Black Spots on Car Paint – Causes and Easy Ways to Remove!

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get your car looking clean and shiny, only to discover strange black dots in random spots on your car. No amount of normal washing gets rid of them, and you may think that a new paint job is the only fix.

Tiny black spots on your car’s paint could be a myriad of things, such as tree sap or bug guts. It could also be a certain kind of mold spore called artillery fungus or fallout from trimmings called rail dust.

Most of these black dots can be removed with a clay bar, a tar remover, and a polish.

Sap, Bugs, and Bee Poop

Mother nature certainly isn’t concerned with the look of your car. There are all kinds of contaminants and living things that can do a number on your paint job.

Bug splatter, sap, and bee poop all have a tar-like consistency and can be quite difficult to remove with just a scrub brush. Sometimes you can scrape them off with your fingernail, but if there’s a large amount of them, you aren’t going to want to spend hours doing that.

Usually, a simple bug and tar remover, along with some elbow grease, can help take off these annoying bits. You may also need to use a clay bar and polish it well afterwards to smooth everything out.

Artillery Fungus

Artillery? Sounds scary. Well, rest assured that artillery fungus is pretty harmless – unless you’re stuck trying to remove it from your car.

Artillery fungus is a certain kind of mold spore that gets kicked up from mulch. So if you park near a landscaped area or your neighbor recently redid their garden, you’ll notice these mold spots on your car paint.

These spores fall or get blown onto your car and then “sprout” the tiny bits of black fungus that you see. They feel raised up to the touch, but they don’t come off with a simple wash. This is because it’s “adhered” to your car to protect itself.

Usually, you can scrape the top protective piece of it off and then rub away the dust underneath. But using a clay bar or a buffing compound will help you take care of your entire car because it’s most likely widespread.

Rail Dust

Rail dust (a.k.a. “Industrial fallout”) is a certain kind of imperfection that comes from small metal shavings being flung onto your car. The most likely culprit is your brakes depositing these shavings as they squeeze together.

You may also notice them if you cross railroad tracks every day or leave near any kind of metalworking business. The rail dust spots usually appear on the bottom fenders and below the window trim on the outside.

These are not only unsightly, but because they are metal, they will rust if left on your car for too long. As they rust, they could damage the body of your car and lead to a more tedious repair process.

If you notice a dark orange color, you should use an iron remover such as Iron X to pull those bits of metal out of the clear coat and then get the last little pieces out with a clay bar.

What is a Clay Bar?

So I have mentioned clay bars in every potential solution to those little black dots on your car, but you might be wondering what a clay bar is and why it’s recommended.

Well as the name suggests, it is simply a bar of clay that is used in combination with some sort of lubricant to pull out all of the contaminants that have bonded and embedded in your car’s clear coat.

Using Your Clay Bar

Once you’ve got your clay bar and lubricant (you can use soap and water if you wish), pull off just a small 2-inch piece of the clay and save the rest for another time. Gently knead the clay into a small patty that covers your first 3 fingers.

Spray the lubricant on your hands, the bar, and the car. You need plenty of lubrication, so it doesn’t stick and drag any bits of dirt. Lightly rub the clay across the car surface until it no longer feels “rough”.

After you’ve removed all of the contaminants, your car’s paint should be smooth to the touch. Use a microfiber towel to gently wipe the surface down, removing the last bits of dirt that didn’t stick to the clay.

Afterwards, you should polish the car well to smooth the surface back out in case there are any microabrasions after clay barring.

Final Thoughts

Most black dots on your car’s paint can be removed with some specialty products and a little patience. Take time to examine them to know exactly what you are working with. And also, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a clay bar.

Avatar photo

About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

Leave a Comment