What Liquids Damage Car Paint?

What Liquids Damage Car Paint? All car owners would want the exterior of their car to remain attractive and new. Many hardly feel comfortable with damaged car paint as this doesn’t only reduce the aesthetic of the car but also reduces its resale value. 

Although the exterior and even the interior parts of your car can’t remain the same forever, taking proper care of them can make a huge difference.

Several liquids can damage your car paint and knowing these liquids will enable you to keep them away from your car.

Types of Car Paint Damages

Car paint damages are classified based on their causes. 

Several types of car paint damages can lead to costlier repairs later if ignored. Regardless of how careful you may be, scratches, swirls, or spots can always appear on your car without you having any knowledge of how they got there. 

Choosing to ignore the little spots, swirls, or scratches can lead to more severe damages that may completely ruin the appearance of your car. 

Some common types of car paint damage include:

Paint Oxidation

Paint oxidation is a chemical process that ruins a car paint over time because of continuous exposure to heat and oxygen. 

Oxidation dries out the oil in your paint and makes it look very dull. Paint oxidation happens gradually and can go unnoticed until a significant area of your car has been affected and then it appears as white blotches on the car’s surface. 

Cultivating the habit of parking your car under the sun puts it at risk of being oxidized. It happens that a chemical reaction will occur as a result of sun energy and oxygen from the atmosphere leading to paint oxidation.

Peeling clear coat

Poor maintenance and exposing your car to some natural elements such as sun, hard water, or chemicals can cause the clear coat to peel. 

Also, the age of your car or the quality of the car paint can cause damage to your clear coat which will equally give your car an ugly look.


Swirls are a very common type of car paint damage. 

Swirls can appear on your car if you use a hard brush to scrub the surface of your car or dry it with a dirty or hard towel. Swirls can also appear on your paint if your car wash operator uses a stiff brush or towel to scrub the car. 

Swirls can be prevented by using clean washing tools and softer brushes and towels.

Fading paint

Car paint fades because of constant exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. 

The harshness of the sun can cause your car paint to lose its color and make it appear dull and rough or cause oxidation. Using chemicals to wash your car can also cause your car paint to fade. 

Other factors like scratches, rust, and road salts can cause your car paint to fade off as well. 

Paint chips

Paint chips appear on your car because of sand and gravel on the road being thrown on the car as the tires crush them. They create piercings on your car that will damage its body. 

Applying paint protection film or coating will take care of this issue.

Premature rusting

When your car is continually exposed to natural elements like excessive sun rays, minerals, and chemicals, it will cause rust on the paint. This can be prevented if you pay attention to swirls, scratches, and clear coat peeling at its early stage.

Liquids that Damage Car Paints

Car paint protects your car’s surface and beautifies it. 

Several liquids can damage your car paint if it comes in contact with it, some of these liquids include:


Fuel can come in contact with your car through the fuel nozzle and cause damage to your car paint. 

However, such damage can only occur if you leave the fuel on your car for too long. Gasoline can thin out your clear coat and eat up the base coat if it goes deeper.

Paint damage arising from gasoline can easily be prevented if you wash it off with water once it drips on your car.

Coffee and soda

Some people have the habit of dropping food items on their car, especially on the bonnet or the roof. 

You may be standing outside your apartment, relaxing by your car with a cup of coffee or bottle of soda while reading a newspaper or an article, and then you mistakenly spill some of it on the car. 

Both coffee and some soda drinks contain a certain amount of acid and sugar which can dissolve car paint, cleaning up the spills quickly will prevent damage to your car paint.

Battery acid 

Acid from the battery can leak and drop on the car paint. This will corrode and ruin the car paint. 

The battery can leak and accidentally spill on the car surface when you try to remove it or want to work on your battery. 

It is important to wipe this off immediately or remove it carefully so it does not spill at all.

Shaving cream 

Shaving cream contains acidic or alkaline compounds that can easily peel off car paint. 

Once this cream dries up on your car it discolors the paint in the affected area and will lead to further damages like paint or clear coat peeling. 

Wiping this off immediately after it gets on your car will prevent this damage.


Ripples of tar on newly constructed roads can get in contact with your car and stick to the paint. 

If not removed on time, tar can become hardened and very difficult to remove. Forcing it off will damage the car paint in the process but a tar remover will make the process easier.

Bird droppings

Usually, car owners overlook the fact that bird droppings can cause any damage to their car. However, bird droppings constitute a major cause of car paint damage. 

Birds eat different kinds of fruits that contain acid or alkaline and when they excrete, they poop this same acid and alkaline on your vehicle. 

You can prevent this by covering your car, not parking under trees, or cleaning bird poop off your car once you see it. 

Hydraulic fluid

Hydraulic or brake fluids are highly corrosive and in just five minutes, they can crack the clear coat and paint off your car. 

Hydraulic fluid will corrode the paint’s layer which will peel and later lead to rusting. Cars with low-quality paint as well as cars that are not waxed are at a higher risk of being damaged.


You might see some bugs around your car and want to chase them away or kill them with an insecticide. Although this will work to get rid of the bugs, the chemical contents of the insecticide will damage your car paint, especially if your paint is not heavily coated. 

It is important to wipe insecticides off your car immediately you notice it.

Acid rain 

Acid rain is a kind of rainfall that contains high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. 

Acid rain occurs when nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide are released into the atmosphere through activities like fossil fuel burning. 

They are mixed with oxygen, water, and other chemicals present in the atmosphere to form nitric and sulfuric acids. This acid mixes up with water before it falls as rain. When this rain comes in contact with your car, it leaves droplets of water on it. 

When the water evaporates, it leaves behind acidic compounds which can eat up car paint very fast and can also cause long-term damage to the car surface if neglected.


Many homes use bleach to wash white fabrics and some may have the habit of using that foamy water to wash their vehicle. You shouldn’t do this as it’s detrimental to your car paint. 

Note that bleach contains sulfuric and nitric acid that can cause damage to your car paint leading to rusting. 

Tree sap 

This is very common for people that park their vehicles under trees at home or around the workplace. 

When the tree sap drops on your car, it sticks to the paint and attracts dust and debris to the spot. This can cause scratches and peeling or chipping of paint if ignored.

Some saps from trees like lime or lemon trees are highly acidic and can cause discoloration on your car paint.


Acetone is a colorless and very volatile solvent used to clean up any mess left behind during the detailing process. 

Acetone can remove tar, grease, and hardened paint splatter from the car paint. 

However, you don’t need to use this very often and you must be careful while using it because it can dissolve the wax and eat into your car paint if left for long.


Surprising right? Well, egg yolks and shells will cause damage to your car paint. Yolks contain some acidic components which can ruin the clear coat and base paint if left for too long on the car. It will also stain the car and might get a bit difficult to remove. 

The eggshells on the other hand will scratch the vehicle’s surface, causing mild or deep cuts on the paint and base coat. 

Now you know that eggs are one of the things that can ruin the glossy and beautiful appearance of your car paint.

Other elements that can destroy car paints 

Apart from liquid substances, other elements can damage your car paint. 

It could be in its solid, powdery, or any other form such as:


If salt comes in contact with your car paint, it can cause corrosion of the paint. 

This corrosion will lead to the formation of rust which is detrimental to your car paint and metal. If you live near the ocean or where there is a lot of snow falling, your car will be exposed to salt. 

During winter, when it snows the most, people tend to use salt to melt snow and ice, and this exposes your car paint to salt on the road.


Sand particles will get on the car while on the road. This sand particle can cause corrosion or scratches that can take off the paint. 


Some bugs have acid in them, and they can come around your car in search of food. If you squish any of these bugs on your car, you must take them off immediately and clean off the fluid. 

Leaving the bug’s fluid on your car can cause damage to your paint over time because of the acidic content in their fluid.


Ash contains calcium and potassium which can ruin your car paint when it mixes with water on the car. 

It causes corrosion which gives room to scratches on your car paint. You can brush away ash from your car or use a water hose to rinse it off.


Several other elements will lead to the rusting of your car. Rust causes the paint to peel and completely ruins the appearance of your car. It affects every exterior component of your car ranging from its appearance to the paint, surface coat, and body panels.

Sharp objects

Sharp objects will cause scratches which will peel off the paint. It is important to keep them away from your car paint as much as you can.

Abrasive cleaners

It is important to use mild cleaners when washing your car. Avoid household detergents as this can damage the protective sealing of your paint, use shampoos instead. 

Also, endeavor to use a soft brush or microfiber cloth while scrubbing and drying to prevent scratches on your car paint.

What Eats Up Car Paint Faster?

There are quite some liquids, chemicals, fluids, and other elements that can eat up car paint very fast. 

Most of these elements have been discussed already in this article, but we’ll reiterate that things like salt, acid rain, ashes, chemicals, coffee, soda, brake fluid, and shaving cream will destroy your car paint faster.

This is because the listed components contain high levels of acid, alkaline, and mineral components that will quickly corrode your car paint if not cleaned off the car on time. They tend to completely discolor the paint or make it peel off.

Tips for Preserving Your Car Paint

A damaged car paint will reduce the aesthetic quality of your car and its resale value. Getting a new paint job done on your car is equally expensive, so preventing this damage is better than fixing it. 

Here are some very effective tips to protect your car paint from damage.

Wash your car thoroughly 

It is essential to wash your car thoroughly at least once every week. 

You should avoid household detergents as much as possible because they contain acidic ingredients and have the tendency of causing more damage to your car paint. 

It is advisable to wash the exterior, tires, and interior components of your car with a good car wash shampoo to remove all dirt, mineral, acidic, alkaline, or any residue that had been deposited on the surface of your car.

Use car covers

Car covers are another good option for preserving your car paint. 

If your parking space is an open space, under trees, by the roadside or even in the garage, car covers will prevent your vehicle from elements such as; dust, dirt, tar, road salts, stone chips, water from sprinkler systems, acid rain, bird poops, etc. 

All the listed elements can cause damage to your car paint. Using a car cover is one of the simplest ways to protect your car paint.

Dry properly 

After washing your car, it is important to dry it properly using the right techniques. Leaving droplets of water on your car will cause water spots when the water dries up. 

Water spots will make your car look dirty or even cause more serious damages like peeling off the paint and damaging the clear coat if left for long. Use a clean microfiber towel to dry your car after a wash.

Use a clay bar 

Using a clay bar on your car helps to get rid of tiny or invisible contaminants like dust and tiny particles that are on your car paint. 

Car waxing 

Applying a car wax will protect your car paint from scratches, dust, sun rays, and other contaminants. 

Car wax can last for up to 7-10 months on your car, but it is advisable to wax your car every 6 months to keep your car smooth and clean. 

Waxes are of different types; you can use natural solid wax or synthetic liquid wax. 

Waxes are less expensive, easy to use, and will give protection from damages caused by UV rays, rain, bird poop, and tree sap. 

They can be very sticky and will not protect your car from scratches, sand, and stone chips. 

Some popular and effective brands are Leica Black Paint New Car Wax, Mothers California Gold Ultimate Wax System, Carfidant Ultimate Liquid Wax, Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax, and Car Guys Hybrid Wax. 

Apply a paint protective film

A protective film is a thermoplastic urethane film applied to the surface of a car to prevent it from external elements that can damage the car paint. 

A protective film is a bit expensive, but it can protect your car for up to 10 years and can last an average of 5-8 years. A protective film can protect your car paint from rocks, stone chips, scratches, UV rays, and contaminants. 

The film is very strong, lasts for a long time, and can restore itself if there is a little damage to it. These features make it a very good option for protecting your car paint. 

However, protective films are expensive and can attract dirt a lot because they are made of vinyl. This will require you to wash your car more often.

Use clear coat protector

The clear coat gives a glossy finish to the car paint and will protect it from dust, sun rays, and other elements. 

Many new cars come with a clear coat that gives the paint a shiny and fine finishing. However, clear coats do not offer maximum protection because they are prone to oxidation and can easily be affected by a scratch.

Paint sealants

This is a new synthetic technology that covers your paint’s clear coat with a thin protective barrier. 

Paint sealants are easy to apply, and they add shine to your car paint, although this will not protect your paint from hard and sharp materials.

Vinyl wraps

Vinyl wraps act as a shield for the car paint, they give a shiny new look to your car and can protect it from minor scratches. 

Vinyl wraps can last for up to 8 months and when you take them off your car surface remains fresh.

How to fix Car Paint damages

To fix car paint damage, you need to, first, understand how mild, deep, or severe the damage is. 

Some car paint damages are almost unavoidable as factors that can cause these damages are all around us. 

Here’s a step-by-step procedure on how to fix scratches on your car paint. 

Wash and prepare

The first step to take when trying to fix your car paint is to properly wash the car to remove any form of dirt and debris. 

Once this is done, you will be able to assess the scratch properly. After assessing the depth of the scratch to ascertain if it is the primer or car metal that is exposed, you use a newspaper and tape to cover the car surface leaving out only the damaged area. 

This will prevent the materials you are using from spreading to other areas.

In a circular motion, use a rubbing or cutting compound on the scratch to remove some paints to enable everything to blend at the end of the repair.

Choose the right color 

The first thing to do here is to choose the right color of paint for your car. You should buy touch-up paint that suits your car’s paintwork perfectly. 

Apply the color coat

Use a paintbrush if it’s not spraying paint. Use a paintbrush to build thin layers of paint on the damaged area. 

Do not apply all layers of paint at once, leave between 10-30 minutes before applying each layer of paint and leave it to dry.

When the paint is completely dried, you will apply the clear coat just above the surrounding paint and in thin layers. Leave this to harden for a day or more before going further.


Smoothen the area to ensure it is flat and not standing out from the other areas of the original paintwork that were not damaged. 

You can do this with fine-grit sandpaper or abrasive rubbing/cutting compound depending on the size of the damage. Do this in a circular motion.


Finally, use polish to give the car a professional finish. After doing this, your car should look as good as new.

Frequently Asked Questions about Car Paint Damage

How can car paints be ruined instantly?

There are several things and activities that will instantly ruin a car’s paint. Spraying a strong chemical paint stripper on the car surface will instantly ruin your car paint down to the metal panel. Another substance that can instantly damage car paint is shaving cream. Once shaving cream dries on your car paint, it will cause discoloration of paint in the affected area. Some brake fluids are very acidic and can damage car paint instantly by dissolving the clear coat and the car paint.

What will permanently damage car paint?

Elements like gasoline, brake fluid, and shaving cream will discolor your car paint and leave permanent damage on it. Also, sharp objects and hard or dirty cleaning materials will leave scratches on your car, and this will require you to repaint the affected area. Oxidation caused by acid rain and UV rays will leave permanent damage on your car paint. This will require you to do a new paint job as severe oxidation will affect the base coat and will lead to rusting of the base panel.

Does insurance cover car paint damage?

Your car insurance policy can cover car paint damage depending on the nature of the insurance and based on the severity of the car paint damage. Comprehensive insurance policies can cover car paint damages but sometimes, in very severe cases, you might have to pay some deductibles while the insurance takes care of the rest.