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Car Paint Defects

Car paint defects can be a frustrating and unsightly problem for any vehicle owner. These defects can range from small scratches and scuffs to larger issues such as swirl marks and oxidation. Fortunately, many of these types of paint defects can be fixed with a process known as paint correction.

Dual Action Polisher in Action

Paint correction is a multi-step process for “cutting” and polishing a car’s clear coat in order to level it out beyond the defects, either removing them entirely or reducing their appearance, and maximizing its shine.


In this blog, we will discuss some of the common car paint defects and remedies whether they can be fixed with paint correction:


Automotive Paint Defects

Keep in Mind!

When you hear people discuss correcting “paint” they are referring to the clear coat layer, not the actual paint layer. Most paint defects occur within the clear coat layer, severe defects go further into the paint layer or even down to the metal base.

Car Paint Defects Graphic
Car Paint Defect #1

Swirl Marks

Swirl marks are very common new car paint defects. These marks are often caused by improper washing techniques, such as washing with an abrasive or dirty mitt or going through an automatic car wash. Paint correction can help remove these marks by polishing them out completely or greatly reduce their visibility, all depending on the severity of the swirling

Paint Defects- Scratches
Paint Defects - Car Swirls
Car Paint Defect #2

Minor Scratches & Scuffs

Small scratches and scuffs are some of the easiest to remove with paint correction. These car paint defects can be caused by a variety of factors, such as keys, gravel, bushes, even fingernails. With paint correction, these marks can be buffed out, leaving the paint looking smoother.

Car Paint Defect #3

Deep Scratches

A scratch is considered “deep” when it has gone beyond the clear coat and into the paint or even the metal surface. This level of scratch cannot be repaired with paint correction and requires more advanced techniques such as a paint touch-up or full panel repainting.

Paint Defects- deep Scratches
Before MaxShine Water Spot Remover
Car Paint Defect #4

Water Spots

Water spots are car paint defects caused by mineral buildup from hard water. Not drying a vehicle well enough after a wash or getting hit with sprinklers are common culprits. Water spot remover can eliminate more recent spots, but the longer the spot has been on the paint the harder it is to remove. That’s where paint correction may be able to help. Again, depending on the severity of the mineral deposit and how long it’s been left on the paint, a process of correction is often able to remove or reduce water spot marks, but is not fully guaranteed.

Car Paint Defect #5

Etching from Bird Droppings

The acidity of bird droppings can burn into the paint if left for too long. It leaves an etching in the clear coat which must be leveled by performing a paint correction. However, if the etching has gone too deep, paint correction won’t be enough.

Paint Defects- Bird Dropps
Paint Defects- Oxidation
Car Paint Defect #6


Car paint oxidation occurs when a vehicle’s paint is exposed to the elements, the main culprit being UV rays. This can cause the paint to become dull and faded. If enough clear coat is still intact, then paint correction can help bring back the shine, otherwise….

Car Paint Defect #7

Heavy Oxidation and Clear Coat Failure

When heavy oxidation is present it often means the clear coat has been severely damaged to the point paint correction cannot repair. Further clear coat failure can look like it’s peeling, flaking, or blistering. This is another scenario where repainting is the only option.

Paint Defects- Heavy Oxidation



While paint correction is an effective way to fix many common paint defects, there are some that cannot be fixed with this process.

By regularly maintaining your vehicle’s paint with routine washes and protective coating application, you can keep your vehicle looking new and prolong the life of your paint.   


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