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What is a “Test Spot” and why is it important?


Simply put, a “Test Spot” is a sectioned-off area on a car panel (usually about 20″ x 20″ on the hood or trunk) that is used to dial in ones polishing process. The idea being that you want to make sure you can polish one small section and achieve your desired results before going over the whole car. The risk of not utilizing a test spot is that you could end up spending the whole afternoon polishing, only to be let down later when you pull the car out in the sun! Believe it or not, this comes up fairly often on detailing forums. The owner starts a thread complaining about the results he got from product “X,” and that he spent the whole day polishing his car. Guess what, he never did a test spot! Had he used this tip, he would have noticed right away that his process was not achieving the desired results.

Here is an example of a few of my test panels. I actually like to do them on side panels as it’s easier to inspect with my lights.

Now, if you really wanted to be thorough, you can go a step further like professionals, Marc and Jacob of Auto Lavish. These crazy cats will actually do several test panels with different pads, polishes, and tools. After testing they inspect each section carefully and determine which combination yields the best results! Heck, they even label each section so that they don’t forgot what was used on each one…very creative and a great idea! 😉

So save yourself from wasting the afternoon and do your test spot! 🙂


Chad Rskovich Rasky's Auto Detailing
Chad Raskovich
Rasky's Auto Detailing
Minneapolis, MN

9 comments on What is a “Test Spot” and why is it important?

  1. Great article Rasky! It’s very important to figure out the system / technique that will work best on that particular car, on that particular day prior to doing the entire car. A little time at the beginning can potentially save you a tremendous amount of time at the end!

  2. 9S'Detailing says:

    I think is important too.

  3. Marc Harris says:

    Great article Rasky!
    Test sections are very important, and though they take up some time initially, they save time in the long run. The pictures reflect how important they can be: your 50/50 of the silver metallic paint shows the difference in clarity that can be gained through proper polishing. No doubt another satisfied client in the land of 10,000 lakes.

  4. Eric says:

    another reason for the need of a test spot – no two paints are exactly the same! a jet black BMW in the summer can correct differently than a jet black BMW in the winter because of factors like humidity, heat temp, original factory location (different factories have different paints sometimes), repaints, etc.

    Test spots are mandatory!!!

  5. Dennis B - UK says:

    Agree with most of the above post, but you also need to consider vehicles that have had a few panels re- painted, this i come across a lot.

    • Yes, thank you for pointing that out Dennis.

      Repainted panels can, and usually will respond differently then panels with OEM paint. If you know your car has been repainted, it would be wise to do test spots on both the OEM and refinished panels. I find that most owners who’ve purchase a used vehicle, usually have no knowledge of what panels have been refinished. If you dial in a process and later come to another panel that is finishing with poor results, a previous repaint could be the cause. It should also be noted that plastic panels, such as the front and rear bumper covers, are actually painted separately at the factory, and the paint also contains a flex agent. It’s very common for these panels to respond differently as well.

      Thanks again for bringing this up Dennis. 🙂


  6. Mike Phillips says:

    Another great article Chad.


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