As a car owner, you should be aware of the different things that can potentially damage your vehicle’s paint. Some of these things, like acids, are expected and notorious for damaging a car’s paint. However, the most damages done to a vehicle’s paint are from the things you least expect. You can save yourself from expensive paint repairs if you manage to keep these items from damaging your car’s paint. Here is a list of surprising things that can ruin your car’s paint and why.


It might be surprising for you that even beverages can damage your car’s paint. Common beverages like coffee or soda can ruin your paint as these drinks are highly acidic. After a chemical reaction takes place, the acidity destroys the protective layer of paint and the corrosion process starts. Apart from the acidity, these drinks have sugar in them which is also capable of harming your car’s paint if left unchecked. If a beverage spills on your car’s body, clean it immediately to prevent permanent damage. A microfiber cloth and a bottle of quick-detail spray comes in handy in these situations. With these two items, you can easily clean any harmful chemical or residue from the paint.

Bird Droppings

Another surprising thing that can damage your car’s paint is bird poop. Apart from giving an unpleasant look on your vehicle’s body, bird droppings are also acidic. Due to this acidity, bird droppings can permanently damage your vehicle’s paint if left unchecked. To avoid this damage, you should immediately wash the bird droppings off of your car. Like the coffee and soda, a microfiber cloth with your quick-detail spray will clean it right off. Make sure that you do not smear the bird droppings on your car since bird excretions contain seed particles. Rubbing and smearing the place where it sits might leave you with scratches on the paint.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluids are also notorious for damaging a vehicle’s paint. Although some people believe that only a certain type of brake fluid is dangerous, it is a good idea to handle all kinds of brake fluids cautiously. Experts believe that silicone-based brake fluids are harmless for a car’s paint. They also believe that old brake fluids tend to act like paint thinner and will damage the paint’s outermost layer.

Spilled Gasoline

Although filling up a gas tank is no crime, you might end up damaging your car’s paint if not done correctly. Accidental overflows while topping off the tank leave permanent damage on your car’s body. Although the gasoline evaporates soon after touching the body of the vehicle, it can still leave stains on the car. If you happen to spill gasoline accidentally on the body, wipe it off immediately with a soft fiber cloth. Also, waxing the car after each wash will make it less susceptible to such damages.

Automatic Sprinklers

This one will surely take you by surprise! You might have some idea that even plain water can damage your car’s paint. It happens mostly when you park your vehicle adjacent to the flowers and landscaping of a parking lot. Automatic sprinklers installed for watering the flowers and landscaping can leave minerals on your car’s paint from the hard water. These minerals are not easy to remove and you might need a professional detailer to get rid of these spots. To avoid water spots, make sure to park your vehicle away from automatic sprinklers or any beautifully landscaped area!


Unfortunately, wildfires are very common in this day. Ashes from wildfires, or even house fires, in your local area can ruin your car’s paint. When ashes land on your car, the normal reaction is to wash them away with water; this is where the actual problem comes into play. When the ashes touch the water, the potassium and calcium in the ashes react. This damages your car’s paint by eating it away and leaving a dark grey stain. Simply washing your car with water won’t work to remove the ash. If it is white ash, you can remove it from your car with a duster or it will automatically be removed if you just drive your car in dry weather. On the other hand, if you use a duster to remove black ash, it will leave you with scratches on the paint. In order to remove black ash, you have to use a special car wash solution. It is ideal to keep your car covered if there is a wildfire in your area. Nonetheless, if your car is exposed to ashes, the best thing to do is get it professionally cleaned after the wildfires are put out.


You might be curious about how your car’s paint would even get exposed to tar. All construction materials, including tar, have a certain melting point. When the temperature is extremely hot and tar starts melting, it sticks to the paint of your car. When it dries on your autobody, you will have a hard time removing it. Another way your car’s paint is exposed to tar is when you drive on recently laid asphalt. At this point, the asphalt has not completely hardened and tar particles can stick to your car. In this case, you should visit an autobody shop near you to remove the tar from your car. Autobody shops keep certain products that dissolve the tar without ruining the paint.


Depending on what climate you live in, you may have seen local authorities throwing salt on snowy and icy roads. This is done to melt the icy layer that freezes on roads and causes accidents. While this is very practical and a safety precaution, the salt is dangerous for your car’s paint as it kickstarts the corrosion process and makes your car susceptible to rust. Since the safety of passengers in vehicles cannot be compromised at any cost, you have no other choice than to drive on these salty roads. You can save your car from corrosion by washing it car regularly in these conditions. You can also get a permanent rust protection treatment if you own an expensive car.

Tree Sap

Tree sap has been historically used as glue. If it falls accidentally on your vehicle, it can damage your paint. Once the sap dries, it is really difficult to get it off the paint. Like removing dried tar, visit your local autobody shop and they will use tar remover if the sap is still wet. However, if the sap has dried already, mineral spirits and a clay bar treatment will do the job for you.

Shoe Polish

You might find it hard to believe that even shoe polish can damage your car paint. Once it dries, it leaves a stain on your car and becomes extremely difficult to remove. To get rid of shoe polish safely, we once again advise you to visit a local autobody shop. They will use specialized detergents to remove the stains without damaging the paint.



This sums up our list of ten surprising things that can ruin your car’s paint. You can save your car from most of these things by applying wax to your car regularly. Even if your car gets exposed to these items, your paint is less likely to get damaged because it has a protected layer over it. We also recommend you visit your best local autobody shop for getting rid of these items from your car instead of removing them yourself. Have you ever experienced something that damaged your car’s paint? If yes, let us know the problem you faced and how you got rid of it in the comments section below.