What Causes Swirl Marks On a Car and How to Avoid Them

October 15th, 2019 by

How to Wash Your Car Without Causing Swirl Marks

If you’re on this page, you’ve either seen a car or drive a car with swirl marks in the paint. These swirl marks contain micro-scratches that may not make a vehicle ugly but can certainly cause a flashy, shiny vehicle exterior appear dull and lackluster.

What causes these swirls marks is actually quite simple… it’s dirt. Dirt gets rubbed into the vehicle during the washing process and leaves fine scratches in the paint as it is being cleaned. The better question to ask is how you can avoid leaving swirl marks in the paint if you need to wash the dirt off to begin with in order to avoid scratching the car. It’s a bit of a conundrum, but we do have some suggestions to help you out.

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Avoiding Swirl Marks In Your Car’s Paint

The obvious solution to this problem is to rinse your car down gently with just water to start. But, we all know it often takes more than water to clean off some of the most stubborn spots of dirt and grime. So, that’s why we recommend the two-bucket washing method.

Using Two Buckets to Wash Your Car

This method is as simple as it sounds and makes obvious sense now that you know what causes those swirl marks to begin with.

Fill one bucket with your soapy cleaning solution and the other with just water. When you wash the vehicle, rinse your mitt in the bucket of clean water before going back to the shampoo bucket for another round of sudsy cleaning solution. But, don’t just rinse in the clean water bucket. Really dig into your mitt to get all the dirt out that you possibly can to make sure it doesn’t transfer over to the actual vehicle cleaning process. If you need to empty the bucket out and get some more clean water, you definitely should do so.

Only Use Microfiber for Washing Your Car

Now, about that mitt we talked about. Is it microfiber? If not, it needs to be. Only use microfiber cleaning mitts and cloths when washing your car. This can also help you prevent some of those micro-scratches. This includes the towel that you use for drying. Make sure whatever tools you are using are actually designed for washing a vehicle in order to get the best results without damaging the car.

Don’t Forget to Wax

Now, if you’ve been doing all of the above and still experience swirl marks, ask yourself when the last time was that you waxed your vehicle? This is the step many drivers skip, and unfortunately, they pay the price.

Using the two-bucket method and the right cleaning/drying cloths helps a lot, but with all the dirt that gets on your car it can be nearly impossible to avoid some amount of small scratches. Having wax applied to the exterior adds an extra layer that helps protect the paint further and can also keep the car from getting too dirty to begin with.

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In the end, taking the steps to carefully and cautiously wash your vehicle is what it’s all about when it comes to avoiding swirl marks and micro-scratches. Be sure to check back to the John Sisson Motors blog for more car tips.

Posted in FAQ, How-To