How to Remove Swirl Marks by Hand (Step by Step Guide)

Jerry Wilson
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Removing Swirl Marks by Hand

In the past, a swirl mark was permanent. Today, with the right products and the right process, swirl marks can be removed, reducing the chances of them re-appearing.

A swirl mark is caused when a vehicle’s wheels and brake pads become overheated, causing the coating to melt and/or break apart. As the car is driven, the hot metal rubs over the cooler paint, causing fine swirl marks. The damage caused by this rubbing can vary from a slight abrasion to a deep-seated marring of the paint.

The best time to remove swirl marks is while they’re still fairly small. When you’re detailing a car, you have to work bigger, and you may have to repeat the process several times to get the desired result. If you’re planning to sell your car, you may be concerned about the possible appearance of swirl marks in the future. Regardless of whether or not you want to remove swirl marks, you should always detail your vehicle. It’s safer, it increases the resale value, and it prevents premature fading.

Other Swirl Removal Options by Hand – Using Rubbing Compound

You can buy rubbing compound in many stores where you buy car products, such as Wal-Mart and auto supply stores. Follow the label’s directions carefully regarding which cloth to use. You will need an applicator. Use a microfiber towel to apply the rubbing compound to the paint. Then follow the directions to finish buffing your paint until the swirl marks are gone.

Much like using a clay bar, you may need to repeat the process to completely remove heavy swirls. Again, be careful not to use too much rubbing compound, or the paint could turn hazy.

What Causes Swirl Marks?

If you can see them, then you know they are there. But what causes swirl marks? Swirl marks are the result of rubbing the finish on the car in a circular pattern while it’s in motion. Once your vehicle leaves the showroom, you have to be extra careful about what you buy to polish it with.

In fact, washing a car with the correct detergent, drying it and going over it with a soft, clean buffing pad is all it takes.

As you’re using an orbital buffer, especially on lower grade paint, you’re rubbing it all over the car. The pressure of the buffer gets in the way.

This is evident as the swirl marks. As soon as you start buffing, it’s going to be there and will become more visible as you continue buffing.

Tips for Preventing Swirl Marks

You’ve already read about swirl marks, or how to fix them once they’ve already made your vehicle’s finish look like it’s been attacked by bees. Now it’s time to learn about the best way to prevent them.

The best way to prevent swirl marks from appearing on your car is to avoid waxing your vehicle. If you want to keep your vehicle looking like new it’s best to use a sealant.

Sealants seal the paint by filling in all the micro-scratches on the surface of your vehicle. Once sealed, waxing your car is actually a bad idea.

Another tip for preventing swirl marks is to wash your car with a high quality microfiber towel. This is very important because microfiber is much less likely to damage your vehicle’s finish like a regular towel will.

It’s also important to learn how to hand wash your car. You should use quality car wash soap that’s formulated for hand washing.

Begin by using cold water. You don’t want to use hot water on a vehicle because it will create a lot of little swirl marks as the water bounces off the surface of the car.


The swirl marks are a bane of car owners that are often the cause of embarrassment and sometimes even too much to drive. If there were ways to avoid creating these, the car would have had a perfect, perfect finish.

For a perfect finish – and it’s not possible to avoid it – you need to know some methods to get rid of these. Thanks to this guide, you know the right methods to achieve this.

Hot wax is the easiest way because you will use the same method as you did to achieve the wax finish. It will get the swirl marks out easily, but once the wax dries off you will just have to wait for the next wash.

You can use polish to remove the swirl marks, too. But you would have to use great amounts of polish to get the result you desire.

Applying polish will take some time and lots of elbow grease. You can achieve the perfect finish more easily, but the method will take up some time.

Lastly, you can use a special formula to remove swirl marks and that’s what we provide you.