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2000 Polo Green Metallic Cadillac STS 60K
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys I know this has probably been discussed thousands of times, but im looking for a good swirl & scratch remover. My Caddy has some light scratches and swirls from the automatic car wash during the winter months. Now I know about autogeek and places like that, but im more looking for something I can buy locally from autozone or advance auto parts etc. Whats a good product for removing swirls? I tried a coat of wax but it didnt get rid of the swirls. Also whats good for removing light surfaces scratches? Just so I know what steps do you guys perform when totally detailing the outside of your cars? I know the first step consist of a good bubble bath, but i've never actually used a clay bar or scratch remover so im kinda iffy on the whole process. Thanks for the help.
 

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01 Eldo ETC, 02 Deville SOLD!
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If you scan back through the threads on this forum, you'll see hundreds of relatively good tips and information. As far as OTC products, probably a decent scratch & swirl remover would come from Mothers or Meguiars.

As you found, wax does not remove swirls - it's just a protective coat. In fact, most waxes will make swirls and scratch marks even more pronounced and visible.

First step is a good wash with any decent car wash. Don't use Dawn or any of the sometimes-touted household products - they aren't formulated to remove dirt from car finishes. The trick with the wash is to get down to the uppermost "artificial" layer of finish - your old wax or what have you.

A clay bar is used to remove surface contaminants like railcar dust, sand pocks and pits and so on. It smooths the surface of the clearcoat and gets all the topmost junk out of your finish. It's easy to use. Just flatten out a hunk of clay to about a 3x3 inch square, and wipe the surface of the car down, lubricating with some soapy water or whatever may have come with the bar, or any old detailing spray. You want to keep the surface wet, or the bar will stick and leave a residue. Turn the clay inside and out to keep the gunk you pick up from being reapplied. If you drop the clay in the dirt or anywhere else, DO NOT use it on the car finish again. Just toss it. It will be covered with whatever loose impediments are on the ground.

After you clay, then you can use the swirl remover. An orbital buffer is best for this, but you can go by hand if you're so inclined.

After the swirl remover, use a good polish to bring out the shine of the newly buffed finish.

After the polish, THEN you wax. The wax is the 'sacrificial' top coat over your finish that will keep the grit and dirt and gunk and such from getting to your nicely polished clear coat.

As with anything else, the proof is in your eyes, but you'll find that the more time you spend with the clay, swirl remover and polish, the better the wax will look. PREP is everything.

My personal favorites are the products from Brothers in North Carolina, their Aquawax is the bee's knees and all of their other products are superior to anything over the counter.

I have a black Eldo and it's a bitch to keep clean, but when I give her the full treatment, she looks pretty good...
 

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2000 Polo Green Metallic Cadillac STS 60K
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Discussion Starter #3
Wow thanks for the write up. Thats exactly what I needed. Wash, clay, swirl remover, polish, then wax. I always used to just wash and wax I never used a clay bar or polish. I saw some Meguiars swirl remover and polish at my local advance auto so i'll try that out. Another question, whats the difference between swirl remover and scratch remover? Aren't they essentially the same thing?
 

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01 Eldo ETC, 02 Deville SOLD!
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Another question, whats the difference between swirl remover and scratch remover? Aren't they essentially the same thing?
Not necessarily - swirls are mainly surface imperfections in the clear coat, usually caused by improper buffing, such as that usually done at a car wash, dealer, or local Girl Scouts Wash-Your-Car-For-Five-Bucks extravaganza. Even towels used to dry the car can cause swirls.

Scratches are deeper gouges in the clear coat that are caused by things like keys, branches, road debris, etc etc.

Swirls are far easier to get out. Scratches take time and effort and a good product. A "swirl and scratch remover" product is graded by it's abrasiveness - the heavier the abrasive, the more it does but the more you have to be careful with it. Most OTC products are probably about 2 or 3 on a scale of 10 in terms of abrasiveness, 1 being smoothest and 10 being 100 grit sandpaper.. lol
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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Just know that JimHare's posts translate into the main ingredient: Elbow Grease. Most swirl removers are on the order of 8,000 to 15,000 grit, maybe even higher. Think Jeweler's Rouge as compared to Jim's "100 grit" analogy.

Whether it's Mother's, Meguiar's or Autogeek swirl remover, a Porter Cable orbital buffer is darn near a necessity on anything other than a new car.
 

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01 Eldo ETC, 02 Deville SOLD!
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Exactly right, my thalassophilous friend...my PC is one of the best automotive accessories I ever purchased.
 

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2002.5 F55 CORSA STS, 2014 Explorer XLT FWD
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................I have no specific love nor fear of the sea. Between 25 years in submarines and enough Atlantic and Pacific Maxi sailboat racing to keep me in bar room stories for a while I have a healthy respect, but not fear.

"When given the choice of going to sea or going to jail, choose jail. You meet a better class of people and there is less chance of drowning." - Mark Twain
 

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Ahh, you thought I meant thalassoPHOBIAS, which is a fear of the sea, but I thought thalassophilous meant "Fond of the sea"...
 
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