What causes swirl marks on my car’s paint?

Swirl marks are actually fine scratches on the surface of your car’s paint. They are commonly caused by improper washing and drying techniques using inferior or incorrect products.

 

How do I prevent putting swirl marks on to my car?

Adopting a safe washing and drying regime is your best chance against inflicting dreaded swirl marks on to your pride and joy. Washing using the two-bucket method, with either a lamb’s wool or microfibre mitt, and a gentle pH neutral car wash shampoo is recommended. Sponges and coin operated car wash brooms are extremely coarse and will scratch your paint.

The most common drying method is by using a leather or synthetic chamois. We highly recommend against this, as chamois are very low to no pile, meaning it will scrape any remaining dirt particles across your paintwork. Instead, it is best to use a microfibre drying towel such as a waffle weave design or fluffy long weave to capture dirt within the towel and preventing it from scratching your car.

 

What is the two-bucket wash method?

Essentially as the name suggests, using two buckets to wash instead of one. The first bucket contains your pH neutral wash shampoo of choice, and the second filled with clean water.

Soak your wash mitt in the shampoo bucket and start at the top of the car and work yourself down panel by panel – roof, front and back windows, side windows, front hood, trunk, the sides, finishing with the front and rear.

After every panel, rinse your mitt in the clean water bucket to remove dirt collected whilst washing. Dunk again into the shampoo bucket, and repeat.

Note that it is best to start by washing your wheels. That way, water won’t dry out before you finish washing the car, and prevents water spots from building up.

 

Can I use dishwashing detergent and a sponge to wash my car?

Dishwashing detergent is designed to remove grease from cooking oils and food. The chemicals found in detergents contain a lot of degreasers and is too harsh for paint, stripping away waxes and sealants. Also, if it’s not properly washed off, it will dry out plastics and rubbers, causing them to fade and crack.

Sponges, whether natural or synthetic, are coarse and contrary to common practice shouldn’t be used to wash your car. They poorly trap dirt during a wash, pressing sand and grit against the surface and dragging across your car which will cause swirl marks or deeper scratches.

 

What’s the difference between a sealant and a wax?

To start off with what they have in common, both sealants and waxes are paint protectants. They are applied as the last step following a polish, and are often referred to as LSP’s (last step protection).

Where they differ are the ingredients used to produce the product. Waxes contain natural ingredients such as carnauba or bees wax. They offer a deeper and wetter looking shine compared to sealants, and lasts between six to ten weeks.

Paint sealants are created using synthetic ingredients in a laboratory and therefore can be engineered to be more resistant to harsh temperatures and environmental pollutants, and in effect are very durable. Most quality paint sealants on the market would last between four to six months if maintained properly. It’s commonly said that sealants have a superficial and glassy looking shine.

The choice comes down to your preference of durability versus looks. You can easily have the best of both worlds by laying a wax over a paint sealant for a glossier shine on a durable layer of protection, topping up the wax every few weeks.

 

Do I only need to wax my car once?

No, it is good practice to maintain your car frequently to prevent against rust and elements such as bird droppings and tree sap from eating through your paintwork. Both waxes and sealants have a life span on any vehicle, no matter how or where it is kept.

 

Do you recommend using my local coin operated wash to maintain my car?

The wash brooms found at coin-operated washes are very coarse, with bristles typically made from plastic or boar’s hair. To make it even worse, more likely than not the person before you has used the broom to wash their wheels, trailers, under-carriage and who knows where else, not rinsing it out for the next user.

Not being careful, too many times have we seen people accidently smacking the hose on their car, causing scratches and marring on the paint. At times, even denting the car with the broom handles.

To top it all off, these washes use low quality and cheap industrial soaps and chemicals. Either too acidic or caustic, they are unsafe to touch and not good for your vehicle.

 

What is paint oxidisation?

UV radiation is known to contribute to the chemical modification of exposed paint surfaces resulting in loss of gloss, color change, chalking, flaking and eventually destruction of the paint film. When UV light is absorbed it starts a chemical reaction that begins to break the chemical bonds, causing them to overheat and dry out.

A chalk like appearance on the paint surface or small triangular marks (crow’s feet) or other similar marks on the paint surface, requiring abrasions such as compounds or polish to remove.

The best way to prevent your paintwork by oxidising is by keeping it clean and protected. Regular washing between two to four times a month is recommended, but you’ll find some enthusiasts wash their rides more frequent than this, is fine.

 

What is paint protection?

Waxes, sealants and coatings are all forms of paint protection as we looked into them earlier as LSP’s. When ‘paint protection’ is talked about in the general sense it is the latter, paint coatings, is what people are referring to.

Coatings are neither waxes or sealants as their chemical make up is completely different. Common classifications such as Quartz, Glass or Ceramic coatings is indicative of their chemical make-up containing either silica or other raw materials to give their characteristics of being hard wearing, hydrophobic or hydrophilic water behaviour, chemical resistance, and so on.

We don’t believe there is a “The Best” product on the market, but find that there are different benefits and differing requirements, and that’s why we are Authorised Applicators for world renowned brands such as Opti-Coat, Gtechniq and PolishAngel.

Depending on whether a customer needs a product based on looks, durability or price, we could recommend a few options to meet those requirements.

What they all have in common is that they are much more durable than waxes and sealants being more chemical resistant against bird lime etchings, tree sap, acid rain and other natural elements. Once cured, these coatings can become multiple times harder than a factory clear coat offering scratch resistance against wash marring and preventing those dreadful swirls from re-appearing. Typically, coatings are between 10 to 100 times thicker than waxes. Measured in microns, they can add between 2-10 microns opposed to waxes being 0.1-0.2 microns thick.

Coatings eliminate the need to wax or seal a car every few weeks to months, typically lasting between 6 months to 5 years depending on the product selected.

To maintain, a simple and safe washing and drying regime is all that’s needed so they’re the perfect choice for time poor individuals needing low maintenance to keep their car looking newer for longer.

 

How do I look after my paint protection?

Once your paint protection coating is installed, it is best to wait at least one week before washing to allow the chemical bonding process to fully take place and not be disrupted by surfactants and emulsifiers found in soap.

It is a common misconception that paint protection coatings are a set and forget type of product. That is not true, and you should wash and dry your car regularly to prevent the build up of grime and contamination that will prevent your coating from performing and constantly working overtime to protect your paint from these environmental fallout.

 

How do I clean my tinted windows?

After having your windows tinted, it is recommended that you don’t wind them up and down for at least 48 hours after installation. A longer period during colder weather is advised as the slip solution and adhesives will take longer to dry.

When it comes to cleaning your windows, it is very important that your chosen glass cleaner does not contain any ammonia as it can damage and fade the tint over time with regular use. Always use two clean short knap microfibre cloths. Spray liberally onto the first cloth and clean thoroughly, followed up by the second cloth to clear of any residue left behind. You want to work quickly as glass cleaner tends to dry up fast. If the windows are excessively dirty then repeat the process.

If you’ve any sticky residue from adhesives do not pick at it as this may pierce the tint. Clean the windows first with a light dilution of warm soapy water to slowly break down the adhesive. Do not use a razor blade to scrape off the residue or white spirits as this may be too harsh for the tint to withstand.

 

Do you offer mobile detailing services?

We’re renowned for being one of Melbourne’s leading vehicle presentation and protection workshops. Our purpose fit out ensures that we deliver quality results each and every time for our clients and we’re conveniently situated only 15 minutes from Melbourne CBD. At this point we do not offer mobile detailing services, but we do offer valet pick up and drop off and freighting for your convenience.