Does my car need paint correction? What is paint correction?

Does my car need paint correction? What is paint correction?

oxidised red paint lancer evolution 8 MR

Hi all and welcome back to the Leading Edge Car Detailing blog!

One of the most commonly asked questions by customers in our business is, does my car need paint correction? What is paint correction?

These two key questions often come hand in hand and also help to explain why a properly detailed vehicle always looks amazing and better than even a “new” car that has not been properly detailed.

Let us first start with the meat of this article, what is paint correction?

Put simply, paint correction is the process of using polishing machine (in our business the Rupes dual action bigfoot machines) and various combinations of pads and products to remove paint defects and correcting the paintwork to an acceptable finish (perfect finish).

How does this differ from the slang terminology of “buffing”? The word buff in paint shops/detailing is a simple task of putting on a pad on a machine, add your favorite product and go over the panel, this one size fits all approach generally provides sub-standard results as it does not take into account variables such as paint hardness, thickness or defect type where paint correction is a much more scientific approach, these variables as well as others are carefully analysed followed by testing to determine the ideal pad/product combinations to achieve the desired result, a process that can take days vs buffing which can be done in less than 1 hour.

So now we have a grasp of the terminology, let us discuss these “defects” and how to identify if our car has them. Take note that whilst “new cars” are expected to be new, they more than often do have these defects as we shall show you in real life examples.

These defects are easiest viewed using an LED torch pointed directly at the paint, a great tip is to use your phone LED torch like we can see in this video!

Typical paint defects

Swirl Marks – This is by far and large the number 1 culprit hurting the appearance of your vehicle and costing hours in our shop to fix! What are they? Surface scratches in their thousands created mainly by improper washing and maintenance techniques.

what is paint correction

a photo showing corrected vs uncorrected paint


Buffer Haze (also known as holograms) – Remember our explanation of buffing? You got it! It actually does more harm than good! This defect is caused by improper machine polishing generally from panel/paint shops, hand car wash cafe’s and car dealerships using rotary polishing machines and the wrong pad/products on your paintwork. Basically the polishing machine is itself making micro-scratches on the paintwork rather than leaving the paint perfect.  This is quite common on new cars so make sure to keep an eye during your new vehicle delivery inspection!

The photo below is of an actual new customer vehicle purchased from a local Sydney dealership. It required extensive paint correction despite having driven on the road for a few days. In this instance the buffer haze is the milky looking outline around the bonnet (if you zoom in you will see the micro scratches).

buffer haze on black car

Buffer haze making the black paint look milky due to micro scratches


Water Spots – This paint defect is quite common and is created in 1 of two ways, 1- a mineral which was dissolved in water has been deposited on the paintwork after the water evaporated (e.g. the calcium in the tap water dried on your car and has now left those minerals behind in the shape of the water droplet that has dried) or 2- a chemical has etched spots on the paintwork. This defect is also very common on window glass! Unfortunately this type of defect is very easy to get and so you should always wash your car when cool and out of direct sunlight, never rinse and not dry the car and always wash it asap once dirty and especially after a light rain.

This kind of defect is most noticeable when the paintwork is wet and you dry it with a microfiber cloth (the paint does not look to dry and shows spots).

waterspot damage to clear coat – photo credit Regal Detailing

Bird/Bat droppings – This paint defect is one of the worst to have as it is not always repairable with detailing and in many cases requires wet sanding (biggest reason to get ceramic paint protection right here). As described it is when the acids from the droppings etch into the clear coat and sometimes eat right through to the metal! This defect is unfortunately under-stated but out of all is the most serious with limited ability to repair unless painted so always be careful where you park the car and to wash off droppings as soon as they are found.

Bird Dropping Damage to Clear Coat – Photo Credit Regal Detailing


Paint Fade (oxidisation) –  Just when you thought the bad news was over there is more to worry about! Yes paint can fade and go dull and even change colour due to the sun and environment!

Paint fade also known as oxidisation namely happens to single stage paintwork (solid colour without a clear coat) and can be clearly seen when older red cars go pink and white commercial vehicles become chalky white.

oxidised red paint lancer evolution 8 MR


So now comes the main question, What is paint correction and does my car need paint correction?

Paint correction is the scientific and regimented process of using combinations of abrasive pads and products in conjunction with machine polishing systems to rectify paint defects and enhance the appearance of paintwork. Using our Rupes polishing machines and the thousands of combinations of various pads/discs and abrasive products we can and will resolve or greatly improve the defects noted above!

If you have any of the above defects then yes, your vehicle does require one form or another of paint correction to make the paint look as good as it can! Yes ultimately not all defects can and will be removed with paint correction but improvements can be substantial to the appearance and finish of your vehicle and ultimately improve its value.


If you would like a quotation on the correction of your paintwork please feel free to visit Detailing Services on our page to esquire or book!