Everything You Need To Know About Removing Swirl Marks

Swirl marks are nothing more than micro marring. Actually, under a microscope, they appear to be scratches.

In any case, they’ll soon be gone from your paint’s surface!

But first, have you ever noticed that you can’t feel swirl marks with your fingers or finger nail?

That’s because they are very fine which means this common type of imperfection is not difficult to remove.

What Exactly Causes Swirl Marks?

A high-speed buffer works wonders for heavy oxidation or minor scratches, but many professional car detailers do not have sufficient training or enough experience to use the tool properly.

While trying to blend touch-ups to perfection, the result is often uniform buffing pad marks in the paint. This entirely avoidable after-effect is called paint holograms or buffer trails.

That’s probably not your problem though!

Truth be told, you may be creating swirl marks every time you wash or wipe down your car.

Hey it happens! In fact, this is actually the most common cause of micro marring.

And the severity depends on your tools, but also how you use them and the contaminants present.

Swirl marks and other micro marring show up prominently on black and other dark colors because the sides of the marring reflect light. When you polish, the edges are rounded and reduce reflection. This diagram shows what severe micro marring looks like in a cross section of paint.

10 most frequent causes of swirl marks:

  • Polishers/buffers with the incorrect pad or an untrained operator.
  • Harsh polishing compounds and paint cleaners.
  • Towels and applicators containing polyester threads.
  • A dirty chamois or a chamois that hasn’t been maintained.
  • Wiping down a dusty or dirty car with a dry towel.
  • A dirty car duster or a car duster used on a car with too much surface dirt.
  • Not keeping your wash mitt or sponge properly rinsed.
  • Automated car washes with brushes and other wipers.
  • Not rinsing your car completely before washing, or not washing your car thoroughly before drying.
  • Using a car cover when the car or the cover is not clean.
Cars with Buffer Marks Look Terrible
It’s not difficult to see what the problem is here!

Here’s Where You Will Find Swirl Marks

Typical areas for swirl marks are the hood and trunk.

On dark-colored cars, they may also show up on the doors and fenders. Bright colors do not show swirl marks as much (because they reflect more light).

Of course, all colors are susceptible to swirl marks; they’re just easier to see on dark colors.

Black is the worst when it comes to swirls and other imperfections.

So, what should be done?

The Best Way To Handle Swirl Marks

You simply remove swirl marks by polishing the paint.

But polishing out swirl marks without an electric car polisher is a lot of work. Your results will also be limited.

Here’s the solution: Get a good dual-action car polisher.

I highly recommend the Porter Cable 7424XP. It’s an excellent car polisher and the most reliable.

Swirl marks and hazing are no longer visible after buffing and polishing. The paint surface also has a deep, wet look. This is a great job thanks to a Porter Cable 7424 polisher.

Understand that dual-action polishers are NOT the same as high-speed buffers.

Orbital (random orbit) polishers cannot damage your car’s paint or create more swirls! There’s no need to be intimidated.

See our comprehensive Car Polisher Buyer’s Guide if you’re not familiar with dual-action car polishers.

Already have the right tools? It generally takes two passes to make your car’s paint look new again.

So easy!

On the first pass you use a fine-cut compound. Go with Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound.

On the second pass it’s a finishing polish. Use Klasse All-In-One or Meguiar’s M205 Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish.

These will restore full gloss and a wet-look shine. You will be pleased.

Get a Good Kit and Quit Worrying

My friends, there are some great car polisher kits.

Pinnacle Twins & Porter Cable 7424XP Kit or the Wolfgang Duo & Porter Cable 7424XP Kit are both excellent.

Be sure to get something that comes with all the necessary pads and polishes to get the job done right!

Up next in our Paint Repair Clinic series: How-to Remove Clearcoat Scratches!