Ford uses artificial bird poop to keep vehicle paint safe in real world

Automaker even has produced a cartoon video

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bird poop
Ford produces articial bird poop in its laboratory to use to assure the quality of the paint it puts on its vehicles | Ford of Europe photos

Here’s a news release we simply had to keep reading: “While getting struck by bird poop may be a sign of good luck in many countries, bird poop landing on your car can have more serious implications – for your paintwork,” says Ford of Europe.

“Fortunately, Ford vehicles are tested for just this eventuality – with the help of artificial bird poop.”

Believe it or not, Ford chemists produce synthetic droppings “so realistic that they can accurately reflect the differing diets – and subsequent different acidity of droppings – of most of the birdlife in Europe.

“Applied to test panels as a spray, sample pieces are aged at 40° C, 50° C and 60° C in an oven to replicate customer use in extreme heats, pushing the paint corrosion protection to its limits. “

Ford also offers car-cleaning suggestions

Ford notes that its “bird poop test” is only one of several such ordeals paint samples must endure. Others include a spray of phosphoric acid mixed with detergent as a form of artificial tree sap, and another involves synthetic pollen. 

As if salt on winter roads isn’t bad enough, “Spring and summer can be particularly dangerous for paint as not only are there often more birds about, but paint can also soften and expand under intense sunlight,” Ford notes. “When it cools it contracts and any grime, including bird droppings, attaches itself to the surface. If left on the vehicle, it can leave a permanent impression that requires specialist treatment to remove.

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Text panels also are bombarded with as many as 6,000 continuous hours (250 days) of ultraviolet light to simulate 5 years of exposure in the brightest place on earth. They also are frozen, exposed in a high-humidity salt chamber, and are subjected to a simulated fuel stain caused by spills while refueling.

“By fine-tuning the pigments, resins and additives that go into making a car’s shiny protective paintwork, specialists can ensure the coating Ford applies to its vehicles has the optimum make-up to resist the impact of these types of pollutants, no matter what the weather.”

But wait, there’s more!

The news release continues under a subtitle of “The science of bird poop.”

“Bird poop is often white and black, but it’s not all poop. The white part is uric acid and is the bird equivalent to urine, formed in the urinary tract. Poop is made in the digestive system and while both can be secreted at the same time, it happens with such speed that the two don’t have time to mix. “

Ford says it is not wise to leave bird poop on a vehicle, and to remove it with a sponge, lukewarm water and a neutral pH cleaner. Waxing once or twice a year also is suggested.

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“With so many cars parked up at the moment as people stay at home, it’s likely birds are leaving their mark more than usual,” notes Andrea Thierig, manager of core engineering paint for Ford of Europe. “It’s wise to remove it before it gets too baked on, but our customers can at least take some consolation in the work we do to keep their paint protected.”

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. YEA RIGHT. Remember paint flying off in chunks on 1980s cars and trucks I had one, they told me to screw when I wanted them to fix it. Then the rot, oh the rot. beds ,fenders, doors. Just like the other two, Buy them, then in 5 years throw them out. Such crap. SHAME.

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