How to Get Swirl Marks Out of Car Paint

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Swirl marks in car paint can make the finish look pretty bad. These marks will usually result from contact with automated car wash brushes, bad wax jobs or buffing with a wool or terrycloth bonnet. They especially become more evident on darker colored paint and under certain lighting. Removing these marks, however, is not that difficult a job.

Things You'll Need

  • Foam hand wax applicators
  • Foam bonnet (optional)
  • Swirl remover compound or light-cutting glaze
  • Car wash formula
  • Water hose
  • Towels
  • Park your vehicle is either in a garage or in the shade, and that the surface is not too hot or cold. The ideal temperature is between 50 and 80 degrees. Avoid working in high humidity. Wash your vehicle thoroughly with car-wash solution and dry with a soft towel.

  • Apply a small amount of swirl remover or light-cutting glaze to your foam application pad and work in a circular motion. Stick to one panel at a time, or even a portion of the panel -- for instance, a 12-by-12-inch section. Rub it in firmly, but don't press so hard that you leave finger marks through the foam applicator. Be careful not to lay it on too heavy; a light covering is all you want.

  • Let the compound dry to a haze. It usually takes about 5 minutes, depending on humidity and temperature. Then, using a clean and dry foam applicator by hand, or a foam bonnet on a power buffer, gently remove the compound -- in circular motions -- until the surface is clean and shiny.

  • Step back and determine if the swirl marks have all been removed. The compound is meant to fill in and mask the swirl marks; if the marks are deeper, you may need a second or even a third treatment.

  • Use only the foam applicator to wipe clean and remove remnants that may remain on or in crevices. The compound will take a little time to fully harden, and if you wipe your finish with anything but the foam applicator, you run the risk of creating more marks in your finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always use foam applicators when working with the swirl remover. Even the softest cloth can cause more marks.
  • Don't let the compound sit too long and harden before you remove it with your applicator; otherwise, you will have to apply more compound over the old to remove it.

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