7 Dangers that can Destroy a Car’s Paint Job – Part 2

Car Wash Clean

Catch part 1 here!

5. Dead Bugs

Bugs are an annoying seasonal problem that can seriously limit visibility during certain parts of the year. But after you power through a cloud of insects on the freeway it isn’t enough only to make sure that your windshield is cleaned and clear. You should also take the time to give the front of your vehicle a deep and thorough cleaning.

Bug guts form a thin slime as they are sprayed across your vehicle’s surfaces, a slime that is then polished down by wind and hardened into a cement-like film by the heat of the sun. Unfortunately, this disgusting-looking protein-based mess tends to be quite acidic, and as it sits in place it etches downwards against your vehicle’s surfaces and paint. Over time this can cause serious damage, changing the color of the paint and leaving grooves and marks on the surface.

The best thing to do, then, is to simply clean your car regularly during bug season. Find a car wash with special presoak services designed to loosen and remove baked-on bug guts and remember that all Totally Tommy facilities offer this powerful bug removing service.

6. Road Salt

If you’re from a warm climate you may not know much about road salt and you should count yourself lucky to avoid it. Road salt, usually the same simple sodium chloride as table salt (though not as refined and certainly not safe for consumption) is dumped by the hundreds of thousands of tons on snowy northern roads in order to melt snow and keep roads clear of ice. While obviously better for public safety, the application of this salt has major drawbacks.

Firstly it’s an ecological nightmare, one that results in the pollution of our lakes, streams, and rivers for many months out of the year. Secondly, road salt is less effective the colder it gets and may stop working at any temperature under 20 degrees F. Finally, it’s very dangerous to vehicles, especially to paint. Road salts can trigger and accelerate rust, ruining a vehicle’s finish long before its time.

Think of salt as a catalyst. Iron and steel rust when they come into contact with water and oxygen, their metallic structure converted into the crumbly red rust of Iron Oxide.  Salt jumpstarts this process, dissolving into the water and adding free ions that tug more powerfully on the metal molecules.

This is why it is vital that car owners remove salt as it builds up, particularly underneath the car where metal is more exposed and where the salt from the road is kicked up by the wheels. Underbody rinses and high pressure washes can blast those corrosive agents away before they have time to eat at the paint and protective coatings that protect your vehicle’s structure from rust.

And keep in mind: once rust gets started it is nearly impossible to stop.

7. Poor Hand Wash Technique

Using water from one single bucket, even water that is clean when you start washing, transfers grit from the car into the towel which is then scraped against your car’s surface, leaving marks and damaging the protective layers above your paint. The same goes for the scratchy side of kitchen sponges, which will damage surfaces, requiring professional polishing to correct. Even some rough towels can buff away the shine.

The detergents you use are also an issue. The dish soap that most people use and other makeshift cleansers that aren’t specifically designed for automotive surfaces will also react with protective layers in the paint, stripping them away and leaving cars dull, damaged, and far worse off than before. Additionally, hard water from the hose can leave spots and streaks that may be difficult to remove.

You should avoid these issues and find a reputable professional tunnel wash using the  Totally Tommy car wash platform. They offer presoak service, thorough underbody rinse, and gentle cleaning from special (and continually rinsed)  soft cloth cleaning brushes. You’ll get a clean, shiny, and dry car every visit!

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4 thoughts on “7 Dangers that can Destroy a Car’s Paint Job – Part 2

  • April 1, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    I live 50 miles from San Diego and in the winter we can get snow on the road. Two years ago salt was put on the road unknowingly to me and pitted the paint on my front end of my 2016 Hyundai Elantra. I prob didn’t wash it right away and didn’t turn into insurance because I wasn’t aware and was too late. The paint is peeling from the plastic front (I believe it’s plastic). Will a car painting shop just repair and paint that section?

    • April 2, 2019 at 2:58 am

      Hi Rena, Sorry to hear about your car. It’s tough to see age and damage catch up with a trusted vehicle.

      Without looking at your car in person I can’t be 100% sure about anything, but if there are no signs of rust around the peeling the salt probably isn’t to blame. And definitely not one specific road application two years ago. Rain would have cleared that away in the time since, and living on the coast (as you do) means there is often salt spray in the air, which would probably have a far greater impact on rust formation over time.

      As a guess (again, I can’t see your car) I would say the paint peeling over the plastic components is more likely a result of damage from flying stones kicked up by traffic ahead of you, combined with long term UV / Sunlight exposure breaking down your clearcoat. Once you get it fixed hand or car wash UV blocker applications (Ice, Paintguard, Tommy Guard, and others) can help hold off this damage, along with a yearly hand waxing or regular applications of car wash hot wax. Hope this helps!

  • August 23, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Wow, I had no idea that poor hand washing could damage your car’s paint job! Like you said, it’s probably best for me to just let a professional handle it. After all, my area is known for having hard water, so the chances of me damaging the paint are higher.

  • January 9, 2016 at 7:35 am

    These are great points and should let you really enhance the life of your car’s paint! It’s always worth it to keep your vehicle looking good for a real long time!


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