Swirl Marks on New Car!!
Is this really possible!

Yes! It is possible to have swirl marks on new car. And by new car, I mean your new car!

But how is this possible?

It's a brand new car you say. Isn't a brand new car supposed to be perfect... perfect paint... perfect everything.... no swirl marks!!

Did the dealer put swirl marks in your new car?

Did you put swirl marks in your new car?

Were there swirl marks in your new car all along but you didn't see them when you were buying your new car?

swirl marks on new car

How Can You Have Swirl Marks on a New Car

If you understand what swirl marks are (at least what most car owners would call swirl marks) you will quickly realize how it is possible for there to be swirl marks on your new car.

Before I can answer the "how" I need to first answer the 'what" -what are swirl marks?

"Swirl marks are caused by improper washing and drying techniques -regardless of whether your car is new or not."

Basically, any time your car is touched for any reason -whether this be by you or the hundred other people that may have touched your new car before you took delivery of it- has the potential to put some type of scratches into your car paint.

The more often your car has been touched between rolling off the assembly line and the time you take delivery of your brand new car, the more likely there is some "scratching" that has taken place on your car paint.

Since this "swirl mark" effect can only be seen in direct sunlight, and only at certain angles in relation to direct sunlight, allows many new car owners to drive away in their new car without realizing their new car may in fact have some imperfections in the car paint -most common being swirl marks.

The circular shape of the sun causes the reflected micro-scratches to take on a circular pattern, which in turn is where the term swirl marks originates from.

Darren's Note: There is no standardization of terms in this industry. The commercial world of auto body/collision repair uses the term "swirl marks" differently, to describe a different effect. Swirl marks in that world is a term used to describe the very distinct "swirled" patterned created by improper use of rotary polishers.

This can be seen in the following picture along with the most common terms used by the body shop/collision repair industry:

clear coat swirl marks

Just as it is possible to have swirl marks on a new car, the possibility of buffer trails/holograms as seen in this photo is also a possibility.

Regardless of what you label each of these problems matters not, as the problem is still a problem and not something any new car should have.

Both problems are a result of different type of scratches in the car paint that will create a different pattern when viewed in the direct sunlight. Officially, there is a certain "scratch pattern" that is produced onto any car -new or not- that is based on how are scratches were created.

Improper and unsafe washing and drying methods will be the number one problem you might experience on your new car, if in fact you have come to the conclusion that there are swirl marks on your new car.

The Harsh Reality of New Cars:
Why swirl marks on new car is a possibility

Most people simply do not realize just how many stages there are between a new car coming off the assembly line and when it arrives at the dealership itself.

When a new car finally makes it to the dealership to be sold to a person like yourself, many, many, hands have already come in contact with your new car. But the fun has only begun...

As a temporary "guest" on the dealer lot, your new car will have to be "maintained" until it finds its new home. New cars get dirty sitting on a dealer lot and must be maintained with washing and drying so the car's look respectable until sold.

This job of maintaining inventory is typically outsourced to an outside vendor. But regardless of who actually does the washing and drying of these cars -yes, often the cars on the dealer lot are simply hosed off with what is called DI water (di-ionized water) and allowed to drip dry in the elements which means the cars are "touched-less" frequently- but in most cases, the cars are hosed off, then wiped down to dry them off to prevent excessive water-spotting.

The longer any new car sits at the dealer lot, the more often it will be "touched". The more often it is touched, the more chances of swirl marks in your new car.

Most people simply do not understand everything that goes on with a car between the factory and the point of time when they take delivery of the car and therefore find it hard to believe that a new car -that is supposedly perfect- would ever have swirl marks, water spotting, or other types of paint imperfections.

Can Swirl Marks on New Car be Fixed


But the greater question would be not if swirl marks on new car can be fixed, but more about your commitment to fixing the swirl marks on your new car.

Regardless of whether your car is brand new, slightly used, or extremely "used" matters not, as the "fixing" process is the same.

And when it comes to most imperfections in your car paint -including swirl marks- you basically have two options:

  1. Temporary
  2. Permanent

You either use a product that "covers them up" (temporary fix) or you use a product that removes them through abrasives (permanent fix).

Temporary Fix:

A temporary fix includes products like basic car wax, but can include many types of products. The key factor in these temporary fix products is that none of them contain any abrasives: 

Car Wax: car wax is not just for protection, but also creates additional shine and depth. Car wax also has the ability to "cover-up" a small degree of paint imperfections on a temporary basis. A paste wax will perform best if you are looking for the simplest and easiest way to temporarily cover-up swirl marks on new car. Liquid waxes as a rule have less "covering-up" capabilities than paste wax products.

Paint Sealants: These products are more about protection than they are about "covering-up" capabilities when compared to a quality paste wax. Car paint sealants products can help reduce swirl marks in a new car to a small degree if you rub aggressively with them, but any results will still be temporary.

Cleaner Wax: These products usually come in liquid form and have additional chemical ingredients to help "clean" the paint (usually referred to as oxidation removal). Since people use these products under the context of knowing their paint needs "help", most people will use lots of rubbing during the application process which automatically develops additional shine. This added rubbing will also help diminish swirl marks on a new car but still remains temporary when compared to the more permanent fix I outline in the following.

Permanent Fix:

A permanent fix for swirl marks of any kind, on any car, of any age, will require the use of abrasive technology in the form of a rubbing compound or polish.

polishing swirl marks on new car

Abrasive technology is simply a glorified term for products that contain abrasives particles as part of the products' formulation. The surface is refined permanently with the abrasive particles that allow you to "scratch" your way to success.

Not al products that contain abrasives are created equal and there are literally hundreds of choices when it comes to rubbing compounds, polishing compounds, and polishes in general.

The most important factors to keep in mind are the following:

  • Only products with actual abrasives will permanently fix swirl marks on new car
  • The industry has massively over-complicated this topic
  • There is a much simpler way in the form of a single polish
  • You came here looking for swirl marks on new car, but the answer is all about what most people simply call car polishing or paint correction

Swirl Marks on New Car:
What Would Darren Do

Very often I am asked what I would do. People like yourself who have a problem, learn there is a solution to the problem, but find themselves quickly overwhelmed by all the industry hype.

And therefore want to bypass the frustration and follow my lead as an experienced detailer.

For that reason I will provide the following links that will deliver specific answers to fixing swirl marks in your new car, to taking a deeper dive into understanding for greater depth and breadth of knowledge:

Car Polishing for Beginners

Difference Between Compound and Polish

Best Car Polish

Removing Swirl Marks on New Car Summary

The bad news has been presented to you before you found this page: you have unwanted swirl marks on your new car.

The good news is that I have given you answers that not only allow you to understand what you are facing as a car owner, but specific solutions to remove those unwanted swirl marks that are likely disrupting your focus in life as you have become obsessed with finding ways to fix those darn swirl marks that diminish the overall appearance of your new car.

I hope I have truly helped!


Darren Priest

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