hand washing Steve's Detailing & Hand Car Wash Denver

Swirl Marks in Car Paint and What to Do Next

Have you ever wondered why you see swirl marks in car paint? Today, Steve’s Detailing is here to give you the answer and how to deal with the situation. Better yet, if you want your car to gleam, simply bring it to the professionals at Steve’s Detailing. Our team is highly trained and experienced in the detailing business and can take care of everything for you with no swirl marks in sight. 

What causes swirl marks?

Swirl marks are fine scratches on your car’s paint job can be produced by using a dry towel on a dusty or dirty car or otherwise improperly washing and drying your vehicle. Your washing implements are usually the biggest culprits, and of course, darker vehicle colors will show more swirl marks than lighter vehicle colors. Swirl marks, unfortunately, are pretty hard to avoid forever. At some point, you will more than likely encounter them, and the older your car gets, the more it will happen. Your best defense is to use proper washing and drying practices as often as possible and use a professional detailing service. 

The facts:

The degree to which you can correct swirl marks in car paint depends on how picky you are, and the amount of time you are willing to spend getting them out. You will literally have to remove the layer of paint containing the swirls and re-level the surface, which is in microscopic layers. Modern clear-coat paints are harder than the older lacquer paints and enamel used until the 1980s. Manufacturers began using a base-coat and clear-coat system with a protective, hard, glossy clear coat on top of the color coat. These paints are more resistant to fading. Also, they last a lot longer because they are harder. 

Here are some reasons that swirl marks form:

  1. Polishers and buffers used with the wrong pad and uninformed application
  2. Harsh polishing compounds or paint cleaners
  3. Towels and applicators containing polyester threads
  4. A dirty chamois or cloth that has not been adequately cleaned and maintained
  5. Wiping down a dusty or dirty car with a dry towel
  6. Not keeping your wash mitt or sponge properly rinsed
  7. Automated car washes with brushes and other apparatuses that are not clean enough
  8. Not rinsing the car completely off before washing, or not washing your car thoroughly before drying
  9. Using a car cover when the vehicle or the cover is not completely clean 

How do I get rid of these unsightly swirl marks?

The best thing to do is head on down to the professional detailers, like Steve’s Detailing, where they can polish out the swirl marks in car paint using the best products and personnel trained in doing so. Some products on the market will only mask or hide swirl marks temporarily, Steve’s Detailing has the products and tools that will lift and erase the swirl marks using a polish compound to do the job correctly, and sometimes even a cutting polish, depending on the severity of the swirl marks. 

Here is a quick reference guide on eliminating swirl marks in car paint:

  • The car must be thoroughly cleaned with a de-waxer and non-abrasive microfiber cloth, to remove all contaminants, dirt, and dust
  • If the surface is rough, a liquid clay or clay bar should be used together with a water based sealer
  • A follow up with a swirl remover is recommended using buffing pads/cloth and an orbital polisher
  • Sealing is the finishing touch with an all-weather paint sealant to give you the perfect, professional, glass-like look 

A quick word on Snow Foam:

Snow foam is a unique pre-wash cleaner or treatment that can help lubricate your vehicle before you start washing. It is like an added security system to help ensure you don’t get swirl marks from left behind dirt and debris. A thick layer of snow foam left to sit on your car will soften the surface dirt, and when rinsed off, before hand washing, it will make a big difference in the quality of your car wash. A pressure washer with a snow foam lance will give you the best results. 

Why are buckets important?

There is a lot of evidence and reason behind using multiple buckets for washing your vehicle. Avoiding cross-contamination is the main idea. Here’s your bucket list: 1 bucket for your shampoo solution (wash) and 1 full of plain fresh water for rinsing. Simply, wash a portion with the shampoo solution then, before cleaning the next part, dip the mitt into the rinse bucket. Scrub it by hand to remove any and all dirt, then dip it back in the shampoo from the wash bucket, continue with the wash. This ensures that the dirt removed from the paint is then removed from the wash mitt, and isn’t dragged back across the car during washing.

Remember, if your vehicle is already riddled with swirl marks, you will need to first and foremost get rid of them by polishing, either by hand or machine, or by bringing it to our professional detailers. Also remember, that if not done correctly, you can add to the problem, causing MORE swirl marks than you already had. Polishing, waxing and protecting is a big job that requires a lot of elbow grease, so unless you are up for it, and willing to spend the day getting it right, it is always a good idea to check in with the professionals and let them attend to the problem.

If you head on down to Steve’s Detailing today, you won’t be saying, “why am I seeing swirl marks in car paint?” because we get it right every time and know the detailing business inside and out. Let us bring your paint color back to its original glory, free of unsightly swirl marks and lack luster shine. You’ll be surprised and happy with the results, and able to maintain the longevity of your vehicle’s paint job for an extended period of time.