The simple answer is, “YES”, bird poop can ruin your car paint.
It’s summertime here in Northern California and we all want to get our cars out of the sun to keep the car cooler and protect our paint from the damage of the intense sun. But wait, there is another problem lurking in the shade, that can damage your paint even worse than the sun. It’s bird poop. Yep, I said it, bird poop can ruin your cars beautiful paint.
Bird droppings contain a chemical called uric acid. Birds don’t have a bladder or stomach separating the solids from the liquids, like mammals. All their waste gathers in an organ called the cloaca. The waste mixes with uric acid that is produced by the bird’s kidneys and it is eliminated altogether. The uric acid cause pH levels in bird poop to range between 3 – 4.5. That’s enough to eat into your paint.
pH is the measurement of Hydrogen and Hydroxide ions in a solution. When Hydrogen and Hydroxide are balanced in equal levels you get neutral H2O. Neutral liquids like water have pH levels of 7. When Hydrogen ions outnumber Hydroxide ions acids is made. Different acids like lemon juice and uric acid have pH levels ranging between 0 and 7. Nature likes most things to be balanced. So, it takes a solution like uric acid, with extra Hydrogen ions and will try it’s best to get back to neutral by attacking the Hydroxide ions wherever it can find them… like your car paint.
Alright, now we’ve taken you through a chemistry lesson, it’s time to deal with a bit more science and take a quick physics lesson. Who knew we’d one day be able to uses all those high school science classes.
If you remember from high school physics, heat causes expansion and cold causes contraction. So as your car metal heats up in the day, the paint expands and the molecules open up just enough to allow a little bit of that uric acid from bird droppings to get into the paint. Now at night, the metal and paint cool and the acid from the droppings gets trapped inside your paint and over time, starts to corrode your cars paint.
So, the sun is bad for my paint and the shade can come with bird droppings that can cause damage to my paint, what am I supposed to do?
That’s a great question. Now that we know that bird poop can ruin your car paint, we need to figure out what to do. Besides always keeping your car inside or under a car cover, there are a couple of things you can do to protect your car paint.
First, if you see bird poop on your car, clean it off as soon as possible. The acid can start damaging paint very quickly on a hot day and even faster on a freshly painted car. The best action is take a clean cloth and some mild soap and water and remove it as soon as you can.
Second, you can apply different kinds of paint protection that can lengthen the time before the damage starts. This may not eliminate the breakdown, but it will give you time. There are certainly some products that are better than others for protection. There are some great paint protection products on the market.
If the droppings have already etched your paint, what do you do?
The answer to that depends on the type of etching that happened. There are two types of etching that happen, topical etching and wrinkle etching.
Topical etching can usually be removed by a good auto detailer. It may require an abrasive product like a good cutting compound and a wax, but it can be removed.
The second type of etch, the wrinkle etch has already destroyed the paint and the only solution is to repaint the panel.
If your paint has been damaged, come see one of our Collision Pros locations in Norther California in Auburn, Chico, Paradise, Loomis, Red Bluff or Woodland. Any of our stores can help you repair your cars paint and make your car look as good as new.