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Can you remove swirl marks from the paint? – FAQ

Can you remove swirl marks from the paint?

In most cases, we sure can! This is the most common type of defect auto detailing / ceramic coating / paint enhancement clients are concerned about, and these are also the biggest culprit for making the paint almost have a dull appearance. Usually, when people think of paint correction and ceramic coating, they think of these swirls. Clear bra / paint protection film will hide most of these scratches and prevent rock chips, but clear bra is not always budget-friendly and also more difficult to do on older vehicles. 

What causes swirls?

The most common cause of swirl marks in your car’s paint that we see are from the automatic car washes in the Killeen/Harker Heights areas, and just improper washing techniques over the years. Unless your car is garage-kept and rarely driven, dark paint is bound to get some swirls. Washing a car with a two bucket method, not mixing wheel rags with paint rags, amongst a ton of other tips we go over in our aftercare section of our website, isn’t exactly a fast process. That’s why we love clear bra so much, as it is self-healing and incredibly forgiving if you brush up against it while the car is dirty, or accidentally rub too hard to remove a hazard like bird droppings or bug guts.

Some other factors that can lead to swirl marks in your vehicle’s paint:

  1. Polishers or buffers with the wrong combination of pad and material choice. This is most common on vehicles that have had body work done. Most paint and body shops do not properly finish off the polishing stage of the paint because it takes too much time and effort, and they are trying to pump out vehicles because they are usually on commission. They are counting on our clients to not notice the swirl marks. Additionally, we have seen this issue with auto detailers that are maybe not experienced enough or not using enough lighting to see them until it is too late.
  1. Using towels or rags that are either degraded and have become harsh/rough, or have the wrong material in them.
  1. Utilizing dirty towels to wipe dust and other contaminants off the paint. Have you ever kept a rag in the car for probably too long to wipe stuff off the paint without even thinking about it? The dirt gets trapped in the rag, and then you rub the paint with the dirt.
  1. Sort of hand and hand with the above, wiping a dirty car with a dry towel, even softly, can scratch the paint. Remember that dirt is actually pretty abrasive, and can swirl your paint. 
  1. Car covers. If any dirt gets under the car cover, or a car cover itself gets dirty on the underside, the car cover rubs the paint with dirt on it, just like a dirty towel. If the car cover is on the car outside, it’s even worse because wind will make the cover flap and rub against the paint. Even if it’s not dirty, it could scratch. We have even seen car covers completely rub thru the clear coat.

Remember that any time you touch your car’s paint, you risk swirling it (even if you have a ceramic coating), and might need a paint enhancement/paint correction after. 

Why are they so bad on dark-colored vehicles?

Swirl marks and scratches appear to our naked eye as white in appearance when the light reflects off of them. So on a white or silver car, they are much more difficult to see. As you get darker and darker in paint color, they become more obvious. This is also why our shop walls are painted a matte / flat black color. When we are conducting paint enhancement/paint correction and ceramic coating on your vehicle, we WANT the scratches to stand out to us so we can see them more effectively. This little bit helps us see them, whereas if the walls were a semi gloss or gloss white, the scratches and swirls may be washed out by reflective light while we are polishing.

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