5 Simple Reasons Why Your Car Has Streaks After Washing (And How To Avoid Them)

Many car owners often deal with car streaks and marks after washing their vehicles.

Not only do the streaks ruin the vehicle’s appearance, but they also continue to damage the paintwork permanently.

Hence the need to prevent the marks from forming in the first place. So how do the streaks form after washing?

Your vehicle develops streaks after washing when you fail to rinse off the shampoo well, improper drying, and scratches and swirl marks on the surface. Also, the lack of a protective coating on the car and washing it in direct sunlight could be why the vehicle’s surface has spots when you finish washing it.

The good old saying says, “prevention is better than cure.” Therefore, you must know how to avoid spots when washing the cars to avoid permanent damage.

To eliminate them, you first need to know why cars develop the streaks after washing. Read this article to learn more.

Why Does My Car Have Streaks After Washing?

Spots are a significant problem for car owners for various reasons, including making vehicles look dirty and unattractive and causing permanent damage to the paintwork.

Cars have streaks after washing due to the following reasons:

  • Leaving car shampoo residue on the vehicle after washing.
  • Failure to dry the vehicle properly after you wash it.
  • The car has scratches and swirl marks on the exterior.
  • You haven’t put a protective coating on the vehicle.
  • Washing it in direct sunlight.

These reasons are explained in detail in the following paragraphs.

Shampoo Residue on the Vehicle

Leaving shampoo residue on the vehicle after washing can lead to streaks forming on the surface.

Car shampoo has chemicals that dry off on the vehicle, leaving spots. This incident can happen if you fail to rinse the shampoo off the surface well.

Soapy hands washing a car outdoors on a sunny day.

Failure to Dry the Car Properly

Washing the vehicle and failing to dry it properly leads to spots forming on the exterior.

For instance, if you use hard water to wash the vehicle, you contribute to streaks forming when it dries.

Hard water contains calcium, magnesium, and iron deposits that remain on the surface when the water evaporates.

You are bound to see streaks on the exterior if you don’t dry the car properly and fast enough after washing the vehicle.

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Marks and Scratches on the Exterior

A vehicle with swirl marks and scratches on the paintwork is more prone to forming spots after washing.

The scratches make it more challenging to wash your car because they hide shampoo and water deposits.

The deposits dry and remain as streaks if you aren’t thorough enough in rinsing and drying the vehicle.

Also, the marks become more prominent after washing because the dust, dirt, and grime concealing them have been removed.

Hence, a scratched vehicle surface highlights the streaks and makes them more visible after washing.

Lack of a Protective Coating on the Vehicle

A vehicle without paint protection like car wax, sealants, and ceramic coatings may have streaks after washing.

The paint protection measures help conceal the car’s surface from damage due to hard water or harsh products used when washing it.

Also, a car with a protected surface is easier to clean because dirt and grime doesn’t hide in scratches that unprotected cars develop, causing streaks.

So if you don’t have protective coatings on your vehicle, it may form spots after cleaning.

Washing the Car in Direct Sunlight

Washing vehicles in direct sunlight is the perfect recipe for adding streaks on the surface after washing.

The sun dries up car shampoo and hard water used in washing faster than if the car was washed in a cool, shaded area.

You don’t want them to dry up that fast because they leave chemical and mineral deposits on the exterior before you rinse and dry them properly off the car.

Therefore, individuals who usually wash their cars in direct sunlight can now identify what makes their vehicles have streaks after washing.

Now that you have identified the significant causes of car spots after washing, it is crucial to learn how to avoid them altogether.

So how do you prevent spots when cleaning vehicles?

How to Avoid Streaks When Washing a Car

Avoiding streaks when washing vehicles shouldn’t be too tricky, especially if individuals employ the proper car washing techniques and use the right products to clean their cars.

You can avoid spots after cleaning vehicles by implementing the following tips:

  • Wash and rinse them properly
  • Use the right products to wash and dry vehicles
  • Ensure you dry water off the surface well
  • Apply waxes, sealants, and ceramic coatings on the cars’ exteriors
  • Avoid washing the car in direct sunlight

These tips are described in detail below:

Wash and Rinse Vehicles Properly

Properly washing the car is one of the most effective ways to rid it of streaks.

You should implement the proper cleaning techniques like using water under low pressure to rinse dirt, grime, and car shampoo off the surface.

Low-pressure water is ideal because it doesn’t cause tiny droplets to form on the car’s surface like water under high pressure does.

The tiny droplets dry faster, leaving streaks on the exterior.

Use low pressure to rinse off car shampoo and collect the water droplets that form as you wash.

Water has cohesive properties and sticks to the droplets, taking them down the vehicle.

Hence, your car is less likely to form spots if you wash and rinse it using the correct water pressure.

Use the Right Products

Using the right products to wash and dry your car can help prevent spots from forming after cleaning it.

For instance, car shampoo should be used instead of dishwashing soap or regular hair shampoo.

High-quality car shampoo is specially formulated to clean vehicles. Hence it is less likely to leave swirls after washing.

Also, using appropriate products like microfiber towels to dry the car helps prevent spots.

A review by Toiviainen-Laine, E., Maatta, J., Kuisma, R., and Kymalainen, H.-R. highlights the findings of six studies showing how effective microfiber cloths are in cleaning surfaces than conventional non-woven or cotton cloths.

Hence, the gentleness of microfiber towels makes them ideal for washing and drying vehicles.

They don’t scratch the surface when wiping and are less likely to cause unsightly swirls and streaks on them.

Dry Water off the Surface After Washing

Drying the vehicle properly after washing also helps prevent spots from forming on the surface.

Water shouldn’t be left to dwell for too long on the car, as it evaporates and leaves mineral deposits.

The mineral deposits from the calcium, magnesium, sodium and iron in water are the remnants you see as streaks when the water dries on the vehicle.

Hence, you need to wipe the water off the car as quickly as possible after washing to prevent it from evaporating and leaving spots.

Apply Protective Coatings on Your Car

Your car’s paintwork should be protected by products such as car wax, ceramic coatings, and sealants to avoid streaks when washing.

The products have hydrophobic properties to repel water off the automobile’s surface when washing it.

Therefore, they don’t let water dwell on the surface long enough to evaporate and leave streaks.

Don’t Wash Your Car in Direct Sunlight

Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight to prevent spots from forming on the surface after washing.

Direct sunlight accelerates the drying process, so the water evaporates from the vehicle’s exterior quickly when you wash it.

Hence, it limits you from wiping the car to remove water and avoid spots from forming on the car.

Park your car somewhere cool or under a shade before you wash it.

It helps you buy time to wipe the excess water before it evaporates and leaves soap and mineral deposits on the surface. 

Besides, you will have better vision because a shaded area doesn’t make the vehicle’s surface shine too brightly in your eyes as it would if you washed the car in direct sunlight.

With good vision, you cannot miss cleaning any car spot, avoiding streaks from forming due to poor washing.

Key Takeaways

  • Streaks can cause permanent damage to vehicles’ paintworks.
  • Shampoo residue, improper drying, marks and scratches, washing in direct sunlight, and lack of protective coatings on vehicles cause spots after washing.
  • Using the right cleaning products, washing cars properly and away from direct sunlight, drying the surface well after washing, and protecting cars using coatings helps avoid streaks.
  • Low-pressure water is ideal when rinsing to prevent spots.
  • Protective coatings like waxes have hydrophobic properties to repel water off cars’ surfaces and avoid swirls from forming.

References

https://www.drbeasleys.com/blog/2019/02/27/how-to-prevent-water-spots-on-car

https://sudfactory.com/water-spots-on-car-after-washing/#

https://autocarehq.com/how-to-prevent-water-spots-on-a-car/

https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/informit.492173858828971·   https://www.dubizzle.com/blog/cars/car-water-spots-removal/

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Jan-Lucas Ganssauge