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What is paint correction?

What is paint correction?

It's often these days to hear the words paint correction when exploring a detail for your vehicle, a coating or paint protection film installations. This term often raises questions as to exactly what paint correction is. To help clear up the confusion, questions and to create some clarity, this article will help you understand what it is and when/if it's right for you.

Basically the term paint correction is described exactly as the term is worded - paint correction is the art of bringing the paint finish back to factory condition by removing defects. It's often once you take ownership of your vehicle from a dealer, the paint has already received plenty of damage and marring. As I mention in the article about ceramic coating your new car, dealers focus on getting a car ready for you to take delivery as quickly as possible and proper washing techniques (the result of a large majority of paint defects comes from improper washing) are not efficient use of the dealerships' time. Many times we as owners are also unaware of the damage caused by washing the vehicle. 

Paint can be quite sensitive to marring and scratching, regardless of color. However, darker colored vehicles show the marring and scratches much worse than lighter colored vehicles, which is why many say dark colored cars are the hardest to take care of. The marring and scratching we see on dark cars, happens to all cars and is the result of dirt, which are essentially smaller pieces of rocks, being trapped between the wash pad/brush and the paint - thus causing micro scratches all over our paint. Using proper washing techniques reduce these significantly and help that beautiful shine remain.

Paint correction focuses on removing these defects through polishing the paint. Polishing is typically done in stages depending on several factors, such as the severity of the defects in the paint, the type of paint, the substrate (metal, plastic, aluminum) that your car uses and desire from the owner. A good paint correction specialist will focus on preservation of your paint before all else, since polishing is basically a micro form of sanding your paint. OUCH! Sanding the paint sounds harsh, but keep in mind the abrasives in compounds are micro in size and focused on creating a jewel type surface.

When looking at what is possible for your paint, you want to evaluate a few key items. First, what is your objective with paint correction? A specialist can usually get you to just about any level of clarity and shine you desire, but note that the better you want it to look, the more time and dollars that go into the result. Second, as you evaluate what you'd like fixed you want to look at the defects themselves. Do they look deep or surface? Does your fingernail catch on any of them? Is the color of paint still present or is it totally gone? Is there a cloudy look to the finish? Is it there a milky finish in any areas? 

A large majority of paint corrections we do here in Austin, are wash induced marring, also known as spiderwebbing, that reduce the shine and clarity of your paint. With cars like this, we believe in doing a test spot with various procedures to identify what works for your car. Every vehicle is different and must be treated as unique. Once we define the least aggressive method to create the finish you desire, we can calculate the effort to go in to make it happen.

To evaluate your choice for paint correction you will want to ask your paint correction specialist a few key questions before you decide on who you choose to work on your car.

1. What is your process for refining paint?

2. How do you preserve the paint that is still on my vehicle?

3. What do you do about scratches that my fingernail catches on?

4. How do you ensure you don't burn through my paint?

You are looking for someone who has been properly trained on paint systems and paint correction processes and one who believes in preservation of your paint and has a process to do so. For example, most of the time scratches that your fingernail catches on cannot be repaired without sacrificing the longevity of the clear coat/paint around that scratch - be weary of anyone who says they can 'buff it down'. It will look good initially but after a few months, your clear coat will begin to fail. Also, look for someone who tapes off hard edges to protect them from buffing as the edges will take the brunt of the polishing process and can quickly burn through an edge.

Below is an example of what a very poorly cared for Infiniti paint looks like:

2016 Infiniti QX80 Paint Marring

2016 Infiniti QX80 Paint Marring

What a fully corrected paint looks like after paint correction on the same Infiniti looks like:


Inifiniti QX80 after full paint correction

Inifiniti QX80 after full paint correction

As you see from the above images, refining the paint to clarity and perfect reflection is basically what paint correction is. Many of our customers say when our work is done, it's like we've given them a new vehicle. The difference is impactful, and for those that want that beautiful paint, paint correction topped with a good ceramic coating and followed by proper washing can deliver lasting shine for years to come.

The impact is dramatic as you can see from this QX80 video. We absolutely love transforming vehicles like this and we'd love to tackle yours. If you'd like your vehicle transformed, please reach out and we will talk you through what's best for your vehicle and budget.