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Paint Correction

Paint correction is a term that is commonly used by professional car detailers and car cleaning enthusiasts to describe the process of restoring and rejuvenating the paintwork of a vehicle, through the elimination of surface imperfections that dull, oxidize or haze the surface by reflecting light in various directions and detracting from a clean, sharp reflection. These imperfections include things like swirl marks & fine scratches, bird dropping etching, acid rain etching, hologramming, buffer trails and random isolated deep scratches (or RIDS).


The term paint correction should only really be used if these imperfections are properly removed and are not just merely covered up or hidden with filler based products. The actual corrective process itself comprises of a small amount of clear coat of paint being removed from the surface with the use of abrasive polishes, which are applied with appropriate polishing machines in order to level out the surface.

Before any paint correction is undertaken, a thorough wash and decontamination of the vehicle is performed. Paintwork is properly washed to remove any loose dirt, debris and clayed, which safely removes any bonded surface contaminants such as tar spots and industrial fallout.

It is important these contaminants are removed before the paint correction process because if they were to become dislodged and caught up in the pad of a polishing machine, they could easily inflict damage onto the surface. Claying also leaves the surface very smooth, which allows the polishing machine to move freely over the surface, reducing the possibility of hopping or sticking. Claying the paintwork helps you to observe the progress of the correction process as you can see the true condition of the surface as you are working to correct.

bufferhandheld.pngThe polishing is usually a multistage process as a range of different grades of polish are used. Heavier cutting compounds remove the surface material, whereas finer products refine the finish and remove any marks the heavier products may have left behind. During the paint correction process it is common for a paint depth gauge to be used.

This measures the thickness of the paint on the metal panel and is used before, during and after the process to monitor how much material is being removed and ensure an excess is not removed which could leave the paint too thin or even cause irreversible damage such as a strike through the paint. Specialist halogen or LED lamps which replicate the effect of direct sunlight on the surface are also used during the process to check the condition of the paintwork and see how successfully the surface scratches and imperfections are being removed.

Some scratches or imperfections may actually be too deep and/or severe to safely remove without risk of removing too much surface paint and/or clear coat. In scenarios like this, the imperfections are minimized and reduced using polishing products and techniques that round off the edges of the scratches, making them far less apparent in direct light.

After correction, the panels are wiped down with an isopropyl alcohol which removes any oils that may have been left over from the polish and reveals the true finish, including any areas that may have been missed or require a little more work. Once complete, fully corrected paintwork will shine brilliantly and produce stunning reflections because there are now no longer any scratches and imperfections to scatter and reflect the light rays off in different directions.

In conclusion, paint correction is the process of removing surface scratches and imperfections from a vehicle's paintwork and involves the use of machine polishers and a range of different polish products. A fully corrected vehicle when viewed in direct sunlight will show only true reflections and no swirl marks, scratches or blemishes will be visible to the naked eye.

Lastly, it is important to distinguish between paintwork that has been truly corrected and paintwork that has been treated with products that are designed to mask and fill surface imperfections such as an all-in-one polish for example. This should not be referred to as paint correction even if no scratches or blemishes are apparent, because they have not been genuinely removed and are still present under the products fillers, which in time, will wash away and reveal them once more.