Paint Correction

What is paint correction?

Paint correction refers to the process in which defects are removed from the clearcoat of your vehicle, with the intention of leaving it with a smoother, glossier, and clearer finish. 

These defects and imperfections can include (but are not limited to):

–  Swirls marks and “spider webbing” – caused by improper washing and drying with circular motions, and automatic car washes* 

– Scratches – fine, minor, or major 

– Etching – Bug guts and bird droppings that have essentially “cooked” into the surface of unprotected clearcoat with the help of the sun

– Water spots – minerals left behind once water evaporates, also often seen etched into clearcoat

– Fading – cased by harmful UV rays on unprotected clearcoat

– Human induced defects such as holograms/hazing – caused by inexperienced detailers with machines/power tools 

– And the list goes on…

The term itself can present a large range of potential understandings of what is actually being referred to, which you have probably heard of as “buffing”, “waxing”, “wetsanding”, “polishing”, etc. and while all of these terms do make up a portion of the process they are not all inclusive and can cause for miscommunication between the client and detailer when it comes to expectations and quality of outcome.  There are also many practicing detailers who fill in these scratches, only to leave the same issues exposed over time as the wax or other filler procuct wears off.  

We at Signature Auto Detailing do not accept any of the above as an option – we see the right way as the only way, and being able to do so starts with education and the understanding of what “paint correction” actually is and what the various terms that are thrown around, actually mean.

paint correction, polish, wetsanding, polishing, waxing, buffing

How do I know if my vehicle needs paint correction? What am I seeing when I look at these defects?

To put it in the simplest form, any defect that is seen on the surface of your vehicle is ultimately an interference with the way that light reflects off of the surface in it’s most true form and angle.

The defect is visible because the light’s rays are misdirected by the uneven and non-smooth surface.  See below:

car scratches, why do I see scratches in my paint, what is a car scratch
car paint imperfections, automotive paint defects, what causes scratches in car paint

How is paint corrected?

To acheive correction, abrasives (commonly refered to as compounds, polish, etc) are used to take the overall clearcoat level of the area down to the bottom of/slightly below,  the scratch or defect.  These abrasives are in liquid form and worked with the help of a rotary or orbital polisher that uses speed and heat (controlled) to take down the clearcoat.  This is how the particular defect is actually “removed”.

An uneven paint/clearcoat surface is corrected by a series of steps depending on the specific types of defects and deep into the clearcoat the imperfection actually is:

  • Leveling – commonly refered to as “wetsanding” – creates an even surface that can then be refined further
  • Compounding – Heavy cut on defects.  
  • Polishing – Various cut levels to further refine paint after compounding, or to remove lighter scratches/swirls/defects
  • Finishing – Final step, can include finishing polish to remove final, minimal defects, leaving a perfectly smooth surface
  • Protection – Wax, sealant, or ceramic coating – protects fresh surface and prevents future damage from UV rays to scratches, etc. depending on choice of protectant

If you have read this far, you probably have gained some further insight into what paint correction is, the process itself,  and can see how there is also room for variance in each and every step along the way.  No two cars are the same, and clearcoats themselves can widely vary from different manufacturers making the specific prep and process custom to the job at hand.


If you think you are in need of paint correction, contact us today.  We are always happy to help and if you would like us to take a look at the car we can show all of the above in person, and also demonstrate how we can improve the current condition of your paint.


The slight differences in paint condition has a large factor in the overall value of your vehicle and its appearance, and this is why Paint Correction is not your typical process, but a form of art.

paint correction, scratch removal

Interested in Paint Correction for Your Vehicle?

Don't wait! Give us a call today!