Tonight is one of the most likely days of the year for your car to be vandalized. Trick-or treaters will ply our streets for candy. A very small percentage may also have some random mischief in mind. Here’s what to do if your car is targeted.
What to do if Your Car Is Vandalized
Let’s start at the end. You look out your window tonight about midnight (the witching hour!) and see that it is festooned with eggs, silly string and spraypaint. What should you do? Experts from the Mercury Insurance Group say that your first move should be to grab your phone and take a lot of photos. You are not really sure what the damage might be at this point, and since you are going to try to deal with yourself, some photos may help later if you file an insurance claim.
Cleaning Eggs Off of a Car
Eggs are surprisingly difficult to clean off any hard surface since they are almost entirely protein. The trick with eggs is to take action as fast as you can. Wet eggs come off pretty easily. Dry eggs don’t. Start with the universal solvent as your cleaner – water. If you can get a hose to the car or vice versa, direct the spray on the eggs and be patient. It will take time. If that is not going to do the trick you will need to get a soft sponge and rub softly. Dishwashing detergent will be an option, but that will strip any wax or protectant you may have on the clear-coat, so plan to reapply that after you are finished if any Palmolive joins the party.
Clay Detailing works surprisingly well when your paint has stuff like egg stuck to it that you can’t get off with water. Read the instructions and watch a few videos to see how clay bars work. You need to spray the surface with something like Meguiar’s Quick Detailer and keep it wet while you’re using the clay bar. Clay has a very fine abrasive in it that may help remove the offending egg.
Inside every can of silly string is three components: a resin to make the body of the string (polyisobutyl methacrylate), a surface active agent to control how foamy and sticky it is (sorbitan trioleate), and the propellant that makes it all shoot out of the can (usually freon 12 or dichlorodifluoromethane).
So essentially, silly string is liquid plastic that hardens into string as it flies through the air. The bad news is that it isn’t really water soluble. The good news is that there are thing that can take it off.
Start with something like an auto body solvent like Acrysol, which you can find at an auto body supply shop, or some good auto parts stores that carry auto paint. Acrysol won’t damage most paints or plastic surfaces, but be sure to try it on an inconspicuous area first. Under the hood somewhere is a good idea.
Once your satisfied it won’t remove the paint, pour some on a paper towel and start to work on the silly string. Chances are it’s going to smear around a little and you’ll need to do it a few times to get it completely off.
Acrysol will strip the wax completely off the car, so you’ll need to wash and wax it when you’re done.
Shaving cream is safe enough to slather all over your face, but it does contain chemicals and fragrances that can damage your paint. Same as before, you want to flush it with water first before you mess around with anything else. Don’t pick at the edges where it can lift paint right off. Hose the entire offending area down and try to float it off as much as possible.
Modern cars have clearcoat paint so all the color is in the base layer. The shiny part is just a clear paint that goes over the color. If there’s any hazing in the paint, try getting it out with the same clay detailing method, then buffing it out with a good polish, then a wax.
You might be happy to hear this, but spray paint is not really the end of the world. On clear-coat or headlights a professional detailer can usually remove spray paint with his tools and methods. It is also possible to get it off glass, but I would suggest not using a razor blade, especially on a moon-roof. Razors score glass and can make it subject to damage. Let the pros do the work. The toughest part of a spray paint clean up is the chrome and rubber trim. However, those items are able to be replaced. If you see your car has been spray painted, get to a body shop and consider an insurance claim.
Scratches and Real Damage
Any real damage to the car will result in either you paying out of pocket for repairs or filing an insurance claim. If the vandalism occurs on your property, your homeowners’ insurance may be the best path. Usually, your deductible is lower. Call the independent insurance you use to handle all your insurance needs. If you don’t use one and instead fell for the “Save 15% or more” guys’ pitch good luck on-line or speaking to the customer service team in Mumbai.
Relax, It’s Not Like It’s The 4th of July
Surprisingly, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) says that Halloween is not the most likely day of the year for vandalism on cars. They say that the Fourth of July beats it. Also, according to Mercury Insurance, your home is almost twice as likely to be the target. Feel better? HDLI says that the typical claim is over $1500, so a vandalized car is no joke.
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