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What are paint swirls?

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by ACDriveMotor, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. ACDriveMotor

    ACDriveMotor Member

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    I've seen the term mentioned a few times but I am not familiar with it. Can someone explain what they are and how to spot them? Pictures would be helpful. Thanks!
     
  2. texex91

    texex91 Banned

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    I'll see this afternoon when sun is out if I can capture some. They are ALL over my new Tesla--they are having professional company polish and wax it next week.

    They are microfine scratches for a lack of a better term. Need to claybar and polish in order to get them out.

    Tesla admitted on delivery, "our paint is not that great, but we are working on it". It's fixable, so I'm fine with that.
     
  3. rage_777

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    Paint swirls are just circles in the clear coat of the paint. If you look at the car from an angle and in the sunlight you might see the circles. Swirls are usually caused by polishing your car by hand with a gritty polish. There are different "grits" of polish, so the rougher the polish the more you will see swirls. A wax doesn't have much "grit" in them so they don't usually cause swirls.
    Claying the car will probably not get the swirls out, it needs to be buffed out with an orbital buffer, unless it is a really light swirl. Claying only gets the stuff on top of the clearcoat off.
    When going to a professional detailer, I always ask how many coats of polish/wax they use. If they say one or two, I usually go to another place. I use to do two different polishes and one wax, but I know there are some places that do two coats of wax.
     
  4. PV4EV

    PV4EV Member

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    When my Roadster was delivered a couple of years ago, I immediately noticed swirl marks in bright sunlight, and no amount of cleaning / hand waxing got rid of it.

    I invited a local car 'detailer' round to see what he could do and he turned up in a car that had been cleaned by hand one on side, but had been clayed and detailed on the other. The effect was dramatic !

    Anyway, I went ahead and got the Roadster 'detailed' and he spent two days on it. It involved taking back the entire top surface of paint (which he said was horrendously 'soft') and then machining it with various grades of orbital buffer. The final coating was some sort of nano-tech magic stuff called g-techniq.

    The result was amazing, way better than any conventional clean n wax I'd ever done, and well worth the effort. For the next 12 months, cleaning the car was easy since road grime didn’t stick to it like normal, and all I had to do wash and rinse then finish off with a micro-fibre cloth and some finishing spray. I can now transform the whole car in under 15 minutes.


    Here's a couple of clear before/after shots from a Bentley and my Roadster :-



    Detailingbeforeandafter_zpsfcbafdd5.jpg


    Detailingimprovement2_zpse760a9a1.jpg
     
  5. medved

    medved Member

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    A brand new car that just left the factory has swirl marks? Can these out-of-factory swirl marks be fixed by applying the XPEL Protection Film - ULTIMATE? thanks.
     
  6. gnelson

    gnelson Member

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    Swirls can often result from improper washing. The Tesla paint is soft due to environmental constraints in CA requiring a more environmentally friendly formulation that is softer than other paint formulations. The factory paint should not have swirls. A new Model S may have swirls from delivery methods. My Brown Model S was delivered in Houston. There were no swirls in my paint.

    I had OptiCoat applied to my car to minimize future swirls. The OptiCoat will also minimize damage from bird dung.
     
  7. Tacket

    Tacket Member

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    Some of the service centers seem to be doing a rough detail before delivery. My black 60 also had quite a few holograms (and now has swirls from my own careless washing techniques). Planning on a full paint correction sometime in the near future.
     
  8. GasDoc

    GasDoc Member

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    I was told that one of the contributing factors to so many clear coat defects is that the paint and clear coat don't have that much time to cure given that the cars are made, and painted, to order. There isn't a lot of time for them to sit around and let the finish properly cure.

    I believe that as long as the defects causing the swirls and holograms are superficial, that any paint film will eliminate them as the film and adhesive fills up the microscopic defects in the clear coat. My car had a lot of finish defects. Applying a protective film from Premiere in Fremont eliminated these on all the covered surfaces. A good professional detailing removed the rest.
     
  9. MoeMistry

    MoeMistry Local Vendor - SoCal

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    #9 MoeMistry, Sep 25, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
    Swirls are radial scratches in the clear coat of the finish. These are most commonly caused by improper washing with too aggressive/dirty of wash mitt, dirty towels, machine polishing that hasn't been further polished down, etc. Tesla paint is pretty soft, but it has nothing to do with the curing. We have noticed many swirls, from a polisher, on a Model S that we removed paint armor to install XPEL Ultimate.

    Any clear film will mask the swirls. But to remove them, a proper polishing with different steps to refine the clear coat is required. Most often, it needs to be done with a machine and cannot be done effectively by hand.

    Here are a few examples:

    Sand marks in paint from factory

    IMG_9867-web900.jpg

    Light swirls

    IMG_9881-web900.jpg

    IMG_9887-web900.jpg

    After

    IMG_9892-web900.jpg

    IMG_9899-web900.jpg

    Here are some before/afters of the bumper once paint armor was removed.

    Notice the radial swirls and haze in the clear coat. This is done by using a moderate polish, but not finishing with a light polish to further refine the gloss.

    IMG_9958-web900.jpg

    Here's what the bumper looks like during polishing

    IMG_9960-web900.jpg

    Here's the final result before we apply XPEL Ultimate

    IMG_9964-web900.jpg
     
  10. ACDriveMotor

    ACDriveMotor Member

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    Awesome, thanks so much for the pictures. That helps a lot. I've certainly seen swirls, they make me sad.
     
  11. texex91

    texex91 Banned

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    The Austin center does a terrible job on pre-prep. I have no doubt that is where most of them came from. It's on the entire car. The make ready wash person came out and was wiping down the car with a rag and with what looked like windex!! NOOO! I told her to immediately stop. May have been done at factory as well, but I doubt it.

    DO NOT let them touch your paint job.

    Having a professional detailer fix their mess.
     
  12. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    Regrettably, the CA compliant low VOC paint TM uses (car built in CA) is quite soft. That coupled with the less that optimal prep after the paint process (polish & wax @ factory/delivery center) leaves something to be desired. Even light rubbing/drying, the wrong towel (polyester vs cotton/microfiber) can scratch the finish. I finally had my S detailed/fine tuned and then sealed with OptiCoat Pro, and am glad I did. Please search these forums and also go to volkerize.com to search the 'official' TM forums for lots of comments on this subject.
     
  13. Larry Hutchinson

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    I've posted these before in another thread but they seem appropriate here also.

    Before:
    View attachment 31402

    and after a redo:
    hoodAfter.jpg

    As you can see better but not perfect (but, for me, good enough.) This was just a polish and re-wax job.

    (Not sure why the first shot does not show in the browser. Both look the same when editing.)
     
  14. kevincwelch

    kevincwelch Active Member

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    #14 kevincwelch, Sep 25, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    I have to disagree a bit on this one.

    I think the most common cause of swirl marks on a car include improper washing and drying. You can get marring from buffing with a microfiber (on very soft paint) and even during the application of waxes and sealants if done improperly. Compounds should typically be followed by polishes to get rid of swirls left behind in the process.

    Claying can cause marring of the paint if it drags particles across the clearcoat, but it is in no way intended to get swirls out. By definition it can't since it removes only above surface contaminants.

    Not sure what inherently is wrong with more than one coat of wax; a lot of people do that. Usually it's topping a sealant with a wax, but, hey, whatever deepens the gloss.

    - - - Updated - - -


    I agree 100%.

    The last time I went down to the service center, I specifically told them not to wash my car. I think the whole Tesla paint and prep is just subpar. I have scarily thin readings on my paint after checking the thickness. There's orange peel all over the place. The clearcoat scratches way too easily.

    I regret that it took so long for me to apply Gtechniq C1 and EXOv2. I recommend everyone get their Model S professionally detailed and put on at minimum a nano coat or Xpel.
     
  15. Lex

    Lex Member

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    Reviving a dead thread here, seems I have "hologram swirls" on my Model S from the factory. There was just no way to see them in the showroom on delivery as they are not obvious scratches. Instead they reveal themselves as 3-dimensional "swirls" of multi-colour that are obviously caused by a motorized buffer, presumably in the factory. I don't envy this person's job, as they are
    invisible in almost every situation, but when they show, they look ridiculous.

    Like many members do, I didn't feel like driving my new Model S right over to an aftermarket shop for a package with paint correction, but now I'm starting to regret it. The hood has 3, passenger door has 1. Those are the obvious ones, when the light hits them just right.

    I actually have a buffer still in the box, but I am terrified at the thought of using it on my bonnet, especially since it's now cQuartz UK treated, applied in the shade on day 2 so I didn't yet see them in their full glory. The cQuartz surely helped, as the swirls seem to get scarier over time as the treatment wears off, until I hit it with the companion detailing spray, which seems to help a bit.

    But I think I'm getting annoyed with cQuartz as it's so difficult to deal with, I might just try to clay bar it off this summer and maybe get a lot of buffer practice in on an old ICE car :D or just bring it to a professional shop, hopefully after I wear off or remove the cQuartz so I don't have to pay extra for my short-sightedness o_O

    And I guess if there's another lesson here, it's to try and inspect your Model S in the sun if at all possible, from all angles, before driving away.
     
  16. CQuartz Finest

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    Hi Lex,

    Can I ask what you're referring to when you state that you're "getting annoyed with cQuartz as it's so difficult to deal with"? It certainly shouldn't be something that causes you grief, as if anything it is meant to make maintenance of your vehicle easier.

    With regard to removing CQuartz in order to correct the deeper defects, understand that with a ceramic coating it will not be a simple matter of using a clay bar to remove it since it has fully cured. It will take compounding/polishing to remove it and get down to the rotary holograms you have discovered.

    If you can provide some additional information about your specific troubles (and ideally, some pictures if you can capture them in direct sunlight) I would like to try helping you figure out what approach to take in order to deal with them.
     
  17. MoudySD

    MoudySD Member

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    Is this still an issue, or was it just the early models?
     
  18. Lex

    Lex Member

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    Hi there, always great to see a supportive vendor so I'll be happy to provide as much info as possible. I can add some pics one day soon too -- I'd like to catch the holograms too.

    As for the cQuartz, first off full disclosure, I did apply it myself, I used the stronger cQuartz UK, and to be honest it might not have cured properly as I didn't get a full 24 hours of dry weather before the car got wet.

    With that said, perhaps you have some ideas for me. I get a white haze at times, similar to a wax, after washing and drying. In fact the way I've described it is that it feels like I need to re-polish the car after every wash, I have to be very careful when drying or I get a white haze in places.

    More full disclosure, this is mostly on the hood, which I foolishly did first, and I may have over-applied the product as I learned as I went that a little goes a long way.

    And, because the stuff dries like little pebbles / glass I'm kinda terrified to re-use my microfibre towels... any of them that I use on my treated painted surfaces. I was actually planning to ask if there was a solvent for cQuartz so that I could pre-soak them before washing but I am guessing not based on your post, for which I do very much thank you :)

    And finally, it is worth re-mentioning that the cQuartz UK did indeed seem to almost completely hide the holograms, at least for the first season. And I also like that, used undiluted, it darkened my car just a bit, which was a warning, but I actually like the end result and I think I'm noticing the original colour now slowing coming back, as the product thins. End of next month will be 1 full year.

    Oh and without question it keeps the car cleaner, and makes it easier to clean (except for what I noted above).
     
    • Like x 1
  19. sorka

    sorka Active Member

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    I requested that my car not be washed as part of the prep. As a result, it was pretty dusty because it had sat around for days before I picked it up. I was fortunate to not have any swirls under the sun, under bright fluorescent light, or under the 10 watt led paint defect light that I have.

    One 14 months and 20K miles later, I'm still swirl free. I have xpel ultimate full front and OptiCoat everwhere else.
     
  20. CQuartz Finest

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    Thank you Lex! Although getting the car wet less than 24 hours after application of UK can potentially cause issues with curing, the primary concern during that time is causing water spots in the coating layer... if you don't have that issue at all, you may not have hurt it.

    What wash soap are you using? Hard or soft water? That almost sounds like you're leaving some sort of residue behind while washing...

    If you're referring to the towels you used during application, I would advise against re-using them on the paint if the coating was allowed to cure on the towel; towels you've used since the coating was fully cured should not be getting any of the coating transferring onto them -- certainly not in the form of pebbles or grit.

    For future reference, any towels you use when applying the coating (to remove residue after it has flashed) should be immediately soaked in a bucket of all-purpose cleaner and then washed; that will prevent the coating from bonding to the fibers of the towel so that they can be subsequently re-used.

    CQUK does have a modicum of filling/darkening capabilities, which explains why it hid the holograms at least temporarily.
     

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