‘Paint correction’ can take on a number of meanings and inevitably cause confusion in the automotive industry. Here we will explain everything you need to know about paint correction, including what it is, the typical process, and how to protect your paint after it has been corrected.
So what exactly is ‘paint correction’?
Paint correction is the leveling of clear coat (unpigmented paint) to a point where all the paint is free of swirl marks and light scratches. Swirl marks are essentially a “V” cut in the paint where light bounces around in the valley of the scratch. When the paint is flattened through mechanical processes, these valleys are lessened or eliminated and light reflects nicely off the surface creating a mirror-like shine.
- Inspect Paint & Identify Client Expectations: Not all paint correction jobs are the same. There are varying degrees of aggressiveness used depending on the condition of the paint and the desired end result from the client. At Elite Auto Spa, we take the time during the initial consultation to inspect the vehicle’s paint with proper tools and communicate the various correction options available to the client given the current condition.
- Prepping the Vehicle: Before starting any work, the vehicle gets thoroughly washed. Next, we perform mechanical & chemical decontamination of the paint with Clay Magic Fine Grade Clay Bar and iron particle remover: Sonax Fallout Cleaner. Finally, we tape off all plastic or rubber areas that could be damaged by the polishing process. We also use CarPro Automotive Masking Tape.
- Determine Process & Products: Elite Auto Spa has a wide range of machinery, products, and pads which allow us to fully customize the paint correction process that will fulfill client needs and expectations. Finding the perfect pad to polish combination that will allow the most defect removal while still finishing the paint. The paint correction process can range from a simple one step polish to a much more labor intensive and time consuming process.
- Single Step- This involves one step of polishing the paint surface and typically removes about 60-80% of defects. Single step correction might be chosen if the paint is already in decent condition and/or the client doesn’t expect perfect paint.
- Two Step- Starts with heavier cut/compounding of the clear coat and then follows with a less aggressive polish to refine the finish of the paint. We would choose this process if the paint surface is in worse condition and/or the client expects the best possible results. This two step process removes 90-98% of defects in the surface paint. In worst case scenarios, rock chips, deep scratches, and heavy damage below the clear coat cannot be fixed with paint correction.
- Test Small Areas: Once the appropriate combination of products and steps have been identified, we perform a couple test spots to make sure this unique process will achieve the desired results.
- Paint Correction: Paint correction can take anywhere from 8 hours to 80+ hours depending on the process needed to achieve the desired outcome. Proper Paint Correction is not a fast or simple process, but rather requires significant time and precision for best results.
- Maintenance: Now that your car is looking good as new, what’s next? We always apply a wax or sealant after correction. For best results, we recommend applying paint protection film (PPF) and/or a ceramic coating to offer the highest protection with added gloss and shine. Check out our page on Paint Protection Film packages and the different ceramic coating products we offer. Also check out the next part of this blog series on Ceramic Coatings here.
Tips on choosing the shop to do your paint correction:
- Do your research: The results of paint correction can be quite remarkable, but they come at an underlying risk of harming the paint by burning through the clear coat and paint. This can occur from a lack of experience with buffers and equipment and a lack of understanding of the paint condition. Look for a shop with a lot of experience and great reviews in this specific service. We always recommend having your vehicle inspected prior to having work done in order to build trust and rapport with the business.
- Beware of shops that are known for using fillers such as heavy oils and glazes to give the appearance that the paint has been corrected. These substances mask the remaining impurities and ultimately fade after a couple washes.
- Beware of shops that say they can correct a full car in less than 2 days, inclusive of proper prep work. Although time can vary depending on the condition of the car and client expectations, typically paint correction on a full car takes at least 2 full days for the most basic correction process.
Elite Auto Spa has 8+ years in paint correction, during which time we have experimented with hundreds of different products, product combinations, and various techniques. We are passionate about refining surface paint and have created a process that delivers results every time.