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Paint Defects and Paint Correction – Part 3 : The Problem With A Quick Buff


Rodney Tatum of Mirror Reflections Auto Spa shares what exactly imperfections are, how to remove them and how to prevent them in this 4 part article series. Click here to read them all!

Although it would not be appropriate to relate the IMPORTANCE of polishing a car to that of the work of a surgeon, the two have a lot in common.  A quality-based paint correction service requires precise work and a variety of resources.  As a consumer, you may have noticed the price margins between two auto detailing services being hundreds of miles apart.  You may have had been told by one detailer the timescale for a level of service could start at several hours with other services going on for multiple days.  In your mind, you may have thought this person was crazy because other detailers have told you it should only take a few hours and for significantly less money.  Not all auto detailing is created equal.  This is especially the case with Paint Correction.

  • A quick polish!
  • A quick buff!
  • Wax the scratches away!
  • A good wax job!

In the world of paint correction, NONE of these statements are accurate. In fact, they are often a red flag that in the long run your car will end up in worse shape than before you left it.  You may notice these defects immediately when the sun shines on your car, or a couple of weeks later.

But why?

These are holograms.


Polishers can leave their own defects as well.  The most common and glaring are holograms. They happen mostly with the use of a rotary polisher, although (rare) possible with a forced rotation style polisher.  This is not to denigrate the use or value of a rotary polisher.  Some very masterful work can be done with a rotary polisher.  Here is the problem.  Most production based detailing shops have their employees use the rotary polisher, not because they are skilled with it, but because it provides a quicker result.  Unskilled use of a rotary combined with the many corners cut in an environment where the priority is to get as many cars in and out of a shop, dealership, or body shop lead to cars looking like a disaster.  This is not meant to bash production type services.  They exists for the same reason automatic car washes exist, a majority market exists for cheaper and faster services.  There is a demand.

Paint Correction Detailing, whether it ends with a wax or coating, is a very time-consuming service.  This is because the act of polishing is the most time consuming exterior car care activity a detailer will engage in.  Let us say for example I am working on a 2 stage correction with a Dual Action Polisher.  This is something that could be recommended to remove most automatic wash-induced swirls.  You were working on a small car and never had to change up your process.  Not including the time to apply tape, the wash, decontamination (clay, etc), wax or any other steps, I have spent a minimum of 6 hours polishing.  That is with no breaks.

It is not what everyone wants to hear, but there are fast food and slowed cooked versions of the same meal.  If you put the work of a production shop that churns out cars as fast as possible, next to a low volume detailing business that has a professional investing the proper time with high-quality resources on a vehicle, there would be no comparison.  It is not that one is wrong or right.  Much of what is done to create that mirror-like appearance on your car happens after the initial wash and before the wax, sealant, or coating is applied.  The paint protection prep process which is not only removing bonded contaminants but polishing your paint (use of micro abrasives).   Wax or sealant protection will only have light filling characteristics, giving the allusion of permanent removal.

If I was looking for a great detailer for a two-stage correction job during our conversation, I would ask myself these kinds of questions:

Does his or her processes resemble what I have discussed in Part 1?  When exploring his or her portfolio are there any close up pictures or videos, 50/50 shots?  Is there any consistent concentrated LED lighting?  Do these images and videos include black vehicles (close up) or only just light colored vehicles?  Do the images appear to be real or stock photos?  Perhaps MOST IMPORTANT, does this person give you the impression that he or she cares about how you will take car of your car after all of this work?

I would be weary of a detailer who is not transparent in their process.  I make it a point of emphasis with any potential client that they should ask questions and do research, especially with higher level services.

This is not meant to be an assault on many of the higher volume production shops or most dealership detailing teams.  They are often put on real restraints due to limited time and resources.  Smaller detailing businesses often face real or perceived stress to cater to a market who are unaware and also apathetic towards the level of resources (time, skill, expenses, physical strain) that go into a quality detailing service.  This is especially the case with Paint Correction.  A fast food restaurant and a 5-Star restaurant may have the same product on its menu but the similarities with the product usually end at the menu.  Neither is technically right or wrong.

What I will say is if you were debating between a significantly lesser service from an accomplished detailer versus someone who promised a correction service for a significantly lesser price I would choose the lesser service option.  For two reasons:  1st high-end level detailers just like reputable product manufacturers tend to have one thing in common, underselling and over-delivering.  Many of my clients tell me they are stunned with how their car looks and how much I put into my basic All In One package.  I am 100% confident my peers on the DI Ask-A-Pro blog could tell you the same thing.  The 2nd reason is that some of the worst cosmetic damage done to your paint comes from someone doing advanced work who (for a variety of reasons) has no business doing.  I communicate with many professionals who fix or try as best they can to undo the damage done from another auto detailer.  If you are observant of cars out in public you will see a lot of them with holograms.  So If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
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10 comments on Paint Defects and Paint Correction – Part 3 : The Problem With A Quick Buff

  1. Ryan L. says:

    Something I tell my potential clients……..Its always easier to find someone cheap, then to find someone good!

  2. Rick Archambault says:

    I am hesitant to power cut and polish single stage paint on my Porsche 944 S2. Is there a product that you would recommend to do it by hand?

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      I understand the concern. Dual Action polishers are a safe option for beginners. But if you are using abrasives there is a point where you will run out of paint regardless what you use.

      A few category of options we can explore here for hand application.

      In the cleaner glaze (non abrasive) categories:

      There is the Chemical Guys Blacklight, which is an All In One type product. It will provide solid instant gratification but will have a short life.

      There is also P21S Paintwork Cleanser or Poorboys White Diamond or Poorboys Blackhole (1st option cleans a little more, last fills a little). I like to pair those products with hybrid paste waxes. Dodo Juice Supernatural or Blackfire Paste Wax.
      They will play well with the fillers and be more durable than ordinary carnauba paste waxes. It may push the 3 month area of durability vs 1 month average.

      Polishing by hand keep in mind removing paint is still that. Single stage paint is soft, so yes you remove paint more rapidly, it is a little easier by hand than if you were polishing clearcoat.

      Polishing Pal Hand Buffing Kit may be perfect for what you are interested in doing. I can pair that up with the Jescar Correcting Compound and Jescar Finishing Polish.

      If you ever do consider a machine; my first polisher was the Porter Cable with 5inch and 3inch backing plate, which I still use. A very safe machine to polish on and great first polisher.

      • Rick Archambault says:

        Thanks for your quick response, I will try all those preferred options before attempting a dual action polisher. The condition of the paint is excellent but I have had cars with single stage paint handled by professional detailers which have straddled the line a little bit with paint correction to a point where some of the ridge lines needed to be re-touched. It is much to delicate for a beginner to handle correctly. I appreciate the advice. Thanks again.

  3. Ray says:

    Great series of articles Rodney. Something to add with the production/ unskilled/ or rushed category of quick buffs with the rotary is the increased chance of burn through and non-uniform removal of clear coat. Generally to fix or correct someone else’s mistake is more costly and those who do high-end quality work are limited with the amount of correction they can safely perform at times to now fix these added and sometimes dangerous issues. The high end detailer isnt just thinking about the car now we are thinking about the car 5 to 10 years from now. How is the paint going to hold up? Are we removing too much paint only to start inducing clear coat failure in the future. That’s why the other big aspect of paint correction and even more important as you mention is post-correction maintenance.

    Also something I have a conversation with my clients about when it comes to price shoppers and the usual “X detailer is saying they can do a full correction in 4 hours and only charges $200.” my response to that is is always “Ok that is great, what is the process they are going to use to achieve these results?” if they do not know how they are going to achieve them and meet your goals/ results or are not willing to answer and provide adequate detail then I urge extreme caution but in the end its our job to educate as best we can.

  4. Robert Colon says:

    Interesante Post pregunto Rodney . As escrito algun post sobre pulimentos o compound rotatorios y los dd doble acción . Si lo as echo dejame saber . Gracias desde ya .

  5. Henry Dixon says:

    I am new to trying to keep my paint looking it’s best I have purchase a porter cable polisher but have not used it yet in my house hole there are 2 new vehicle what would be a good waxing product for me to use to keep my paint looking it’s best

  6. Steve Quinn says:

    I’m looking for a little help. I have been detailing for 10 years and have a brand new 2018 chevy 1500 all black. Never had any issues like this. I’ve used all kinds of compounds and polish/pad combos and it seems this paint is very picky for the flex 3401 speed 5/6. This includes meguiars and chemical guys lines with LC and chemical guys pads. It leaves buffer trails no matter what. Should I just try a regular DA? Seems like the forced action might be to much for a soft black paint. I’ve seen this issue start to pop up with newer paints and clears.

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      I may be a little late in assisting on this problem. I really can only guess with the information provided. If you are having problems with newer blacks vehicles, a long throw DA might help some with the finishing down. Also good starting points for me is perhaps instead of the brand of pads, try to increase the quantity of pads (towels and prep spray too) to get the most out of each polishing cycle. Also the type of pads like using a pad with no cut versus a polishing pad (especially if using a forced rotation) with the speed down a notch for the last step. Also if it is a case of not effectively removing the defects using a more aggressive pad. Lastly, trying a new polish range with a long working time (Jescar for example) might help.

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