Swirl marks. Petrolheads hate them, and they are a nightmare to car nuts who spend hours grooming their vehicles.
WHAT ARE SWIRL MARKS?
Swirl marks are essentially very fine scratches on your car’s paintwork.
Their circular pattern, as you may have guessed, is caused by the circular motion used when you wash, polish or wax your car.
So, should you stop cleaning your car? Absolutely not!
Cleaning and detailing your car doesn’t cause these marks per se.
SO, WHAT CAUSES SWIRL MARKS?
There are a few, but we’ll just cover the basics.
Firstly, if you use a dirty wash mitt or sponge to wash your car, you are asking for trouble.
The particles trapped in mitts and sponges can easily cause very fine scratches or swirl marks.
This is why fussy car owners always prefer to wash their cars themselves instead of going to a petrol kiosk car wash.
It may not be immediately obvious, but if you persist with this bad habit, you are going to damage your paintwork!
Secondly, if you use a dirty wax or polish applicator, or dirty microfibre cloth when grooming your car, you are again asking for trouble.
Remember, if you drop your applicator while waxing or polishing, get a clean one and continue with that instead.
WHY DO I HAVE SWIRL MARKS WHEN MY APPLICATORS AND CLOTHS ARE CLEAN?
The answer might lie on your vehicle’s surface itself.
If your paintwork has embedded contaminants, polishing the surface and waxing it will only drag those harmful particles round and round, thereby creating those nasty swirls.
Failure to prep your paintwork prior to waxing or polishing can cause such extensive marring that you may have to send your vehicle to a professional for paint correction.
HOW DO I PREP THE SURFACE?
To check if the surface is clean, run your fingers along your car’s body.
If you feel the paint to be as smooth as glass, you can proceed without worry (make sure those cloths and applicators are clean!)
If not, you will need to clay your paintwork.
In a nutshell, this is done using an automotive clay bar and special lubricant.
You move the bar in a back-and-forth motion (without exerting pressure) to remove embedded particles.
When the clay gets dirty, you fold it to reveal the clean surface and continue.
After your vehicle is done, the paintwork should feel as smooth as glass.
It will now be ready for polishing and waxing.