How can I clean this scale off my car?

I just noticed a sort of scale on the side of my car that doesn’t come off at the car wash (see attached pic). I park my car outside where it regularly gets sprayed by our lawn sprinklers, so it may be from that; I honestly don’t know how long it’s been like this. What would you recommend I use/do to remove it? Thanks for any tips.


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Well that’s mineral deposits. Our water is hard and get it routinely on faucets etc. I’ve never had it on my car though so you can try a couple things. Good ole white vinegar is a good solvent for it. Wipe it on, maybe keep wet for a bit and rinse it off. Then you could use a machine polish to finish and then sealer and a good coat of wax. If you have a good coat of wax, it will come off easier but the vinegar (edit: or not CLR-read the label) or whatever you use will probably take the wax off. Or take it to a detail shop and have it cleaned, polished and waxed while you read the paper.

Agree with the vinegar or CLR.

I have a bottle CLR right here.

And on the back of the bottle it states,

Do not use on metallic/painted/coated/sealed surfaces.


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White vinegar, distilled water and a little dish soap. Wet it down and continue to work it with a sponge. Rinse it off beforemit dries. Do this every time the sprinkler wets the car. Adjust the sprinklers so they don’t wet the car.

I fight this all winter long in Florida when the sprinklers run. My well water has tons of calcium in it and that is what you are seeing.

Yeah I’ll take your word for it. I threw mine away years ago and don’t use the stuff.

I ordered some Meguiar’s (Chemical Guys was backordered). I’ll post results.

Meguiar’s made the spots less visible but by no means removed them. They can still be seen when the light hits them right, and they’re easily felt. Think I’ll find a detailer, but I have to aim the sprinklers first.

I don’t know anything about that stuff but it’s possible the scale has etched into the paint. If it’s not too deep then, it could be polished off I suppose. Like glassware in the dishwasher, once the glass is etched by not using a rinse aid, the glass will be cloudy forever, but good luck. Keep a good coat of wax.

Edit: Might be worth giving the vinegar a try.

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Lots of videos online walking thru paint correction. They have products that dissolve scale and contamination. One turns pink as it works. Don’t recall name. Hmm, the detail geek is one guy.

I’d try a clay bar next to see if that works, although that’s probably only a 50-50 shot.

Just get some vinegar from the store and a rag, it’s just mineral deposits from hard water. You don’t need some special detailers magic liquid cleaner.

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The one that turns pink is for removing iron deposits in the paint.

Not according to this guy:

If your water contains the same minerals that ours does, I can tell you that nothing will work other than polishing compound, Our water spots laugh at white vinegar. I tried a an acidic product called 3D Eraser that I bought from a car detailing products website. It did not remove the water spots but it seriously damaged the clearcoat on a red 2004 BMW. In fairness, the instructions warned me not to leave it on any painted surface for more than one minute and I may have failed to follow that instruction faithfully.