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Brand New Cars: Why do They Need Paint Correction/Polishing?


I get this question a lot, “why does a brand new vehicle need a paint correction and or polishing?”

It’s surprising to see, but most brand new cars can have numerous sanding marks, rotary trails, buffing marks, swirl marks, and paint marring. It’s important to understand for both the detailers and the customers buying new vehicles to understand how these imperfections happen, how to fix them, and how to prevent them from happening in the future. From my experience, imperfections such as sanding marks, rotary trails, and paint marring typically occur during transportation from the factory to the dealership, or directly on the production line. Swirl marks, on the other hand, typically come from improper washing techniques. For the last couple of years, I’ve worked directly with an Audi and Porsche dealership in Northern Colorado fixing these factory-installed paint imperfections. Several times I’ve unwrapped the transportation covers on these vehicles only to discover these imperfections fresh off of the truck. The examples below are imperfections I found on a 70 mile 2020 Lamborghini Huracan EVO. This vehicle was brought to us by the customer just two days after taking delivery. Even though this particular Huracan Evo is painted in the $9,000+ Verde Mantis paint option, imperfections were everywhere!

Huracan Imperfection Front

Huracan Imperfection Side

Huracan Imperfection Door Handle

How and why do these imperfections happen? 

Cars, yes even Lamborghinis, are more mass-produced than ever before. Often after being painted on the assembly line vehicles undergo a paint inspection and defect removal process. This inspection often looks for paint ripples, fisheyes, dust nibs, and excessive orange peel. These defects are often rotary polished and or sanded by hand or with a Dual Action machine. As you can see in the 2nd photo above, these sanding marks were left without fully being removed. Defects in the first photo are from a rotary polisher, which needed to be properly polished out to remove the remaining holograms. The fact is manufacturers simply do not have time in an assembly plant to perfect the paint on these cars to the level of a high-end detail shop.

During a new car prep, the vehicle goes through both a comprehensive compounding and polishing stage to remove all sanding marks, holograms, and scratches. After a thorough paint correction to remove all the defects, the paint is looking better than “new.”

Huracan Fixed Imperfection Front

Huracan Fixed Imperfection Side

Huracan Fixed Imperfection Door Handle

It’s important as a customer to understand that, yes, even $300,000 Lamborghinis have paint defects but they can be fixed by a professional detail shop. As a  customer, it is important to find a detailer who understands how to safely remove these defects and address each car with its own specific needs. From my experience, every single car that rolls off the assembly line has its own set of needs when it comes to polishing the paint from new.

As a detailer, it is important to communicate with customers to understand both their needs and their vehicle’s needs. Setting realistic expectations with your customer is essential for satisfaction. I’ve found it is best to walk around the car with the client, show them what you see, and create a detailing package specifically tailored to the client and their vehicle.

After these defects are fixed, have a plan to properly maintain the newly polished finished, and always utilize proper washing techniques.

Coleton Guerin
Clear Detailing
Greeley, CO
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3 comments on Brand New Cars: Why do They Need Paint Correction/Polishing?

  1. John Skrobola says:

    Hi Coleton…nice article, the reality of today’s auto industry. I just bought a brand new 2020 Acura RDX (15 miles on it) with a dealer “Appearance Protection” package already applied using products from “Ecoblock” . I believe this is a ceramic finish but I am not sure. There is nothing online about them or their process. Is there anything I can use to reinforce paint protection for the upcoming winter ? I am used to using traditional polishes, paint sealers, waxes, etc but am cautious about ceramics. Any advice you can give is deeply appreciated.

    • Ji John,

      I’m not framiliar with Ecoblock products. I typically only use ceramic coatings such as CarPro Cquartz UK 3.0 rather than any sealants, waxes, etc. If you are unfamiliar or hesitant with ceramic coatings I would definitely look into CarPro products. I find they are very user friendly, high quality, and even better performance. Lately I have been using a product called Bead Maker from P&S that is absolutely fantastic. Bead Maker seems to be a great stand alone product although I typically use it as a “coating topper.” My philosophy with vehicles is touching them the least amount possible is best, which is why I love ceramic coatings. Contstanly reapplying waxes and or sealants can cause swirl marks also known as love marks. Best maintenance you can do for your vehicle is to use a proper washing technique (three bucket system) and use high quality microfibers/wash mits!

      • Charles Schober says:

        Super, on point article, Coleton. I use almost the complete line of CarPro product on my daily beater, a 2016 Corolla which looks better now than than when I took possession of it, thanks to articles like yours and the rest of the crew at DI.

        One question: I’ve been asked to do paint correction and detailing on s 2016 Camaro. The hood has a sheet of anti-glare black along with spin stripe trim, all vinyl. My thought was to clay this area, them mask it off prior to polishing. How would you do it?

        Thanks for all you do, Charlie

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