Guest complaining about water spots

Here is a new one. My current guest is very upset because my lawn sprinklers got her car wet and now it has water spots that may not come off according to the manager at the car wash. The guest sent me a text about the problem, it’s her mother’s car, Mom is also staying. This is their 4th. week in my home, and it’s the first time I’ve heard about their cars getting wet… She wants me to call her mother tomorrow. Not today because “she is very upset”. Suggestions?

I think I would just simply offer to hand wash her car and towel dry it. Also turn off the sprinkles. I find it hard to believe that the manager of a car wash place thought water spots would not come off.

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It does happen, I had a car once with water spots on the glass and nothing would take them off. It happens on paint too. I would think that if water is spraying on your car you would move it. I’m not looking forward to the conversation tomorrow. Thank you for your suggestion, if I thought hand washing it would remove the spots I’d do it.


If the water spots don’t come off, it’s probably due to hard water- minerals like calcium. Use some vinegar-it dissolves the calcium. Don’t think it will do anything to the paint, but could test on a non-visible area.
How absurd, though. Does she never drive her car in the rain?


Thanks for the suggestion. I’m thinking it may have etched the clear coat. Hope not…

Is the manager her brother/sister/uncle/father by any chance? Who actually speaks to the manager of a car wash?

Sounds scammy to me, but them I’m paranoid.


This certainly isn’t a new problem. You can google how to remove hard water spots from vehicle paint and glass.


I think you have a couple choices, depending on how much you are earning from this guest and how well-disposed you are toward them. Are they understandably upset about a car that is new or they keep pristine or have they been on a constant lookout for things to complain about? Some people are very attached to their cars!

  1. Wow your guest by paying $80-$100 for a mobile car detailing service to come take care of the vehicle
  2. Comp a night
  3. Say, “Sorry about that” and accept you’re likely to get a bad review.
    I would go with the first choice. It specifically addresses their upset unlike a free night, where they’d still be seeing the car every day and becoming freshly irritated.
    I wouldn’t attempt to wash the guest’s vehicle yourself, as their mindset is your actions have already messed up their car, and they could claim you scratched the paint, used the wrong detergent, etc.

Mobile detail is a great idea, but I’m thinking its going to run much more than $80. But you are right, how much is a bad review worth? “Their mindset”, right again, it’s my fault from their perspective. I’m going to suggest that THEY choose a mobile detailer. Maybe I’ll find a few to choose from. I don’t want to suggest just one, again they could blame me for further damage.

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Nice to give guests a choice, you are so right, then it’s on them. But don’t want to get in a negotiation of which level of detailing or which services, so present choices carefully or set a cost limit, I guess.
Or you might try: “I’m not sure what happened with your car. But if you’d like, I’ll schedule my car detailer to come out and take care of it at my expense.”
Then you can pick a reasonably priced detailer. Because you are paying for them, they are “your” detailer. Just makes it sound more personal, less random, as if you are treating their car as well as you would treat your own car.
Don’t make any admissions that you have any responsibility for the condition of the car.

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This is the best advice. Then turn off your sprinklers for the rest of their visit.

Tell them you’ve made an appointment with a professional detail company.

And this:

I washed a car in La Mesa, CA and the spots took forever to come off. Friend’s house had super hard water and a separate hose for car washing that was attached to a water softener. I was house sitting and didn’t know.

I can confirm that where we have hard water you don’t want your car near any automatic sprinkler system. Hard water spots are real.

And I thought we had notoriously hard water here! Mind you, Mr Joan’s car is so dirty, you wouldn’t see the spots for mud thrown up by passing tractors.

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I used to detail cars in my youth. Back then there was no clear coat over the paint. I’ve done lots of research since this started. I’ve watched videos, called mobile detailers and called my guest, oh and shut my sprinklers off remotely (love that ability). Anyway, now days car detailing products are a huge industry with a gazillion products. Of the 3 detailers I spoke with, the last guy seemed the most knowledgeable. As in the videos, he said there are several things that can be used, from just washing the car through color sanding and several things in between. The longer the spots stay on the surface the more aggressive the approach required to get them out. My guest was actually very pleasant and was sorry about the situation (but she probably wouldn’t have been so kind if I hadn’t offered paying for the detailer). I got quoted from $50 to $250 per car. Oh, and now the daughter’s car needs to have spots removed too. I gave her phone numbers for 4 detailers and asked her to choose. This is going to be an expensive review, but hey, they stayed 4 weeks and these days, that’s nice. I’ll post back once it’s resolved and I’ll let you know what this life lesson is costing me. Thanks everyone, you are truly a great resource!!


Maybe you need to block the sprinklers where the spray hits cars? Or move the parking area?



I’m sorry this happened for you and your guest. I appreciate you sharing. I was naive this could be a problem. Thank you for sharing.

Ended up giving her 3 detailers to choose from. The one she picked got the spots off the paint and widows but not the chrome around the window (probably polished aluminum?). She was satisfied though still not happy that there are still spots. She said she didn’t want me to pay but I insisted. Next will be her daughter’s car. I am going to do what I can with sprinklers, but its impossible not to have a little over spray especially when it’s windy. I will warn future guests. Thanks everyone!


You might consider providing a tarp that guests could throw over their cars if you can’t adjust the sprinkler enough. Or only rent to guests with ugly beater cars :slight_smile:


Been there, failed that. Any tarp or actual car cover that doesn’t breathe will cause issues for the car and the finish. Any car good, actual cover will still let water in and dust. Not worth the hassle

There is plenty of street parking, I will check the sprinklers and adjust if possible, but I think as long as I warn them I should be ok.