Why Ford devotes its best scientific brains to making fake bird droppings
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In recent weeks, many cars will have spent a long time stationary. For owners who don’t have the benefit of a garage or carport, that also means more exposure to a deadly threat. Well, deadly for paintwork at least: bird droppings.
It might surprise you to know that carmakers focus on protecting paintwork from bird poo specifically.
That’s because it’s nasty stuff that can do a lot of damage. And there’s a lot of it. Because getting rid of waste helps flying, small birds may relieve themselves up to 50 times per day.
Bird droppings actually contain, ahem… both ones and twos. The white is actually uric acid formed in the urinary tract (that’s right, most birds don’t actually wee). The black is made in the digestive system, but it’s all expelled at such speed that the two don’t have time to mix; hence the two-tone.
Ford, for example, actually makes its own fake bird poo for the purposes of paint testing. It can even replicate different levels of acidity based on varying diets.
The science-poo is applied to test body panels as a spray and aged at 40-60 degrees Celsius, to replicate extreme customer use.
Birds aren’t the only seasonal paintwork predators. Ford also sprays phosphoric acid mixed with detergent to simulate pollen and sticky tree sap.
Spring and summer are the most risky for airborne attacks – not just because there are more birds about, but also because paint can soften and expend under intense sunlight. When it cools, corrosive material like bird droppings can attach itself to the surface and leave a permanent impression.
What’s the best thing to do with bird droppings on your car? Ford advises motorists not to leave it, but simply wash with a sponge and lukewarm water containing neutral pH shampoo.
Waxing paintwork once or twice a year will also help it resist marking from the dreaded black and white missiles.