Although bird droppings that fall on us are seen in many countries as a sign of good fortune, they can have much more negative consequences for vehicle paintwork.
Fortunately, Ford vehicles are tested for just such an eventuality – using artificial bird droppings.
The synthetic droppings developed in the laboratory are so realistic that they can faithfully reproduce the different diets of most of Europe’s birds, and therefore the different degrees of acidity of their droppings.
The test panels are sprayed with a sample and then heated in an oven at 40°C, 50°C and 60°C to reproduce extreme heat conditions and push the corrosion protection of the paint to its limits.
Bird droppings” tests are only one of the tests to which paint samples are subjected. Phosphoric acid mixed with soap and synthetic pollen is also sprayed on the panels before they are heated in the oven for 30 minutes at 60°C and 80°C. This test is intended to protect the paint from suspended particles such as pollen or very sticky tree sap.
Spring and summer can be particularly bad for painting, since on the one hand there are more birds, and on the other hand the paint can soften and expand under intense sunlight.
As the paint cools, it shrinks and all the dirt, including bird droppings, soaks into it. If the vehicle is not cleaned quickly, this dirt can leave permanent marks that will require the intervention of a specialist to remove them.
By perfecting the pigments, resins and additives that go into a protective gloss paint, experts can guarantee that the coating Ford applies to its vehicles will optimally resist these types of pollutants, regardless of the weather.
The science of bird droppings
Bird droppings are often black and white, but they are not just fecal matter. The white part is composed of uric acid, which is the equivalent of the bird’s urine formed by its urinary tract. Fecal matter is produced in the digestive tract, and even though both materials can be passed out at the same time, it happens too quickly for them to mix.
Additional paint tests conducted by Ford
Paint samples are subjected to further testing. For example, uninterrupted irradiation with ultraviolet light for up to 6,000 hours (250 days) in the laboratory to replicate five years spent in the sunniest place on Earth and to assess outdoor weather conditions.
The samples are also exposed to freezing temperatures and the rigours of winter road dirt in a chamber with high humidity and salinity, and are tested for a simulated gasoline spill that could leave a mark on the paint.
With so many cars currently parked due to containment, it is likely that birds are doing more damage than ever.
– André Thierig, Director, Senior Paint Engineering, Ford of Europe
“It’s wise to clean your vehicle before the heat makes things worse, but at least you can take comfort in knowing that we’re working to better protect the paint,” added Thiereg.
How to clean up bird droppings
It is always unwise not to clean bird droppings from a vehicle. It is advisable to regularly wash your vehicle with a sponge and warm water containing a pH-neutral shampoo to immediately and gently remove any seemingly harmless substance from the paint.
Waxing painted surfaces once or twice a year helps the finish to resist the harshest attacks, while preserving the shine longer.