How to Remove Swirl (scratch) Marks From Car Paint?


Hate the way your brand new car looks because of some weird scratches on the surface? Want to get rid of them such that they never come back? If you answered yes, this guide is your holy grail. Read on to find all about swirl marks, how you can prevent them from damaging your new vehicle, whether or not you need a car paint protection, and how you can remove them quickly.

What Are Swirl Marks?

Swirl marks are micro-scratches on the surface of your car that pile up to form a spider-like scratch pattern when viewed under direct light. They aren’t necessarily deep scratch marks, but they appear that way because of their spider-web-like appearance. 

Swirl marks are much more apparent on darker cars as compared to lighter ones. But in either case, they prove detrimental to both your car’s appearance and life.

They are usually only around 2-4 microns deep and remain limited to only the top layer of the car paint. But this depth is enough to catch dirt and debris and make your car look shabby and old.  In cars with car exterior protection, swirl marks don’t become easily apparent.

What Causes Swirl Marks?

Swirl marks most commonly result from improper washing. Even though swirl marks become the most apparent when put under direct light, light is definitely not the reason they occur. 

Many people prefer automated car washes to get their vehicle shiny. But often, such car wash professionals use dirty, used brushes on your car. The grit and dirt from these brushes can cause friction and result in swirl marks. 

what causes swirl marks

Even if you wash your car at home, you can make it prone to swirl marks if you aren’t careful. Using a harsh brush, not washing off the suds frequently, and using a lot of force in a circular motion while wiping can all be the reasons for your car to develop swirl marks.

How to Prevent Swirl Marks?

There are a range of ways to ensure that your car does not get any swirl marks even after a long time of usage. Some of these tips include:

  • Use a good quality exterior paint protection film on your car. Car paint protection solutions from reputed brands like Permagard are excellent in keeping swirl marks at bay. 
  • Do not take your car for frequent automated washes. 

While washing your car at home, ensure that you use a soft microfiber cloth and a non-abrasive cleaning solution. Even if your car has sufficient car exterior protection applied, being gentle while washing is always a good tip.

Here is the correct way of washing your car:

1. Perform a Pre-Wash

The prewash is the procedure where your rinse off all the dirt and dust from your car. You can easily do a pre-wash by using a pressure washing machine and some gentle cleaner. 

2. Contact Wash

Contact wash is another stage of car washing wherein you have to be super careful while wiping and rinsing your vehicle. Use a product like Permagard’s car shampoo for effective cleaning and no damage to your car’s paint or paint protection film. Permagard shampoo has a high-suds formula and no harsh chemicals – meaning you can be tension-free while contact washing your vehicle. 

3. Use the Right Motion 

Try to avoid circular wiping motion while cleaning your car. Instead, go in straight lines wherever possible. Also, start with the cleanest areas of your car first, and then proceed to the dirtier ones. This will ensure minimal dirt transfer between two different parts of your car, and therefore prevent scratching. 

4. Use Two or More Buckets

Swirl marks can occur as a result of your car paint being scratched by grime and dirt as you wash it. To completely avoid such a situation, you must use two-three buckets of water while washing your car. One should strictly be for the dirty mitt, while the other two should have clean water to be used for washing off the suds. 

These tips can ensure that your car stays looking new and free of swirl marks. But what if your car already has them? Keep reading to know what to do.

Process to Remove Swirl Marks From Car Paint

Here are some steps you should follow if you want those annoying swirl marks to vanish from your car. 

  • It’s always best to get your car’s swirl marks removed by a car detailing professional. Do not attempt to do it on your own, or you might end up further damaging your car’s shine, finish, and appearance.  
  • To remove those stubborn swirl marks from your car, you’ll have to use an abrasive substance. Since swirl marks are inflicted only on the top layers of your car paint, this abrasive needs to be strong enough to remove just the top layers of your car’s paint, including any car paint protection layers. 
  • Once the abrasive removes the top layer, it simply levels the paint to the deeper layer of your car’s paint that hasn’t been inflicted with swirl marks. 
  • Since the abrasive substance removes swirl marks by removing the top layer of your car paint, it is essential to have a thick layer of paint, to begin with. Typically, single-stage paintwork is 40-50 microns thick, and with additional car paint protection, it becomes 70-80 microns.
  • Remember to not have this procedure done on your car frequently; otherwise, your car’s paint layer will become very thin and lose its shiny appearance. 


Now that you know everything about swirl marks, you can quickly take your car to the right car detailing professional to have them removed. Also, you can take the suitable precautions to prevent them from occurring in the future. Just make sure you use the proper car exterior protection and maintain your car well. You can permanently say goodbye to those swirl marks!

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