How To Remove Swirl From Your Automotive

How To Remove Swirl From Your Automotive

Swirl removal is a very important step in proper surface preparation. A swirled surface will make even the best waxes appear unacceptable, and often leave the user wondering if he chose the wrong type of polish/wax. Swirls are countless clusters of micro scratches usually caused by improper washing and/or drying. They are much easier seen on darker color cars, and when the vehicle is in direct sunlight.

Removing Swirls

There are two types of products that will remove swirls,

  1. Abrasive Compounds: Compounds use an abrasive type swirl remover. These swirl removers are usually liquid or paste, and are designed to permanently remove paint defects such as small scratches, spider-webs, and swirls. They do this by removing a very thin layer of paint that contains the damage and exposing a new layer of defect-free paint. Once this is accomplished, the painted surface will be uniformly flat and reflect light in one direction only. Often several steps are required. It is best to use a compound type swirl remover by machine although mild abrasive swirl removers can be applied by hand. Using abrasive compounds will permanently remove the swirls from the paint.
  2. Filler/Resin Type Swirl Removers: The second way swirls are removed is by using a product with no abrasives. These swirl removers use fillers instead of abrasives. They fill in scratches with special resins. This method of swirl remover only works on slight damage and does not permanently repair the damage. It fills in and hides the imperfections. Some combination polishes (All in One Products) also do the job of a filler type swirl remover, thus reducing the steps required before your final product is applied. Filler/Resin Swirl Removals can be applied by hand or machine.


All In One Type Swirl Removers: These products have a combination of abrasives and fillers. It will do some cutting, though not as much as the pure abrasive. If there are some swirls left, they will be filled in with the resin in the polish. Not every all-in-one product includes cutting abrasives. Read the product description carefully before applying. Often this type is recommended for beginners. It will permanently remove some of the damage, and hide what is left. This method can also be used by hand or machine. For more control over the hand application.

Q: How do I know if I have an abrasive compound or filler/resin type swirl remover?

A: Determining whether or not your product is abrasive or not is easy. Most products will state right on the label or description of the product if it has abrasives or not. Whenever a product claims to remove swirls & states it is non-abrasive, you can bet it accomplishes this with fillers. Here is the twist, some products actually contain both abrasives AND fillers, these products will always state they contain abrasives but not always mention the fillers. One sure test to check whether or not your products contain fillers is using a Cero IPA Iso-Propyl Alcohol and water. After the application wipes the area with this solution, if the swirls re-appear, then the product does have fillers.

Q: Which type of swirl remover should I use?

A: Deciding whether or not to use an abrasive type or filler type should be based on several factors. Filler type swirl removers usually only work on minor swirls, these filler types are easy too use and require minimal experience; they work very well by hand and do not require a machine polisher. Abrasive type swirl removers will remove heavy and mild swirls permanently, but they require a machine polisher.


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