What causes paint swirl marks and micro scratches?

What causes paint swirl marks and micro scratches?

Shiny vs. clean black paint swirl marks

Most people use the word “shiny” when describing a clean looking vehicle. As do I. But the thing is clean does not necessarily “shiny”. Many vehicle owners find that over time the paint on their vehicle looks less shiny and duller. The fact of the matter is that this happens to almost all vehicles unless they are kept inside a show room where no one is allowed to touch them.  This is referred to as swirl marks. 


Modern paint is a 2-stage paint. It is made up of a layer base color, which is the color of the vehicle that you see. The top layer is the clear coat. This is the layer we feel when we touch the paint. This is also the layer in which most minor scratches are found. Most of these micro scratches or swirl marks can be removed through the paint correction process or buffing and polishing. 

 car paint layers swirl marks

Causes of paint swirl marks 

It is true that some micro scratches are unavoidable if you are actually using your car.  

The most common cause of swirl marks is improper care and washing of the vehicle’s painted surfaces. 

The major factors that can contribute to swirl marks while washing are: 

  • Improper Rinsing (not rinsing completely before washing) 
  • No/Not enough lubrication from soap or other cleaning chemicals 
  • Wrong washing tools (stiff brushes, hard sponges, etc.) 
  • Dirty wash mitt, chamois, sponges, etc. 
  • Misuse of polishers/buffers and/or pads 
  • Dusting/wiping with rag or duster on dry car 
  • Not washing your car thoroughly before drying 
  • Automatic car washes with outdated brushes and other wipers 
  • Automatic car washes with poorly maintained brushes 
  • Using a car cover when the car or the cover is not clean


How to remedy swirl marks? 

It’s possible to correct most swirl marks through the process of paint correction. With the proper use of paint correction tools and compounds the clear coat layer can be smoothed out to bring back a mirror like finish. It is always easier to maintain a paint surface then spend the extra time or money to repair it once its damaged.  

by Chris Blaisdell, CD, Onsite Detail

How often should you have your vehicle detailed?

How often should you have your vehicle detailed?

The average vehicle 

For the average vehicle, a detail at the very least, once a year is recommended. I would actually recommend getting a car detail 2 to 6 times a year. We have many clients who get a detail done every month to keep their vehicle(s) to where they want them to be. This would be a very in-depth interior and exterior cleaning and protection. Most of the vehicles we see have gone way too long without proper care and can no longer be detailed back to their former glory. Besides a deep cleaning and protection, a vehicle requires regular maintenance washing and cleaning with a regular protection application of wax or paint sealant to stay in “like new” conditional as much as possible. Even ceramic coated vehicles need the proper care to avoid damage and problems. 

Other things to consider 

Other things that affect how often a vehicle should be detailed are, but not limited to; 

Tundra Detailed Utah Onsite Detail

Tundra Detailed Utah Onsite Detail

  • How much the vehicle is being used. 
  • What it is being used for. (work, racing, hauling kids around, etc.) 
  • What kind of vehicle it is. (daily driver, classic, exotic, etc.). 
  • If pets are allowed in the vehicle or not. 
  • Where the vehicle is parked. 
  • Climate the vehicle sees or what weather conditions it goes through. 
  • Age of the vehicle. 
  • Personal cleanliness preferences. 
  • Other personal preferences. 

Using a vehicle as a daily driver or a work truck will mean that detailing is needed more frequently to keep it in its best condition possible. 

Weather will also play a role in how clean or dirty a vehicle gets. During winter months in Utah salt is used on the roads to melt ice and keeps roads safe. Unfortunately, this salt will also stick to vehicles and begin to eat away at the paint and other services. The vehicle that goes through this should actually be washed and protected more often in the winter than in the warmer time of the year. 

Many people just prefer driving in a clean car and not having to deal with a mess.  

Annual Detailing Packages 

Many people like to have their vehicle scheduled for regular detail services. That takes the hassle out of trying to get it done when you are busy with life or just waiting until damage has occurred. 

Check out our annual detailing packages to see what we can do for you. 


By Chris Blaisdell, CD, from Onsite Detail

Why should you get a ceramic coating on your vehicle

Why should you get a ceramic coating on your vehicle?

With so much talk going around about ceramic coatings and it being the new hot thing for many car owner’s, the question arises, why should I get a ceramic coating installed on my vehicle? There are many answers of why you and should not get a coating installed on your vehicle. Let’s go over some of these reasons. 

First of all, the benefits a ceramic coating can provide are many and vary from brand to brand. 

Most coatings, if not all offer the benefit of prolonged protection superior to traditional car waxes or paint sealants. I’ve heard of coatings for vehicles that have claims of lasting from a year to 10 years. Personally, I’m a little skeptical of the 10-year claims but maybe that’s just me. All of the coatings I’ve used do stress the importance of proper prep work before installation, proper installation of the coating and proper maintenance after the coating is installed. 

Another huge benefit of a ceramic car coating is the fact that is repels water and dirt much more than an unprotected, a waxed or a paint sealed vehicle. This means that it is also much easier to keep a vehicle clean and also much easier to wash it and maintain it. I have seen many tests done by detailers from around the world where vehicle panels are divided up and protected with different waxes, sealants and coatings. All the products that they’ve used repel water differently but coatings outlast and perform better than everything else as times goes on. 

I highly recommend getting a ceramic coating if your vehicle is newer or if you’ve recently had new paint protection film or a vinyl wrap installed. It will increase the life of the paint, PPF or vinyl wrap. 

So now you may ask, why would anyone not want a coating?  

One thing that must be understood and is often misrepresented or oversold about coatings is that a coating is “scratch proof” or “rock chip proof”. This is absolutely not true. Yes, a coating is harder/more durable than paint but it is not invincible. If a kid runs his bike handles or pedals down the side of a ceramic coated vehicle it will most likely scratch it. If improper washing if performed on the coating it will most likely leave swirl marks. If someone opens their door and slams it into a coated car it will still scuff and possibly dent it.  

If you have a vehicle that is in bad shape or some uncorrectable issues with the paint such as rock chips, deep scratches or paint cracking then a coating may not be for you. Of course, a coating can still be installed but those issues will still be there underneath.  

I hope this info has helped you decide if a coating is right for you and your vehicle. The benefits and value of what you get when a coating is professional installed is totally worth it. 

By Chris Blaisdell, CD, from Onsite Detail

First Time Experience at Mobile Tech Expo

My First Time Experience at Mobile Tech Expo 2018 

By Chris Blaisdell, CD, from Onsite Detail 

Before the Expo I really was not sure what to expect. I had only heard good things about it and was pretty excited to get there and see it for myself.  

DAY 1. Education Day. 

I arrived early and got my badge. I was really looking forward to the International Detailing Association classes and some of the other classes in the detailing category. There were also multiple classes on business in general and digital marketing. The only thing I was a little disappointed about was that I could not be in two (or 3) places at once to hear and be a part of each class in the detailing category. I was really impressed with the spread of knowledge and experiences that were shared. There were topics ranging from proper business setup (legally speaking) to being more efficient in your detailing operation(s) to ceramic coatings, etc. 

If MTE was just the education day it would be worth the trip. I do think some topics were basic but absolutely necessary for every detailer and detailing business owner to know and understand.  

DAY 2. Expo Day 1 

On Saturday morning Renny Doyle was the keynote speaking for the whole show. It was the first time a detailer had been given that honor. His speech was nothing less than motivational. People were talking about it all day. When the Expo hall opened and throughout the day it was a madhouse. Every booth was full of people anxious to see what was new and to ask questions about products and services. It was great but hard to really get the one on one time needed to ask and get information. Although throughout the day I was able to talk with many other detailers and business owners from all over the country. There were guys who were the one man show type and others with multiple shops and employees. 

In the afternoon the IDA put on an incredible webinar and to be there in person was different than just logging in online. There was a panel of experts, or guys with a lot of experience in their respective areas. It was an open forum where we and those online could ask questions and get plenty of great feedback. Afterwords I was able to chat with Renny one on one for a bit and that’s just something that I didn’t expect before going to MTE. 

In the evening the IDA hosted the Annual Business Meeting where we heard the goals for 2018 laid out by Justin LabatoKeith Duplessie gave an awesome state of the industry speech. We heard from many other of the board members (past and present) as well as what the goals are moving forward this year. The 2018 award winners were also announced. Congrats to each of them again! It was awesome to see many members of the IDA together in one room supporting each other and rejoicing in the success of others.  

DAY 3. Expo Day 2 

This was the day when things calmed down a bit and I was able to visit with many people individually and get more info on things one on one. I really enjoyed meeting up with people in the industry and discussing the different aspects of detailing, including products, equipment, business and just where everyone is coming from. Everyone has a story of how they got into detailing and how it has now become a part of their life. Being at the expo with others in the detailing world and other members of the IDA, I really understood the vision of what the IDA stands for and what it is doing for the Industry.  

highly recommend attending the Mobile Tech Expo in 2019. I know I’ll be there. Also join the IDA and see what you can do to help improve our industry and make it better for everyone involved.

What is a ceramic coating?

What is a ceramic coating? 

Advances in the auto detailing industry

The advances in the auto detailing industry in the last few years have been incredible. The science and technology behind the tools and chemicals has improved so much that detailer’s who have not kept up on their continuing education have been left behind in many regards. 

ceramic coating Ferrari

Ferrari detailed by Onsite Detail

One of the biggest innovations we’ve seen is the introduction of coatings for a vehicle‘s exterior surfaces. The creation of these ceramic coatings has changed the way people protect their vehicle’s exterior surfaces. When compared to a traditional car wax or paint sealant, a ceramic coating forms a much harder, thicker layer of protection, enabling it to last considerably longer. Ceramic coatings form a strong and durable layer of protection on many of a vehicles exterior surfaces. Some of the coatings on the market today actually cross link and bond with the vehicle’s existing clear coat to provide an even better durability. Most of the coatings can be layered for more protection. Not only does a ceramic coating provide exceptional protection but the depth and gloss that can be achieved are truly astounding when proper decontamination and paint correction is done prior to a coating installation. When kept clean and with proper maintenance the vehicle will have that “just waxed” look for years! 

What your paint needs before a coating can be applied? 

As mentioned above a ceramic coating will provide exceptional protection, but without the proper prep work the gloss and shine of the coating will be lacking. 

Paint decontamination of a car’s paint is an often overlooked detailing step, yet very necessary to achieve a flawless finish. Paint contamination consists of any airborne chemical compounds, metal/iron particles, adhesives, industrial fallout, rail dust, acid rain, bird droppings, road tar, grime, tree sap, bugs, water spots, brake dust, road salt, oil, paint over spray, etc. that is either on or embedded in the paint surface. Keep in mind that even new cars are subject to paint contamination and most, if not all will need some decontamination. 

After the paint is clean it’s going to need some additional love and care before the coating installation. It needs to be corrected. Paint correction refers to the process of removing the imperfections in your vehicle’s painted surfaces and restoring it as much as possible. Paint is corrected as needed using professional grade products and tools. These imperfections include, swirl marks, scratches, water spots, bird dropping etching, holograms, and more. The only true way to remove scratches in your vehicle’s paint is with the process of paint correction. Time and cost to correct the paint varies depending on the condition that it’s in. Many times, the correction process is the bulk of the work when providing a coating installation service. Unfortunately, paint cannot fix things such as rock chips, deep scratches that have gone through the clear coat and colored paint, cracks in the paint or bubbling from rusting underneath the paints surface. These problems need to be addressed by a body shop prior to paint correction. Once the paint is clean and corrected, its ready to receive the coating installation. 

By Chris Blaisdell, CD, from Onsite Detail