Classic Car Care Tip - Removing Bird Droppings

1969 Mustang Mach 1 Under a Tree
1969 Mustang Mach 1 Under a Tree. Photo by Mark Gittelman

Whether you own a classic muscle car like a second generation Chevelle Super Sport or a British sports car like the fun to drive Triumph Spitfire, you need to protect your investment.

One of the biggest dangers facing the exterior surface of your treasured classic car is fallout from bird droppings. Fowl flyers run hundreds of combat sorties over your automobile every day.

Eventually you'll be successfully targeted by the bomb dropping birds.

In this article we'll uncover exactly why this stuff is so harmful to automotive finishes.

With a complete understanding of what happens after our car becomes a victim you'll find yourself more vigilant in the protection and removal of the toxic byproduct. Most importantly, when the inevitable happens, you'll have the required knowledge to remove the bird poop from your prized possession with minimal damage to the expensive finish.

Target in Position

Unfortunately not all of us have the luxury of a climate controlled parking garage to store our automobiles. Therefore, a shady place outdoors to protect the paint becomes the go to position for many classic car owners.

Often this shade is created by our oxygen producing friend, the tree. It's also the preferred nesting and resting area for our not-so-favorite feathered friend, the bird.

All Natural Paint Removers

A bird can create one of the most damaging natural disasters to a car’s paint.

Despite its droppings being an all natural compound its strength is unnaturally strong. The bird’s ka ka, as it’s spelled in the Urban Dictionary, is highly acidic.

And the longer you leave it on your painted surface, the more damage it will cause. If you try to wipe a bird waste deposit off, even with a wet towel, you can scratch the paint.

This is because the acid is not the only thing contained in the organic compound.

You see our friend the bird, uses grains of sand or gravel to digest their food. And this grit is one of the major components of what you will be wiping into your paint. That’s why we carry a fresh bottle of no salt seltzer water in the trunk, or boot, of all of our classic cars.

Removing the Bird Poop

No salt seltzer water is just water and carbon dioxide, which will not harm your paint. However, what it will do - if you take the lid off, and put your thumb over the spout, and shake it up real well - is create a blast of water to wash off the acidic, paint wrecking substance some bird left on your car.

Restoring the Automotive Finish

The length of time that passes between the event and the cleanup is important. Believe it or not, what the bird ate for lunch can also increase the paint removing strength of its droppings. This is why if you see that you've been successfully targeted it's wise to take immediate action.

All too often we think that we'll come back after putting away the groceries and then forget to do so. If you do catch the bird bomb right away, you can use any good paint polish to fix the damaged area.

If prolonged exposure has occurred, the damaged spot may need a fair amount of rubbing with this same polish.

However, if a day or two passes more effort might be required. Owners can use a clay bar solution to remove surface contaminants. If this proves to be ineffective it's time to move on to a compound type product.

It's better to start with a fine polishing compound or scratch remover, followed by a good coat of wax. When all else fails and the spot remains noticeable it could be time for a professional opinion. For more information on caring for your car’s finish, visit our How to Care for Car’s Paint page.

Edited by Mark Gittelman