Sometimes it may seem like everything in the sky is falling and landing on the surface of your car. To begin with, rain and all of the contamination that comes with it is probably the one thing that’s a constant. And rain is something we really cannot do very much about. Of course, making sure your car is polished and waxed frequently will go a long way in adding an extra layer of protection against the rain and other forms of air borne contamination.
Think about it. Anything that touches the painted surface of your car usually stays on the finish until it gets washed off. Sure, some people think they will just sit back and let an occasional rain do its job of washing the car. What those people don’t realize is they are just allowing all of that surface dirt to become more and more stuck to the paint. And that only makes it more difficult when it comes time to remove all those layers of built up contamination. To put it in perspective, there are a host of things that can affect the painted surface of your car and some of them can cause more dramatic surface problems than others. Two of the most damaging types of contamination falling from the sky include bird droppings and tree sap.
Oh, those birds of summer. One of the worst forms of surface contamination affecting the painted surface of your car is the residue left behind from bird droppings. Yes, that residue is nasty and it has an almost instant effect on damaging your paint. This is especially true in the heat of the summer when the surface temperature of your paint can get extremely hot. On a typical mid-summer day, it’s almost like the residue is getting baked into the surface. That fact is, bird droppings have an acidic effect on the paint that can easily result in the residue actually beginning to etch into and below the top surface of the paint. This surface etching can begin to take place within hours. Yes hours. And when the residue remains on the surface longer than a day or two, the resulting surface damage is basically not reversible. And because the damage is actually below the top surface, there is really nothing that can be done once the paint becomes etched.
Dark colored cars show this etched damage much more than light colored paint. And part of this is due to the fact that when the temperature of the surface of a dark colored car, such as black increases dramatically in the summer sun, this extreme heat allows the acid in the residue to bake into and etch below the surface. The hotter the surface, the quicker and more intense the acid from the residue gets baked into the surface.
The key to avoiding permanent surface damage from bird droppings is to always try to remove the residue as quickly as possible, hopefully within hours. A few tips to reduce the chances of this situation in the first place would be to avoid parking under places where birds like to perch and hang out, such as; tree limbs and power lines.
You don’t have to wash the entire car to remove this residue. Basically, you just need two thoroughly wet the area, allowing the water to soak and soften the residue and then just wipe it away. It is that easy. Keep in mind the residue must be completely wet and softened or else you will run the risk of scratching the surface of your paint and causing even more damage. Remember, wet and soften the residue first and then gently wipe it away.
Tree sap is something else that can sometimes fall onto your car. And it’s something that’s relatively easy to avoid by simply making it a rule not to park your car under any trees. Okay, maybe that’s not always possible. However, it is something to keep in mind. It’s been my experience that the worst tree sap contamination is usually caused by pine trees. Once pine sap drops, sticks to and hardens on the painted surface of your car it is usually very difficult to remove. Just like other forms of surface contamination, pine sap is a lot easier to remove and usually results in a lot less surface damage the quicker it is removed.
There are Bug & Tar removers available that can make tree sap removal simple and easy. Of course, when that blob of pine sap is allowed to dry and harden on the surface for a few weeks or months, the removal process becomes a bit more challenging. And just like other forms of surface contamination that are not removed quickly, the resulting damage may actually begin to affect the paint below the surface. Bug & Tar removers are generally petroleum based products that help to dissolve and break down the pine sap. That’s why it is so important to remove the sap quickly, while the contamination is still soft and can be easily dissolved. Just a little tar remover on a clean cloth goes a long way in eliminating this condition.
Remember, your first line of defense against air borne surface contamination is making sure your car gets washed and waxed on a regular basis. That’s the best way to protect your investment.
Frank Canna has been in the detailing business for more than 20 years and is the owner of Mirror Finish Detailing, Williamstown, NJ.