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26 comments on Analyzing Your Test Spot

  1. Benjamin Dutil says:

    Thanks Zach for the tips. This summer will be my first time correcting the paint on my wife’s 09 black Subaru Forester. Her entire car looks like the 2nd photo in the article. Being my first time with polishing I’m a bit nervous but with the tips within the article I’m confident that I can produce great results. I’ve spared no expense with the products I’ve purchased (although I did go with the affordable and user friendly Porter Cable 7424XP per reviews.) I bought Menzerna FF3000 and SF4500, Chemical Guys Hexlogic kit with pad cleaner, as well as 3M auto masking tape for protection.
    Thanks again for the article!

    • Hi Benjamin,
      The Porter Cable is a very capable machine, and one that I highly recommend. I’m glad you found this article to be helpful, please don’t hesitate to ask if you’ve got any other questions now or in the future!


  2. Tony says:

    Thanks for the info Zach. I’ve been learning a lot from this site and am new to correctly detailing although I’ve been big on washing / maintaining for a long time by hand. Ordered the porter cable 5.5 package and am going to correct the nbp paint on my 08 civic si. I’ve read the article on the TL in nbp along with many others. I’m confident I can get some excellent results. The car has been heavily neglected however, and looks worse than the last pic in this article. Can’t wait to get the blue flakes back! I’m planning on megs 105 with an orange pad followed by megs 205 on a white pad. -after a test section of course. Finishing with megs polymer liquid wax on a black pad. Any additional tips as I understand this paint is very soft? Thanks.

    • Hey Tony – thanks for reading and commenting.

      That paint is typically quite soft, as you suggested, therefore I would begin my testing with M205 on a white or orange pad to see what type of correction you can get with that. Believe it or not, M205 on an orange pad can do a lot of correction on softer paints when paired with proper technique. M205 is easier to work with (compared to M105), and you will be preserving clear coat by not jumping directly to a heavy cutting compound like M105. If that does not produce the correction you are seeking, you may need to step up to M105. Spend the appropriate time to test your process and dial it in. Hope that helps!

  3. ArthurBain says:

    Thank you Zach for such a well written and informative article. I have been detailing my cars for over 20 years by hand and have recently purchased a PC 7424 XP to make the application of polish, sealant and wax easier on myself. I have a 2008 black Ford F150 that has been washed and waxed by hand since the day I got it. The paint is in excellent condition considering it sits outside 24 seven and living in the Northeast it is exposed to some pretty harsh elements. The clearcoat does have some very fine scratches and some small water spots on the hood. When I first got the machine my temptation was to try to create a show car finish but taking advice from your article on using the least aggressive product to get desired results. I have opted instead to use products that will end enhance the appearance of my truck by hiding those minor imperfections without abrading and diminishing the clearcoat. Thanks

  4. ArthurBain says:

    By polish I actually mean a glaze which is non abrasive and can hide imperfections…just to clear that up. Thanks

    • Hey Arthur, Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! I hope I did not give them impression that polishing (with abrasives) is a ‘bad’ thing. A light polish on a yearly basis is considered routine maintenance by many people. Proper washing and drying will result in minimal marring/swirls, but a light polish can still be beneficial. A glaze, however, can also be a handy product if you’d rather cover up the defects for a more temporary fix. Glad you found the article helpful!

  5. Tony says:

    Zach – thanks for the advice. I will try the 205 with the orange pad first, especially since I have no experience using a real buffer. Last thing I want to do is overdo it. I’ve managed to somewhat clear up the fenders by hand, and the difference is huge. Can’t wait to see the results with the PC. (Not to mention the time saved and no more spaghetti arms.) Thanks again for the help, and keep up the good work! It’s nice to see a professional that can take the time to help advise us amateurs.

    • Always happy to help, Tony! Just like any new skill, polishing will take time and patience. Thankfully DA machines make it safe and easy to learn, so stick with it and you’ll have the best looking cars in your area in no time!

  6. Richard says:

    Fantastic article, to the point with superb photos. I especially appreciate the explanation of marring. I have been hand polishing my cars for 20+ years and just recently bought a DA. My recent used car purchase was heavily swirled, and hand polishing just would not cut it, pun intended.
    My question, if you don’t mind, is compound vs polish. Specifically, I have Poor Boy’s World SSR2.5 and 3M Advanced Rubbing Compound. Which one of these is the most aggressive? The Compond occasionally leaves haze, the SSR2.5 occasionally leaves tick marks. Either of these “new” defects is easily removed with Menzerna PF2500. Can you shed some light?

    • Hi Richard, Thanks for the compliments! I’m glad you enjoyed this article.

      Regarding the SSR2.5 and 3M rubbing compound – I personally do not have any experience with these products, however based on some quick research, it would appear that the 3M rubbing compound is a bit more aggressive than the poorboy’s SSR2.5. It is common for most heavy cutting products to leave some haze/micromarring behind. These products are not intended to finish down perfectly, they are meant to cut through defects quickly and you should expect to refine the surface with a medium or fine finishing polish. PF2500 is a great medium polish. I would bet that on many paint systems SF4000 would also work just fine in eliminating micromarring and leaving an incredible finish. Hope that helps!

  7. Steve says:

    Hi Zach,
    I’ll just echo what others have said. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and techniques. If I may ask, do you have a light preference to aid you in your work?

    • Hey Steve,
      Thanks for taking the time to read through the article! Regarding lighting, I find it is important to inspect my work with various different lights. I often keep my 1000W Halogen lights on as they do a fairly good job of showing swirls and RIDS when placed properly, but halogen lights do not show micromarring/haze. I find LED lights to be the most ‘unforgiving’ in that it highlights marring really well so you can be certain you are finishing down perfectly (the Brinkman xenon light is also good for this). Lastly, it is always a great idea to check your work in direct sunlight if at all possible since that is the lighting that the vehicle will be seen in for the most part. Hope that helps!


  8. Terrence says:

    Hello Zach
    I would like to know if you had any experience with the harbor freight D/A buffer. Good starter or not ?
    Trying to correct black paint on an 04 LS 430 giving me lots of problems.
    I have some M105/205 and assortment of chemical guys pads.
    Thanks for any help you can give me.

    • Hi Terrance,
      I do not have any personal experience with the HF machine. I typically recommend the Porter Cable 7424XP or Griot’s Garage machine as 2 fantastic options for starters.

      Black Lexus paint is typically quite soft and can be challenging to produce a perfect finish. What exact issues are you having?

      (feel free to contact me directly at AttentiontoDetailing.Peoria@gmail.com for further discussion of your problems with the Lexus)

  9. Terrence says:

    I got the car about a year ago and the paint is in bad shape it has a good shine in the garage but in the sun it terrible if I could get just the major defects out I would be happy. I would like perfect paint but I don’t think it would be possible with out a respray.

  10. Aravind says:

    Hi Zach,

    Thanks for the good reviews about your work using Carpro products. We are planning start good setup for Car Surface protection since we are in Pre-owned car business. We have lot of requirement who loves their cars. Can please send me the complete detailed process of using Carpro products. I am asking you this since you are the master of using these products. Your expertise will help to keep all our customers happy and also promote Carpro products….Hope to here from you soon and if you have any brochure then kindly send the same to Aravind@silverstarmotors.com.


    • Hi Aravind,

      This article did not mention CarPro products, however if you have any specific questions regarding CarPro’s excellent product line, please do not hesitate to contact me directly through my website, or reach out to Detailed Image customer service. Thanks!

  11. Frank says:

    Hey Zach I know this is an older article for me to be chiming in but you, Todd , chad (just to name a few) write absolute fantastic articles brother!!..when I first read these older articles about a month ago I literally spent 6-7 hours on my iPad soaking in all the awesome information you guys post on here!!..my detailing has gotten so much better and I thank you so much for the helpful articles man!!


    • Frank – thank you for the very kind words! I’m very glad this blog has helped you enhance your skills and knowledge of the detailing process… that’s our goal! If you’ve got any questions, or topics that you would like to see covered here in the blog, please let me know! Thanks again 🙂

    • Mike @ DI says:

      Hello Frank,

      We’re glad to hear that the AAP blog has been a helpful resource to improve your detailing! If you have any questions please feel free to email support@detailedimage.com or comment on the blog.

      Thanks for reading the blog!

  12. Don Pavlica says:

    Always enjoy reading your tips, several times. As you mention doing a test spot after film builds have been measured is paramount to having a great finish. Clear coat film builds vary from car to car even from the same plant. Harvest time is the worst. Cure time, oven time, bake temps all play a role . A great reminder Zachary . Thanks

  13. Article worth reading!

  14. murtaza says:

    Thanks Zach for your wonderful article. I am setting up my new car detailing business and in my town there are various those car centers where unprofessional paint correction is been carried out. i want to offer my customer a service with utmost care and with proper technique and technology. i was very much confused about those polishing tools and techniques, Specially between selection of microfiber pads or foam pads. and after digging up lots of blogs and google, i found your blogs very inspiring and motivational with correct knowledge and techniques. Specially this topic is ton of knowledge for me. But some pro detailers points out that paint correction without microfiber pads is nothing ! so please can you help what to choose ? shall i always use microfiberpads or just keep inventory of foam pads only ?

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