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Water spots on your car: how to remove and prevent

The sight of your car leaving the car wash, freshly cleaned, vacuumed, and polished within an inch of its life would surely make anyone smile. However, living in Singapore means when there isn’t sunshine, it’s raining. For some, the worst thing is finding water spots especially on your freshly washed car!

Water spots are marks left on your car when water evaporates from its surface and what’s left is basically contamination. Don’t be too alarmed about the ‘contamination’ as no one’s car only comes in contact with filtered or distilled water. Water from the tap or rainwater would usually contain some form of contamination like trace minerals, dirt or chemicals and these are how water spots form.

There are actually two types of water spots. ‘Type one’ spots are just mineral deposits left over on the surface of the car after the water has evaporated. ‘Type two’ spots are ones that are etched onto the surface and made up of chemicals that might even be able to dissolve your car’s paint. For both types of spots, what’s common is that the deposits contain minerals like calcium often found in tap water or pollutants from acid rain.

| Related: Is buying a car worth it? We calculate the cost of owning one in Singapore |

Water spot removal

Removal of water spots is easy if you are usually on top of your car’s ‘grooming’ so to speak. Once you notice that there are water spots on your car, the first thing you’ll need to do is do a complete wash and dry. Most of the time, any dried sediments stuck on your car would rinse off easily from the water, mechanical action and soap. Keep in mind that evaporation is what caused the spots in the first place. Thus, after a good wash, dry off your car with a soft microfibre towel to prevent any streaks and spots.

Adding a detailing spray in your car care routine could help as well especially in between washes. It helps remove dust, fingerprints and smudges easily. Detailing spray could also help remove water spots that have just occurred – just spray it onto a soft microfibre towel, wipe, and buff.

Type Two water spots

If you haven’t driven your car in a while and let it sit parked under the sun and rain, without doubt, the water spots may be extra stubborn even after a wash. For these ‘type two’ spots, some spot treatment should be able to remove them. Try mixing a solution of one part white vinegar to one part distilled water in a spray bottle. Spray it over these spots and gently wipe to remove the vinegar solution and hopefully, any marks. The vinegar works especially for hard water spots as it removes magnesium and calcium deposits. Remember to only do this spot treatment after you’ve washed your car to prevent pushing any loose dirt into your car paint which could cause more problems.

If you tried the vinegar method and noticed there’s still some marks left, it’s time to whip out the detailing clay. This clay is made up of a material that will remove sediments like metal particles, industrial pollution, brake dust and more. Always use a spray lubricant or detailing spray when using detailing clay to prevent the loose particles from scratching your car’s surface. Knead the clay often to ensure that you’re using fresh clay for every pass you make on your car. When you’re done, wipe the surface with a microfibre towel.

If the water spot remains extremely stubborn, perhaps it’s time for a polish. A polisher removes a tiny bit of paint to level it out and it deals with type two water spots by levelling out the lower layers that might have been damaged. However, this is best left up to the professionals who will be able to assess how much to polish.

One thing to note is that after using any of these methods, a fresh application of wax is best as the wash or polish would’ve taken off the previous coat of wax.

| See also: Common car terms every Singaporean driver must know |

Prevention, always better than cure

Sounds simple, right? Just prevent the water spots from forming in the first place! After a car wash, always dry it off with a microfibre towel and the same is if you just drove in the rain. Drying off the surface doesn’t allow the mineral deposits to settle on your car’s paint and cause damage in the long run.

Regular car washes also ensure that it cleans off the dirt, dust and other pollutants present in rain that could damage your car’s paint job. On top of washes, waxing your car also makes sure that rainwater or any water at that to just slide off the surface of the car instead of settling and causing spots to form. An even coat of wax on your car’s surface helps repel water spots and also formation of scratches and swirls which are more obvious on dark coloured cars.


Water spots can form quickly on any car but the most important thing to remember is to dry your car off immediately. If you’re not able to do so, regular car washes and waxes can prevent water spots from forming and helps keep your car’s surface in tip top condition for longer.

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