Crap! Now what?
It happens to most of us. It usually happens right after washing our vehicle. You know it. A bird poops on your vehicle. It’s almost as if they were watching you to see when you were finished before the crap came tumbling down. Splat! Now what do you do, beside curse? These tips may help save your paint as well as your frustrations.
The first thing to do is to remove bird poop off your vehicle’s paint finish as quick as you can before it can cause any damage. Bird poop contain uric acid, which is corrosive enough to eat beyond your vehicle’s coating of wax or clear coat paint sealant and then begin to etch the paint. If you’re quick and the bird poop is still moist (I know, that sounds gross), you can use a damp cloth to clean it up.
Club soda works well to clean bird poop off your vehicle as it is gentle and won’t harm the vehicle’s paint. A vehicle cleaner can also do the trick. Using a wet microfiber cloth can also help to avoid scratching the paint. Wet the cloth with club soda then place the wet-microfiber onto the bird poop. Spray the cloth with water and wait until the cloth has soaked up the water. Carefully scrunch up the cloth to lift the bird poop off the painted surface. Repeat as often as necessary. Don’t simply wipe the bird poop over the paint as that may cause scratches. However, if you notice the poop is hardening, you’ll need to go hardball…fast! Here’s why.
When paint from your vehicle warms in the heat and bright sunshine it will naturally expand and soften. When the bird poop is heated it hardens. After time passes when the bird poop is removed from the vehicle, it tends to leave what looks like a permanent marking. The surface where the bird poop landed on your vehicle isn’t as shiny as the rest of the vehicle. This is referred to as etching.
There are essentially two different types of etching that can occur on vehicle surfaces: topical stain etching, and wrinkle etching. Topical stains are dull spots on the clear coat surface, which look similar to hard water stains. These stains will be easily noticed as they look like a typical bird poop shape. This type of etching is only taking place on the surface and can usually be corrected with compounding, buffing, or wet sanding if all else fails. Remember that time is of the essence. The quicker the bird poop is addressed, the more likely it can be corrected without too much difficulty.
Wrinkle etching is more of a serious problem. This type of etching is the result of extreme heating and cooling. This is when the paint and clear coat fracture as they expand and contract. This causes deep, thin breaks in the clear coat surface. At this time, the damage has usually penetrated the clear coat surface and has begun to damage the paint layers underneath. If etching has reached this critical point, it may mean you’ll need to repaint the vehicle.
When the sun warms the vehicle’s metal during the heat of the day, the metal expands ever so gradually. The paint and clear coat on the vehicle also expand in the warmth of the sun. When this happens, the clear coat becomes slightly porous and allows some of the uric acid to penetrate it. As everything cools down after dark, the clear coat, paint and metal begin to contract and harden once again. Once it hardens, it does so with the bird poop mixed in. As time passes, day by day, this constant expansion and contraction lets the uric acid etch into the clear coat and into the base paint coat.
So there you have it. Reasons why you need to clean that bird poop off your vehicle as soon as possible and what happens if/when you put it off.