Clearcoat Failure

Modern paint systems are primarily made up of a 2 stage system.

The first stage is known as the basecoat or colour coat. the second stage is known as the clearcoat layer. The clearcoat is where the gloss or shine originates from.

The clearcoat layer is as thin as a post it note and this is the canvas a professional detailer works their skills to remove defects and restore clarity and shine.

If left unprotected and/or exposed to the sun for long periods of time the clearcoat layer in the paint will deteriorate. In these circumstances, you will notice paint becoming dull and faded and eventually the paint will peel away from the substrate. This is known as Clearcoat Failure.

There is only one way to repair clearcoat failure and that is respraying the effected panel which can potentially be a very costly process.

The good news is that clearcoat failure can be avoided by protecting the paint with a wax, sealant or a ceramic coating.

For a fraction of the cost of respraying, we recommend keeping up with maintenance and investing in a form of protection to guard that paint from the Aussie sun.


Paint Defects – Swirl Marks

One of the most common paint defects are swirl marks also known as washing marks or cobweb swirls.

Swirl marks are fine scratches in the paint that are usually visible as circular patterns in bright light ie sunlight. 

The most common cause of swirl marks can be attributed to poor washing or drying technique.

Washing Tips

1. Use quality washing equipment such as microfibre/wool wash mitts and dedicated car wash detergents.

2. Use the two bucket wash method when washing. 1 soap bucket and 1 rinse bucket.  Dip clean mitt into soapy bucket, wash a section of the vehicle then rinse dirty mitt in rinse bucket. Repeat these steps.

3. Avoid excessive wiping during washing and drying process. This will reduce chances of instilling swirls. 

Pro Tip: It won’t take much to loosen dirt so avoid excessive back and forth wiping because you will just be grinding dirt particles back into the paint thus inflicting swirls. 

4. Use microfibre drying towels to dry the vehicle. Believe it or not but chamois are not a good drying tool. A good detailer will not have a chamois in their drying arsenal! 

Pro Tip: Use a spray wax/sealant or quick detailer as a drying aid- this will help the drying towel glide over the paint during the drying process thus minimising the potential of instilling swirls to the paint surface.

The Good News

Well prevention is the best medicine, however if you have a vehicle that is swirled out it can be repaired by machine polishing.

Below is a before and after picture after machine polishing the swirls away. 

Paint Defects – Water Spots

Ever think when it rained, your vehicle was getting a wash?
Do you hose down your vehicle and leave it to air dry?

Well guess what? This may do more harm than good for your vehicle’s paint surface. 


Water contains various minerals and/or dirt particles and once the water evaporates, these minerals and/or dirt particles are left behind. Certian minerals can be corrosive to the paint and will etch into the vehicles paint work if left too long before being removed with a safe wash and dry method.

There are 3 types of water spots. 

Type I Water Spots – Minerals from city water or pollution from rain water left behind on the paint surface once water has evaporated. Can be removed by washing and drying vehicle.

Type II Water Spots – these are etchings or craters that have formed on the paint surface due to corrosive minerals or contaminates in the water which were not removed fast enough from the paint. Can be removed by machine and possibly by hand polishing using a compound or polish to level the paint surface.

Type III Water Spots – these are spots that look dull or faded on paint surface. Found mainly on single stage paint.  Can be removed by machine with the use of a compound or polish. 

In some extreme cases, wet sanding the paint will need to be performed prior to machine compounding and/or polishing to remove water spots effectively. 

So, think twice before hosing your vehicle without properly washing and drying. 

Be cautious where you park your vehicle in particular near sprinklers on sunny days. 

Check your vehicle after rain, especially during a sun shower where evaporation occurs quickly.  The quicker these spots are removed the less chance etching will occur. 

Paint Defects – Bird Dropping Etching

Bird dropping etchings are caused by the uric acid contained in the digestive waste of birds.

Unfortunately, bird droppings are detrimental to your vehicle’s clearcoat.

It is best practice to safely remove bird droppings as soon as possible after noticing it.

Safe bird dropping removal methods:

– hose off

– Use a quick detailer or spray wax with a microfiber towel to wipe away in one direction. Avoid wiping in a back and forth motion as particles within the bird waste such as seeds may marr the paint. 

-If the bird poo has dried, spray the area with a quick detailer or spray wax and soak  a microfiber towel with water. Place microfiber towel over the poo for a short period. The bird poo should soften for safer removal.

How can the etching left behind be removed?

In most cases the use of a polish or compound by hand or machine will safely remove bird dropping etching. In some cases the area will need wet sanding followed by a polishing step.

Type 2 bird dropping etching is usually to deep or has etched through the clearcoat layer into the base or colour coat. In most cases this cannot be repaired by polishing.  The area will need to be re-sprayed. 

Tip from RC Car Care

Best practice would be to inspect your vehicle’s paint on a regular basis. Remove any bird dropping as soon as possible before the uric acid within the waste has time to effect the paint. 

Mechanical Decontamination

Mechanical decontamination is the process of removing above surface contamination from the car’s paint, glass or any smooth surface that washing and wiping will fail to remove.

Why can’t I just wash this contamination away?

When a vehicle sits outside, environmental fallout such as, dust, exhaust fumes, jet fuel, tree sap and many other particles can land on the paint surface of vehicles. If left untreated for a period of time, these particles can bond to the vehicle and will not come off with a normal wash method.

What do I use to remove this contamination?

The detailers secret no more! A Clay Bar is used to remove above surface contamination without marring or abrading the paint. 

What are the benefits of claying?

-Claying will remove bonded contamination from the surface of the paint which will enable abrasives from compounding and polishing procedures to effectively work better thus making polishing easier. 

-After Claying, products such as paint sealants and waxes will bond and adhere to the paint more effectively thus enhancing gloss and shine more vividly.

-Claying will leave the car feeling silky smooth to the touch. 

Do I use a clay bar straight on the paint?

Yes, however a clay bar must be used with a clay lubricant. 

Are there any downsides to using a clay bar?

Yes, but only one! If you drop a clay bar on the floor it should be thrown away. When a clay bar is dropped on the floor there is a risk that it will pick up abrasive dirt or other contaminates. If you attempt to use that same clay bar on the car, there is risk of scratching the paint with the dirt caught in the clay bar. Throw it away and use a fresh clay bar. 

Are there alternatives to a clay bar?

Yes. Technology has dramatically advance since the clay bar was introduced to the detailing industry in the early nineties. 

Clay Mitt – Claying doesn’t only come in putty-like form, some manufacturers have found ways to manufacture washmitts with a surface that acts the same as clay. A clay mitt is a microfiber towel with a clay like material on one side.

Clay Sponge – much like the clay mitt but with a sponge backing for wiping clean.

Clay Pad – A round disk that connects to the backing plate with a surface that acts like a clay bar used on a polishing machine. By far the most effective and fastest way to mechanically decontaminate. 

The Difference Between Compounding & Polishing

Compounding otherwise known as the major correction step in a paint correction procedure. A compound is a liquid or paste containing very heavy cutting abrasive technology used to remove below surface defects such as swirl marks, deep scratches and water spot etchings. The compounding procedure is also carried out after dry or wet sanding has been carried out to level paint, remove orange peel, RIDS (random isolated deep scratches) and denibbing marks (sand marks left behind after repairing RIDS)

Polishing otherwise known as the minor correction step in a paint correction procedure. A polish is a liquid or paste containing light to medium abrasive technology used to refine the compounding procedure and add gloss and clarity to the clear coat. Polishing will remove light defects from the paint as well. 

Due to paint hardness, there may be many variables when choosing the correct machine, compound, polish, cutting wool, microfiber disk or foam pad combination for a particular paint system. 

Detailers will always carry out a test spot to determine what the best combination will be. The least aggressive combination should always be tested first. Once a test spot has been dialed in, the same procedure will be replicated to the whole car. 

Following the compounding & polishing procedure the paint is LSP (Last Step Product) ready. By now the paint should show superb gloss and clarity and no swirling, scratching or water spot etching and is now ready for application of a protective product such as a quality wax, sealant or coating to protect the finish. 

Why a Detailer v Car Wash Cafe?

A lot of people ask “why would I spend extra money with a detailer when I can get a much cheaper wash and detail with a car wash cafe or alike?”

Well.. There are many reasons

Here are a few to consider:

1.  Skill- Proper car washing and detailing is a skill. Using specific washing and drying technique to reduce potentially marring your car’s paint work takes skill. Proper technique when using a polisher to enhance the gloss and clarity of the paint takes skill. Proper use of equipment and product to clean exteriors, interiors, engines and other delicate parts of a car takes skill. 

2. Knowledge- You can ask any detailer any question about any facet of detailing and I can assure, you will get a knowledgeable answer. Detailers never stop researching, testing and learning to further enhance their knowledge of their profession. Maybe we won’t have the answer to your question today.. I can assure, you will have it by tomorrow! 

3. Care- Detailers take extreme care when transforming your car to a showroom finish. Detailing is our livelihood and passion. Care comes naturally.

4. Equipment- Detailers have an arsenal of equipment to fulfill each job to the best potential possible. From steamers, extractors, various polishing machines, pads, chemicals, microfiber towels, wheel care products etc. The list goes on and on. What may be appropriate for one vehicle may not work on the next, so a variety of equipment is important. 

Some incidents I have witnessed at various car wash cafes and alike include:

 -Incorrect to zero decontamination procedures prior to polishing followed by poor polishing technique resulting in horrific buffer trail marks also known as holograms or severe swirling. A complete no no in the detailing industry. It would be like watching a doctor about to perform surgery without first scrubbing their hands.

-The use of the same wash mitts and/or drying towels car after car. This effectively transfers abrasive dirt particles from car to car, which in essence is turning what should be a clean wash mitt into a form of sand paper. I have even witnessed wash mitts and drying towels dropped on the floor, picked up and continued to be used. 

Detailers have dedicated towels for, paint, wheels, engines, interiors and glass. If it gets dropped it gets washed and decontaminated before being reused. 

Detailing is an art form. It takes skill, knowledge and care to the extreme. Yes, you will pay a premium compared to a car wash cafe but I can assure you, the difference is outstanding.

A full detail on a car can take many many hours and sometimes even days depending on the service you are after.

If you are offered a $100 full detail including polishing from a car wash cafe and told to come back in 1 hour, let me warn you,  your car is in trouble. 

At the end of the day you get what you pay for. 

If you have pride in your ride, send it to someone who has pride in their industry. Aquire the services of a detailer.

Thanks for reading

Robert Cooper 

Paint Protection

Paint Protection.. Is it worth the cost?? Yes it is. However meticulous attention must be taken in preparation for applying paint protection product to your car’s paint. There are many crucial steps. Need to know more? Please contact us for more information. We will be happy to discuss options.


2 Bucket Wash

imageWhy Wash My Car With  2 Buckets?

Did you know by incorrectly washing your car, you can instill swirl marks and scratches into the car’s paint?

Using a 2 bucket wash process will prevent this from occuring.

One bucket for washing and one bucket for rinsing the wash mitt will do your car’s paint wonders!


1. After rinsing the car, fill two buckets with water, add car wash soap to 1 bucket.

2. Soak a quality clean wash mitt into the soap bucket. Clean a section of your car.

3. NOW, rinse the mitt into the 2nd bucket (rinse bucket)

4. repeat steps 2 and 3 until the car is cleaned.


After you have finished, take a look at your rinse bucket.  Bet it’s got some pretty dirty water in it!

Have a look at your wash bucket. Bet it’s looking pretty clean!

You have avoided

Using only one bucket would leave your car looking clean, however over time, on closer inspection you would see swirl marks and scratches in the paint.

By re-soaking a dirty wash mitt into 1 bucket, you are transferring dirt from the car to the mitt back into the bucket thus back to the car.

Pro tips

Get a Grit Guard for the rinse bucket. Grit Guards help agitate dirt from the mitt. Dirt will fall to the bottom of the bucket under the grit guard which will further minimise dirt transfer back to the wash mitt.

Wheel Cleaning

Use a seperate bucket and wash media i.e wheel woolies/brushes dedicated to wheel cleaning only. Wash wheels first then move on to washing the rest of the car.