Swirls: Extremely Dangerous


Swirls are death to your car paint.  They compromise your paint are are extremely insidious.  Just like torturers know, a thousand cuts will lead to a very painful death…swirls are sharp, light cuts into the car’s clear coat.  Over time more accumulate and they become deeper.   Eventually they reach past the clear coat and into the soft car paint.  This is when total compromise is reached and your car paint will start to bleed.


Most of the possible defects that can become serious start small.  Once a small defect start, the blemish becomes deeper and wider from contaminants and the elements.  Water goes into the grove and stays…but the water has pollutants and chemicals that continue to do damage.  Again, small cuts can hurt.

So, in the image on your left each mark whether from paint scratch or a stain is a blemish that will become worse unless corrected.

What causes swirls?  (1) The most common cause is a dirty cloth and you wipe your car with it.  Yep!  Pretty basic.  Take your car to a car wash in Malaysia and watch the boys wash it.  Do they use two buckets…one with clean, non soapy water to clean the cloth?  Do they even rinse their cloth as they attack your car.  So, a little piece, a fleck, of grit or dirt is picked up in the cloth (your car is dirty, grimey right?) and then this grit is held by the cloth and the washer continues to swirl and wash the suds into the paint.  He will leave swirls in this process.

Personally I gave up washing my car in any car wash establishment years ago.  All I ever got was a clean car with many complimentary swirls.  So, no such wash places for my car. But, if you have to use these places, expect swirls.  Although you can mitigate them…when you leave your car, speak politely to the manager.  Explain to him that you really hate swirls, and you would be very unhappy to return and see new swirls on your car.  This can help and it certainly won’t hurt.  And, when you return to pick up your shiny car…check.

  1. Another swirl creating event is “polishing.”  When buffers are used by inexperienced polishers, problem mount.  For example, if the polisher is not an orbital polisher, and operated at high speeds you car will have two effects: swirls and aurora.  If the compounds used are harsh, you will have both of these effects as well.  That is why we use 6 different polishing compounds at Sierra Glow.  Harsh compounds or gritty compounds are cheap compounds and should not EVER be used.  However, we see them everywhere at car polishing/waxing shops.  They create swirls.

What is an Aurora?  You might remember this word from your earth science classes.  Take a look.

On a car, we can have this same effect when a buffer is in inexperienced hands.  We call it aurora or hologram.  Take a look.

What a mess.  When the sun shines on this car, you don’t have a shine, you have a mess. And worse, in the process of creating the holograms, the idiot is creating swirls as well. At Sierra Glow we face taking care of the aurora cars far too often.  The owners are angry, and have no clue how this mess was created.  When we inform them that these holograms came from the polishing/waxing job, they are amazed.  And, getting rid of them is not the most difficult tasks for us, but we need to re do the buff in the proper way…gear action, orbital polishers with a non – abrasive compound will clear them up.

Holograms, aurora and swirls are not what you want on your clear coat.  They can be prevented if you have your car washed carefully and with clean cloths.  You can prevent swirls if you don’t wax/polish.  The best solution to all of this is a good car coat, as this protects your clear coat AND your car shines with just a simple wash (with clean microfibre).

The point here is to really remember that swirls are dangerous as they are the slow, but steady nicks in your clear coat that opens the path to danger, extreme danger.