My first really bad experience with water spots on black paint happened when a sprinkler sprayed water on one side of my car. The water spots were incredibly difficult to remove. It’s very easy to scratch your paint while doing this. This post will show you the steps I followed to successfully remove my water spots so hopefully, you won’t make the same mistakes I did.
I did a lot of research for this post. I searched forums and I posted questions on manufacturers’ forums to get my answers.
Water spots left by the sprinkler are called hard water spots. These are more difficult to remove than water spots left by rain water. This is because tap water contains more mineral deposits than rain water. Rain water can have more dirt and dust which is easier to remove.
When the sprinkler water evaporates it leaves behind mineral deposits. It’s these deposits that eat in to paint.
TIP: If you want to prevent water spots after washing read this post about drying your car.
The theory goes that these water spots are alkaline which means an acidic product should remove them. So if you think your water spots come from rain or even from road spray then you should first try to use an acidic water spot remover such as CarPro Spotless which has great reviews on Amazon.
Wax might cover the water spots temporarily but it wont get rid of them completely so I wasn’t going to try that.
How I went about removing hard water spots from my black car.
I did a lot of research on this subject. I wanted to avoid polishing or compounding. The reason for this is that these are paint correction steps and will actually remove a tiny layer of the clear coat layer. As my paint was in good condition other than the water spots I wanted to use this as a last resort.
The experts will advise you to test the least aggressive option first to protect your car’s paint for as long as possible.
I washed and dried the car using the proper techniques. It’s tempting to try to remove the water spots when washing by scrubbing them with the microfibre wash mitt. But this would be a huge mistake as scrubbing will just scratch the paint.
You should only ever put light pressure on the wash mitt when washing. Use a microfiber mitt and the correct washing technique to protect your car’s shine for as long as possible.
The same is true when drying your car. Use a good-quality drying towel like this one and use little or no pressure other than the weight of the towel itself. This will help your car to keep its natural shine for years longer then doing it the wrong way such as with a bathroom towel.
Then I tried using a clay bar on a small section. This made no difference to the water spots in the paint at all. Also, remember to put little or no pressure on the clay bar and use plenty of lubrication as again you could scratch the paint. The clay bar was more effective on the glass. Still I didn’t use it to clean the glass as I wanted to try other methods.
The real purpose of a clay bar or clay glove is to remove hard contaminants from your paint. If your paint feels rough to the touch then a clay bar is great for that. These rough bits of grit and sand can become loose when waxing and actually scratch the paint. A clay product might remove water spots from rain water but that’s not what I had.
Now I tried a water spot remover spray and it definitely got rid of some water sports but not all of them. The water spots on the glass were removed with this product but not from the paint. This was because the water spots were etched into the paint.
The product I tried was 3D Eraser Water Spot Remover. And although it didn’t work well for me, it might be the best option for you. Many of the reviews on Amazon are positive with people reporting that it was easy to use and removed all of their water spots. Click here to read reviews of 3D Eraser Water Spot Remover on Amazon.
Another way to remove water spots from glass is with a razor blade. Glass is much harder than paint so it’s safe to use the razor blade on glass without scratching it. But a razor blade will scratch paint and damage rubber so be careful if you are trying it.
As I now know my water spots were the bad kind. These were etched into the clear coat and I would need to try compound and polish to remove them. Basically, I needed to remove some of the clear coat
I tested the products I wanted to use by hand first. I tried Maguires Ultimate Polish with a foam pad. Many people online have had success removing water spots with it so I thought I would give it a try as I had a bottle. It’s a very mild abrasive and won’t damage paint if used properly.
I carefully tested Ultimate Polish on the small section I had just clayed. But first I cleaned the test section with a clay bar. The polish removed some of the water spots but I felt that it would take a lot of work to do the entire car with this product as it didn’t have enough cutting power.
Ultimate Polish is a great product for using after compounding or to restore dullness and deliver a deep shine but not good for my etched water spots. Ultimate Polish is very user-friendly as it doesn’t create dust when it dries and the residue left behind is super easy to clean off, even from black paint.
Next, I tried Chemical Guys VSS Swirl and Scratch Remover.
Success! VSS is a water-based product that is used for paint correction work just like my water spots. Having read extensively online about the product on many discussion boards I looked forward to trying it.
Again I used a foam pad to test in a small area. I worked the product in by hand until the product became clear. When I wiped it away with a microfibre cloth I could see that the water spots had gone and a healthy shine was left behind.
Chemical Guys VSS is a one-step product. Its full title is Chemical Guys VSS Scratch and Swirl Remover. While it’s possible to do your complete car by hand using a polishing pad you will get the job done quicker with a Dual Action Polisher. So maybe if just one section of your car has the water spots such as one or two doors then you can do it by hand. But if the whole car needs work it will be easier with a machine.
VSS “cuts like a cutting compound at first”. This means that it contains microscopic particles that cut away a tiny layer of your car’s clear coat. So it’s not a product you should use very often because you only have so much clear coat on your car. Only use it if your paint needs correction. For example, use it to remove light scratches and swirl marks. It’s also good for oxidation too and will restore shine to any faded paint so this product has many great uses.
Chemical Guys say it’s ideal for light to moderate swirl marks or scratches. It saves time and money as it’s a one-step product. You don’t need to use compound first and then a polish which would be two separate products and twice as much work.
VSS doesn’t hide the water spots or faded paint. Products that do that only offer temporary solutions. VSS will fully correct the problems. It doesn’t contain any fillers or sealants or waxes either. So after you use it you should apply a sealant and or wax to protect your finish.
Now that I knew this was going to be a big job I set aside a Saturday afternoon to complete the process. To prepare my car for polishing with VSS you should fully clean it. After a full wash, use a clay bar or clay glove to remove grime that’s stuck on if you have any. Some people also like to use an iron remover like Iron-x from CarPro.
The clay and iron remover are usually needed if your paint feels rough to the touch. It should be as smooth as glass before you polish it to make the polishing faster and easier and to prevent possible further damage to your paint. Also, your wax or sealant will stick better to your car and last longer.
My paint was now ready for VSS. Polishing is a process that removes the very top layer of damaged or scratched paint. It can reveal the original shine that your car had when it was new. A good way to think of it is that your paint is being smoothed down to a shine.
If you have glossy plastic on your car you can also use Chemical Guys VSS on it. It will even restore shine to plastic headlights and tail lights. But it’s not worth using on black matt plastic or rubber and it even might stain it so keep it away. Consider using tape for protection.
I used my Dual Action polishing machine to do this job. If you don’t own a polishing machine you can do this by hand. It will just take longer.
How to apply Chemical Guys VSS by hand. (instructions from Chemical Guys)
- Work on cool surface.
- Shake Well.
- Always work 2’ x 2’ section at a time.
- Using a polishing pad, work the VSS Scratch & Swirl Remover into the paintwork to remove swirls, scratches, and oxidation.
- Remove excess residue using a premium microfiber towel to achieve a brilliant shine.
- Follow by applying a coat of your favorite Chemical Guys wax or sealant.
How to prevent your paint from being damaged by water spots.
Once I had removed my water spots, I needed to apply a sealant again to protect my paint. My favorite sealant at the moment is Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant. It’s easy to apply and delivers long-lasting protection. I believe if I had applied a sealant more recently the water spots would not have been such a big problem.