Magnets may stick drivers with vehicle paint problems

Be supportive, but wax first. If you champion our troops, U.S. Marines, POW-MIAs or breast cancer research by putting ribbon-shaped magnets on your car, you may be defending the cause as long as you drive the Chevy.

When the magnet is removed, an imprint could stay on the car or truck.

Shane Argle at Wayne’s Auto Detail in Marysville recently removed a magnet from a Ford Windstar. He could still see the imprint.

Magnets such as this one may leave behind permanent marks when they are removed.

He wiped to no avail. He buffed. He applied compound.

Uh oh, he could still see the outline of the magnet.

“No matter what we did, nothing could get it off,” Argle said. “I don’t know if it’s the lead in the paint or what it is.”

The first car he noticed with magnet damage was the green Windstar. The second was a black Ford F-250.

“It’s not really an imprint,” Argle said. “I removed the magnet, and you could see where the magnet was.”

I went searching online for magnet material. WZVN-TV in Fort Myers, Fla., reported that magnets, such as those that support a football team, can bake a car’s finish.

The Florida station reported that drivers who leave them on their cars for weeks at a time without moving them can get a surprise.

“See how the moisture builds up behind, now when the sun comes out, it actually just boils back there,” said Rick Brust of Master Collision in Fort Myers, Fla.

They also found magnets that wouldn’t peel off at all.

Magnets can cause damage even if they don’t support a cause. Mike Fisher at the Camano Body Shop said he has seen marks on paint jobs under magnetic signs used to advertise a business. Then again, he recently pulled a “Freedom is not free” magnet off a 2005 Honda with no paint problem. Fisher said from experience he knows magnets seem to pull pigment out of the paint and leave a mark.

A magnet company in New Zealand advertises online that their magnets will not damage paint.

Prairieweb in New England said folks should never put magnets on new paint jobs. They recommend allowing at least 60 days for fresh paint to cure.

From what I can glean, you should place magnets on a flat, clean, waxed car surface. Once a week, remove the magnet and clean underneath. Remember, magnets can come off in a car wash.

My magnet was lost at Wal-Mart in Marysville. While I was inside shopping, someone lifted my yellow Support Our Troops magnet from the trunk of my 1993 teal Toyota Corolla. Sheesh, didn’t they want the whole car?

I can still see the imprint, even though my husband, Chuck, likes to keep my buggy waxed and shined.

KUJH-TV reporters in Lawrence, Kan., wrote that supporters of troops, breast cancer and college athletics may soon find themselves supporting their vehicles. Two reporters said that popular ribbon magnets need to be frequently relocated. They said although the magnet itself isn’t harmful, water can get trapped behind it and cause the paint finish to deteriorate.

Move and wax, move and wax.

Back at Wayne’s Auto Detail, Argle said he supports our troops, but not with car magnets.

He suggests we bless the USA with window decals.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@

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