Common Causes of Paint Damage
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Common Causes of Paint Damage

Bad paint doesn’t just hurt the look of your vehicle, it can seriously eat into its resale value. By addressing common causes of paint damage, you can protect your ride and your investment.

Bird Droppings

Thanks to a diet high in acidic berries, birds have caustic droppings that eat through paint. These droppings also contain grit that can scratch up the paint surface. You might not see the damage from a single dropping, but if you run your finger across the area, you can often feel a divot left behind where the paint was dissolved.

Use a microfiber towel with a waterless wash or quick detail spray to remove the dropping as soon as possible. To prevent scratching, lift up the towel as it passes over the dropping.


You set a cup on top of your car while you reach for your keys, then forget to grab your beverage as you get in the car. As you drive away, the cup tips and spills your drink on the paint. We’ve all done it before, but it’s easy to forget what that liquid can do to our cars. Coffee, tea, and soda are acidic, and sugary drinks can dry onto the paint, giving the acid more time to react. Wash affected areas as soon as you can to reduce damage.


Ultraviolet light has the ability to break molecular bonds, changing the chemical makeup of your paint. This can turn clearcoat cloudy and fade the pigmented paint underneath. Meanwhile, the sun’s heat bakes dirt into the paint, making it harder to remove.

Protecting your car is simple: keep it in a garage or carport when you can and use a car cover when you can’t. Using a wax or sealer will add a protective layer that deflects UV light, whether it’s polymer or carnauba wax-based.

Tree Sap

Tree sap isn’t just hard to remove, it can etch paint and clearcoat, causing permanent damage. While you may be tempted to park under a tree to keep your car cool, you may end up with this sticky coating on your vehicle, especially if that shade comes from a pine tree.

Tree sap should be washed off as soon as possible. If it has had a chance to dry, use a cleaner designed to remove stickers, applying it to the sap and wiping it off. Stubborn sap can be removed using rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Alcohol can damage paint if left on the paint for too long, so be sure to wash the area with soap and water to remove any remaining residue.


Like bird droppings, insects are acidic and can etch your car’s paint. Worse still, their hard exoskeletons can scratch the paint when you try to wipe them off.

To remove insects, use a bug and tar remover with a non-scratch sponge. This type of sponge has netting around it that keeps the bugs it picks up from being dragged against the paint. Bug and tar remover will strip away any protective coatings, so it’s a good idea to reapply a wax or sealant to the area once the bugs have been removed.

Dirty Cleaning Tools

As you use washcloths, sponges, and mitts to clean your car, they pick up dirt and grit. In turn, as you wipe these cleaning tools across the surface, this debris scrapes the paint. If you’re washing your car by hand, use a separate bucket to rinse your sponges and place grit guards in both the soap and rinse buckets. These keep your sponge from making contact with the dirt that collects at the bottom. If you drop a sponge or washcloth, stop using it on your car.

Don’t take your car to charity car washes. After washing several cars, the sponges will be covered in dirt, leaving your paint worse looking than it was when it was dirty.

Speaking of scratches, you should avoid using brushes on your vehicle. If you need to remove snow, use a foam-headed snow brush.

For Major Paint Damage, Go to the Experts

For over 70 years, Merton Auto Body has helped people in Lake Country with auto body work and collision repair. We offer state-of-the-art repair and painting services, and we have an autobody appraisal center to get work approved by your insurance company. Our shop is located between Lisbon and North Lake, up the road from Ironwood Golf Course.



Book your appointment now!

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