Does WD-40 Damage Your Car Paint?

Does WD-40 Damage Your Car Paint_


Will the household and garage staple lubricant, WD-40, harm your car’s paint?

In this post you’ll know:

  • What WD-40 is
  • What its components are
  • Why people use it on the car paint
  • If it’s safe to use on car paint
  • And lots more

If you’re unsure about using WD-40 to fix something on your car paint, this post will help you decide if you should use it or not. 

Let’s get on with it. 

What is WD-40?

WD-40 or Water Displacement 40, is a fluid lubricant used to loosen rusty metal like bolts and nuts, lengthen a rubber’s life, and fix minor scratches.



What’s the number 40 for by the way? It’s the number of formulations made before getting to the final one. 

Anyway, this lubricating old was made way back in the 1950s and from then on became increasingly popular as the go-to quick fix for loosening stuck metal like lubricating hinges and bearings. 

WD-40 As Lubricant


It helps stuck parts to move. 

However, its first use wasn’t for anything stuck. It was used to coat a missile so to lessen oxidation so it wouldn’t corrode fast. 

Nowadays, machinists and mechanics use it too when cutting metal to lessen jagged edges. Spraying WD-40 on the metal dispels heat, resulting in cleaner cuts.

Recommended Reading: 5 Steps In Detailing Your Engine Bay (Comprehensive Guide) 

Components Of WD-40

WD-40’s owners are keen on keeping the exact recipe a secret. (marketing strategy?)

But with the help of Material Data Safety Sheets, we know its 4 primary components which are:

  1. Carbon dioxide
  2. A petroleum-based paraffin
  3. Aliphatic Hydrocarbon (comparable to kerosene)
  4. Flammable aliphatic hydrocarbons

There are also trace elements of alkanes of carbon and mineral oils. (This info will come in handy in a bit)

However, the combination proportions of this anti-squeak lubricant have been a deeply hidden secret. Only

Why People Use WD-40 On Car Paint

There are at least 4 reasons why people use WD-40 on their car paint. 

1. Waxing

Some car owners repurpose WD-40 as car wax. Because of its properties, it adds luster to the paint’s color.

WD-40 For Shiny Paintwork


The petroleum-based paraffin creates a shiny output that’s quite similar to the outcome when it’s freshly coated with wax. 

2. Increase Hydrophobic Qualities

Wd-40 is also used to increase the hydrophobic quality of the paint’s top layer. The more hydrophobic it is, the less water-based contaminants stick to it because it simply beads off the paint. 

Some car owners apply it to the car’s paintwork to reduce tar, tree sap, and bird droppings sticking to the surface. 

3. Removes Bug Splatters And Oil

Apparently, despite having mineral oils, WD-40 also helps easily remove oil and other sticky debris. 

And just like sap and tar, bug guts will less likely stick to the surface with WD-40 on. 

Recommended Reading: How To Remove Bug Guts And Splats From Your Car

4. Cleaning Tool

Since it removes corrosive particles, WD-40 is also used as a cleaner for the rusty surface. 

Other than used as a cleaning tool, it also lessens the chances of oxidation on scratched surfaces. 

This means with WD-40 on water won’t find its way to the bare metal made by scratches. 

But Is WD-40 Safe On Paint?

WD-40 has a kerosene-like component. Applied by itself, it can eat through the clear coat. 

But because it has components other than the aliphatic hydrocarbons, is it safe to apply on paint?

But is it a smart move?

Why You Shouldn’t Use WD-40 On Paint

Yes, WD-40 can arguably be used in paint safely. But it has side effects you have to take note of. 

One big reason for this is the fact that WD-40 has a mineral oil component in it. 

Oil is greasy. It’s notorious for gathering dust and debris, as well as other contaminants on the road. 

If you go back to the hinges and bearings you used WD-40 on, you’ll see from being a thin fluid-like lubricant, it’s turned into thick black grime. 

Yes, the hydrophobic properties will work well for a few days. But after a while it will get so greasy and dirty, you might even just regret applying it on. 

Recommended Reading: Top 7 Automotive Shampoos For Ceramic Coats

How To Remove WD-40 On Paint

Use a car decontamination shampoo to remove WD-40 from your car’s paint. Find a was-stripping automotive shampoo. 

Apply it on the surface and let. It sits for a while to let the cleaning agent penetrate the grime and break it off.  

You can use a car cleaning gun to get a thorough coverage especially in tight areas. 

So does WD-40 damage your car paint? 

The answer is no. But it can leave it dirtier because it has oils, the key ingredient for collecting dust. 

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