car shampoo, microfiber mitt or towel, and car wax.
- Wet the microfiber towel with the tar remover spray
- In a circular motion, lightly wipe the target spot until stain disappears
- Repeat on other target areas with another clean towel
- Wash your vehicle with the car shampoo solution in the bucket from top to bottom. Rinse from top to bottom
- Check for any residual tar spots and repeat steps 2-4.
For many people, commuting to work between cities is a part of their daily routine. When the commute involves faster roads such as highway driving, loose stones, gravel, and other road debris can be flung back in high speeds from the tires of vehicles in front of you.
This can result in paint chips or in other cases, you may get a dent that comes along with the chip that may be more challenging to fix. If you ignore the chips and dings on your vehicle’s body, it can lead to a more a problematic issue – rust.
How to Safely Remove Paint Chips From Your Vehicle
- Clean the paint chip with car soap and water. Then dry it with a soft cotton cloth afterwards.
- Apply a small dab of polishing compound with 10-12 gentle swirls to help soften any serrated edges
- Apply denatured alcohol to a soft cloth and gently wipe to remove any wax or remaining residue.
- Fill in the chip with a spot of primer using the butt end of a match stick and let it dry for minimum 30 minutes.
- Apply a small amount of matching paint on top of the primer coat. Apply a second coat about an hour later.
- After letting the paint cure for a few days, use the polishing compound again to gently smooth out the edges.
Although Vancouver’s winters are considered mild compared to other regions around the province, road salt is still used as the go-to solution in melting icy roads faster and help minimize dangerous driving conditions.
However, there is one caveat that comes with salted roads…yes you guessed it, salt is bad for paint. The mixture of salt and melted snow and ice that attaches to your vehicle for prolonged periods of time can cause the metal to oxidize, which means that it will rust.
Once rust is formed, it’s difficult to stop. So it’s best to attack the issue quickly before things get worse.
How to Safely Remove Salt Buildup From Your Vehicle
- Wash your car regularly during the winter months.
- Important areas to focus on include the wheel wells, the undercarriage, as well as the door, window, and trunk edges
- With many small spaces and difficult to reach areas, you may not be able to thoroughly clean the undercarriage yourself and may require assistance from a professional car cleaning service.
Dirty Rags, Towels, and Brushes
Maybe it’s laziness or not being well informed, but NEVER use dirty rags or towels to clean the exterior of your car. Not only is it unsanitary, they may contain abrasive particles that can scratch the surface of your car.
The same can be said about avoiding automatic car washes. The brushes they use may appear clean, but in fact they’re more likely to be infested with road grime and scum after washing other dirty cars before you.
How to Safely Clean Dirt and Debris From Your Vehicle
- Always be sure to use a fresh microfiber washcloth or towel and clean it often.
- If you do use automatic car washes, the safer route would be using touchless car washes
- Avoid using kitchen soaps, detergents with abrasive cleaning agents not meant to be used on vehicles
Coffee and Soda
If you ever happen to accidentally spill coffee or carbonated soft drinks onto your vehicle, do not neglect cleaning it.
Coffee and soda drinks are both highly acidic and lead to corrosion of your car’s paint if left untreated.
How to Safely Clean Coffee and Soda From Your Vehicle
- This one is pretty simple – wash it off immediately
Preventive Measures to Keep Your Vehicle’s Paint in Good Condition
Most of these scenarios may seem minor in the beginning, but if the problem is not taken care of quickly, the damage can accumulate over time that negatively affect the condition and resale value of the vehicle.
Here are some tips to help minimize the risk of damage and maintain your vehicle’s paint in good condition:
COVER Your Vehicle
- If possible, keep your vehicle parked in a covered area like a garage where it can be sheltered from UV rays and other harmful natural elements that can break down the vehicle’s clear coat and damage paint.
- If your vehicle is normally parked outside on the street or driveway, consider using a tarp or cover that will defend your car against all kinds of extreme weather, including acid rain and hail.
- Consider installing other protective accessories like car bras, rain guards, windshield protection covers, bug deflector shields, etc.
CLEAN Your Vehicle
- Frequently maintain the cleanliness of your vehicle with regular car washes. If you wash it yourself, use car shampoo and don’t let the car drip dry. Use a microfiber cloth to absorb remaining water left on the surface.
- To reiterate, avoid using kitchen soaps, detergents with abrasive cleaning agents not specialized for cleaning vehicles
- Avoid reusing dirty cleaning accessories. Always use two buckets when cleaning your car; one for clean wash water and the other for rinsing your accessories. This ensures that you don’t end up re-contaminating your vehicle.
WAX Your Vehicle
- Wax your car at least twice a year, depending on how often it is exposed to outside elements. Waxing adds an extra layer of protection that can shield your car paint from the various types of damage mentioned in this article.
Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog post is general information only. Every vehicle repair situation is unique and requires an independent assessment. Please contact your auto body shop for an accurate diagnosis of your repair needs.