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What Your Professional Detailer See’s Under Direct Sun


aowheels | What Detailers See

Ever wonder what your detailing professional is looking at? For those who stay up to date with all things detailing. You already know what this is. Although many don’t know, or don’t see until it’s brought to attention.

As professional detailers, such as the many great names here on Detailed Image, when looking at a vehicles condition whether it be a client or auto enthusiast we can base it on one natural thing, the Sun.

The sun is the truth and the tell all. It allows us to see what kind of maintenance has been taking place to the paint surface. As a professional detailer, we can determine cause and effect by the marks in the paint. Whether it be from washing, drying, automated car wash, hard water usage, previous “bad” details (the buff job), even down to what types of towels could be being used. The list could go on and on. It is the one identifiable trait that allows a detailer to determine a course of action.

Although an evaluation of the car under the sun gives a general idea of the cars condition, It doesn’t show us everything. LED and other light inspection tools will show more depth an damage than the sun could. Brinkmann LED lights, head lamps, halogens, HO florescent etc. are all great tools to get a deeper look into the paint surface. At the end of a detail when all is said and done, the car goes back out under the sun. Much is the reason to help understand the pictures we as detailers take when documenting a detail.

Darker colored vehicles like this Black Acura TL I’m using for example, tend to show blemishes and other surface defects much easier than light colored paints. Although they don’t show as easy as on a color like white or gold, it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. One of the first things a detailer will look for in any colored car, is how well the sun is reflecting. A perfect or close to perfect paint finish will be extremely reflective and have nearly or none of the blemishes we call spider webbing.

These spider webs could also be masked by waxes, oils and other types of fillers. This is also something that a professional detailer will be looking for. For terms of paint correction, masking the issue would be considered improper. Although something like a single step polish may greatly improve the blemishes, it will not make for 100% looking paint (for most used vehicles).

Things to look for under the sun:

  • swirls
  • spider webbing
  • filler (waxes, polishes, etc.)
  • Light source (sun beams stretching)
  • lack of clarity (reflection at straight on angles)
  • etching (bird droppings, water marks, etc.)

Surface defects can be reduced by having a solid form of protection on the vehicle at all times. Regular hand washes with the use of clean mitts and drying towels as well as a grit guard can prevent the leading cause of damage. Having your vehicle regularly maintained every few months by a professional detailing company is also not a bad idea. Paint correction is something that could be done annually and it will help keep a better appearance as well as maintaining the life of the paint. Keeping up with the paint on your vehicle is just as important as keeping up with the brakes, tires, oil changes, air filters etc. and it will help hold the value of the investment automobile. Keeping up with the paint will not just hold value, but will also give many more years of proud ownership.

We all love the feeling of getting a brand new car and wish to have that same feeling everyday we own them. Keep that great feeling all the way through by taking notice to some of the blemishes and defects that will take place to the paint surface. Handle them with care and drive with a smiling, confidant attitude!

aowheels | What Detailers See

aowheels | What Detailers See

The vehicle in the pictures used would have been in serious trouble if the neglect would have kept up. Another year or so and there could have been some possible areas that would need re-painting (At least under FL sun)

Thank You for Reading! If any questions about your particular paint surface you have, feel free to ask!


Brian Guy
Brian Guy

7 comments on What Your Professional Detailer See’s Under Direct Sun

  1. David says:

    Great information. I was not aware that fluorescent lights would show more detail. Luckily I have them in my garage.

  2. Chris says:

    Awesome job! Looks great!

  3. RJ says:

    So what product did you test in the side-by-side comparison. I have been keeping very good care of my car’s black paint and it still has some spiderwebbing and swirl marks. Black is nearly impossible to keep perfect looking.

    I bought the 22ple VX1 and think its the best product I have seen yet. Any other ideas? This cleaned up some of the swirl marks but under direct sun, you can still see the swirls even in treated areas.



    • Brian Guy says:


      You are correct. 22ple will not cover up the scratches and swirls. As 22ple sole purpose is to protect the paint and that is it. (it may add some gloss) But will not fix the issue.

      I recommend Meg’s 105 and some Meg’s cutting discs (used with Rupes or Porter Cable to remove the defects. Then follow up with something like Meg’s 205 and Meg’s Finishing Disc with same machines.

      After the prep process, IPA the paint surface very well with clean MF towels. At this point you will be able to apply the 22ple for the best results!

      Thanks for checking out this article!


  4. Eric says:

    Great read, and amazing results!

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