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Removing the Variables: The Paint Correction Equation



When I started getting into detailing I would read posts of detailers who were performing paint correction. They would be doing their test spots and say things like, “after testing I found the best combo to be 3 drops of this compound, 1 of this polish, and 2.456 sprays of de-ionized water.” I would think to myself, how in the world did you come to that conclusion? There are already tons of combinations of product and pad to get you desired results, it is one of the aspects of detailing that I like, no one way us 100% right, but also make sit confusion for a new detailer. So why introduce even MORE combinations with mixing products? What happens when you get 3 panels in and now that pad is loaded up with multiple products? What if they don’t break down the same way? What if…

I don’t know about you, but I took algebra and got at least a B. If I learned one thing, it’s that you want to reduce or isolate the variables in order to solve the equation. Which is easier:

A – 25=X+10

B – 25=X+Y

In equation B there are multiple “correct” answers, but equation A only has 1.

Now think about the number of variables that exist in paint correction; pad, product, arm speed, arm pressure, air temperature, air humidity, paint condition, type of paint, etc. So lets cut out any as many of those as we can.

So if I am in the compounding stage, for example, I am going to grab a Meguiars Microfiber Pad and either Mezerna SHCC 300 or Heavy Cut Compound, depending on how severe it is. I know what the air temp, humidity and paint condition are in and while testing I can see the type of paint is it two-stage or has a clear coat, is it hard or soft, etc. If it leaves the pad and product the same, I have now reduced the variables to two, arm speed and arm pressure, both of which are completely under my control. So reduce the arm speed and increase the pressure to give the product more time to work and I get the result I need.

If you don’t reduce the number of variables you could be left chasing what you are changing to get the proper result. You can then, over time, see what combos work in what situations and start there on the next car, making you test spot timing shorter and shorter. Reduce, reuse, recycle? Those ads must be getting to me.

Detailing has no one correct way, I would say 1,000 ways to skin a cat, but why would you be skinning a cat, that’s weird. If you like to run combos of products and get good results then great, but especially when starting out, isolating the number of variables will help you get better results and understand the results you are getting.

Ian Martinez
Gloss Angeles
Irvine, CA
Instagram | YouTube

16 comments on Removing the Variables: The Paint Correction Equation

  1. I agree 100% with you on the post. There are a lot of variables, there is no a straight solution for every car. During this difficult weeks, I have been working from my home on different cars. Products and pads react different on paints and the caribbean weather also doesn’t help at all. One day could be hot and the next day could be raining. Yesterday, I worked with a car that left the body shop six months ago and I had to make different test to get an optimum result.

  2. Ra says:

    Hi, what is the Best recipe for removing swirls on Teslas? I own a Model X midnight silver grey. Thanks!

    • Ian says:

      Typically Tesla Paint is very soft. So something like Menzerna 3500 and a Yellow or white Rupes pad with light pressure is a good start.

  3. Tyler Rummery says:

    I have both menzerna and sonax. I use a flex and find micro fiber pads don’t work as well with it. I’m getting ready to paint correct my
    2016 Audii sq5 sepang blue. I just ordered some LC hybrid blue wool pads. Do you have any recommendations on how to attack this
    Vehicle with what I have? I live in Florida if that helps.

    • Ian says:

      Audi’s usually have pretty hard clear. I’m not sure why microfiber pads would not work though, I only ever use microfiber or foam and just up the cut of the compound if needed. Something like Menzerna 400 or even 300 if needed should work well o your initial cut.

    • Travis says:

      I’m assuming you’re using a forced rotation flex. Generally microfiber pads aren’t recommended on forced rotation, especially a rotary. Microfiber create more heat than any other pad type. The LC wool Should perform much better with that machine

  4. Mark says:

    I have an older car, 1967 VW Beetle with virtually every exterior panel is marked with spider web lines from improper washing technique in its past life. I’m pretty sure it is single stage paint with no clear coat. What can I polish this out with, and by hand or machine?

    • Ian says:

      Hey Mark,

      You always want to start with the least aggressive method first. You can start with a fine polish like Menzerna 3500 and a yellow pad. But you likely will need a little more cut so something like a microfiber pad and Griots Garage Fast Cut, has a lot of lubrication to help with the paint residue you will have. Just be ready to go through a looooot of pads and brush/air blow them constantly to keep them clean.

  5. Kim Newling says:

    I decontaminated my paint on 17 pilot and also iron removed, and also clay bared. I applied Griots finishing sealant with a orange LC pad with moderate arm speed 4 passes. I had no swirl marks to begin with, but the gloss and shine when finished was a little disappointing. Any suggestions for next vehicle?

    • Ian says:

      Hey Kim,

      The LC orange pads they have a cutting version and a polishing version. If you are just applying a sealant you wouldn’t want to use either of those. Would be best with with something like a LC Red Waxing Pad as all you are doing is applying a sealant.

  6. Dan says:

    I have been reducing my product inventory, and am now mostly using Menzerna. And to be more specific, PF2500.

    On a Green Buff and Shine standard pad it can handle most light to medium defects, and still finish out like a mirror. Sometimes their Blue polishing pad is all I need. I’ll start at speed 4 on an old PC 7424, and bump up to 4.5, or 5 if needed. I never use speed 6 anymore. If that’s not working, I’ll use FG400 on the green.

  7. Jeff says:

    I have some moderate scratches on the back of our black Porsche Panamera from the garage door just running past. It sounds like the PF 2500 is a good start but still confused on pads and if that doesn’t work what’s the next step? I have an orbital polisher.

    • Ian says:

      Hey Jeff,

      When you say orbital you mean like a dual action right? Not one of the old school orbitals with this bonnets? Those won’t do much.

      It’s always a good idea to start with the least aggressive like with the 2500. Something like a yellow rupes pad is a good pairing. If this doesn’t work, which it likely won’t, you would step up to something like HC400 and a microfiber pad, then finish with the 2500 and yellow pad.

  8. Tony Vega says:

    Very true, use all those pad/product combos for YouTube content instead.

    I use the same pads and products because I know what those products get me as far as paint correction.

    Rupes wool and foam pads, with Rupes compounds/polishes, and Meguiars M105/205. Are they best, maybe but again why waste all that time and energy chasing a unicorn you will never find. Stick with quality products that produces consistent results

  9. Warren Horakh says:

    I find if it takes more then two passes to make a substantial difference, you probably don’t have the correct combination. Also I generally get very good results using a rotary polisher no matter whether the paint is hard or soft. So if the rotary is a constant “K” other variables like weather aren’t very significant. I generally will just change from foam pad to wool pad depending on the clear coats “solids” or hardness. Some paints are incredibly soft and a Meguiars 105 compound’s relatively “mild”cut does the trick, other clears require a bottle of rocks like 800 grit removal capability. Too many choices can be time consuming, in my opinion because in the end it really boils down to pad wool or foam, compound aggressive or mild and a rotary polisher, that’s it. I know it mind sound too binary, this or that but it’s my experience having years of marine, body shop, and detailing experience. More then two passes and negligible results? Switch from foam to wool and an 800 grit removal compound. Anything in between is unnecessary and wastes precious time. I understand that least aggressive method be used first. However, it has been my experience that it rarely matters to choose something in between. Thank you for bringing this issue up. I believe too often we are marketed with niche products that really don’t help our bottom line nor the goal we are trying to achieve. I apply Ochams Razur theory so to speak, the simplest explanation or in this case method is the best and most productive solution.

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