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5 Best Car Polishes to Remove Swirl Marks 2019

Swirl marks or spider webbing are the two most common defects found on cars and especially black paintwork. During the summer months, these defects become more visible and require a high quality car polish to remove them.

The best car polish is Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound that cuts fast into the paintwork to make it look like new without causing any damage.

Many people confuse polish with wax and then complain that the swirl marks are not going away. In short, car wax protects the paintwork whereas car polish clean and removes defects from the paintwork.

Best Swirl Removers

Car PolishApplicationAbrasive Level
Meguiar's G17216Hand & MachineMedium
3M 36058 Perfect-It EXMachineHigh
Meguiar's ScratchXHandMedium
Chemical Guys VSSMachineLow
Menzerna Heavy CutMachineHigh

The application of polish is more effective whilst using a top rated car polisher machine to work it into the paintwork. However, sometime it is not possible to use one and there are many other alternatives for hand application.

Swirl marks cannot be beaten by using “All in One” products because they simply hide the defect for a number of days and they will reappear. A strong car polish is what is required with correct application to reduce any further harm.

Perfect paintwork is not an easy job and requires regular polishing and waxing to maintain. Below is a list of the best car polishes that will remove swirl marks from your paintwork.

Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound

The Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound Car Polish is one of the best available that provides excellent results. For tackling anything from swirl marks, oxidation and water spots, the G17216 cuts through the clear coat to provide results immediately.

When using a machine polisher, the ultimate compound car polish with the micro-abrasive technology can easily reveal a showroom finish. Abused paintwork can be brought back to life with this fast cutting formula and it is one that is used by many professionals worldwide.

Meguiar’s have developed the G17216 to easily remove swirl marks, holograms and other defects effectively as well as being safe to use. Many cheap alternatives that are highly abrasive can leave holograms on the clear coat from being too strong.

Overall, it is the best car polish to use with a machine polisher in order to remove swirl marks. It is a well tested and effective formula with a reasonable price tag, which make it a very popular detailing product.

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3M 36058 Perfect-It EX Rubbing Compound

The 3M 36058 Perfect-It EX Rubbing Compound Car Polish is known for being a stronger product than the others. This product is so good at cutting that it can be used on a boat fiberglass shell to bring that back to life.

The 3M formula is able to perform in both high heat and direct sun light without leaving hard to remove residue. A word of warning before purchasing this product is that it is extremely powerful cutting compound that is used as a pre-polisher.

For heavily oxidized and damage paintwork, the 3M 36058 Perfect-It EX Rubbing Compound is the strongest car polish to use to remove swirl marks.

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Meguiar’s G10307 ScratchX Review

Meguiar’s Scratch X Car Polish is one of the best methods to remove swirl marks by hand. Using this product by hand you are able to apply multiple thin layer coats to the paintwork and achieve results similar to using a machine.

You can use a machine with this product but not everyone will own one and people may be worried about causing damage using one. Many car owners think that you will only be able to temporarily hide defects applying car polish by hand, but Scratch X really does remove the defects.

Using a correct technique is key for this product being a success at removing swirl marks. You may need to apply the product several times to get the results you wish for but the product is the Meguiar’s Scratch X is the best car polish for use by hand.

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Chemical Guys Swirl Remover Polish

Chemical Guys have produced their VSS car polish to focus specifically at swirl marks and scratches. The formula is a non-aggressive cutting compound to deal with moderate scratches and defects.

You can use the chemical guys car polish confidently knowing that it is body shop safe and that it can solve various paintwork issues. It is recommend to use this product via rotary or dual action polishing machine than application by hand.

Overall, the Chemical Guys VSS is the best safe car polish for those worried about damaging their paintwork. Using this formula for light swirl marks is perfectly safe and if it is not strong enough, a second cutting polish application should remove the defect.

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Menzerna Fast Gloss 400 Compound

Menzerna are probably not a brand that you have heard of before but their detailing products are excellent. Its also not the cheapest but it is used by many body shops to remove defects such as over spray and other heavy duty defects.

Before having to wet sand the paintwork, many body shops will turn to the Menzerna Fast Gloss as the best option to reveal a defect free surface. It is the opposite to the Chemical Guys as it is highly abrasive and should be used with caution.

The Menzerna Fast Gloss 400 Compound is a great alternative to Meguair’s and is the best heavy duty polish. In just one application by a car polisher machine, the cars paintwork will be noticeably improved using this product.

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Car Polish Buying Guide

Many car owners will treat swirl marks by simply covering them up. There is no problem with that but it is something that is only going to get worse and worse as it is not treated. Using a car polish to remove the swirl marks is highly advised.

Application of car polish can be by hand or using a car polisher machine with the latter being most effective. Using any of the recommended polishes above will see the removal of swirl marks when applied correctly. Below are some factors that you should consider before purchasing an abrasive car polish.

How Often Should You Polish Your Car?

Polishing your car using abrasive cutting compound should not be a weekly thing but more of a 2 to 3 annual occasion. Applying strong polish on a regular basis will cause unnecessary damage to the cars clear coat.

However, there is no concrete answer because all car paintwork is different in terms of paint thickness and what the previous owner has done. I have seen countless examples where a novice detailer has attacked paintwork and removed a large layer of clear coat.

Personally, I will only polish my car if the paintwork is showing signs of swirl marks or scratches. However, this is usually once a year due to frequent car waxing to protect the paintwork and using the two bucket car wash method.

I strongly advise that you begin with the least aggressive polish to achieve paintwork bliss rather than going straight for the strongest. If you are not sure what you are doing with a machine polisher and cutting compound, practice on an old car that you don’t care about.

What are Swirl Marks?

Swirl Marks are tiny scratches in the paint that are visible under light such as the sun and street lights. Swirl marks are more common in dark colored cars because they reflect more light from the scratches.

Swirl Marks are different from “Spider Webs” because the webbing is underneath the clear coat and are caused from poor paint work.

What Causes Swirl Marks ?

Swirl marks are not just caused by aging of the paintwork but many avoidable actions. Below is a list of the causes of swirl marks:

  • Incorrect use of polishing machines/buffers
  • Too aggressive cutting compound
  • Polyester threaded towel, applicators and mitts
  • Dirty chamois towels used for drying
  • Drying an already dry car
  • Drying a car that is dirty
  • Machine/Automated car washes
  • Using car covers when the car is dirty
  • Using “Quick Detailer” Sprays or Wipes
  • Improper use of clay bars

The list can continue a lot longer but the above are the most popular causes of swirl marks.

how to remove swirl marks

How To Remove Swirl Marks

Swirl Marks can be removed by both hand and machine but the latter is the most efficient method. If you are worried about damaging your car further, you can apply a short term fix that hides the swirl marks by “filling” them in. For my dark colored cars I have had great success with Poorboys Black Hole Glaze as well as AutoGlym Super Resin Polish for other colors.

Removing swirl marks by hand is ideal for those without a machine buffer and want to remove light scratches. Using your hands, use the following steps:

  1. Select appropriate polish and applicator pad (I suggest Meguair’s Scratch X Polish)
  2.  Apply small amount of polish to your pad
  3. Spread the polish evenly across the area you wish to tackle
  4. Work the polish into the surface applying reasonable force
  5. Once the polish has been worked in, remove and inspect results
  6. Repeat this process until the swirl marks disappear under light

After purchasing a bottle of Meguair’s Scratch X, I set myself a challenge to overcome light swirls on black paintwork. To my surprise it was possible to remove swirl marks by hand using the correct product. If you are worried about damaging your paintwork tackling swirl marks by machine, the Meguairs Scratch X Car Polish is highly recommended for use by hand.

Removing swirl marks by machine polisher is the best way to completely remove the swirls and scratches. Using the machine, use the following (simple and basic) steps:

  1. Ensure the car is washed and dried thoroughly
  2. Tape up textured plastic trim and areas such as door handles and bumpers that poke outwards
  3. Select the appropriate polishing pad and cutting compound that you wish to use
  4. Place the polish on the pad and rub the pad into the paintwork area that you are working on (Do not turn the machine on)
  5. Starting with low speed, buff the polish into the paintwork without applying any pressure
  6. Gradually increase the speed to around 3 on your polishing machine
  7. Once all the polish has been worked into the paintwork, remove any residue with a clean microfiber towel
  8. Use a light source to inspect results

If you require an in depth detailed tutorial, read this impressive tutorial by Dave KG at Detailing World Forums.

Its important to note that improper use of aggressive polish can result in marring that leads to holograms and even more swirl marks. Always use a less aggressive to begin with and gradually move up if the polish is not cutting enough.

How to Prevent Swirl Marks When Washing Your Car

Unfortunately whenever you wash your car, the paintwork is at risk. However there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk. Waxing your car provides excellent protection as does using proper washing techniques such as the two bucket method and of course never using an automated car wash.

As technology is evolving, so is the car paintwork and detailing products that make removing and preventing swirl marks easier. Avoid the main causes of swirl marks and keep waxing the cars and your car will be looking great. If you have purchased a second hand car covered in swirl marks, use our recommended products to rectify the defects and report back with your results.

What Are Your Thoughts?

  1. I’ve just started using a machine polisher and after making a few errors in technique, I’m getting the hang of it. I’m using a Harbor Freight D80 VSP with the Chem Guys VSS.

    The paint on my 2015 X1 was showing wear after several Colorado winters. While the paint isn’t totally perfect, it’s darn close. Thanks for the advise.

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