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How to Remove Water Spots From a Car

How to Remove Water Spots From a Car

Knowing how to remove water spots from a car is an important part of maintaining your vehicle’s beautiful finish. Even if you wash and wax your car regularly, water spots can still make an appearance, and they’re especially noticeable on vehicles with a dark finish. Here’s how to remove water spots from a car and restore its brilliant shine.

What Causes Water Spots?Wet Car

Water looks clean, but there can be minerals, pollutants, and bits of debris hidden in those seemingly clean drops. These contaminants cause the spots you see on your car’s finish. Over time, water spots can cause damage, and this is especially true for cars regularly exposed to high heat or direct sun. If you see water spots on your car, then take action to remove them as soon as possible.

First, Try Giving Your Car a Wash

Much of the time, all it takes to remove water spots is giving your car a good scrub. Here are the steps to washing your car:

  1. Break out the buckets, sponge and car wash cleaner and thoroughly wash your entire car. It’s best to do this out of direct sunlight so the car remains wet as you work.
  2. Designate one bucket for dirty water and one for fresh water, and be sure to rinse the sponge, too, so you’re not just smearing dirt everywhere.
  3. Once you finish washing, rinse thoroughly. Start at the top and work your way down, and pay special attention to the grille, side mirrors and any areas where soap could hide.
  4. Finally, dry everything with a soft microfiber cloth. This ensures that no new water spots are left on the finish from the water you used to clean it, and it helps bring out your car’s shine.

Tougher Spots? Break Out the Wax and Polish

If the water spots have been sitting there for a while, then a simple wash might not do the trick. Stubborn water marks or marks that have slightly etched the clear coat on your car need a little more work. Don’t worry, you can still get rid of them with waxing and polishing.

Car polish and car wax aren’t the same. Although people tend to use the terms interchangeably, each has its own job:

  1. The first step is to apply polish. Polish is a fine abrasive, so it removes a bit of the clear coat without causing damage. Polishing your car will remove water spots and clear coat etching at the same time.
  2. Next, remove the polish with a textured towel. Spend some time with this to ensure that the polish is completely gone before you move onto the next step.
  3. Finally, apply the wax. Car wax should be applied after polishing to protect your finish from future damage, including the reappearance of pesky water marks. Buff out the wax with a soft, plush towel to bring out your car’s shine.

An application of polish and wax will last for three to six months before another treatment is in order. Even if water spots come off with a simple wash, it’s a good idea to polish and wax your car anyway to remove any light scratches or etching and prevent future water mark damage. This keeps your car looking bright and beautiful and protects it from the elements.

Check out all the car wash products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to remove water spots from your car, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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