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Whether your car is decades old or brand new, you want your car to remain looking as nice as possible for as long as possible,  But there are certain materials known that can damage car paint. While many are repairable, some are not, so it’s important to be aware of them and take care of any messes promptly.

1 – Brake fluid.

As a car owner, you likely know how important it is to keep brake fluid at the proper levels – but even a little bit of non-silicone-based brake fluid can act like paint thinner and damage a paint job. If you spill brake fluid, wipe it up immediately by dabbing. Don’t spread it around. Then, wash the spot with soap and water.

2 – Animal and plant materials.

Bugs, bird droppings and tree sap can all be acidic and damage paint if they sit on a vehicle for too long, especially in the sun. Regular car washes by hand or at a commercial wash can help avoid lasting damage. If tree sap has hardened, it may need to be carefully scraped off – but be mindful not to scratch your car. And, be mindful that some types of commercial washes are better for your vehicle’s finish than others.

3 – Gasoline.

Gasoline can stain your car’s finish and be very difficult to remove if left for too long, so it’s important to be cautious when inserting and removing gas nozzles from the gas tank to avoid drips. If you take care of spills and drips right away, it shouldn’t be an issue. Keeping your car waxed can also help protect the car’s surface from gas stains.

4 – Vandalism.

Whether a silly prank by a friend or a true act of vandalism, there’s no doubt it can damage your car. Items like silly string or shaving cream might seem benign, but if left in the sun, they can damage car paint. Other household items like certain cleaning fluids or acidic foods (tomatoes, vinegar, etc) can also leave damage. Be sure to clean up messes like these quickly with soap and water. If other vandalism occurs on your car – such as graffiti or scratches – contact your insurance agency, as the repair may be covered. In most cases, a local auto body shop will be able to color match your car’s paint and restore it to like-new condition.

5 – Shoe polish.

Believe it or not, shoe polish can be one of the most difficult stains to remove from a vehicle. Sometimes, it’s impossible. You might be wondering why someone would put shoe polish on a vehicle, but mistakes happen. If someone tries to test shoe polish on a worn part of their leather interior and rests the polish-soaked rag on the roof or hood of the vehicle even temporarily, it can cause damage. (It should also be noted that shoe polish is not recommended for cleaning or repairing leather car interior because it will not soak up the substance the way that shoe leather does.) If shoe polish gets on your car, go to your local body shop to purchase a specialized cleaner, or consult with a professional.

6 – Dust.

Dust or dirt on a car isn’t exactly attractive to begin with, but when dust mixes with rain, it can cause corrosion to the paint. Gentle car washes can help keep your car free of long-term dust and maintain the finish.

7 – Acid rain.

Acid rain is just that – acidic. Even after the rain evaporates, the acidic part remains on your car and can damage paint. Again, frequent car washes can help limit this exposure.

8 – Dirty towels & rags.

Washing your car can of course be great for the paint, but only if you’re using the right towels and rags. Be sure towels and rags are clean and ideally made of microfiber. Also, don’t set them down on pavement or gravel while working, as you could pick up dirt or debris that could damage your car’s paint.

9 – Coffee & soda.

Between the sugar and acidic nature of many coffee drinks and sodas, they can spell danger for your car paint. Simply wipe up these spills with a wet paper towel to avoid any lasting effects.

10 – Salt.

Salt helps keep vehicles safe on slippery winter road – but is one of the most corrosive things for car paint. If you live in a cold or coastal climate, it’s important to wash your car frequently to keep salt off your car long-term to reduce the risk of rust. Ideally, you should also treat your car with a wax sealant before the first snow as an extra precaution.

If damage has already occurred to your car paint or you need a consultation with an expert, don’t worry.  Steve’s Hometown Collision Center offers Free estimates  so stop by or call and we’ll happily help you restore your vehicle’s finish to like new conditions.