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Cadillac CTS4 2008
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114 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have an 08 CTS4 and it has been hand washed with only the best soaps and waxes from a local shop that does every high end car in Toronto, Autobahn. They have the exclusive deal to prep all Mercedes in our market, prefered detailer to more Ferrari, Lambos, Porsche, Etc in this city, there are always a few in there, including the only 2 Enzo Ferraris in Ontario.

http://www.the-autobahn.com/

My point is black paint is a mess, swirl marks everywhere. The owner of the shops simply tells me GM paint is not great. He has done two antiswirl treatements for it and several waxes. It looks better when it is done, but after a while, the swirls are visable. I know it is not the shop because my previous 5 series was black and it looked immaculate after they waxed it

A friend of mine recomended having a body shop do a proper clay bar, water sanding, buffing, waxing and sealing to it becasue that is the only way the swirls and crap can be removed

Did I just get a bad paint job or do we all have crappy paint jobs, especially you black color owners like me

Any suggestions would be appreviated
 

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2008 CTS FE2
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79 Posts
It sounds to me like the shop isn't actually correcting the paint but rather hiding the imperfections (filling them in). From talking with others who have detailed many newer Cadillacs, the clear coat is very hard and can be difficult to correct. I don't know if you need to go to the extremes of having the paint wet sanded as I would assume that the swirls should be able to be corrected with just a more aggressive machine polishing (followed up with a wax/sealant of course). I'd check with some other reputable detailing shops in your area to see what they have to say about the condition of your paint and what they would do to correct the paint.

You may also want to read up on the Autopia Detailing Forum (or other detailing forums) about washing/drying technique to reduce the marring of your finish. A lot of the time it isn't the products you use but how you use them that inducing swirls.
 

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2008 CTS DI RWD FE2
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224 Posts
Black paint in general can be a PITA the keep perfect. But it doesn't help that the GM paint isn't all that great. There have been many posts on various forums regarding cheap/thin GM paint on lots of vehicles. More so with Black since swirls and other imperfections really stand out. I was actually impressed with the white diamond paint though. The tri-coat was pretty good stuff. Never had any issues with swirls even under directly light when I was really looking for them.

But on my black sierra... yeah, brand new, already noticed some very light swirls in directly sunlight. Probably from dealer prep. Or somebody just looked at it the wrong way. Good clay, polish, and wax and you have to look pretty darn hard to see them. And yes, as mentioned above, this only covers them up. In my case, they're so minor, it's not worth doing anything other than a wax 2-3 times a year and regular final detailer to keep it shiny.

Pics would help, but even at that, you really need to see/feel them in person. If they're bad, you might want to find a shop who knows how to correctly remove them. For example, wet sanding. Up to you. But I'd at least get a 2nd opinion from another reputable shop to see what they're suggestion is.
 

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2008 Cadillac CTS DI AWD Thunder Gray Chromaflair/Ebony
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798 Posts
I noticed a few swirl marks on my Thunder Gray Chromaflair very shortly after owning it. The only time I notice the swirl marks is when I am waxing but I would prefer if they weren't there.

I am convinced the new environmentally friendly paints and processes are leading to a lower quality application. I have seen the "orange peel" look on my CTS and Honda Odyssey (worse on the Honda). I have also seen new BMW's and Audi's with similar issues.
 

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Cadillac 08CTS Hot Lava 3.6DI RWD special edition
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74 Posts
Had the same issue with my 98 black Mustang GT, I will never, ever will buy a black or super dark color again.. too much of a PITA..
 

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2008 DTS LUX III - Gold Mist traded for 2004 Tbird
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1,511 Posts
If this shop is the only place that has done your car, guess who put the swirl marks in it?
Mtdew is correct. The owner is attempting to hide the swirls and it isn't working.

I had a black car once. Once.


Get a new shop.
 

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2009 CTS DI AWD FE2 CRYSTAL RED TINTCOAT/LIGHT TITANIUM
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295 Posts
I pretty much agree with all that has been said here. I do have a suggestion however. It is not really the 'black paint' that is the problem, but the scarring of the clear coat that creates the swirls (as well as other marks). The darker color under the clear coat simply acts as an amplifier that allows the marks to reflect more light and hence look awful. I have been a user of Zaino products for many years now and have found them to be of great value. If you are willing to put a day or two of work into your car, I believe you will see an incredible improvement. Go to their website and click on 'applications' and follow the instructions exactly. I have had several cars with swirl marks, scratches, and other imperfections that were totally or nearly totally removed. I am not saying that 'The Autobahn Shop' is not up to snuff, as they are one of the best, BUT they are really not vested in your Cadillac. I am not associated with Zaino in any way, just a very loyal user of their products. I have seen some amazing results! I'm sure you will too!
 

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2009 CTS DI AWD Premium
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585 Posts
I am actually glad that this thread started. I also have a black saturn aura that has swirl marks in the paint from when the body shop "sanded" out some tree sap. I am taking it back in but I really want to know what the heck it is they are going to do to get them out. I am a little worried they will ruin the clear coat in the process since they put them in trying to get the sap out, which they did get out. I think it is the same black paint as my CTS (non-metallic) so this is a good lesson for what to do and not do with that car. Does it take wet sanding to get out the swirls, or are there other ways? What can be done to get out swirl marks without grinding down the clear coat? What would be "reg flags" as to what they shouldn't be doing at the body shop, i.e, it will ruin the paint or is overkill? Thanks all! :)
 

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2009 CTS DI AWD FE2 CRYSTAL RED TINTCOAT/LIGHT TITANIUM
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295 Posts
Body shops are famous for using very strong 'cutting agents' that are applied with rotary machines. If not buffed out properly with progressively finer agents, then marks are going to remain and/or new swirls will be visible. Wet sanding with VERY fine papers is a surefire fix BUT again if not done slowly and properly with the right machines, you can do more damage than good. Clear coats are quite tough (a lot tougher than the pigment coats) and thick enough to take a good deal of 'rubbing out' as well as 'wet sanding' so long as you know what you are doing. Again I'm going to hype Zaino as I have totally removed swirl marks etc. from very black and other deep colored cars with their products. It does take some time and committment but you will be in control, not some gorilla with a 5000 RPM rotary sander!
 

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Cadillac
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I'd be curious as to know how many on this forum have ever used a high speed buffer or wet sanded any car let alone their a 40-50K CTS. I'd be very careful about taking advice from anyone who recommends anything as drastic as wet sanding just to remove swirl marks. Find another shop, the one you are using is blowing smoke.
 

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2017 ATS-V Sedan, Vector Blue/Black, 6MT
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999 Posts
I've had a couple of experiences with this, and have found that proper deep detailing and or wet sanding can really improve the finish. The first time was with my black 1993 M5. During it's mid-life, it wound up in the shop for engine issues for a very long time. during that time there was a severe hail-storm, and it got damage on all but one side. We found someone to repair all of the hail damage without a repaint (which was authorized by the insurance company). The original paint was intact, but after all of that and four years of track work the finish was pretty rough. First, I had all of the small scratches and stone chips expertly repaired, without a respray. Then, I bought the full Griot system, including the buffer, and spent two days claying and polishing, then waxing. The results were amazing, really looking better than when I picked it up at the factory in Germany. No swirl marks, either. Of course, I nearly destroyed my back. I would never attempt this again without more time and a lift.

My '08 Light Platinum CTS got covered by a lot of overspray while waiting for a new wheel at the body shop. They had to wet sand the entire car. The results were truly amazing, considering the car was only 4 1/2 months old. The paint now had a near mirror finish, and the paint had a shimmer that made it look like the car was draped in liquid platinum, with unbelievable depth. I had a clear bra on the front and mirrors, and even that was shinier than when first applied.

I've also seen disasters, but in the right hands, you might be delighted with the results.
 

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2019 CTS
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My 08 CTS is black and I remember when I took delivery asking the salesman is the car had been buffed. He told me they never buff a black car. It had been hand waxed to prevent swirl marks. I'm sure the hand wax was not as good as the one I did shortly thereafter but I'm glad I don't have any major issues with the black paint.
It sure looks pretty when washed and waxed and 5 minutes later it looks like you never did anything to it.
 

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2010 CTS-4 3.6 & 2008 SRX-4 V6
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I agree with most of the posters here - I suspect the shop (as well reputed as it is) is hiding the swirls rather than removing them. I would also recommend products from Zaino - or, closer to home, http://www.eshine.ca/. I am about to try a switch to eshine products based on testimonials I have read in Canadian fora but swear by Zaino.
 

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Cadillac CTS4 2008
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114 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
THanks for all the feedback , good to hear I am not alone. For all you Zaino users, I just ordered the show car prep kit or something like that on the Canadian Website. Should I use a buffer or just give it a hand job and elbow grease??

Let me know, I am planning on investing next weekend to buff my baby to a shine

FYI, the shop I go to does do a great job and has on all my cars, I really believe it is the crappy GM paint that is the issue. He mentioned he has a similar situation with a customer who has a brand new black escalade. I wonder if all those self operated power wash service bays I did myself all winter to get all the darn snow off has something to do with it

Once thing for sure, no more black cars for me
 

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2014 CTS PREMIUM SEDAN 3.6 RWD
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If you are going to use Zaino, you will not need a buffer. Also with Zaino, the less, the better.
 

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CTS, DI, FE3
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I am what you might consider crazy when it comes to my black car but I wax it once a week, just with some simple hand applied mothers carnuba wax. I have still yet to see any real swirl marks etc on it. Although admittedly the paint on my CTS doesnt seem to be as good as that that was on my 04 F-150. Best protection against swirl marks is constant attention.
 

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2010 CTS-4 3.6 & 2008 SRX-4 V6
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950 Posts
I asked a buddy who used to own an auto paint shop and he tells me that the problem isn't with the paint, it's in the clearcoat. Further, GM's clearcoat is among the hardest out there - certainly harder (in his opinion) than Toyota/Lexus and other premium Asian makes.

HOWEVER, apparently MB and BMW have a ceramic-based clearcoat that puts GM's to shame. He mentioned the name but I didn't catch it.

Anyway, his view on swirls in our clearcoat is that once they are professionally removed, the car will look amazing - and proper maintenance will keep it that way.
 

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Hey TOPVIEW, post some before-and-after pics, would you? I'm considering Zaino myself. I've got a black 08 CTS as well (RWD). I also have swirls, which I discovered only a few months after taking delivery. Mine are what some people call "hologram" swirls, which are even uglier. They look like they're 3 dimensional. anyone else ever seen those?
 
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