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Did You Know Bird Poop Can Ruin Your Car Paint?

January 05, 2021


Living in Dallas, you know the damaging effects of the sun, particularly when it comes to your car’s paint job. You may do all you can to keep it in the shade to protect your paint from the intense rays of the sun. But while you’re worrying about the sun, there’s another danger lurking in the wings – bird droppings.

In fact, bird poop can damage your car’s paint even more than the sun can. Why?

Bird droppings contain uric acid that can eat away at your paint over time. Birds don’t have bladders or stomachs that separate solids from liquids, like mammals do. That means all their waste gathers together in an organ known as the cloaca. Their waste combines with the uric acid produced by its kidneys, and both are eliminated altogether. The uric acid causes pH levels in birds to range between 3 and 4.5, which is enough to eat away at your paint.

The Science Behind It

pH — the measurement of Hydrogen and Hydroxide ions in a solution – is neutral at 7.  But when Hydrogen ions are greater than Hydroxide ions, acid is created. Acids such as lemon juice and uric acid contain pH levels between 0 and 7. But nature always tries to balance things out, so with a solution like uric acid, it will give it extra Hydrogen ions so it can get back to neutral by attacking those ions wherever it seeks them out – your car paint is the perfect breeding ground.

Let’s take a quick physics lesson. Heat = expansion and cold = contraction. As the metal on your car heats up during the day, the paint on the metal will expand and the molecules will open up slightly – just enough to welcome in the uric acid from those bird droppings. When night falls and the temps cool off, the acid from the poop gets trapped inside the paint. Over time, this acid will corrode your vehicle’s paint. Just like when you fail to get collision repair after an accident, your car’s metal becomes vulnerable and needs protection from outside elements.

What Can You Do?

Well, you could keep a cover on your car when outdoors or never drive it at all, but neither of these are feasible. And since you never know when a bird will do a drive-by, unlike the weather forecast where you can take precautions with rain or hail, there’s not much you can do in the way of prevention.

Here’s what you can do:

Clean off the bird poop as soon as you notice it. The acid starts damaging paint fairly quickly on a warm day. It works even faster if you have a freshly painted car. Get a clean cloth and mild soap and water, and gently wash it away.

Another trick for stubborn stains is to use club soda to remove them. The carbonation in the soda breaks down the acidic quality of the stain. Pour the soda on the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then wash off with a clean cloth.  There are also specialty wipes you can buy that are designed to clean off bird poop stains. Keep a pack of them in your glove compartment.

Another thing you can do is to apply regular paint protection, designed to lengthen the amount of time before the damage begins. While this may not eliminate breakdown completely, it may buy you some time.

So, what do you do if the droppings are already etched into your paint?

This will depend on the type of etching that has occurred. There are two types: topical etching and wrinkle etching.

  • Topical etching: These stains will appear faded. They can be removed by your trusted auto detailer, requiring the use of an abrasive product such as cutting compound and wax. The etching can be removed with this course of action; however, only a professional should attempt this or you could risk doing more serious damage to your vehicle’s paint job.
  • Wrinkle etching: This is when the damage is to severe that it has already destroyed the paint. Your only recourse here is to repaint the entire panel.

Contact Hance’s Uptown Collision Center

If your paint job is looking less than stellar whether due to bird poop, age, a collision, or something else entirely, come see us in Dallas or Plano. You will appreciate our affordable prices and convenient scheduling, so feel free to contact us today at either location.


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