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What causes Swirl Marks?

This is a discussion on What causes Swirl Marks? within the Showcar and Detailing forums, part of the General Help category; This spring I'm going to put forth a great effort to get rid of my swirl marks. I'm extremely scared ...

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    Sold: LS1 '85 El Camino ls1camino's Avatar
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    What causes Swirl Marks?

    This spring I'm going to put forth a great effort to get rid of my swirl marks. I'm extremely scared that my washing/waxing is the cause of said swirl marks...SOOOOOOOOOOOOO...what causes swirl marks? I'm I causing them? What do you guys use for washing waxing? Here is my method for cleaning my car on a regular basis:

    1. Rinse with hose water.
    2. Wash with Liquid Car Wash (once in a while with Dawn if I want to strip the wax).
    3. California Jelly Blade the large puddles off.
    4. Dry with Microfiber Towels (usually takes 2-3 cloths to completely dry after Jelly Blade).
    5. Apply wax with cloth applicator pad going in circular motions.
    6. Remove excess wax with microfiber cloths (using circular motions).

    Am I doing something wrong? I am all ears for your guys' knowledge...don't hold anything back, please.

    Note: I wash everything when I'm done (including the Jelly Blade).

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    Swirl marks are usually caused by not having a rinse bucket and a soap bucket IMO..

    though in a black car if you look at it wrong they will appear LOL>

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    I don't know what causes them but every car Ive ever owned has had them. under different kinds of light it seems to change how bad they look. i don't really think its a rinse bucket issue i think its the way wax is applied and or removed. i always have used 2 diff buckets to wash 1 for the wheels and the bottom and wheel openings of the car and 1 for the rest of the paint.

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    Grand Imperial Wizard Sarge's Avatar
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    Number one cause of swirl marks is too much wax.

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    Impounded
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    Number one cause of swirl marks is too much wax.

    That explains a bunch...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    Number one cause of swirl marks is too much wax.
    What do you mean? The swirl marks show up when there is too much wax on the car or do they show up because you're applying too much wax? Because people apply two coats of wax...I only do one...so I'm obviously doing something wrong.

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    Senior Member TransAm11973's Avatar
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    bottom line the better your paint is protected the less likely you are to get swirl marks....but if you are always getting marks...look at your water when washing....maybe you need to get a filter for it, a lot of stuff can be in the pipes and lines that you cant see...two, your wash pail...never put a dirty mitt in you wash pail, always rise it out before putting it in. maybe you want to get a grate for the bottom of your pail. Never use the same mitt you use on the body to wash the wheel wells, the lip under the door, or your wheels. Always wash the car from top to bottom and rinse that wash mit constantly.
    May want to look into getting a softener with you water filter.... hard water is no good for wax. You may want to look into getting some now microfiber towels or make sure you are cleaning them better, microfiber does a great job at holding onto microscopic elements that can scratch your paint...Something else important to remember is pressure...watch how hard you are pushing down on the car when drying and waxing....when one gets into the motion of washing you kinda forget how hard you are pushing.....so just keep that in mind.

    You are going to want to look into taking care of the swirl marks once you have stripped the wax etc.. I suggest going with a two or three stage polish to get all that shit out and then protect that finish with a nice wax....my next question is what types of polish and wax are you or would you want to use..

    And again pressure when polishing and waxing is something you want to watch....are you waxing by hand or using a orbital? I suggest layering you wax as well.....Multiple coats of wax are much better than one.......yes you can use too much on application wax but thats not what is going to cause your swirl marks....its more then likely the person going crazy on the paint to get all the wax off...Currently I have multiple layers of wax on my car......I clay bar and polish once a year and then just keep it maintained with wax all year......the paint looks amazing, its black and looks like a mirror. Multiple coats of wax are not going to cause swirl marks.. its either your pressure damaging the paint, your dirty applicators or removing towels or whatever, and the fact that the wax is bring out the shine on the sharp edges of your swirl marks that are all ready there.....this is why you need to do a multi step polish to round the edges on the existing swirl marks and the wax it to give you protection from new marks.

    I would try to get away from the wiper blade type dryers, but that just my opinion. I use an absorber...you can lay its flat on the paint and it picks up the water.. no dragging across the paint. then you can lightly wipe any residual moisture off with a clean microfiber. If you are always noticing new swirls everytime you wash then it must be your water or and physical object thats touching your paint when you wash...I hope this helps let me know your thoughts....and then we can go from there

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    NY Representative basballny2's Avatar
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    wash the car.....compound the car......wash the car......glaze the car (hides some imperfections such as swirl marks)......wax the car.....as stated above....wax puts scratchs in clear coats.....i dont care how careful u are.....if the car is a garage queen and isnt guna see the elements.....just glaze it

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    Grand Imperial Wizard Sarge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ls1camino View Post
    What do you mean? The swirl marks show up when there is too much wax on the car or do they show up because you're applying too much wax? Because people apply two coats of wax...I only do one...so I'm obviously doing something wrong.
    Folks do 2 things wrong consistently.
    1. They apply gobs of wax and smear it around. Way too much wax. Just a couple of ounces of wax will do an entire car. Then while they have way too much wax they.....
    2. Do not let the wax dry before they start rubbing.
    Add the two together and you get swirl city from them trying to get all the wet wax off. Seen it a kabillion times.
    Last edited by Sarge; 01-09-2009 at 03:52 AM.

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    2-Legit-2-Quit bgable's Avatar
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    what do you use to wax the goat sarge a pc or do you do it by hand?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    Folks do 2 things wrong consistently.
    1. They apply gobs of wax and smear it around. Way too much wax. Just a couple of ounces of wax will do an entire car. Then while they have way too much wax they.....
    2. Do not let the wax dry before they start rubbing.
    Add the two together and you get swirl city from them trying to get all the wet wax off. Seen it a kabillion times.
    I concur. Also, I've found that using the Meguiars cleaner wax and polish helps just before applying the carnuba. I use it very sparingly in all cases. Even though it says its easy to remove, residue still lingers on there.

    I also use a damp shamois after the wax and then put on a thin coat of detailer just to make sure. Many waxes leave swirl marks no matter how sparingly you put them on so, I try to stay with Meguiars or even better, switch to Zaino.

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    the quality of your towels is very important. I use only 100% cotton towels on mine and none that are made in pakistan. Only USA made 100% cotton towels. The pakistan stuff will say 100% but it's actually a blend if you read the fine print.

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    War Machine BIG GUNS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0rion View Post
    the quality of your towels is very important. I use only 100% cotton towels on mine and none that are made in pakistan. Only USA made 100% cotton towels. The pakistan stuff will say 100% but it's actually a blend if you read the fine print.
    Yeah, probably blended with goat or camel hair.

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    Moving forward. Pyromaniacal's Avatar
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    Make sure your towels are 100% Cotton Made in USA. I would probably stop using micro-fiber clothes for drying or using them sparingly unless you are confident in your methods of cleaning them, they have a tendency to keep a lotta shit you don't want contacting your paint.

    Once you have that covered, if you're a bucket-washin' man I would head over and get a couple buckets. I've seen 2 bucket systems in the past with contaminant collectors at the bottom that have gotten the job done with proficiency. Hard water is something to consider as well, softening it could help. Also, make sure you're not applying too much pressure while waxing/washing or drying. Be careful about your method of waxing as previously mentioned on here, that can also screw things up.

    If you get the job done, post up some pics! Getting rid of swirlies can be a painstaking process, but if you can pull it off your perma-grin will be worth all the trouble.

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    Veteran 0rion's Avatar
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    speaking of hard water....has anyone had any luck with those filters that fit on the end of the garden hose? I have well water and although it's not bad well water it'll still leave spots if the sun hits it before I get it dried. I normally have to wash it in the drive and then pull it into the garage to dry it. Pain in the ass. I've just never heard anyone say good things about those filters.

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    Senior Member bigrondownhiller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0rion View Post
    speaking of hard water....has anyone had any luck with those filters that fit on the end of the garden hose? I have well water and although it's not bad well water it'll still leave spots if the sun hits it before I get it dried. I normally have to wash it in the drive and then pull it into the garage to dry it. Pain in the ass. I've just never heard anyone say good things about those filters.
    You could just go to home depot and get a filter.

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    Senior Member TransAm11973's Avatar
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    the threads on the home depot filters will not match up with the ones for a garden hose....maybe they carry them in your state, but not here

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    Senior Member bigrondownhiller's Avatar
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    They make a brass adaptor to fit. You could also put the filter on the copper line feeding the hose.

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    Senior Member TransAm11973's Avatar
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    i guess my home depot sux b/c i have gone in there before and asked multiple times and they always say they dont carry anything like that

  20. #20
    If you take the water from your hose and look at it under a basic microscope, you will see all kinds of foreign materials and objects that scratch your paint when you wash your car.

    You're basically washing your car with water like this:



    Only way to prevent that is to put some sort of water filter on the hose, and make sure your car is nicely waxed from time to time.

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