Can pollen damage your car’s paint?

It’s allergy season, a time of itchy eyes and runny noses. But these aren’t the only challenges that come with a high pollen count - that powdery menace can also have some harmful effects on your car.

While struggling with allergies, you might wonder: Can pollen damage my car’s paint?

“When viewed under a microscope, you will see pollen grains are spikey, however, it’s unlikely that these microscopic grains will scratch your car’s paint. Unlikely, but not impossible,” warns Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions. “If you live in a high pollen area, it’s advisable to wash your car frequently. Take care when washing your car, particularly if your car’s paint is already dull because a dull surface is more prone to being scratched.”

If you leave the pollen on your car for too long, its acidity could cause corroding, leaving unsightly marks, especially once it is wet. Dark vehicles seem particularly vulnerable to this acidic erosion.

“Besides paint damage, pollen can make its way into your car’s cabin, making it uncomfortable for any allergy sufferers,” says Smit. “Over time, your car’s air and pollen filters can become clogged. If this happens, airflow is blocked, and air quality could be lowered. Blocked pollen and air filters also impact engine performance and fuel economy. If you live in a high-pollen area, it is worthwhile having these changed every spring, or at least every two years. Most major car services include new pollen and air filters.”

How to wash your car to prevent pollen damage

Although pollen itself is unlikely to damage your car’s paint, when it settles on your car it could mix with dust and dirt to create a gritty surface. Below are a few tips on how to wash your car to prevent pollen damage:

  • Wash your car regularly. The longer you leave pollen on your car, the more damage it can do.
  • Avoid using automatic car washes.
  • Start by rinsing your car with water.
  • Use the two-bucket approach to wash your car. Fill one bucket with water and soap (don’t use dish soap, use specially formulated car washing liquid), and the other with plain water. Dip your sponge or microfibre cloth in the soapy bucket and wash your car. Then, dip your sponge in the water bucket, to remove any dust and debris on the sponge. Dip your sponge in the soapy bucket and continue like this.
  • Follow up with a high-quality car wax. The wax will create a high-gloss shield and a low-friction texture, and it will shed dirt and pollen more quickly. Wax will also protect your paint from potential pollen acid damage.
  • Consider using a car cover or parking in a garage to prevent pollen from settling on the car.

“Taking care of your car’s paint job requires consistent attention and effort. If you can maintain your car’s paint job it improves the overall look of your car, and it preserves your car’s resale value,” points out Smit. He continues to say that products like MotorHappy’s Scratch & Dent cover help maintain your car’s resale value because you are covered for minor scratches, chips, dents, and interior damage to your vehicle. “Most insurance plans, no matter how comprehensive, won’t cover you for minor scratches to your vehicle. With Scratch & Dent insurance, you can keep your car’s bodywork as pristine as the day you bought it, regardless of the season.”