Car Paint: What could have cause this? Oxidation?

Hello All,

I would really appreciate some help on this. I drive a 2009 Honda Civic 4-Door Sedan that I purchased from the Honda Dealer brand new. Today I had to get my tire repaired and an oil change which normally comes with a car wash. Upon pickup of my vehicle, I noticed a stark white rectangular spot right above my rear window. I ran my finger across it to wipe it away and tried to rub it thinking it might have been soap. It felt like powdered laundry detergent that affixed itself and wouldn’t come off.

I asked the service guy to assess what it might be because I was pretty sure it was not there before I brought it in. The white patch was hard to miss. He ran his hand over it, explained it was oxidation from the sun and began to scratch away at that white residue with his nail to reveal the dull dark sapphire paint underneath. I was shocked considering I had owned the vehicle for less than 2 years, bought an anti-rust system and I already had oxidation. He brought the car to the service garage and had them rub off all the white residue.

Could it be possible they may have used a harsh chemical or abrasive when they cleaned my car?

Can something like this be seen on a car that had a paint job 2 years before? I just remembered that when I bought the car, the finish of the car was duller than other new cars and it wasn’t as smooth with tiny bumpy specks underneath the paint. The panel where the seat belt goes into also popped out and the rear lock was broken. I mentioned that a new car shouldn’t have to need repairs and they immediately fixed those two problems. My car was also the last 4-door Civic on the lot.

Should I take it back to them and speak to the manager or take it to a Automotive Paint shop and have them take a look at it?

Thanks so much for any help resolving this.

Much appreciated,


1. Eve, Take it to a Automotive Paint shop (Or two or three) and have them take a look at it. Most will do this gratis. Be sure a “painter” looks at it.

  1. Then, having professional evaluations, take it back to the Honda Dealer and speak to the manager.


I don’t think they did anything like this to the paint with this wash. (However, in general, I’d decline the wash unless it’s a hand wash or a touch-free automatic wash.) Between this issue and your description of the original paint job, I’m wondering if the dealer did some repainting for some reason. As common sense answer says, take it to a good body shop for an estimate; they can probably figure out if it’s been repainted.

By the way, what is this “anti-rust system” you mention? In general, those are either things that make rust worse or things that are useless gimmicks.

Its hard to tell from those pics since they each seem to show different things. There isn’t enough perspective in the first to see what is what, and the second is taken from a great distance.

But for what is there it certainly doesn’t look this issue began with your most recent visit. Like lion9car I’m wondering if this wasn’t related to a poorly done repair of some issue before the car was ever sold.

It is the clear coat delaminating. Your car has base coat/clear coat paint. That means a base color is painted on first. Then a clear paint is painted over it. It is possible that it was repainted at the dealer or after it came off the boat if it was made in Japan. This is done all the time. Roofs can see damage from fluids dripping from a car above it. The most common cause is a battery that leaks. The only fix is to have it repainted. If you do have it repainted. Ask to see it after they sand it down. Look to see if there is a factory layer of paint under it.

OBM is right, the clearcoat’s failed in that area. With a car so new, and an area so small, it’s probably from some chemical that fell on it at some point (may not have been recently). Do as the others recommend, see what it’ll take to fix it.

I am in agreement that this car was likely repainted (poorly) before the OP bought it.
This could have been the result of damage onboard the ship that transported it from Japan, or from some other accident after it was offloaded.

A clue to this probability is the OP’s own statement, “When I bought the car, the finish of the car was duller than other new cars and it wasn’t as smooth with tiny bumpy specks underneath the paint. The panel where the seat belt goes into also popped out and the rear lock was broken”. To me, this seems to indicate some type of collision damage, but it is possible that some other type of damage took place. However, no new car should be purchased if there is any indication of damage.

Now, two years later, the OP will have a difficult-to-impossible time proving that the car was damaged and poorly repaired prior to purchase. In the future, bear in mind that no new car should display any paint defects or a broken lock. If you see paint defects, broken locks, or other types of damage, walk away from the deal as there are plenty of new cars available that don’t display these types of problems.

As to what to do at this point, I agree that the OP needs to have the paint assessed by a good body shop. I suggest that you call the local Lexus and Infiniti dealers to ask which body shops they recommend in the area, as a body shop has to have very high standards in order to be endorsed by those two makes. See what the body shop has to say regarding the problem, and then decide what course of action makes the most economic sense for you.

Your clear is seperating from the color or base coat. Thats very unusual in a car that new unless it was applied incorrectly (too little film thickness normally), or something damaged it. Will require repainting that area to correct it.

Another vote for the clear coat failing.
Looks like my old 79 chevy pickup which was in fact repainted. ( it was a blue truck we painted black )

I also vote that your car was most likely repainted prior to sale.

I’ve never seen a repaint job last.

They didn’t use anything hasher than a regular wash job.
Due to the elements and time, it would have eventually come to this point no matter whose hands it was in at the time.

It would be interesting to know a few details about this car purchase. (month/year bought, exactly how many miles were on it, etc.)

Looks like a failing clear coat to me also and this means:
Factory defect and possibly a Good Will warranty depending on the definition of brand new.
Car has been whacked and poorly repainted.

Yep, agree with Oldbodyman. Often new cars are touched up at the dealer before they are sold. It needs new paint but I think Honda has a five year warrenty on that. Back to the dealer at any rate to see what they will do.

Thank you all for your great feedback! The second photo at that distance was outside the service garage where they removed the white residue so it’s not as evident. I just wanted to take a photo of where it was located on the car and after they rubbed that stuff on top off.

I’ll check out a few body shops and have them evaluate. I’ll post back what they assess.


If they rubbed the white stuff off, they rubbed all of the protective clear coat off. The base color coat is not up to the task of protection from the weather so they didn’t do you any favors. There is no need to go to other body shops since you need to talk to the dealer about a warranty repair first. If they won’t repair it, discuss with Honda or get estimates at that point.