Rainy Days and Car Paint: Good or Bad?

Updated Aug 25, 2018 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

How does rain affect your car’s paint?

I’m not so sure if this is an ongoing trend exclusively in the Philippines, but I find it really funny whenever I see posts from my friends in Facebook about them getting a car wash and suddenly from blazing hot sunny day the skies turn dark and rain suddenly falls out of nowhere.

This happens almost every single time they had their cars out for a wash and rain pours – such irony, when they’re supposed to enjoy a sunny day, flaunting their squeaky clean cars. Rain can sometimes be a really bad spoiler.

But, what about for those (like us LOL) who doesn’t really go for a car wash until our car looks like it came from the land of far, far away? Sometimes, we consider rain as our instant, free car wash – but the ultimate question is, is it healthy for our car? Does it affect our car paint in any way?

Quite a thought. Let’s look for answers and see what rain really does to our car paint.

I. How Does Rain Affect My Car?

Now that rainy days – worst – typhoon days – have come in the Philippines, our cars will almost always be drenched in rain water. Now, do we have something to worry about every time it happens?

1 Rain can be harmful due to pollutants, chemicals and contaminants it contains

Initially, we may think of it as a blessing in disguise like getting a free car wash, but if you’re going to think about the component of raindrops, you’ll realize that since they drop from the skies, they have high tendencies to absorb all the pollution, dust, chemicals, contaminants and toxic materials that penetrate the air as they fall down to the ground.

An illustration of acid rain

Due to unrelenting polution, most of the time, the rain that drops from the sky is already polluted and harmful

These chemicals that contaminate raindrops turns it into acid rain which could definitely affect your car’s paint negatively – as the raindrops dry up, they could make your car less shiny and the paint fade away too due to the watermarks they leave on your car’s exterior.

2 Rain leaves the pollutants to your car

Okay, so after a few hours of rain showers, you’re happy that your car is now washed and clean without you paying a single cent. Then you drive home without even thinking of getting your car to a proper car wash station.

To your joy you just let the rain drops on your car to stay and dry up thinking it’s as good as car wash. Honestly, not really.

Car after rain

Rain leaves these kinds of droplets / residue on your car's body (especially when dirty) that could daamage your car paint

As mentioned, the rain we have nowadays especially in the city where pollution is highly concentrated, is not healthy rain at all. It could potentially be acid rain already and if you have left your car soaking wet in acid rain and let it dry up just like that, your car paint is in for a real BAD treat. 

According to John P. Gallagher, product manager of automotive finish division of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, known as one of the major car paint companies in the world, rain tends to “highlight all the defects” (pertaining to car defects). You may not see the effect of acid rain right away, but as time goes by it will show drastic car paint effects.

3. Rain and clear coat doesn’t go well together

Most, if not all of modern day cars are finished with clear coat – a clear coat is a substance that is painted over a colored resin, which aims to make your car look attractive, new and shiny. It can also make your car color look in-depth and flowing.

However, there are some automotive and car paint manufacturers who believe that this clear coat finish is actually vulnerable to damage brought about by acid rain or other pollutants and chemicals it comes into contact with.

clear coat peeling photo

Rain, specifically acid rain could damage your car's clear coat and can possibly cause it to peel off

II. Rain Also Affects Other Important Car Parts Too

Yes, rain comes from above, and normally we think that it only affects the exterior of our car – body surface, roof, hood, any surface that’s covered with car paint. Truth is, the underbody of our car is also affected.

The underbody of our car is exposed to all the dust, dirty water, chemicals, liquids, lubricants that when gets in contact with rain, can create acid like water that can drench or soak the underbody of our vehicle which could affect the parts that are located there.

When these metal parts gets in touch with dirty water with high acidity brought about by harmful pollutants, it could cause your car’s underbody to develop rust in the long run and cause corrosion.

Rusty underbody of a car

Underbody rust caused by being exposed to polluted road waters brought about by rain

If left with no attention at all, the rust formed underneath the vehicle will eventually eat away the underbody, compromising the car’s floor which needs to be replaced or repaired. Make sure you've read our easy guide on how to deal with rust on your car.

III. So, What Do We Do When It Rains?

Always keep in mind that rain is not a free car wash. The best way to prevent damages that rain can bring to your car paint and other car parts as well, is to take them to a professional car wash station after it got soaked in the rain. Experts even say that the best time to wash your car is right after it rains. 

Car wash photo

Take your car right away to te nerest car wash shop after it got soaked in the rain for proper cleaning

To avoid small rain droplet problems sticking to your car’s paint or turning your car’s underbody into a rust full of chassis, have you car cleaned thoroughly when the rain stops pouring.

With all the pollutants and chemicals that got onto our car’s skin and bones, it is only rightful as a car owner to remove those away if you want to keep your car and car paint in good condition for a long time.

This simple car wash post-rain shower is a good way to save your car from deteriorating and save your pockets from spending a lot more money to fix the post rain effects. Remember, prevention is better than cure so there’s no harm in spending a small amount of money to free your car from damaging acid rain.

Ivy Kristia Padura

Ivy Kristia Padura


Ivy is one of the first Philkotse's content writers. She finds joy in sharing her driving tips, particular for dealing with heavy traffic in Metro Manila, with other fellow drivers.

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