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33 comments on Ask-A-Pro: Removing Water Spots from the Paint

  1. Franki says:

    U can also try 50/50 distill water/White vinergar spray let it sit 10 min on a clean surface and wash the car after.

    • Vinegar can be effective on some water spots which are still above the surface of the paint, but once they have etched below the surface it will be ineffective.


      • Albert says:

        Yes, another vote here for Megs 105. I had some severe calcified water deposits on my 2000 Tundra, which were the result of months of exposure to lawn sprinklers. I finally resorted to Megs 105 on an orange pad on a Flex polisher (speed 6) and it made short work of removing the water spots. I had tried clay bar, vinegar and lighter polishes but these only partially removed the spots. Was thrilled with the results.

  2. Matt says:

    I see water spots immediately after washing (using ONR and spigot water)..but it immediately goes away after using the spray detailer. I’m not sure if this qualifies?

    • Nick Carberry says:

      Hi Matt,

      Sounds like you have a case of hard water, which much of our country does. This isn’t horrible if you have great protection on your car, but you should realize that superior protection will be best now that you noticed the issue.


  3. CardRiver says:

    This is a wonder explanation of water spots and etching, and is a key to understanding many of the things one often encounters when assessing and polishing (especially a customer’s) vehicle. Thanks for providing the diagram!
    I remember polishing an ’07 Corvette whose hood contained about 5 bird etchings in the clear coat which weren’t revealed until after a 2-stage polish with the DA. In fact, I don’t even recall seeing the bird bombs until after the job was done!

  4. Mr.Sandman says:

    Hi Chad!

    Excellent work on this car. I am a great fan of your work u show on the civic forum. I do a little detailing myself back here in good ole germany but most of my work I donate to my friends and relatives… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Was a little dissapointed when u posted in the civic forum that u pause a little with showing us your work.
    Was delighted on the other hand to hear that u got married. Is it the cute woman who showed up from time to time on your detailing thread? Well, good work of you on this “topic” as well… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Wait ’til u become a father then… It happened to me twice til now… Lots of Excitement comes of that but you’ll get less time to do detailing I promise ya…
    Keep up the good work (and the sharing it with us)…

    Kind regards


  5. John R says:

    Hi guys,

    A sprinkler got to my car – water only on the car for less than a full day!
    I’m not a detailing professional and I haven’t heard of a lot of the products mentioned on all these web sites, so I’m tying to see if I’ve done sufficient removal for my 2009 black ML 350.

    Anyhow, I seemed to definitely remove the water spots themselves (mineral deposits), but I can kind of still see extremely minor and “pretty difficult to notice” etches where the spots were when I’m up close to the paint, inspecting the paint with a light. (wife thinks I’m crazy, which may be true!)
    Otherwise, the paint looks brilliant from any normal angle/distance!
    I first used a basic spray cleaner just to wipe the deposits.Then I used this bug/tar/sap remover, which removed the minerals. then I used a compound, (turtlewax) followed by a wax/cleaner, finished with a final coat of regular wax (nano wax spray)
    I also tried the vinegar, but as mentioned, it doesn’t remove the etches.

    I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth trying anything more, since it seems I’m unable to remove the etches that seem very deep in the surface. AND – I think I may be expecting too much, when no one, on a regular basis, is going to inspect my car with a lightbulb and magnifying glass ๐Ÿ™‚
    But, I very recently bought this car, and I’m wanting to keep it looking good!
    Any advice? Maybe I should leave it alone? I don’t want to make it look worse, and I tried a bunch of stuff.
    Also, I’m thinking, this could totally happen again, since sprinklers are everywhere!
    I just can’t believe this water, left on there for less than one day, could do this.

  6. Denny Renner says:

    I have pondered for months before I decided to purchase a crspotless water deionizer to get rid of these water spots that accur after home car washes.I live in ST-Louis mo. Our water is excellent in St-louis but still leaves some water spots on car surfaces,especially on windows.The crspotless system elliminates this completely.I seems to make my cars and truck shine even more and have a very smooth surface feeling,no contaminates. I use mothers detailer spray in between washes.I have a beautiful 2002 c5 corvette with millineum yellow factory paint and looks fantastic since I have been using crspotless system. Feel free to contact me and I will elaberate more on car care.

  7. Mary says:

    I live in las vegas and I have tried toget the sprinkler spots of hard water off my truck last night at the car wash and it did not work! Very disappointed!

  8. Mahdi says:

    I bought a car and the first time I took it to a car wash, I noticed that one side of my car has lots of water-drop-like spots that don’t go with water. The strange thing is that they are also on the window glasses and are only at one side of my car. Is this normal to have water spots on glasses? If so, can they be removed and how?


  9. Ted Parker says:

    Hello Chad ! Great website ! Our 2013 Lincoln MKS was parked in an area where a well water sprinkler system left hard water marks in the paint surface, all the chrome and both review mirrors. Nothing will remove them. Fortunately, we purchased a “Xzilon” coating when we purchased the car. Although the Xzilon did not protect our car as advertised,…they agreed to make it right. As I type this, our car is in the process of being buffed out to remove the spots. Unfortunately, the Xzilon protection agreement does not include the chrome and mirrors. Therefore, we are trading the 2013 for a 2014. My question is,…if we take the new car to a detailer for a hand applied wax job of the entire car,…will it protect us against future hard water spots and what kind of wax would you recommend ?
    Thanking you in advance,
    Ted Parker

    • Hi Ted,

      Sorry to hear about your vehicle. ๐Ÿ™

      Unfortunately, I’ve never seen or heard of a product (wax, sealant, or coating) that will stop hard water spots completely. The only way ensure your car is completely protected is to avoid sprinklers at all costs, especially well water ones, and never allow a car to dry on its own after washing. That being said, coatings can definitely help protect the paint and with their added thickness over waxes and sealants, they will act as a sacrificial barrier. The hard water can still etch the coating depending on what was in the water along with some other factors, but usually they reside within the coating and I don’t believe they typically etch into the factory clear. I’ve never used Xzilon, but from what I’ve read online and discussions with other detailers, I believe it falls more into the “sealant” category, and I don’t believe it would be considered a coating.

      Over the last 4 years I’ve had 2 of my vehicles get hit with sprinklers, both were protected with a coating, and on both of them I was able to remove the spots from the paint, glass, and trim using Chemical Guys Water Spot Remover. The sooner you can get to it the better too. I’ve also seen other posts with cars coated with the same coating I used, and their water spots could not be removed chemically, so it really is a case by case scenario and obviously water hardness varies per region.

      Shoot me an email I’ve you like me to help you find a reputable detailer in your area that offers a good coating. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hope this helps,

  10. M Lloyd Hinton says:

    I tried two products from the auto parts store none worked then I remembered how we cleaned coffee pots In a restaurant I owned. I put straight white vinegar in a spray bottle coated my Truck let it sit for 10 minutes wiped it off with a Terry towel repeat 3 times it worked great if real bad repeat again.

  11. Theresa says:

    We live in Gilbert AZ and leased a brand new Toyota Sienna a week and a half ago and noticed the day we brought it home, it was covered with water spots. You cannot see the water spots in sunlight, only in our garage under the fluorescent light. Our sales rep said to bring it in, that they’d make it right. Took it in, they worked on it about two hours, brought it out front for me to inspect in the sunlight, and again it looked good. Brought it home, could still see a couple spots, and now the circular scratch marks made to buff out the spots. I didn’t want to be too picky, but now a few days have passed and the spots are all back!! They said to bring it back in and again that they’ll correct the problem. We really nervous they won’t be able to and that we’ll be held responsible for this at the end of the lease. You cannot see anything in the sunlight, do we need to be concerned this will get worse over time? Do we fight to have this corrected – do you think k they can resolve the problem?

    • Hi Theresa,

      I wouldn’t have much faith in the dealer fixing the car. They didn’t fix it the first time and it sounds like they just made things worse by leaving buffer trails (holograms) in the paint. I would strongly suggest bringing the car to someone who actually knows how to properly remove the spots and have the dealer pay for it. Lucky for you Daniela and Wills from Windows and Wheels Detailing live right in Gilbert and can definitely take care of you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Hope this helps,

  12. Theresa says:

    Thank you so much for the referral!! I will contact them next!

  13. Brandy says:

    So I have a brand new tacoma and live in an area that rains, a lot. I wash and dry my truck weekly, but ended up with some spots about three weeks ago after some midday rains followed by warm weather. Washing only temporarily removes the spots, they return about 2 days later. So I washed and clay bar’d my truck, the spots went away and the surface feels like glass. Two days later the spots are back. And the weather has been dry. If I rub the spots with my fingers they temporarily disappear. Should I wash, clay and then wax my truck or will the spots require a paint cleaner/polish to remove? If the spots were etched into the paint I would think that they would show up immediately after washing or could be felt after claying. Your help is much appreciated. Thanks!

  14. Scott tappin says:

    I have these rust color water spots all over my car. It’s a new Challenger and they suddenly appeared what are they and how do I get rid of them?
    Thank you Scott in Portland Oregon

  15. Giordana says:

    Thanks for your post, I just bought a black 2012 Accord which looked spotless and last night I was looking at the hood and it looks like several large water spots spread through out the hood that I didn’t notice at the lot. They feel very smooth to the touch and look like cloudy spots that have been waxed over? I just want to know what the best way to go about removing them? Since I’ve noticed it’s all I can think about!

  16. Ricky B says:


    I have a 2013 Ford Focus ST. I got it about a year ago and had no problems really with water spots till this summer. I noticed I was getting water spots on the hood and especially the windows about a month ago. I figured they would just wash out since all the other cars in my driveway were not affected. Then this week I realized the spots were getting worse even after a few washes so I tried the vinegar solution which did not do anything for the glass and body. However, I did not leave it on long at all. I just sprayed it and tried to wipe and buff the spots out. Can the spots be etched into the paint and glass so quickly or should have I left the vinegar solution on longer? I order the chemical boys water spot remover today in hopes to get these spots out on the glass. I also order clay bars and P21s Paint Cleaner to help as well. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I am a serious car guy but never did much detailing before besides some hand washes and waxing on cars. However my ST apparently requires a bit more attention then my past cars. I feel like this may be a slight result of the lesser quality of Ford’s paint.

  17. Aaron says:

    Clay bar and Griots Garage speed shine, rub them off, or if you want to get fancy use the clay bar foam pad, a foam pad with a spot in the middle to place the clay bar from griots. Also the new griots creme i think its fact cut. km really happy with a ton of their products i mostly deal with fiberglass but fiund great luck with clay bar to remove warer sots on a 2012 red charger

    • Aaron says:

      Complete compound by Griots Garage is my absolte favorite right now

      • seth plate says:

        Tried claying the stripe that the water spots/ medium grade clay/light clay bar before. Polishing the water spots. Doesn’t to a thing.

        Now will try 50% vinegar and 50% water.

        Other products have reviews but you can’t read.

        Truth a mith

  18. Aaron says:

    I also use lysol brand toilet b owl cleaner to remove rust and water spots on boat. It contains 10% hydrochloric acid. Which also can be very unfogiving if you are not careful. ,, dont even try it unless your a professional lol

  19. Ron C says:

    Thanks for all the good info. I recently bought a 2014 Black Silverado which was/is beautiful. I was doing my usual cleaning and waxing in order to protect the finish. When I wiped it down and the sun was at an afternoon angle, I noticed subsurface water spots all over the truck and the windows. I tried many products with no improvements. I am using Meguire products. I finally worked my way down to their Ultimate Compound.

    I also have a Giorots Garage 6 speed RA buffer/polisher which I’m kinda scared of. I don’t want to burn my paint but guess I am going to just do it and hope it works!!

  20. Problem with hard water spots on my truck from lawn sprinklers – imbedded below surface.

    The dealer where I bought the vehicle (GMC Truck) Sullivan Buick, Ocala, FL
    did what they called an “acid wash” and spots were removed.

  21. My auto dealer did acid wash – all spots removed

  22. trevor peacock says:

    Can I use RO water to wash my car, I know it’s quite aggresive and I’m concerned it might strip the wax?

    • Byron Whaler says:

      R.O. water is not aggressive at all, R.O. water should test at or below 30 ppm. as a comparison Las Vegas tap water runs around the 300 to 400 ppms. the lower the ppms the lower the residue in the water which causes the spots. if you can you should by all meas use R.O. water.

  23. Paul Williams says:

    Bought 2013 Sonic about a month ago. Washed for the first time Saturday. Now I have a bunch of clear spots all over hood. What can I do?

  24. Benzw205 says:

    Thank you for the pictures, very useful to understand the different water spots !

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