paint swirls

Swirl Marks On Car Paint

Swirls marks on your car are fine scratches in car paint that you usually only notice up close or when the light hits the vehicle’s surface at the right angle.They are not pretty to look at, and unfortunately, they are part of everyday life for most car owners.

Swirl marks are more evident on black and other dark-coloured cars.  Since black contrasts the most with white, the reflections stand out more.These marks are most obvious on flat surfaces, such as the bonnet, roof or boot. On dark-coloured cars, they can also be seen on doors and side panels.

On light-coloured car paint, swirls are not as apparent because they reflect more light. A common misconception is that swirls are exclusively circular. However, the fact is that they can run in almost any direction – vertically, horizontally and sideways.

paint swirls

What Exactly Are Swirl Marks?

They are very fine scratches in the clear coat of a car. A car’s paint job is made up of several layers.The most important one is the base coat, which makes up the colour of the car, and the clear coat, which is on top of it.

The clear coat is applied to protect the underlying paint from fading and oxidation caused by UV damage. It also protects against, dirt and other forms of contamination such as tar, bird droppings and water stains.

Despite this protective function, the clear coat is very fragile and can be easily scratched.The scratches or swirls in the clear coat are often not visible in dim light. Under direct sunlight, however, they are very obvious.They often look like cobwebs or can look more like swirls.

What Causes The Swirl Marks On Car Paint?

The usual cause is using a towel to dry your car after washing it. 

It doesn’t take much to scratch a car’s clear coat. If the towel or chamois contains dirt or dust or is stiff, it will be creating new swirls every time you use it.

Towels aren’t the only culprits. Any type of improper car washing or drying technique can cause microscopic scratches that show up as swirls.

Other reasons why they happen.

  • Using harsh products
  • Using a dirty chamois, drying towels or applicators with polyester threads
  • Wiping dirt off your car with a dry towel or cloth
  • Using a dirty dust cloth
  • Not rinsing the sponge when washing the car
  •  Going through an automatic car wash that uses brushes and other wipers
  •  Not rinsing your vehicle thoroughly before washing it.
  •  Not thoroughly washing the vehicle before drying it
  •  Covering the car with a dirty car cover.

removing paint swirls

Removing Swirl Marks

What is the best way to remove swirl marks?

The only way to remove them is to polish the surface Some products can temporarily hide or mask Swirl Marks, but the results are short term.

You can easily remove light swirl marks from your car yourself with the suitable car polish. There are many car polishes designed specifically for this purpose.

If your swirl marks are very severe, you will need to cut and polish to remove the severe damage. Then polish to restore the full shine.

After polishing, the surface of your car should look and feel silky and shiny. Carefully apply a coat of wax and wipe it off with a microfiber cloth, and you’re done.

If You are Not Confident Or Have the Time, Use A Car Detailing Service

Removing microscopic scratches that cause swirls may sound simple. But like many other car repairs, it’s better left to the professionals in most cases.

Car paint is easy to damage, and using the wrong cleaners and polishes or not spending the time to do it right, can make the swirls worse or causing more damage to the paint.

If you’re tired of seeing swirls on your car, bring it to Car Detailers Brisbane. We will quickly and professionally remove swirls from your car.


washing a car

Can You Prevent Swirl Marks?

It is almost impossible to prevent Swirl Marks from happening over time. You can reduce them from happening though.Start by choosing the highest quality washing tools and following good washing practices.

Buy a high-quality wash mitt and soap. Rinse every surface before washing to remove heavy dirt and debris.  This will reduce the likelihood that your wash mitt will become dirty and scratch the surface of your vehicle.

Wash your car using the two-bucket method – one filled with clean water and one filled with car wash soap. Put the wash mitt into the soapy bucket to wash your car with soapy water.  Place it back in the bucket of water to rinse it thoroughly before moving on to the next area.

When drying your car, the less physical contact, the better. Car wash professionals recommend rinsing off the water before drying When drying, use lubricant and a good quality microfiber cloth to prevent scratches.

Many also recommend using a robust cordless leaf blower, which can remove 90% of the water from your car’s surface without touching it.

Surprisingly, waxing can also cause swirling if there is a lot of rubbing, scrubbing and wiping during the application, as with traditional car waxes.
An alternative is to use a spray wax and gently wipe it off with a clean microfiber cloth.

Does Every Car Have Swirl Marks?

Swirl Marks are seen all the time on a variety of cars, from inexpensive vehicles to high-end sports cars. Most cars have swirl marks, even brand new ones that you have just driven out of the dealership!

When buying a brand new car, it is a good idea to ask the dealer NOT to wash the car before you pick it up.

Even when handled before arriving at the dealer, damage can happen.  Ask to leave all packaging on the vehicle and remove it yourself when you arrive.

If you have already seen the car you want to buy in the showroom, ask that it not be washed before you pick it up, as this will at least reduce the risk of further damage. Don’t be afraid to turn down the offered car if you’re not happy with the paint condition on the day of pickup.

As mentioned earlier, the clear coat is very delicate and can be easily scratched when it comes into contact with friction. Most brand new cars have swirl marks and scratches in the clear coat because they were improperly washed with sponges and brushes at the dealership due to time constraints.

Car washers are under great pressure to wash a large number of cars in a short time. This leaves little time to properly clean the equipment and preserve the paint to reduce the friction that causes these swirl marks.

How To Fix Swirl Marks

Most cars have swirl marks, and the vast majority of car owners don’t even notice them. But if you’ve spotted them on your vehicle, you may be looking for a way to get rid of them.

The first thing you need to do is learn how to properly wash the car to avoid these clear coat damages. 

The next step is to get the right advice and products to wash and then polish your car.

The other option is to get your car detailed, so your car looks perfect without the need to try and do it yourself.
Book in today a Car Detailers Brisbane


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