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Mike Phillips
Feb 25th, 2005, 04:01 PM
How To Remove Water Spots off Automotive Paints (http://meguiarsonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4891)


Swirls, scratches and water spots are the three most common paint defects car enthusiasts struggle with when it comes to removing them and preventing them from coming back. In this how-to article we'll take a look at water spots, where they come from, how to remove them and also how to prevent them.


There are two basic kinds of water spots or water marks found on automotive paints.

Type I Water Spots - Above Surface Mineral Deposits
Type II Water Spots - Below Surface Water Spot Etchings
Type I Water Spots
Type I Water Spots are what Meguiar's refers to as Above Surface Bonded Contaminants. A Type I water spot is some type of deposit, often times a mineral deposit that was suspended in the water source to begin with, then after the water evaporated off the finish the mineral is left behind where it bonds to the finish usually in a circular or pattern or shape.


Type I Water Spots - Mineral deposits sitting on top of the paint

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/gallery/data/500/2Type1WaterSpot2.jpg

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/gallery/data/500/2Type1WaterSpot1.jpg



How to Remove Type I Water Spots
If you discover Type I Water Spots on your car's finish, it will often times require the use of both detailing clay and a paint cleaner to completely remove all trace of the mark left behind.


Step by step process for removing Type I Water Spots

Step 1 - Wash & Dry the Car
First wash the car thoroughly using a quality car wash (http://meguiars.com/?car-washes/Gold-Class-Car-Wash-Shampoo-Conditioner)to remove any loose contaminants and to also remove any portion of the mineral deposit that has not yet bonded to the paint. After washing the car, dry (http://meguiars.com/estore/product_list.cfm?sectionname=Car%20Detailing%20Accessories>Car%20Drying%20Tools&sectionID=23101) the car to remove any standing water and to prevent further accumulation of Type I Water Spots.

Step 2 - Clay the Paint
Use Meguiar's Smooth Surface Clay Kit (http://meguiars.com/?auto-detailing-clay/Smooth-Surface-Clay-Kit)to clay all affected paint panels. Meguiar's Detailing clay is a special clay that you knead into a wafer or patty, somewhat like a pancake, and then rub over the finish using Meguiar's Quik Detailer (http://meguiars.com/?car-maintenance/Quik-Detailer)as a lubricant between the clay and the paint. As you're rubbing the clay over the finish, the specialized abrasives will loosen and remove any deposits sitting on top of the paint and trap them into the clay and our clay will do this without instilling scratches into the paint.

Because as you're claying, you're removing these mineral deposits and trapping them into the clay itself, you'll want to take your clay patty and fold it into itself and then re-knead it to expose a fresh side of clay. Also keep a microfiber polishing cloth handy and wipe down the clayed area as you work to remove any excess Quick Detailer from the paint so that you won't have to re-wash the car.

Repeat the above process until you've clayed all of the horizontal panels on your car and possibly even the vertical panels should you discover Type I Water Spots on the sides of your car's paint.

Step 3 - Clean the Paint with a Paint Cleaner
After claying the finish, re-inspect the affected areas, the paint should look smooth and clean as well as feel smooth like a piece of new glass. If you see any trace outlines in the paint where the water deposits were previously, then you'll now need to use a paint cleaner like ScratchX (http://meguiars.com/?auto-paint-cleaners/ScratchX) to remove these imperfections out of the paint.

Any water spots or marks left in the paint after claying the paint are actually etchings in the paint and must be removed using a paint cleaner. Water Mark Etchings are what Meguiar's calls, Below Surface Defects, that is these water marks are where the mineral deposits, (left after the water evaporated off the finish), actually etched into, or ate into the paint. This is why the detailing clay did not completely remove these marks, it's because these marks are below the surface and detailing clay only removes contaminants sitting on top of the surface.

ScratchX is a paint cleaner that uses Meguiar's Microscopic Diminishing Abrasive Technology to safely remove swirls, scratches and other below surface imperfections out of the paint. Simply apply ScratchX using a clean, soft foam applicator pad (http://www.meguiars.com/?specialized-tools-applicators/Soft-Foam-Applicator-Pad)and then work the product against the finish with firm pressure. Work a small area or directly on the affected area for 2-3 minutes and then immediately remove any leftover product from the paint and inspect. If the mark is no longer visible, apply a coat of wax to protect the paint. If the mark is still visible, then repeat paint cleaning step using ScratchX. Some swirls, scratches and water spot etchings will require multiple applications to remove depending on how hard the paint is and how deep the defects are.


Type II Water Spots - Etchings below the surface

Type II Water Spots are what Meguiar's refers to as Below Surface Defects. A Type II Water Spot is actually an etching in the surface where whatever was in the water was strong enough in its chemical composition to actually eat or dissolve the paint and thus etch into the paint.


Type II Water Spots - Etchings below the surface

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/gallery/data/500/2600_WaterEtcingSpotOriginalC1Raw.jpg


Close-up of same photo above

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/gallery/data/500/2WaterEtcingSpotOriginalC1RawCloseUpCropped.jpg



If you discover Type II Water Spots in your car's finish, you can use a paint cleaner by hand such as ScratchX and the procedure outlined above in Step 3 for removing below surface etchings left by Type I Water Spots, or you can use a machine applied product such as a Meguiar's paint cleaner, or cleaner/polish to remove the water spot etchings using Meguiar's G100 Dual Action Polisher (http://meguiars.com/?pro-car-detailing-accessories/Electric-Dual-Action-Polisher).

Meguiar's Dual Action Polisher will safely clean your car's finish removing a small amount of paint in an effort to level, or smooth-out the paint. The goal is to remove just enough paint to level the upper most portions of the surface with the lowest depths of the defect you're trying to remove. In some cases you may want to check with a seasoned professional for their advice before attempting to remove below surface defects like Type II Water Spots.


Important Note: Anytime you use detailing clay and/or a paint cleaner on your car's finish, you need to reapply a coat of wax to the paint as detailing clay and paint cleaners will remove any previously applied wax off the paint.



How to prevent water spots from coming back
There are two important things you can do to help prevent water spots from coming back, one is to remove water from the finish before it can dry and potentially leave a water spot. Meguiar's offers a number of different tools to help you do this including, our waffle weave Water Magnet Drying Towel (http://www.meguiars.com/?car-drying-tools/Water-Magnet-Microfiber-Drying%20Towel), our Soft Touch Microfiber Chamois (http://meguiars.com/?car-drying-tools/Soft-Touch-Microfiber-Chamois), and our Premium-Natural-Chamois (http://meguiars.com/?car-drying-tools/Premium-Natural-Chamois) which comes in 4 different sizes.

Besides keeping water off your car, the next best thing you can do is to keep maintain a good coat of wax on all the painted surfaces, to help with this Meguiar's offers a number of different waxes to suit everyone's preferences including, NXT Generation Tech Wax (http://meguiars.com/?liquid-car-waxes/NXT-Generation-Tech-Wax), Gold Class Liquid Wax (http://meguiars.com/?liquid-car-waxes/Gold-Class-Liquid-Wax) and Deep Crystal System Carnauba Wax (http://meguiars.com/?liquid-car-waxes/Deep-Crystal-System-Carnauba-Wax).

VR4Rob
Sep 4th, 2006, 10:20 AM
Hey Mike, thanks for the awesome writeup about removing waterspots from paint. Do you have any advice about removing stubborn water spots from glass surfaces? I'ved tried several things such as rubbing compound and many of the products you listed above but I just cant seem to get the glass as smooth as I'd like. Thanks!

-Rob

Junebug
Oct 23rd, 2006, 12:04 PM
Ever try distilled vinegar?

Mike Phillips
Oct 23rd, 2006, 12:17 PM
Ever try distilled vinegar?

Sometimes distilled vinegar will remove some of the mineral deposits, but it's never a sure thing.

The two methods outlined above are sure things. After washing a car if you find water spots in or on the paint, first this means that washing didn't remove them, thus you're going to have to move on to Plan B.

Plan B is to determine if the water spots are above the surface and are in fact deposits, which sometimes vinegar will remove them, or at least some of them, or if the water spots are in fact holes in the paint, in which vinegar will do nothing.

The article above is pretty detailed in what the two different types of water spots are,

Deposits on the paint
Etchings below the paint
After determining which you have you can then decide which approach works best for your situation.


Often times even after you remove deposits that have bonded to the paint the deposits will leave etchings that will have to be removed with ScratchX or some other type of paint cleaner or cleaner/polish.


Mineral Deposits on the paint - Type I
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/gallery/data/500/2Type1WaterSpot2.jpg



There is no way in the world vinegar is going to remove the paint around this hole or etching in the clear coat; the only way to remove this is to remove the paint surrounding the etching using some type of paint cleaner or cleaner/polish.

Water etching below the surface - Type II
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/gallery/data/500/2WaterEtcingSpotOriginalC1RawCloseUpCropped.jpg

Junebug
Nov 3rd, 2006, 09:52 AM
You know, water spots are like a sun burn - it's best to prevent it than to treat it. But then, if everybody took excellent care of their cars then I'd have to find another second job as there would be no need for detailers. Mike, I wasn't trying to second guess you, just there's all that (start with the least aggressive polish/pad/cleaner etc) I just thought before you got into a war with water spots - to try distilled vinagar, my method is to saturate an old MF towel and let it soak on the spots for 5-10 minutes and then scrub it. It's worked for me, but then, I didn't have that "paint cancer" that you showed in your pic to deal with either.


[Edited for implied bad language. Please keep language family friendly; Thanks, 2hotford]

mrClen
Dec 10th, 2006, 07:06 PM
hi Mike thanks for tip, I'm just new here but im loving every second of it. Thanks for sharing this articles. Albert.

06gasi
Jan 4th, 2007, 04:06 PM
I had to travel for work and was away for two weeks. To make things worse the car is black. I have tried to polish the spots out already. I am guessing that I did not use a polish abrasive enough. What polish would be abrasive enough to get rid ofthe spots?

06gasi
Jan 4th, 2007, 04:07 PM
Oh yeah. Thanks for all the help guys.

Mike Phillips
Jan 4th, 2007, 04:13 PM
I had to travel for work and was away for two weeks. To make things worse the car is black. I have tried to polish the spots out already. I am guessing that I did not use a polish abrasive enough. What polish would be abrasive enough to get rid of the spots?

What polish did you use to start with?

Most people think the paint on their car is soft, and in most cases it's hard, and that means it's going to be hard for you with your 4 fingers pushing down on an applicator pad to remove small particles of paint in and effort to level the uppermost surface with the lowest depths of the water spots.

Didn't know if you knew this? :confused:

Mark2
Mar 10th, 2007, 09:43 AM
If I have water dried on my paint I get some spots, but I have never seen any that wouldn't come of after just using a normal car wash. I guess if you have water that is not very clean or the sun burning it in to the paint or a surface that is not protected with some sealant or wax, it might be different.

Tech154
Jan 11th, 2008, 10:03 PM
Hey Mike, Thank you for that information. I own a black 2003 Impala, and I live in Long Island NY. The weather here its been very weird, my baby sleeps outside on a parking area. I just found a Type II on the hood of my car, and I'm gonna do those steps that you mentioned here. I'll let you know how thing work out for me & my baby...!

andyo
Jan 12th, 2008, 08:01 PM
i wash my car in the evening when it is barely light out. never had a problem, only when it rains during the day...

Melyssa916
May 16th, 2008, 12:04 PM
Ok I found out how to remove water spots from glass and I just did it and it works! Grab an SOS pad from under your kitchen sink, scrub the glass with it one or two times ( no serious elbow work involved) rinse then clean window with windex and they are gone!

Mike Phillips
May 16th, 2008, 12:09 PM
Careful, steel can scratch glass. The scratches might be very fine or shallow and you might not be able to see them unless the light is just right on the glass.

For everyone that ever reads this into the future, Meguiar's doesn't recommend using SOS pads or any kind of Steel Wool to clean glass. Steel can scratch glass, so if you copy what Melyssa916 has done, then you're completely on your own.

:)

ARMY_MP_From_MO
May 24th, 2008, 09:41 AM
Let me start off by saying I'm a soldier recovering from a spinal fusion to repair my broken back. My apt complex started using their sprinkler system to water what grass they have here in El Paso. Of course, they put in 360 degree heads and it's put water spots on my glass, my grille and the hood and driver's side of my baby. Argh! I tried using the cleaner wax on mine. The water spots seemed like type I when I started but just faded away. After, waxing it I hurt for about a week and I'm not interested in that without getting the right results. Should I expect better results from the clay or should I just use the ScratchX?

Murr1525
May 24th, 2008, 01:22 PM
You would likely want to use both the clay and ScratchX on the paint, and clay on the glass.

It might be worth looking into something like the G100/G110 if you like to work on your car a lot.

premier.mobile1
May 24th, 2008, 03:40 PM
Let me start off by saying I'm a soldier recovering from a spinal fusion to repair my broken back. My apt complex started using their sprinkler system to water what grass they have here in El Paso. Of course, they put in 360 degree heads and it's put water spots on my glass, my grille and the hood and driver's side of my baby. Argh! I tried using the cleaner wax on mine. The water spots seemed like type I when I started but just faded away. After, waxing it I hurt for about a week and I'm not interested in that without getting the right results. Should I expect better results from the clay or should I just use the ScratchX?

Mike's original post at the begining of this thread is a sure fire way to get the results you desire. I can understan your desire to get the right prosess down the first time considering your condition. And to guarantee the results you are looking for, it's always recomended to do a test area so that you don't wind up doing your whole car, stepping back to look at things and wind up saying to yourself "That's not quite what I was trying to achieve."

It makes things a ton easier when the vehicle is yours too, you don't have to do the whole thing all at once. You can do a pannel or two a week, or more if you like (this was my pace as I own a Yukon XL and was woking on it by hand:eek:)

The Detailing 101 and the How To section are very valuable sources also, so look around. I'm always finding new and useful advice!:bigups

adriankeith
Jun 2nd, 2008, 10:25 AM
This is an excellent guide. Thanks for the write-up Mike.

Gdriver
Jun 8th, 2008, 05:59 PM
i have not yet look closely on my paint to know if there are any water spots, i will tomorrow morning, but i do have water spots all over my windows. i tried windex, and regular water, but nothing is getting rid of the spots. any suggestions?

Murr1525
Jun 8th, 2008, 06:17 PM
I have found clay, Nxt Glass Cleaner and RainX to get rid of mild water spots after an application or two.

cabman2323
Jun 10th, 2008, 07:07 PM
I was praying for Type 1 but I had the Type 2.

Scratch X and a terry cloth did the trick.... plus alot of Karate Kid!!! Wax on... Wax off!!!!


There is still some water spots but hardly noticeable. Once I get feeling back in both of my arms, I will get those too :)

superbogel
Aug 26th, 2008, 10:01 PM
can u just use color x to remove water spots?

Mike Phillips
Aug 27th, 2008, 07:09 AM
can u just use color x to remove water spots?


You can "Test" to see if it will work. If you have more questions about the water spots on your car please start your own thread.

Thank you.

superbogel
Aug 27th, 2008, 05:44 PM
You can "Test" to see if it will work. If you have more questions about the water spots on your car please start your own thread.

Thank you.

oki got it, mant thx :xyxthumbs

xgwsx
Apr 7th, 2009, 05:30 PM
so anything other than scratchx that removes type 2 water spots (etching)?
i have numerous on my trunk and roof, shtty pa weather was raining for the past three days, with bright sun inbetween, i didn't notice until getting to wash it today in the sun.. freaked me out..

so um yeah.. what else other than scratchx? i have quixx scratch repair at hand.. would that work?

pmason718
Jul 22nd, 2009, 11:04 AM
I take it that M205 should be sufficient enough to remove water spots. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong

Murr1525
Jul 22nd, 2009, 12:18 PM
I take it that M205 should be sufficient enough to remove water spots. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong

Depends. If they are mild, yes. If they are severe, deeper into the paint, then a stronger product or machine may be needed.

Markus Kleis
Jul 22nd, 2009, 12:20 PM
I take it that M205 should be sufficient enough to remove water spots. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong

Hey Mason,

Haven't seen you on here in a while :D

The M205 role is that of an ULTRA *finishing* polish, but it is unique in that depending on application method (hand, rotary, DA) and pad (polishing or finishing) it can have some moderate bite.

On Ford paint I have on occasion been able to achieve 100% correction on a car in decent shape with 2 passes using a polishing pad and rotary.

Usually though, you will want to stick to a heavy hitter like M105 to get at deep etchings and water spots. Then use the M205 to refine the surface.

You use a FLEX 3401, right? Or did you end up with a G110?

pmason718
Jul 23rd, 2009, 05:54 AM
Wsup Mark,

I haven't seen you on F150 in a while, lol. I ended up getting the G110 to start off with. I didn't want to cause any damage first. The water spots that I'm talking about are not severe. It on my lady's 08 Focus. The funny thing is that about two weeks ago after washing, drying, clay I polished her car with the G110, polishing pad and M205. I followed that up with NXT 2.0 and the car looked wonderful. This past weekend I went to just wash it and I don't know if I left some soap on a little to long but now it has some water spots on the spoiler. The rest of the car is fine. I think I'm going to clay it then hit it with M105. Maybe next summer once I get comfortable with the G110 I will step it up.

nick98338
Jun 30th, 2010, 09:04 AM
I just recently discovered the joys of detailing. After a couple of months of reading and learning, I discovered that I had some Type II water spots. I knew that I needed to clay the surface, so I picked up a clay kit. The kit included a bottle of "cleaner wax". After washing and claying, the water spots were still there. So, I tried the cleaner wax. I used it as if it were a polish compound. Moderate pressure. Took them water spots right off. Most spots vanished in one pass. A few spots needed two passes. And, waxed at the same time. Easy.

Sebu
May 8th, 2011, 02:11 AM
Hi Mike, thanks for the useful post.

It seems that I have a lot of water spots but on my front windshield. They are not circular like the one in your pictures, but more like water that has ran down the windshield after a rain lets say and stuck there. Like the water spots you have in your mirror in your bathroom when water fells over it and starts following downward course (gravity) and the dry out.

I have tried several thinks to clean them with no apparent results (and I fear a lot in case of doing any damage in the windshield). Things I have already tried are:

1) Prima Clarity Glass Cleaner
2) Optimum No Rinse as a cleaning water solution (1 oz/2 gallon of water)
3) APC
4) Tar & Glue Remover (in case it was resin from pine tree that fell during the rain with the rain water)
5) vinegar
6) cleaning washing the whole car with a neutral Ph, no alkali,no acids, no wax shampoo.

Despite the measures 1-6 above the water spots remain there. I applied all the above with waffle weave mf towels and I dry the car with waffle weave towels.

I don't know what else to try (my last options that I can think of are clay - with ONR in clay lube proportions and a glass polish cleaner).

But I fear a lot not to scratch or do any other damage to the windshield.

The water spots can be seen only under a specific angle and sun/light conditions and especially when the windshield's wipers are sweeping by drying the windshield.

What else can I try because I am stuck and the car is only 1,5 months old and I can not accept/cope with it.

Thanks in advance.

christine01h
Sep 10th, 2014, 11:14 PM
Hey mike, thanks for this wonderful tips. Thanks a lot.

christopherfuston
Nov 11th, 2014, 03:30 AM
Thank you for sharing this informative thread.Really helpful

BluDesign
Jan 3rd, 2015, 07:22 PM
Lots of good information here, but my water spotting problem is much greater here in Florida. I have an excellent level of surface tension on my paint ( so much so, that even the morning dew beads up), but when I wash my car in the garage, and the surface is cool, I still gets water spotting, no matter HOW fast I dry the car off. So, in my research, I have found that I am going to have to invest in a water filtration system that will eliminate the compounds that are causing the problem in the first place. The type of filter I am going to get is a Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter. And here's the reason why (http://www.purewaterproducts.com/articles/spot-free-car-wash/). I can't afford a whole house system right now, so I'll just get a hose-end type for my garden hose. I found a couple under $200, but I'm sure there's more options out there than I can shake a stick at (http://www.uswatersystems.com/systems/reverse-osmosis.html). I'll let you know how it goes :)

SweatTheDetails
Jan 5th, 2015, 06:25 PM
I know all about the FL heat. In the summer I wash my car in the garage using the rinsless wash method. Here is a video of my preferred method. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6FVxZ8llvps

IYAOYAS
Aug 17th, 2016, 11:58 AM
i have tried vinegar(50-50 solution. and compound pad but no luck, it is a plastic bumper and i also have waterspots on the lower door panels that are also plastic. any solutions or tips would be great.

billddrummer
Sep 24th, 2016, 08:32 PM
i have tried vinegar(50-50 solution. and compound pad but no luck, it is a plastic bumper and i also have waterspots on the lower door panels that are also plastic. any solutions or tips would be great.
Welcome Fellow Northern Nevadan,

Seems like the water quality has been getting worse here despite a relatively normal winter last year.

Water spotting for me is from apartment sprinklers that spray the car instead of the grass. As the summer has turned to fall, mineral content is up significantly.

Will try Mike's suggestions and stay away from steel wool on the windows.

billddrummer
Oct 7th, 2016, 07:07 PM
Welcome Fellow Northern Nevadan,

Seems like the water quality has been getting worse here despite a relatively normal winter last year.

Water spotting for me is from apartment sprinklers that spray the car instead of the grass. As the summer has turned to fall, mineral content is up significantly.

Will try Mike's suggestions and stay away from steel wool on the windows.
Update:

Used clay on the water spots (discovered they were on the glass, plastic chrome accents, and on black trim surrounding the rear window panels). There was no change. Clearly, these are type 2 spots.

Will try UP next time because I don't think ScratchX has sufficient abrasive effect, but I don't know how to remove from the black trim, plastic chrome or glass.

Any help is appreciated.

billddrummer
Oct 8th, 2016, 07:55 PM
Ran across a website that suggested using a muriatic acid solution to remove water spots.

Seems much too aggressive for my taste.

Joe Dragon
Dec 22nd, 2016, 05:08 PM
Update:

Will try UP next time because I don't think ScratchX has sufficient abrasive effect, but I don't know how to remove from the black trim, plastic chrome or glass.



Hi Bill:

Long time no hear, hehe. I used UP on the plastic chrome of my Avalon, by hand with a soft cotton cloth like a T-shirt, not terry, and it cleaned up the mess nicely. Just work gently; you may need to do it twice after removing the first coat if the results are not up to par.

Joe

Longinus876
Aug 29th, 2017, 08:25 AM
[QUOTE=Sebu;467179]Hi Mike, thanks for the useful post.

It seems that I have a lot of water spots but on my front windshield. They are not circular like the one in your pictures, but more like water that has ran down the windshield after a rain lets say and stuck there. Like the water spots you have in your mirror in your bathroom when water fells over it and starts following downward course (gravity) and the dry out.

Glass is a strange material. I have the same problem and have also tried many things. I was wondering if you had any success w/ anything yet. BTW, i used clay and glass cleaner on the paint and all the spots are gone. The glass cleaner was Up&Up from Target and contains ammonia. I don't know if brands vary. The glass did not get clean w/ this method. It looks to me like there is a static charge on the glass that is holding the contaminants strongly. The clay is slowly wearing down the spots but i'm looking for an instant solution. Regards.