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7 comments on Ask-A-Pro: VW / Audi Paint Hardness

  1. Tim H. says:

    When you talked about the pad and compound leaving way too much marring, what does that mean? Do you have any pictures of this? Is it the same as when you induce swirling in the paint?

    I want to try and avoid this as much as possible. Are different colors prone to this?



    • Marc Harris says:

      Hi Tim,

      The term can be misleading! This is an issue we have to deal with in a different way than most people who are working on their own cars. SInce we work by the hour we always have a time limit and need to deliver perfection in that timeframe. Under these circumstances we are worried about imparting “too much marring”. Let me explain what this means and why it may not be very important in reality if you are working on your own car.

      Marring is, basically, defects that are (usually) lighter than swirls, caused by sliding movements that are directed in a more straight fashion and leave longer “chains” of scratches, even columns or thick markings. Compared to swirls, which can be visualized as being very short straight scratches that seem to go around and around. But the most important thing is marring is easy to remove. It really isn’t a big deal as long as you can detect them. They are typical of any compounding step and are the reason finishing polishes exist in the first place.

      We, and you, will run into marring after claying on softer paint. We will also find marring after compounding very hard. Think about this: my personal car has not seen an aggressive compound in over 4 years. I have used moderate and finishing polishes to clear up typical swirls caused by use, but once you correct the vehicle’s defects the first time you should not have to do it again in awhile. As long as you wash properly (read Todd’s 2+4 bucket method) your finish will be free of deep scratches, at least free from having them all over the vehicle. In the near future after you correct your paint you should only have to apply the lightest of polishes to get the surface you want. M205 is perfect for this since it’s breadth of performance means you will be able to correct any of the light swirling your vehicle will gain in the next few years. M105 will only be used for “spot correction” of you get a scuff or a cat climbs over the car, etc.

      So it shouldn’t be something to avoid per se, but something to gage your progress with. If you do not have a time constraint, you can just add another polishing step with an intermediate pad or polish. If we would have used a wool or a yellow pad for the Audi A8L, we would have had to come back over with one pad step-down using M105, then again with another step-down (say from wool to yellow to orange to green or white). We just kept on using the orange instead. We have enough experience to forecast how that paint will react to one polish or pad based off the results from another, so we can do modifications to methods on the fly as needed. At home, I keep to the standard and take my time, one step at a time, using the Brinkmann Flashlights (both of them!). And unless you have a car with one of the very soft paints, “too much marring” will probably not occur even with an orange pad. It should all be removable fairly easily with subsequent steps.

      Once you figure out what pad works best with your paint (no way to know for sure until you actually do it and inspect your results), you will be able to control how much marring you let happen before you change to a finishing polish. And it will happen only once or twice. And once you deal with it the first time you will be ready to tackle it on any other cars you polish.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Tim H. says:

    Thanks a lot Marc. I appreciate your reminder of the fact that once you’ve compounded to remove the heavy duty defects you shouldn’t have to do it again if you wash correctly.

    I completely understand your explanation. Time is money; but, haste can make more work if you aren’t careful. I’ve noticed that you guys test several areas with different compounds or polishes and tape each section off and label what you’ve used. That is a great method. Do you guys keep a journal or notebook with this information for use in the future?


    • Marc Harris says:

      I’m glad you found the information valuable. We don’t usually don’t track any information other than what we used on an entire vehicle for documentation/write-up use. Part of this is because we don’t need to know what DIDN’T work, and the other factor is that you should always treat each car as a unique entity; you never know what will or won’t work on a car until you try it, and you should always use the least aggressive product that will get the job done.

      I totally agree that haste can make more work down the road – just as hiring the wrong company to work on your car.
      Happy detailing!

  3. Ken S. says:


    Thanks for answering my email! I am about to get a large amount of products to tackle my silver honda element and very dark grey GTI. There are so many choices it is very dizzying and I don’t want to ruin the paint.


    • Marc Harris says:

      I totally understand your concerns, but know there are many different things that can potentially work. As long as you get the type of results you want is the only concern. Take your time and good luck!

  4. Trevor B. says:

    Great write up! A couple of months ago, I tried to correct a 2004 Jetta GL in Galactic Blue Metallic that had a ton of paint damage (swirl marks, bird dropping etchings, a stain from a coffee mug spill, etc.) and it was an incredibly hard paint. I used M105 and M205 on my PC 7427 along with a Lake Country orange, white, blue and finally a black finishing pad and the difference after all of that was minimal. The finish was in conjunction with the Blackfire wet ice over fire treatment and that ended up being the sorta redeeming step that made the car look better than when I started. The paint still had some swirl marks, but I chalked up to my inexperience but also what seemed to be a very difficult paint to correct down.

    On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, I was able to remove some light scratches on my 2009 B6 Passat Komfort (Reflex Silver) with *very* minimal effort using the M205. I was shocked at how different the paints were. Thanks for your article!

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