Swirl marks are caused by a number of factors. Improper washing techniques, waxing with a wax that contains too coarse of an abrasive, spinning brushes used when washing, wiping off dust when the paint is dry, waxing while dust is falling on the car from the surrounding air, buffing with a cloth that is not extremely clean, improper use of a buffing machine, vigorously rubbing the paint to remove dirt while washing, etc. No matter how hard you try, you will still get swirl marks over time. The more you wash the faster the swirl marks will appear. The darker the paint the more noticeable they are.
Never run your car through commercial car washes that rub the paint surface with brushes. They may cause millions of fine scratches. Their industrial strength detergents also tend to drive off the wax you’ve taken so long to put on! Automatic car washes are great for the average guy that’s lazy but poison to the perfectionist. We have found that using most types of brushes on paint for car washing can cause fine lines in the wax coating.
You must use a very fine polish to remove swirl marks. You have to do a lot of rubbing by hand or use a machine. It is worth the effort. Properly done, the gloss can actually make your car look better than when it was brand new.
Under certain lighting conditions, when viewing your car’s paint from a slight angle, you may see irregularly shaped spots. They vary from 1/4″ to about an inch in diameter. If there is no whitish color on the edges of these “craters” they are probably acid rain damage. Acid Rain can permanently etch little water spots in your paint, chrome and windshields!It’s getting worse every year and is now common in all parts of the world that has rainfall. The paint has actually been removed and there is now a slight depression. This plays havoc with total smoothness and overall shine.
Many think they could not get acid rain because they don’t live near industrial areas. Smoke and pollutants from factories all over the world go up into the atmosphere and intermingle with clouds. By the time those clouds drop their sulfuric acid laced rain droplets, they may have moved 5,000 to 10,000 miles away from the original pollution source. There is really no way to get away from acid rainfall unless you move to an area that never gets rain!
If you do have acid rain damage, there is not much you can do to remove it other than a polishing with a fine polish that will reduce the appearance by smoothing the sharper edges of the ‘craters’.
Even if you are able to remove the acid rain damage through extensive polishing, another rainstorm with acid rain will cause similar damage within a matter of a few hours.
Auto paints are not as durable as they were in the 1950’s. The EPA has forced manufacturers of paints to remove the VOCs ( volatile organic compounds) such as lead. Without many of those VOCs the paints are now more susceptible to damage from acid rain. Why do you think new car dealers show their new autos outdoors with white plastic films on the hood, roof and trunk. That film protects the paint from acid rain. Once removed that paint can be damaged with the first rainfall full of acid.
Frequent waxing, at least once a month will give protection but not total prevention. When your car gets rained on, when the rainfall stops, quickly hose off the car or dry it so the acid won’t get a chance to attack the paint. Only abrasive polish can possibly reduce the terrible appearance of acid rain damage. If the etching is deep, (most is) there is a delicate balancing act between reducing the appearance of these spots and removing too much good paint.
Most water contains some amount of dissolved minerals. When this mineral containing water dries, it can leave white spots on whatever surface it dries on. You can make a simple test of your home’s water to determine if it indeed will cause water spotting. Simply wash a clean clear drinking glass with tap water. Let it air dry on the counter. If you then see any whitish water spots or discolorations you can be certain the water supplying your home contains minerals. If you wash your car with this same water and allow any of that water to air dry on the car, you will get deposits of minerals on the paint. The deposits will reduce smoothness, clarity and overall gloss and will prevent you from getting the best shine possible
How do you avoid these deposits? Either get a water conditioning system installed in your home to remove all those minerals or allow as little water as possible to air dry on your car’s paint. After years of experimenting with cotton towels, microfiber cloths, chamois, synthetic chamois and similar drying materials, we have found that even with aggressive wringing all eventually become water saturated. At this point they cannot remove enough to prevent all water spotting. You can easily test your drying materials. Completely soak your material and then wring it out as best you can. Then wipe any mirror in your home with the now damp material. If you see any water beads on the glass you can assume you are leaving too much water on your car.
To remove the small amount of visible water that the saturated materials leave on the paint, quickly follow up with a soft dry cloth before the remaining water air dries. This should remove virtually all the water and greatly reduce the chance of leaving any mineral deposits. You may require 3 to 6 dry cloths depending on vehicle size.
Always move your vehicle into the shade after washing to prevent the sun from rapidly evaporating the water.