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APPEARANCE / RECONDITIONING

What is the best way to restore shine to a dulled exterior painted surface? Three factors can cause lack of gloss or shine:    

  • Oxidation
  • Scratches
  • No protection

Oxidation occurs when the sun’s ultraviolet rays deplete the paint's natural oils and resins. Scratches prevent light from reflecting uniformly from the painted surface, which limits gloss. In order to restore gloss, oxidation and scratches must be removed.

Once the surface is free of oxidation and scratches (see "Question How to safely remove oxidation and scratches from exterior painted surfaces?") and any swirl marks caused during buffing are removed (see Question "How do I remove swirl marks on painted exterior surfaces?"), a Wax and/or Surface Protector should be applied to protect the surface against further oxidation, and to improve the shine.

 

How to safely remove oxidation and scratches from exterior painted surfaces?    

To remove medium to heavy scratches and oxidation, you must correct the surface with a high speed polisher, cutting pad and buffing compound (For a complete listing of ECP Compounds and Pads, See the Compound / Pads section of the Products page of this website).

If only light scratches and oxidation are present, buffing with a mildly abrasive polish and polishing pad is recommended (See "Question How do I remove swirl marks on painted exterior surfaces?" for more information on polishing or swirl removal).

If the scratches and oxidation are sufficient, the compound used should be aggressive enough to correct the imperfections present but appropriate for the vehicle’s paint system (Single stage or basecoat/clearcoat). To identify your vehicle’s paint system, run a piece of sand paper (2000) grit in an inconspicuous spot on a door panel. If color comes off in the paper, you’re working with a single stage system. If not, you have a basecoat/clearcoat system.

The thickness of the exterior paint layer of single stage systems is 3 - 4 mils (1 mil = 1/1000 of an inch), while the thickness of the clearcoat layer is 1 - 1.5 mils. Therefore, you can use a much more aggressive product on a Single stage finish than on a basecoat/clearcoat finish.

When compounding, the buffer should be run at no higher than 1000 - 1400 rpm, and either a wool or foam cutting pad may be used. Wool cutting pads tend to be more aggressive than foam pads - increasing the amount of cut - and often leave more swirl marks.

If a paint thickness gauge is available, measure the total thickness of the surface you plan to correct. Then measure the thickness periodically as you buff, ensuring that you don’t remove more than .25 mils of paint (especially from a clearcoat layer).


Select your compound accordingly, and buff the vehicle’s painted surfaces per the following guidelines:

  • Ensure painted surface is clean and cool
  • Apply a moderate amount of product to surface, and don’t allow the product to dry on surface
  • Don’t mix buffing products
  • Moisten pad before buffing (especially foam pads)
  • Buff slowly in shoulder width area, moving buffer side-to-side, length-wise with panel
  • Spur pad regularly with pad spur (either a wool or foam pad spur)
  • Keep pad flat on surface, applying light even pressure
  • Bring buffer off painted surface before stopping
  • Wipe off residue with clean, soft cloth

 

How do I remove swirl marks on painted exterior surfaces?    

Swirl marks are light, circular scratches (micro scratches) in the painted surface often caused by buffing with a compound. As the compound cuts away the oxidized paint layer and reduces the depth of deep scratches by abrading away their "ridges", light scratches usually remain, especially on glamour colors.

Swirl marks can be safely and effectively removed with a high speed polisher, polishing pad and a polish or swirl remover.

A polish contains mild abrasives and resins (usually silicone) that can be applied with a polisher or by hand. The abrasives remove swirl marks by abrading away their "ridges" in a manner similar to compounding, but with much less paint being removed.

The polish’s resins fill any indentation in the paint too deep to be abraded out, and bond to the surface. By removing the "ridges" and filling any remaining indentations, the painted surface is leveled, which restores its gloss. The newly level surface reflects light in a uniform manner causing the eye to perceive a deep, rich shine.

In addition to providing "fill", the resins deflect the sun’s ultraviolet rays (minimizing further oxidation) and magnify the gloss created by the newly level surface.

The durability of the bond between the resin and the painted surface will vary depending on the number and type of resins used. Silicone is the most common resin, and certain chemically-bonding silicones can last up to six months. Glycerin and mineral oil are also used, but aren’t nearly as durable.

When polishing, buff at 1750 - 2400 rpm (the resins provide added lubrication which allow for higher buffer speeds), and utilize a lambswool, blended wool or foam polishing pad. Also, follow the buffing guidelines listed in Question "How to safely remove oxidation and scratches from exterior painted surfaces?".

 

How often should I wax my vehicle?    

Waxing frequency depends on the type of wax and surface protectors you use as well as personal preference. The climate which you live in and how you maintain your vehicle, will all determine how often you will need to wax.

Like polishes, waxes and surface protectors contain resins which bond to the painted surface forming a protective layer against sunlight and the elements. The strength of the bond will vary depending on the number and type of resins present and the preparation of the painted surface.

Chemically-bonding silicones can last up to six months, while physically- bonding silicones, mineral oil, glycerin and natural or synthetic waxes last one to four months. It is critical to ensure that the paint is free of dirt, tar, grease, and other surface contaminants before applying your final finish product. Neither wax nor surface protectors will adhere to a dirty surface.

Climate affects the durability of waxes and paint sealants, as well. Harsh weather conditions such as rain, wind, snow (and the accompanying road salts) will break the bond between the resin and the painted surface much more quickly than will dry, mild conditions. Constant exposure to bright sunlight will also accelerate wax and sealant deterioration.

When washing a freshly-waxed surface, be sure to use a pH neutral car soap instead of a highly alkaline dish soap or household cleaner. The alkalis will strip the resins from the painted surface, lessening gloss and exposing the surface to the elements.

 

How can I quickly remove surface contaminants without buffing?    

Paint overspray, bugs, tree sap and other light surface contaminants can be quickly and easily removed with our Correct it Clay system.

 

What is a clay bar, and how is it used?    

The is a blend of synthetic rubbers containing mild abrasives that removes light surface contaminants such as rail dust, hard water marks, paint overspray, bugs and tree sap from painted, glass and chrome surfac