A Hard Question About Swirl Marks
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  1. #1
    Registered Member Chex's Avatar
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    A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Hi Everyone.

    This has been a real confusion and I don't really believe in this one. I was having some discussion with a person about swirl marks who told me that swirls have a different lighting when they are covered with a product like a polish or a wax.

    Here's a picture that clears up a little more what I try to say:



    Supposedly, when you wax or polish AND you instill new swirls, the lighting looks like when you see a rainbow, like where the yellow circled areas are, while untreated areas show light like in the black circled part.

    He also said that this is because swirl marks are supposedly instilled in the wax or sealant, and that's why the "rainbow" lighting effect is achieved (as shown in the yellow circled parts of the picture.

    As far as I know, dust particles are big enough to abrade a wax and a sealant layer, and to abrade paint even if it's protected. My questions here are:

    Do waxes and sealants really have some role in how light reflection (see colored "rainbow-like" reflection) is emitted by a swirl mark?

    Is everyday Dust capable of just scratching a wax or sealant layer without scratching the paint at all?

    Are swirl marks appreciated differently regarding light reflection in a base coat paint than in a clear coat paint?

    I know that waxes and glazes may fill swirls and thus, reduce the reflection of the defect. In this case the swirl mark, but since this thing this guy told me doesn't convince me at all, and especially when this picture I'm showing is from and untreated area (just damaged paint ) and shows the lighting this guy says it can be achieved when paint has a protective layer over it. But I'd like to hear the opinion from the pros to really know if he is correct or if he is saying false things.

    Thanks in advance for attending this post, And I Apologize if it's a little too complicated.
    " Sometimes logic is your friend (Mike-In-Orange)"

  2. #2
    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Here at Meguiar's we teach people how to remove swirls and scratches, thus if they are removed there are none to reflect differently as your friend suggests.

    Not sure what his point is unless his focus is on filling them and not removing them. Our focus is on removing defects not filling them, that's why there are so many threads on this forum on "How To Remove Swirls" and that's why that is the most popular topic at our Saturday classes and our Thursday night classes.

    Seems like he's making things more complicated than they have to be?

    Mike Phillips
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    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

  3. #3
    Registered Member Chex's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    I agree with you in the point that maybe he's making things more complicated, and I agree too that removing swirl marks is much better that hiding them, especially if you say you're a professional detailer.

    things started because some person said that when he finished waxing his car, he saw more swirls than he did before, and my first thought to this, is that something in his waxing or wax removal process was incorrect. Maybe a dirty applicator or a very worn MF towel or terry cloth towel....or even some dirt in his wax.

    But this guy (the one who told me all this lighting effect stuff), started saying that this was because the wax layer got scratched and because protective layers give a different color reflection to swirl marks. I've detailed my car lots of times and I haven't seen a difference in how defects look at sunlight regarding "special effects "

    As far as I know, dust particles are capable of scratching paint, even if it's protected, and I am pretty sure of that since I remember there was post where you challenged people to see if wax layers would really build up, and testing it with an ETG to prove results.

    On the other hand, I think it's normal that swirl marks show different lighting effects because dust particles are not completely round, so in different angles we can see light as it is, or maybe see it a little colored (like when you see a shaped white diamond or crystal in the sun and see some parts that look like colored lighting)

    By the way, do we notice swirl marks more, let's say, in a black basecoat car than in a black clearcoat car?

    Thanks for the quick response to the first post Mr Phillips.
    " Sometimes logic is your friend (Mike-In-Orange)"

  4. #4
    Registered Member Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Quote Originally Posted by Chex View Post
    I
    By the way, do we notice swirl marks more, let's say, in a black basecoat car than in a black clearcoat car?
    Generally speaking clear coat finishes will "highlight" swirls better than a single stage paint, that is a clear coat finish will reveal swirls and scratches to your eyes better than a non-clear coat finish.

    As far as the comment about there being more swirls in the paint after it was buffed, this is possible if the person doing the buffing is using a wool pad, either cutting or finishing as their last step before waxing. The detailer makes the paint shiny, for sure, but they also remove one set of defects and replace them with their consistent, uniform rotary buffer swirls throughout the entire finish or at least anywhere they run the buffer.

    Lot's of old school detailers still in business doing work like this. Here where we live in the high California desert, we see hundreds of cars each year completely swirled-out and we also see lots of mobile detailers that charge around $100.00 for a complete detail, it's pretty common for untrained, uneducated detailers to use rotary buffers with wool pads for all their correction work and even for applying wax.

    This always leads to swirls in the paint.

    Not good.. but that's kind of how the industry is. It's forums like this that slowly educate people on how to do things right the first time.

    Mike Phillips
    Office: 800-869-3011 x206
    Mike.Phillips@Autogeek.net
    "Find something you like and use it often"

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    Registered Member Chex's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Phillips View Post

    we also see lots of mobile detailers that charge around $100.00 for a complete detail, it's pretty common for untrained, uneducated detailers to use rotary buffers with wool pads for all their correction work and even for applying wax.

    This always leads to swirls in the paint.

    Not good.. but that's kind of how the industry is. It's forums like this that slowly educate people on how to do things right the first time.


    I agree with that. We experience the same problems, but we even have another problem: most car care product manufacturers offer very poor quality products so that doesn't help too

    But as you said, That's why forums like this one exist, but then it's every one's decision to start learning the correct stuff or not :P

    Thanks for the answers Mr Phillips. They were very very useful
    " Sometimes logic is your friend (Mike-In-Orange)"

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    Sr. Global Product & Training Spec Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Splitting light into the various colors of the visible spectrum, as with a prism, is most easily done with a hard, clear substance. Clear coat paint comes to mind. Wax....not so much. I'm not saying it isn't possible - in fact, it's probably quite likely. But to say a scratch in clear coat will split the light differently than a scratch in the protective layer........I ain't buying it!!!

    This is akin to saying you should only apply and remove products in a straight line because swirls are circular, so if you don't use a circular motion you won't get swirls. And how do these people determine swirls are circular? Well, they look at a picture such as the one you posted, that's how. Yet, when you move the source of light, the center point of the "circle of swirls" moves with it. Gee, maybe they aren't really in a circular pattern after all - unless that pattern is somehow movable too!!!

    Back to that prism and splitting visible light into the full spectrum of colors. Ever notice how those prisms and other similar things have sharp facets to them? Sort of like the very fine scratches put into clear coat (and, presumably, protective layers too). I'm willing to bet that in the process of polishing paint a lot of what happens is that these sharp edges get rounded over, causing a marked reduction in their ability to reflect, refract and split light - thereby making them less visible, or no longer visible at all.

    As for the guy who saw more swirls after waxing his car than before, well, he's just flat out doing it wrong. Period.
    Michael Stoops
    Senior Global Product & Training Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.

    Remember, this hobby is supposed to be your therapy, not the reason you need therapy.

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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Amen. I think the two Mike's got it right, but with added flare.

    I really like when people use common sense and science in a forum like this instead of the typical guess and speculation found most everywhere.

    I have heard people talking about applying a wax in only one direction, and I like how you talk about how amazing it is that circular pattern moves with the source of light indicating swirls are in every direction. Best case scenario is that even if you do apply a product that swirls in only one direction the paint might look good if you look at it in specifically one direction. At any other angle, it will still look bad. Hence, I just use circles as it is the easiest and the most abrasive thing that comes into contact with my paint intentionally is Meguiar's Ultra Plush Terry and ScratchX.

    With clean paint and a clean Terry and good product like ScratchX, direction does not matter. There will be a surface improvement no matter how you look at it provided the product is well worked and fully broken down (diminishing abrasive).

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    Registered Member Chex's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike-in-Orange View Post
    Splitting light into the various colors of the visible spectrum, as with a prism, is most easily done with a hard, clear substance. Clear coat paint comes to mind. Wax....not so much. I'm not saying it isn't possible - in fact, it's probably quite likely. But to say a scratch in clear coat will split the light differently than a scratch in the protective layer........I ain't buying it!!!

    This is akin to saying you should only apply and remove products in a straight line because swirls are circular, so if you don't use a circular motion you won't get swirls. And how do these people determine swirls are circular? Well, they look at a picture such as the one you posted, that's how. Yet, when you move the source of light, the center point of the "circle of swirls" moves with it. Gee, maybe they aren't really in a circular pattern after all - unless that pattern is somehow movable too!!!

    Back to that prism and splitting visible light into the full spectrum of colors. Ever notice how those prisms and other similar things have sharp facets to them? Sort of like the very fine scratches put into clear coat (and, presumably, protective layers too). I'm willing to bet that in the process of polishing paint a lot of what happens is that these sharp edges get rounded over, causing a marked reduction in their ability to reflect, refract and split light - thereby making them less visible, or no longer visible at all.

    As for the guy who saw more swirls after waxing his car than before, well, he's just flat out doing it wrong. Period.

    I agree completely with that. and That was the beginning of all these misunderstandings with the person who said the stuff I mentioned on the previous posts. And the thing about the colored light effect (as in a prism) is more probable to see in a clear coat finish than in a base coat finish: supposedly because we need something completely clear like glass, a diamond, etc with no color at all to see light with that colored effect.

    Maybe that's why a clear coat finish is harder to maintain :P. As Mike Phillips said:

    "Generally speaking clear coat finishes will "highlight" swirls better than a single stage paint, that is a clear coat finish will reveal swirls and scratches to your eyes better than a non-clear coat finish."

    And as Mike-In-Orange says, I didn't buy his first comments (and that's why I made more research and asked for expert opinions), and now it's pretty hard for him to convince me with the arguments he said at first.

    That's one of the lessons I did learn pretty good From Mike Phillips: You need to have a pretty solid background (investigate reliable sources and get reliable opinions) to back up what you'll say. If your investigation is not that thorough, then what you say or claim will no be pretty true or valid.
    " Sometimes logic is your friend (Mike-In-Orange)"

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    Registered Member Cat's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Since I purchased my Honda Fit I would only hand wash it myself. Then the weather got really bad, plus I got sick with a gallstone that I may have to have removed and I have taken it to the local hand wash place. Today after going through the hand wash place, it was so sunny decided to use my microfibers and dry it off. OMG! I have a hundred more swirl marks than when I was washing myself. Mad me sick to my stomach I have waxed it twice since I got it in May 2007 but I can't believe a new car could look so swirled out. I guess the paint used in Japan is a water based paint and clear coated. I am worndering if it would not be better just to have the car repainted. In the shade it looks great but close up and in direct sun it's a swirling mess! Will need to wait until spring to address the problem but will research this forum for some much needed assistance.

    Cat :x

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    Sr. Global Product & Training Spec Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    Re: A Hard Question About Swirl Marks

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat View Post
    I am worndering if it would not be better just to have the car repainted.
    Oh, I sincerely doubt it's anywhere near that bad. Swirls happen when a car is taken through a commercial wash like you were forced to with yours. But those swirls can be removed pretty easily with the right products and proper technique. You can learn a lot about those techniques on this forum and Meguiar's certainly has the products to get the job done. Your car is a 2007 - polish it, don't repaint it!

    Spend some time reading through this forum and you'll see cars that I'm sure look far, far worse than yours does now - and they've all been "fixed" by everyday folks just like you and I using techniques learned here, and products from Meguiar's line up.
    Michael Stoops
    Senior Global Product & Training Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.

    Remember, this hobby is supposed to be your therapy, not the reason you need therapy.

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