7 ways you may be ruining your car’s paint without knowing + video

7 ways you may be ruining your car’s paint without knowing + video
United Bank for Africa

Your daily routine may be damaging your car’s paint work without you even realising it. Innocent everyday happenings like accidentally spilled fuel, cheeky finger writings or annoying bird droppings can leave long-lasting stains and scratches on the surface of your car or, even worse, cause corrosion.

Here are some of the ways you may be ruining your car’s paint – and tips on how to avoid them:

  1. Splattered bugs

Bugs might be tiny but can do actual damage to the paint on your car. Insects are surprisingly acidic, and if they are not properly cleaned off the surface of your car, they can actually etch into the paint.

Tip: Don’t put off cleaning splattered bugs from your car for too long — as time goes on, they become more difficult to remove. If you act quickly, all it takes is a little bit of bug and tar remover, a soft wash cloth and some elbow grease.

  1. Spilled fuel

Though most people want to make sure they get their every cent’s worth when topping up their fuel tank, filling it to the brim actually increases the chance of having fuel overflow and spill onto your car. If left alone and not quickly wiped away, the spilled fuel can seep into the top coat of the paint causing it to lose its shine, leaving a stain on your car’s finish that is very difficult to remove.

Tip: To avoid leaving a brown fuel-coloured blemish around the fuel tank cap on your vehicle, in cases where drips have dribbled down the side of your vehicle when you filled up, try and wipe it off as soon as possible with a microfibre cloth.

  1. Bird droppings

Not only are bird droppings ugly, they can actually do some serious damage to your car’s paint work. With a diet full of berries, seeds and even bits of gravel, these acidic and grainy droppings can stain, dull and scratch your paint, and take the gloss off if left lingering on your car too long.

Tip: Spray a bit of wash solution onto the affected areas and use a soft microfibre cloth to gently wipe away the droppings. Use a lifting motion to avoid dragging any grit across the paint.

  1. Stone chips

Loose stones, pebbles and stone chips are everywhere on the road. These tiny pieces are kicked up from the ground and peck at the sides of your car. This can chip the top paint coat and sometimes even go all the way down to the lower layers of paint, exposing them to weathering they are not equipped to handle.

Tip: It’s best to treat these chips as soon as possible to prevent the affected spots from rusting. Ford’s 3-wet paint technology uses high-solid paint chemistry, which means you get a better, denser and stronger bond between elements in the paint, resulting in a harder, stronger and more scratch-, chip- and etch-resistant surface.

  1. Fingerprints

We’ve all used our fingers to write a funny message or draw a goofy doodle onto a dirty car (or two) before. Little did we know that these innocent acts of jest, though oddly satisfying, can ruin the paint on a car. Dragging your fingers across the paint acts like sandpaper, grinding the dirt and debris into the paint and leaving tiny markings that will last long after the dirt is gone.

Tip: The easiest way to avoid this is not to do it, although it’s still bound to happen. You can use a duster to wipe down your car every day to prevent accidental sanding, or if you need to remove small scratches, you can use a little bit of polish – just remember to wash your car before polishing.

  1. Ash

Murky air can leave behind a layer of ash and soot on your car. Though many people would be immediately inclined to wash this away with some water, mixing water with ash can actually create powerful alkalis that can ruin your car’s finish.

Tip: The easiest way to avoid this is to keep your car covered if you park outside. To get the ash off, gently dust it away with a car duster.

  1. Dirty washing accessories

Regardless of how many times you wash your car, if you are working with dirty cloths, you can cause permanent damage to the paint. Even if you’re cleaning with the softest and finest microfibre cloth or sponge, the moment it drops on the ground, it will pick up microscopic bits of grit, sand and dirt, which can’t be entirely rinsed off. If you continue to wash your car with dirty accessories, you might be left with wiry swirls and scratches on your car.

Tip: If your washing cloth or sponge drops onto the floor, just grab a new one. It’s always useful to keep a spare cloth or two beside you to avoid scratching your car with dirty accessories. If you can take your car to get a touchless wash, that’s even better: A touchless wash removes any chance of microscopic pieces of dirt and grit from coming in contact with your car.


To ensure the quality and durability of its paint, Ford has a wide range of tests that check everything from its chip- and scratch-resistance to how well it can maintain its gloss and colour over time.

Some of these include the Mar Resistance test, which measures gloss retention; the Weathering Florida Accelerated test, which assesses the long-term resistance of the paint system to environmental exposure, and the Stone Chip Resistance test, which measures how well the paint can withstand the impact of stone chips hitting its surface continuously. These tests guarantee that all parts of Ford’s paint system are up to the Ford standard, and result in a stronger, harder and more resilient finish on Ford vehicles.