How To Remove Water Spots From Car?

If you own a car and live in a wet climate, then you may have already encountered water spots. Without any doubt, it is unattractive to have those spots, especially if it is on your new car! However, this doesn’t mean that water spots happen only in wet climate. It can happen anywhere. Nobody wants to ruin the paint job of their car. Yes, there are effective ways to deal with it. Let’s assume that your car came in contact with water for some time. And you came across irregularly-shaped circular blobs on the car once the water dries – and this is exactly what is referred to as water spots.

Why do they form and most importantly, how to remove water spots from car? Well, it can happen anytime once the car has been wet. Severity of water spots might not be the same. You can wipe some off with ease. But there are some you will find hard to remove.

how to remove water spots from car

What are water spots?

Water spots can occur every time your car is exposed to water. When the water evaporates from the water beads, it can leave behind hard minerals, leaving water spots. And you might find it hard to get rid of water spots for the same reason. You shouldn’t leave it untreated. You may have to deal with the scenario of etching, when you leave water spots untreated.

Speaking of etching, this is the scenario where the water deposits are allowed to remain for many weeks or months. The mineral elements which were left behind will start creating problems as they will react to the sun. This prolonged reaction to sun will make things even more complicated. Those spots might become permanent as a result. Especially since summer heat is unbearable these days, a lot of car owners have to go through this problem.

Well, getting rid of water spots is not going to be easy. But you don’t need to worry as there are enough tools to get rid of them. You can use abrasives or polishes to get rid of them effectively. Or else you can use wiping clothes. However, nothing beats early detection. The most important thing you have to do is to make sure that your car is properly maintained. It’s not easy to prevent them since you use your car frequently, irrespective of the weather conditions. Your car will get in contact with water despite your best efforts. But if you follow the right steps, you might not find it hard to deal with water spots. You have to detect water spots early. This will help you to get rid of the spots with ease.

What kind of water spots?

Before you try to remove water spots, it is important to figure out the type of water spot you are dealing with. You have to diagnose the type for effective removal of it. There are three basic types – Type I, Type II and Type III in a broader sense. Let’s find out below.

Type I water spots

how to remove water spots carWe refer it as ‘hard water spots’ as well. What do you mean by the term ‘hard’ here? We are simply referring to the minerals in the water here. As far as type I water spots are concerned, it is caused by the dirt or mineral deposit left behind by the water. Whether it is well water or city water, there can be minerals, which might be left behind when you dry the water. This could happen if you haven’t dried the water after your car gets wet. The water drops, which are not dried might result in type I water spots.

It can be pollution or dirt present in the water, resulting in it. Sprinklers are often blamed for producing type I water spots. We would recommend you to go with a product which is not as aggressive. If you can wipe it off, then it is even better. You should try that first. Our take is to use a spray detailer, along with a microfiber towel.

Speaking of removing fresh water spots, we recommend you to use spray detailer wet or heavy (excess amount). This is because of the fact that the surface needs extra lubrication to get it done without leaving marring or scratching of the finish. A Lot of care has to be exercised here to avoid that.

Type II water spots

how to remove water spots carNow we will move onto type II water spots. Here we are talking about actual craters or etchings in the paint. This happens when some corrosive element lands on the paint through the water source; and this corrosive substance in the paint later starts creating problems unannounced. There are instances, when a water spot can be both a type II and a type I. In that case, water could have been corrosive enough to create the damage. This water might etch the paint, leaving a spot formation. Now let’s check out the case of imprint rings. They might look like established spots. And whenever the car comes in contact with water, the already affected area got etched. Corrosive substances got yet another opportunity to attack the already affected area. However, you might find it hard to predict it with a single look. In that case, you can wipe the paint clean.

Type III water spots

how to remove water spots carNow we will see the case of type III water spots. We are referring to spots which appear to be dull or faded. We usually find them on single stage paints. Water stays on for some time to leave a spot.

You don’t want to worry about modern clear coat paints, as they hardly allow type III water spots. Modern paints are regarded as non-porous and impermeable. So, liquids won’t penetrate so easily, thereby leaving spots. You notice that the spots are usually topical. With modern paints, only the upper surface gets affected. And it is easy for you to wipe them off for the same reason.

That’s not the case when it comes to older single stage paints, as they are permeable, porous and soft. As a result, it is easier for liquids to penetrate. In that case, water spots can be left behind easily. It would be risky to remove stains from single stage paints. You might create a mess in the process as you may be forced to remove more than you wish to remove.

Step by step instructions for removing type water spots by hand

As we have already learned, water spots can be a tricky problem. You may find it hard to remove them without instilling scratches and swirls. Or in other words, the matter is delicate. Let’s take a look below.

First and foremost, you need to find the type of water spots you are forced to deal with.

Step 1 – Wash and dry vehicle

It is important to thoroughly wash and dry your car’s finish in order to get rid of most of the topical mineral deposits and water spots. You might not be able to clean the water spots completely. Nonetheless, you might be able to get rid of most of it. You want to get rid of as much of the physical contaminants and mineral deposits from the paint.

This is important as you will get a clear picture of how much work is needed to be done to remove the hard water spots. Once you remove the mineral deposits and other particles which can be eliminated easily, you will be able to assess the situation. Besides, you don’t want to run mineral deposits and other particles of similar kind. In short, step one is the most important one to ensure that you can remove it without making a mess.

Step 2 – inspecting the paint physically and visually

Once you are done with step 1, you have to visually inspect the paint. Thereafter you need to do a physical inspection of the paint as well. Let’s take a closer look. We will see the significance of visual inspection first. When it comes to type I water spots, you will be able to notice it even if it is slight.  You can either use sunlight or florescent light to get this done. You will be able to notice the subtle water spot impression on the surface of paint.

Now let’s see the significance of physical inspection. You can physically inspect the paint by feeling the surface with your hand. Your hands will be able to detect spots which usually escape your eyes. When you feel the paint, it is supposed to be glassy and smooth. Instead if you feel a textured surface, then you have got work to do. If we are talking about water spots created by mineral deposits, then you can try the simple vinegar solution. Apply the solution of vinegar first, then gently wipe over the paint to remove most of it. Vinegar is effective here.

Step 3 – Claying the paint using detailing clay

If you feel that water spots are still there even after the acid bath, then it is time for you to go for detailing clay. Claying has the ability to get rid of contaminants which are surface bound. It will get rid of physical particulates as well as mineral deposits with ease. However, it is extremely important to knead your clay for maximum efficiency.

Step 4 – Using a paint cleaner, polish or hand applied compound

If you still come across water spots even after step 3, it is possible that these spots have been etched the paint to some extent. You can remove them by gently abrading the paint with paint cleaner, polish or a compound.

How to remove water spots by hand?

We have already seen various steps involving the removal of water spots by hand. You are advised to follow these steps to the T. If the water spot has etched into the finish, then you have to go to the lowest spot of the spot to get it removed. In that case, you might need machine polishing. Or you might need an aggressive polish/pad combination. But you have to remember the fact that you are supposed to use the least aggressive method. In some cases, you may have to go for wet sanding. The biggest lesson to learn here is that you should try to keep your car as dry and clean as possible. We would recommend indoor parking.

Tips your remove water spots from car

1. Mix one gallon of hot water with 3 table spoon of trisodium phosphate. This is an effective solution you can apply on the glasses.

2Lemon juice is very effective to get rid of hardened spots. Spray it on the glass and wait for 5 minutes. Then you can scrub it with wet paper towels. Later you can use clean paper towels to dry the glass.


To conclude, there are 3 different types of water spots – Type I, II and III. As long as you follow the right steps, you will find it easy to deal with water spots. However, you can try to prevent it as much as possible by keeping your car as dry and clean as possible. Hopefully, you get your answer on how to remove water spots from car.

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