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One of the most commonly overlooked parts of basic car maintenance is taking care of a vehicle’s paint. While many folks go the route of covering their car in clear vinyl paint protection film (PPF) or ceramic coating, some don’t do anything to elongate the life of their car’s paint. Worse yet, many folks are quite harmful to their car’s paint. Here are a handful of things that will ruin your car’s paint that you may not realize.

Parking under trees can lead to paint issues

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A Tesla Model S at a carwash | Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Image

According to Geico, one of the most common things car owners do that can negatively affect their paint is park under trees. Sure, the shade is great. In fact, it’s one of the ways to most efficiently use your car’s air conditioning. However, there can be some adverse effects.

Twigs, sap, and other various tree-related items can fall onto your car or be blown into it by the wind. Twigs, pinecones, and more can scratch your car’s paint if they hit at the right angle. Furthermore, sap left on your car’s paint can cause long-term damage or permanent marks.

The best course of action to prevent these scenarios from causing damage to your paint (and virtually everything else on this list) is to ensure that your paint is protected. High-quality wax, ceramic coat, or PPF film is a great way to keep your car looking great and keep your paint healthy.

Bird droppings and bug splatters can leave permanent scars on your paint

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Car covered in bird poop | Stefan Jaitner/picture alliance via Getty Images

There’s nothing worse than walking out to your car to find a nice big splotch of bird poop on your paint. However, it’s a lot more than just annoying. Bird poop has substantial negative reactions with paint. If left too long, it can leave permanent scars on the paint.

No matter the circumstances, the best course of action is to clean the bird droppings off your car as quickly as possible. Moreover, though, it’s especially important to thoroughly clean it off if your car does not have any paint protection.

The same can be said for high-speed bug collisions with your paint. Often, especially after road trips, you’ll find that your car is littered with bugs up front. It’s essential to remove them from your paint ASAP!

Gasoline drips from the gas station

Spilling gasoline on your car after pumping gas can ruin your car's paint.
Gas pump | Getty Images

As one might imagine, gasoline on your paint isn’t great for it. However, it’s all too common to accidentally spill a few drops of gasoline on your car’s paint when removing the gas pump from your filler neck.

If you do spill a little gasoline on your car, be sure to wipe it off immediately. Keeping something like a microfiber towel handy is a great way to clean up spills like this without risking damaging your paint. Avoid using scratchy gas station paper towels if you can.

Writing “wash me” in dust on your paint

It’s just so funny it’s hard to pass up, right? This age-old and played-out joke is likely as old as the automobile itself. So, don’t do it even if it’s your car and especially not if it isn’t your car.

Using your finger to make “art” on a dusty car may look like you’re clearing certain spots of dust. However, what you’re actually doing is applying pressure to the dust particles and burying them, and subsequently dragging them around on the surface of the paint. This can cause severe damage and scratches.

Washing your car with dirty materials

Using a dirty sponge or wash mitt to wash your car can be extremely detrimental. Instead of washing your car, you could be scrubbing it down with a bunch of dirt particles and making terrible swirl marks to ruin your car’s paint.

When washing your car, it’s best to use the “two bucket method,” wherein you have one fresh bucket with soap for washing and another “dirty” bucket to rinse your washing tool with. This way, you ensure each dip is with an empty sponge/mitt in clean water.

Be sure to keep these things in mind if you value your car’s paint. Above all else, though, you should seriously consider a form of paint protection if you’re looking to preserve your car’s paint.


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