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Car Paintwork Hacks

If you’ve almost been tempted to take your sleeve to a particularly toxic lump of Seagull crap that encrusted itself onto your beloved bonnet then we don’t judge. If you’ve ever walked an extra 500 yards to avoid parking under that sap-sticky tree then we understand that too.

The car lovers amongst us have always been a little bit over-protective when it comes to our paintwork, but now that pearlescent white is so darn trendy, the challenge is well and truly on.

If you’ve been victim to a particularly nasty scrape (i.e. a red car whacked its door against your gleaming black paintwork) then it’s probably best leaving it to the experts. But for those everyday annoyances, little blemishes and touch-ups there’s no need to shell out at the body shop.

The dreaded bird bomb

Google this and give yourself a chuckle. Basically whole posts exist about what colour bird poo is the most damaging.

In case you were wondering, it’s all damaging, it’s the uric acid element which will mark your paintwork.

If it’s a fairly fresh attack then wipe it up quickly. If you don’t have any detergent with you and you’ve just nipped to the shops then pouring a little milk over the area will neutralise the acid until you can clean it up properly.

Always pinch and lift when dealing with the dreaded crap attack – the last thing you want to be doing is smearing it across your paintwork.

If it’s dried then spray with detailing spray and place a damp cloth over the offending area. Once it’s softened lift away using the pinch and lift motion. Once removed, clean the area using a microfiber cloth.

Tree sap

As you’ll know, soap and water isn’t nearly enough to blitz that goo, so, once again, it’s WD40 to the rescue. Spray on, go and make a brew and then rinse it off. After this you’ll need to give it a good wash with a clean sponge and some suitable car shampoo.

Dipping a rag in nail varnish remover and wiping your windscreen is a handy quick fix when you’ve been parked up under a tree all day, but don’t use any product which contains acetone on your paintwork as it will damage it.

Existing dirt

We all chuckle when someone writes an obscenity into their mate’s dirty paintwork, but scraping into existing dirt (even with your finger) can lead to permanent damage. You’re essentially smearing grit across your paintwork. Before anything gets rubbed across your car’s surface, give it a thorough wash with a hose or power washer (don’t use a high setting and ensure you aren’t using the most concentrated setting).

Either tell everyone you know that writing things into your cars dirt is punishable by disownment, or keep on top of your cleaning.

Small dents

For small dents in older body work, take a plunger to the area to level out the panel. Just moisten the rim, press down and then gently pull towards you until the dent pops out. It goes without saying though, if you have any doubts then leave it to the professionals!


Firstly, determine how deep the scuff is. Run your fingernail over the area and see if it catches. If it does then the damage has gone below the clear coat and you’ll need professional assistance.

There is an American product called Goo Gone which gets rave reviews, however in order to get it over here you’re probably going to have to buy via Ebay at a premium. Halfords motoring accessories department has a few alternatives too, but try a home remedy before spending any cash.

If the damage is top level then you can make your own solution by mixing 2 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. This will make a paste. Dip in a slightly damp rag and gently rub over the scuff.

Don’t leave paint touch-ups to chance

Some people suggest dealing with any stubborn scuffs by painting over a primed area with a nail varnish which closely matches your paintwork. We’d say these people are serious risk-seekers.

‘Sunset Pink’ might look nice in the bottle, but would you really want to put this on your car? If you want a quick, cheap fix then do this at your own risk.

A better option is to try and get an exact match paint to deal with any touch-ups. You can check the original paint by checking the firewall/bulkhead of your car. This has a plate with the body number and paint serial on it – sometimes found near the steering column. However some people are sceptical and it appears that some cars are more forthright than others.

If you have any top hacks of your own (we’re thinking fool proof and cheap) then please share your wisdom on Twitter or Facebook. If it’s a really good suggestion then we might even send you a shiny new number plate, fixing kit and screws!