The owner of this beautiful 2010 BMW 528i recently contacted me with an inquiry about removing etched-in water spots from his brand-new vehicle. Due to an unfortunate parking accident, the vehicle was sprayed by a sprinkler system. By the time the client saw the hard water spots it was too late and they had etched deep into the finish.
After failed attempts from the dealership, chemical spot removers, and hand-polishing with ScratchX 2.0, the owner found himself searching online for an answer. He quickly stumbled upon some of my work, along with the recent article I had posted on the different types of water spots. He contacted me and we set up a time where I could evaluate the finish and determine how much work would be required to remove the spots. Upon arrival I was a little relieved to see that the spots were only concentrated on the front portion of the car, with the hood and fenders being the worst panels. It was also quickly apparent that the detail department at BMW did a wonderful job at instilling buffer holograms into the paint. Funny thing about that is that the owner said they didn’t appear until a week or two after he bought the car. When he questioned the dealership about them, they simply told him it was part of owning a black vehicle…..really?
During the pre-detail inspection I tried several different polishes, pads, and tools to see what method would be required to remove the spots, while still preserving the most amount of clear coat. After trying a few milder polishes I wasn’t really surprised that I would have to resort to an aggressive compound like Meguiars M105 on a rotary polisher equipped with a PFW pad (Purple Foamed Wool). I say this because BMW is known for having rock-hard clear (excluding Jet Black) which usually requires a much more aggressive method than what you would typically use on a car with softer paint such as a Honda or Toyota.
The morning I started on the vehicle it was raining so I was unable to capture “before” shots in the sun, which is really the best light for showing holograms and other defects. That being said, you should still be able to see them in the various photos.
Nasty water spots!
Close-up showing spots, slight holograms can be seen as well.
After 2 passes with M105 on the rotary polisher with a PFW pad all spots are gone. However, you can see faint holograms were instilled from the aggressive first step and will require further refining. Also note that I taped the adjacent edge of the fender, which is always a must when you are buffing aggressively, especially with a rotary buffer.
Next, we will take a look at the dealer installed holograms, which actually looked much worse in the sun.
To follow up the areas which required compounding, as well as polishing the rest of the car, I chose to use Menzerna Power Finish on the PCXP equipped with 5.5″ LC Cyan Hydro pads. This combo finished well while still giving a good amount of correction. After all polishing was done I gave the vehicle a thorough wash using Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Clear mixed at a paint prep ratio. All glass was cleaned using Meguiar’s D120 glass cleaner and the tires/wheel wells were dressed with Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing. Chrome trim and exhaust tips were polished using Klasse AIO and my choice for paint protection was Blackfire Wet-Diamond.
Finished pics! This is how black should look, swirl and hologram free. If a dealer tries to tell you differen’t please send them my way!
For tips on keeping your newly polished finish looking like new you can check our article on Proper Washing and Drying.
- Remember that when working with etched in water spots the only way to remove them is by removing small amounts of paint until the finish is level with the spot. Chemical cleaners or vinegar only remove mineral deposits, and they cannot undue the etched in damage the deposits have already caused. See here for more info on the different types of water spots.
As always, thank you for taking the time to view my work. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to submit them in the comment box below.