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My Car Has Swirl Marks. Why?

Swirl marks. Why you have them, and what can you do about them right now.

After spending hours hand-washing, waxing, and buffing your car, the last thing you want to see is anything besides your reflection gleaming back at you. Unfortunately, this is when many of us notice unsightly swirl marks. Swirl marks can be found on most vehicles, even new ones, and is more noticeable on darker finishes. Read on to learn what causes swirl marks, as well as preventative measures and removal.

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What Causes Swirl Marks?

Swirl marks are microscopic scratches left behind in your paint by anything finely abrasive. The most common source of swirl marks is hand-drying a vehicle with a towel that is too abrasive, or dirty. The finest chamois in the world will leave swirl marks if it is at all dirty. Other causes of swirl marks are:

  • Car washing. Automated car washes and dirty sponges or wash mitts will all lead to swirl marks. Despite the convenience, it’s best to avoid the automated car wash and make sure that you rinse your sponge or wash mitt often.
  • Buffing. Buffing with the wrong type of pad will certainly leave swirl marks on your vehicle.
  • Waxing. Certain waxes, such as old carnauba pastes, are particularly difficult to apply and buff out. Some people will apply too much pressure to the clear coat when using these waxes, and cause damage.
  • Dusting. Cheap car dusters do little more than drag the dirt and dust around on the surface of your vehicle. Using a bath towel is just asking for trouble.
  • Car covers. Although car covers protect your car from the elements, a cover applied to a vehicle with dirt or dust on the exterior will cause scratches when it moves around. Make sure your car is clean and free of dust before using a car cover.
  • Paint cleaners and polishers. Beware of cleaners with harsh compounds that can scratch the paint while rubbing it on.
  • Detailing wipes. These are the products that offer “soapless spray-and-wipe cleaning power”. In most cases, you are just smearing dirt all over the clear coat.

How to Prevent Swirl Marks

Although swirl marks cannot be totally prevented, there are definitely ways you can avoid the bulk of the damage. Take the following precautions to reduce the number of swirl marks on your ride:

  • Clean sponge, mild soap. Make sure your sponge or wash mitt is as clean as possible before applying it to your vehicle, and always use a mild soap.
  • Two buckets. Fill two buckets before you begin washing your vehicle, one with soapy water and one with fresh water. Dip your sponge into the soapy water and wash an area of your car using circular motion, then rinse off the dirty sponge in the bucket of fresh water. This keeps your sponge clean and car swirl-free.
  • Low pressure. When it comes time to rinse your vehicle, use as little water pressure as possible. Remove any hose nozzles before spraying and NEVER use a power washer.
  • Be gentle. After rinsing your car, you need to dry it. Use a high-quality microfibre cloth to hand dry, or a cordless leaf blower to remove the water.

Expert Swirl Mark Removal Near You

Even if you do everything you can, swirl marks happen beyond your control. The only proven way to get rid of them is to use a non-abrasive buffer pad and polishing compound. This isn’t something you want to DIY, as it is very easy to do more harm than good. Stop by Island Detail for expert swirl mark removal and we’ll get your car’s finish fully restored. Our technicians have professional products, equipment, and experience to fully and safely remove swirl marks from your vehicle. There is no need to drive around in a vehicle covered in swirl marks, just give us a shout.

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