Swirl Marks – What they are and how to fix!

What are swirl marks?

Example of swirl marks in blank paint.

Swirl marks, also known as micro scratching, are terms used to describe damage to the top layer of your vehicles paintwork. They appear due to poor washing practices, the use of machine washes and harsh chemicals.

Over time these scratches become more apparent and can ruin the overall look of your car. You will notice them under direct light looking like spiderwebs. The more swirlies you get, the worse your vehicle will look. The finish will look dull and give a matte effect, rather than having a bright glossy shine.

How do I get them?

Once your car gets dirty, it is covered in dust, pollution, mud, and other particulates from the air. Any form of contact wash will rub this into the paint. The more soiled the car, the higher the risk. The quicker the wash, the higher the chances of scratching. I can spend up to an hour preparing a vehicle before I even come into contact with it. This ensures that as much debris is removed from the paint before a contact wash is commenced.

How do I stop getting them?

A proper wash routine will cleanse as much of the debris from the paint. Pre-wash products are applied to soften and dissolve dirt before a contact wash is performed. I use a degreaser to soften build up followed by snowfoam to remove this dirt before contact washing. I will then jet wash the exterior of the vehicle to remove the now softened grime.

Once the pre-wash is compete, you can move onto a contact wash. Microfibre or Lambswool wash mitts are great. The long strands pull the dirt up and away from the paint rather than rubbing it. Regular maintenance of your wash mitt is also just as crucial. Put them through a machine wash to ensure that any previously captured dirt is removed. When washing, use detergent ONLY. Fabric softener will clogs the fibres of the wash mitt and prevent it from pulling particulates away from the paint.

Another important factor is protection. Sealants, waxes and ceramic coatings. These products add a layer of protection to your paint. Sealants and waxes have a shorter life, but are often cheaper to buy. They are easy to apply and can be done at home on your drive under the right conditions. Ceramic coatings are more expensive but have a longer life and other additional benefits. If you are serious about protecting your car, ceramic coatings are the way to go.

How can I get rid of swirl marks?

Example of paint correction. No more swirl marks in the paint.

A professional detailer will not only ensure a safe contact wash, they can fix damage already done. I ensure the safest techniques are used with any service I offer. But that doesn’t fix them!
If your car already suffers from swirl marks, you need to have your paint corrected. Pant correction is the term used to fix imperfections in the topcoat. Once I have thoroughly cleaned a vehicle multiple polishing stages are completed. Using a combination of polishing machines, the scratches are removed to bring back a perfect finish.

My Enhance and Protect detail can remove up to 65% of damage. My paint correction services will remove up to 95% of imperfections. The level of paint correction required depends on the condition of your car.

As you can see from the above pictures, the appearance of the swirls is vastly reduced, and the finish on the paint gives a fuller, deeper shine. The light can reflect properly giving a mirror like finish, just like below!

Mirror finish side shot after paint correction.

For more examples of paint ehnancement and correction, check out my Instagram page.

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