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How to Get Swirl Marks Out of Car Paint

Your One-Stop Guide to Learning How to Get Swirl Marks Out of Car Paint

More often than not, the only thing that prevents your car from sporting a spotless, shiny look is the presence of swirl marks on it. These micro-scars’ sole purpose is to ruin the clear coat on your ride’s paint. And if you own a black or a very dark-colored vehicle, these marks will stand out even more.

So, if you have hopped on to this article to learn how to get swirl marks out, you have made the right decision. Because it’s very important to deal with this inconvenience in a timely manner. Else, these scratches can ruin your paintwork over time.

We should also bring it up that not all swirl marks look alike. They come in different shapes, depending on what caused them to pop up in the first place. Additionally, removing them may not be as straightforward as one may want the process to be.

That said, it’s time to find out A. How do these marks surface? And B. what is the right way of getting your car rid of them? Both of these questions will be answered here. So, let’s get started.

Swirl Marks – How to Find Them?

As stated above, the swirls in car paint are minute scratches. It’s easy to overlook them especially if you own a light-colored ride. And on a sunny day, this task becomes even more difficult. So, in order to locate these blemishes, try looking for them at night and it’d be best if you do so under parking lot lights. Even a good flashlight may come in handy.

In case your vehicle has a dark exterior, it’s easy to spot swirl marks on the flat surfaces. These surfaces include the trunk and hood. Even the paint job on the bumpers and fenders is prone to the issue in question.

What’s important is to realize that these tiny scratches are no laughing matter. If you don’t dispose of them at your earliest convenience, they could get stubborn over time, making their removal an expensive procedure.

What Causes A Car’s Paintwork to Get Corrupted with Swirl Marks?

Before we tell you how to get swirl marks out of paint, you might be interested in knowing what causes them to occur. Interestingly, the way you clean your ride has a big role to play here. Yes, you read that right, cleaning your car the wrong way could easily subject it to the risk of getting swirl marks on it.

Many people don’t realize that the way they wipe their vehicle isn’t correct. In addition to that, if you are planning on knocking off dirt and dust on the surface with a dry towel, you are in for a rude awakening.

For those of you unaware, dirt particles aren’t smooth at all. Their irregular edges are sharp enough to gash the clear coat, leading to the emergence of swirl marks. So, anything other than a wet towel is a big no-no when it comes to washing a car.

You shouldn’t even consider using dry towels for wiping clean paint either. It’s like rubbing a walnut shell on your skin, which is quite an unpleasant feeling.

It’s also worth mentioning that relying too much on technology can be a hurdle in your path to getting your ride swirl-free. That may sound confusing at first but hear us out. People these days get a bit too comfortable treating their vehicles to automated car washes. While it’s a time-saving process, the spinning brushes employed by this technology are a clear coat’s kryptonite.

Some other causes for the problem in question are:

  • Drying the car after only partially cleaning it
  • Using rigid paint cleaners
  • Placing a cover on the car when either (or both) of the items are dirty.

How to Get Cars Rid of Swirl Marks?

Now that you know how they occur, let’s move on and discuss how to remove swirls from car paint. Whether you’re dealing with deep cuts or light ones, there is only one way to get rid of them i.e. polishing the vehicle.

Yes, there are other methods as well, which many people deem effective. However, the best they can do is rely on paint fillers to cover up these annoying scratches. Furthermore, the fillers’ effect will wear off after a handful of washes. So, tell us, is that really the solution you’re looking for?

Therefore, if your main goal is to bring the clear coat back to its prime form, you need to sweep away the tiny marks present on the clear coat.

You can either flatten the surface with your hand or bring a machine into play. While the machine approach saves you time and effort, in addition to proving exemplary results, the hand-polishing method may just help you eliminate minor scars as well.

So, let’s discuss in detail the processes you need to carry out in both cases.

Removing swirl marks with a machine

Many people trust a dual-action (DA) polisher with the task at hand. The best thing about it is that even beginners can use it without any hassle.

The fact that they don’t heat up the paint coating too much is another reason why DAs are trusted. They keep the surface cool by keeping the polishing pad in motion by restricting the rotations per minute to a medium level.

That said, here’s how you can get your car swirl-free:

  • Double-check that the paint doesn’t have any rough spots in it. A clean and clayed surface is a must-have for polishing. You don’t want to rub anything over uneven textures as that could be a one-way ticket to a damaged coat.

  • Instead of soaking the pad in polish, just pour a couple of drops on it. After that, use your finger to spread the liquid all over the pad. Avoid oversaturating the pad and you’re good to move ahead.

  • Now, switch on the machine and keep it at a low speed. Kick off the process by wiping the trunk and hood before you move on to bumpy surfaces such as doors. Try focusing on a single part at a time, especially at the start.

  • When you get to polishing the finish, speed up the polisher. Dedicate around 30 seconds to polishing a single section. Of course, portions that are heavily scratched could take a bit longer to get smoothened up.

  • Get a clean microfiber towel and clean up the leftovers. Keep repeating this process until you get a glossy finish. After that, cover the paint with a wax layer.

Before you go all in with the polishing technique, you need to see how well the polish gels with car paint. You can do so by getting a worn-out car panel and applying polish to it.

If you’re still concerned about damaging the paint job with a polisher, you can always take things into your own hands, literally!

Removing swirls in car paint by hand is totally possible. Yes, it may be a time-consuming task and require extra effort from your end. However, this approach ensures that you are completely in charge. Moreover, not having to worry about a new substance spoiling your paint is quite stress-relieving.

Getting Swirl Marks Out of Paint by Hand

So, you have decided to remove the scratches from your car by hand? Cool, then let’s see how it can be done.

For starters, you have to ensure that you have thoroughly washed your ride. Only after a full-on cleaning session should you allow it to dry up.

Even after the wash, there could still be some leftover dirt, dust particles, water spots, and road grit. So, do you just fill up another bucket of water and dump it on the car? No, for this task, you’ll have to use a clay bar.

The failure to remove grit could cause it to get smashed into the paint, which would only make things worse.

After applying the clay bar, it’s better if you clean your car once again to get the body rid of the lubricant.

If you have followed the above-mentioned instructions, then you should be looking at a refined surface, which is an ideal setting for the next step.

Now, it’s time to start locating the swirl marks. If you are in a dim setting, use a flashlight to identify the scars. The brighter the flashlight, the easier will things get for you in this stage. Moreover, extra brightness will help you see even the most minute scratches.

And then comes the main part i.e. buffing the swirls. Be extra careful about the pad and polish you’re using. You don’t want to worsen the scratches by making highly-aggressive products come into contact with the clear coat. There’s no easy way to find out which cutting compounds work best with your vehicle. You’ll have to try out a number of them to find out the right pad and polish.

Start with a small area and judge the aggressiveness of the cutting compound. Once you find the right mix, start moving to other areas. At any point, if you feel like a polish is doing more harm than good, switch it out for its alternative.

Once you have polished out all the scratches and swirls, it’s time to return the polished areas back to their shiny form. For this, you need a finishing compound. The good thing about finishing polishes is that they are only concerned with restoring shine and don’t impact the paint.

And last but not least, after subjecting your car to various kinds of polishes and obtaining the desired results, give it the protection it deserves. You can do this by coating it with a sealant or a wax layer.


There are many reasons why the surface of a car’s paintwork gets ruined with micro scratches, such as carelessly wiping the ride or using a dry towel to dust off the dirt particles. The good news is that it’s possible to remove them. What’s even more relieving is the fact that there are loads of car-scratch removers in the market.

All in all, knowing how to get swirl marks out will ensure that you get to ride a nice, clean, and shiny vehicle.

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