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The Detail Department
Detailing tips, tricks to keep your bimmer in showroom condition.

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  #1  
Old 07-16-2003, 04:39 PM
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RKT BMR RKT BMR is offline
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TIP: Quick Detailers and swirls

Like many owners with dark finishes, I am in a constant battle with swirl marks. It seems that anything that wipes over the surface of a well-detailed finish will leave visible swirls in the wax, that for us OCD types, is extremely annoying at certain angles in the sun. I've been trying different techniques, towel materials, wax products, etc. over two years to solve this, and haven't yet got it COMPLETELY nailed, but I've come pretty close.

One of the more frustrating things was to have a virtually swirl-free waxjob turn in to a swirl nightmare as soon as I used some Griots SpeedShine to do a quick detailing. Always looks fabulous under the flourescent garage lights. Out in the sun – SWIRLS!!! I have developed a technique that virtually eliminates them with Quick Detailing spray (at least SpeedShine), and I thought I'd share it.

Essential items:
  • Random Orbital machine polisher
  • Microfiber bonnet
  • Microfiber wipe-down towels
  • Quick detailing spray
  • A few soft, cotton towels – the Griots diaper material cotton towels are great
Procedure:
  1. Apply and remove detailing spray in as cold conditions as possible, and make sure the surface is at ambient temperature. If you just drove the car, wait until it's cooled off (usually about 12 hours!).
  2. Before doing the general surface detailing, examine the paint surface for any blobs like bird droppings, that golden pollen splat (I call it beesh!t), etc. Soak a clean cotton towl in water and wring it out, fold it in quarters, and place it firmly on the blob(s). After 5 minutes or so, the blob should have loosened enough to be gently wiped off with the wet towel. Don't use any pressure!
  3. Cover the area to be worked (the entire hood or trunk, for example) with detailing spray. Only a very light misting is necessary for a clean surface (e.g., it was just detailed the day before, and didn't get dirty or dusty). Increase the amount used depending on the dirt loading. If the car is really dirty, you should wash it*.
  4. Using a microfiber towel folded in quarters (do not use the cotton!), gently spread and wipe off the detailing spray, in long, straight passes, parallel to the long axis of the car. Turn and refold the towel frequently to present clean fibers to the surface. I end up hitting both sides of one towel completely when doing the hood this way. That means that I am rotating through a total of 8 different "sides" of the towel as I work from one side of the hood over to the other. Let any excess streaks of detailer that are still on the surface evaporate – should only take a minute or so, if that.
  5. Grab your buffer with MF bonnet, set at a relatively slow speed (I set the Porter Cable to 3), and run the buffer over the surface without applying any pressure – allow the weight of the machine to be all the pressure applied. Adjust the speed so that the pad/bonnet rotates about 1 revolution per second (60 rpm).
  6. Follow the usual crosshatch pattern used when polishing or waxing. Do not make more than two complete passes over any part of the finish. As you get better at this, you can make it in one pass. The key here is to buff as little as possible, to prevent completely rubbing off the QD product just applied, but buff enough to kill the swirls.
That's it! You'll be amazed at the results. Like I said, I haven't been able to achieve 100% swirl-free results with any method, but this comes dang close. Close enough that you have to really try, from all sorts of different angles, to find a hint of swirling in the sunshine.



I keep a clean MF bonnet for just this purpose, and nothing else. I have two more that I use for removing wax residue when waxing the car. I SpeedShine my hood and trunk just about every morning before I leave for work, and this process takes me about 5 minutes to do 'em both.








*Although I've had success cleaning my entire car with SpeedShine after it took a big dust load from a dirt road without any scratching or swirling, washing is still the recommended treatment. It took enormous amounts of SS, which can be quite expensive. However, if you want to try this, be very careful, keep presenting clean towel segments to the surface, and use lots of towels in addition to the gobs of detailing spray. You're on your own if you go this route – I'm not recommending it.

Last edited by RKT BMR; 03-17-2005 at 08:59 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-16-2003, 06:49 PM
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Rocket, listening to you would be enough to keep me away from a dark car forever. My next BMW that I have dibs on for a great deal is an all black E46 M3
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  #3  
Old 07-17-2003, 12:30 AM
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Excellent write-up Rocket!

Using a QD that contains a little carnauba (like Crystal Mist) will make the job a little easier!
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  #4  
Old 07-17-2003, 12:15 PM
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RKT BMR RKT BMR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick T.
Excellent write-up Rocket!

Using a QD that contains a little carnauba (like Crystal Mist) will make the job a little easier!
Speedshine is carnauba-based.

I'm just really OCD about swirl marks. Anytime I touch the paint surface for something (wash, wax, detail, etc.), I roll it out in to the sunshine and spend about 15 minutes inspecting from every possible angle conceivable to find swirls. I hate em! The only time I've ever been able to get the finish absolutely swirl free is after a polishing, but before the wax is applied. That, of course, is not an acceptable solution

Last edited by RKT BMR; 02-24-2004 at 09:57 AM.
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  #5  
Old 07-28-2003, 10:40 AM
in_d_haus in_d_haus is offline
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I tried this on Friday and it really works well. I've never really had a problem with SS leaving streaks but in prep to display my car at our Concour I gave it a shot.

I also talked over the process with the 2 Griots reps at our show and they were intrigued. I've sent this off to them to read and experiment with.

Nice job RKT
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  #6  
Old 07-28-2003, 11:29 AM
Guest84 Guest84 is offline
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How could I have missed this post? Great write up! I'll have to try it.
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  #7  
Old 07-28-2003, 12:14 PM
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Another tip I discovered quite by accident. When you're finished quick detailing the car, take the damp (with detailer) application rag a wipe it over the wood trim, or shiny painted trim, inside the car. Then wipe off with the removal rag. It positively glows.
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  #8  
Old 10-08-2003, 04:58 PM
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I hate swirl marks too! But I love my black bimmer!!!

I will admit that I have never tried Griot's products, but I have used Zymol, and a three step process with McGuirres #7, #9 and then #21. The later worked pretty good, but took forever. Then one day I was walking throught the local state fair with my family and passed a guy peddling some kind of car wax. My WIFE actually made me go back and look (she knows how I am). So I did and was amazed at the product. Mostly because it is almost pure Carnauba wax. Most "good" waxes are around 30-40% Carnauba with petroleum and clay additives. This wax has NO clay and NO petroleum distillates in it and is over 90% carnauba. Anyway, the price was right, 20 buck for 2 bottles with a money back gaurantee. I was still a bit skeptical, but could wait to try it on my car. The next day I got up early, the sun was shining, this was it. I washed off all the other wax I had on the car and begain to use the new stuff. WOW, did it go on fast and smooth. BTW I also use foam applicator pads and microfiber towels to wipe off/polish with, they are great! This stuff removed all but the worst of the swirl marks and scratches (I am the second owner of this car and the first wasn't too car care savvy). And boy does it shine! All my car buddies thought it had a new paint job, not that it looked bad before. People are always giving me a hard time about how anal I am about my car and I take that as a compliment.

So, want to know what it is? Its called Carnu-B and it can be found on the web. Sounds cheesy, but I like it!

Also, I recommend NEVER using terry cloth to wash or dry a car. It scratches. I use nothing but The Absorber, a synthetic chamois. One to wash and one to dry.

My 2 cents
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2004, 06:21 PM
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I’ve been playing with various products and techniques for quite some time now, and so far I have not found any way to eliminate those minor swirls in the carnauba.

There is one technique that will help to reduce the visibility of the swirls. If you wipe the surface with a circular motion (Mr. Miyagi’s wax on, wax off method), then the swirls are circular and reflect light from all angles! Applying and removing product using up/down motion on the vertical surfaces and fore/aft motion on the horizontal surface will not reduce the amount of swirling, but will make a major reduction in how easily they are seen.
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  #10  
Old 07-28-2004, 01:21 AM
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The best technique I've found is to use an orbital buffer to apply the 3m Swirl/scratch removers. This stuff works. Simply just apply some on the buffer and using light pressure buff onto the paint and it'll remove the swirl marks for good. If the swirls are really bad, a second pass maybe needed, but all the swirl marks on my car were gone!!
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  #11  
Old 08-23-2004, 11:41 AM
DotBalm DotBalm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKT BMR
[*]Grab your buffer with MF bonnet, set at a relatively slow speed (I set the Porter Cable to 3), and run the buffer over the surface without applying any pressure – allow the weight of the machine to be all the pressure applied. Adjust the speed so that the pad/bonnet rotates about 1 rpm.
1 rpm, as in revolutions per minute? Not nit-picking...want to follow this advice. Is it really more like 60 rpm so it's 1 revolution per second?

Thanks for the write up.
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  #12  
Old 09-14-2004, 08:30 PM
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If you have a really good detail shop or bodyshop near by........

I suggest you find a good wheel man.Buffing a black car to remove swirl marks is the way to go.3m makes incredible compund that will get those swirls out.

Once the swirls are cut out,it's up to you to optain the finish.It will last a very long time.

Keep it waxed.

Dan
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  #13  
Old 03-17-2005, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DotBalm
1 rpm, as in revolutions per minute? Not nit-picking...want to follow this advice. Is it really more like 60 rpm so it's 1 revolution per second?
OOPS!

Indeed that should read 60 rpm. I've corrected it. Thanks!
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  #14  
Old 03-20-2005, 03:56 PM
Carl Thibodeaux Carl Thibodeaux is offline
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I've used a zymol product in the past and that is very similar to what they suggested
Basically after you have finished waxing you should use a spray bottle of water and spritz the vehicle. It appears to me this helps to remove any residual wax which causes smears and balance the shine.
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  #15  
Old 05-23-2005, 01:12 PM
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zentenn zentenn is offline
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Question

My 325CIC is titanium silver so any swirl marks don't show up, at least not that I can tell. Anyway, I'm more OCD about clean and streak free windows.

It seems that any OTC spray cleaner leaves streaks.

Here's what I've come up with, and it works pretty good.

First, I use a lamb wool mitt to wash the car. When I'm done with the washing, I rinse and squeeze most, but not all of the suds and water out of the mitt.

I use this mitt to clean both sides of the windows. (I have tinting on mine so it's better to use a soapy mix). I use a cotton cloth to dry the glass and then buff the windows with another clean cotton cloth.

So far it works well, but if you don't buff the window perfectly you will see streaks in certain lighted conditions.

I sort of got the idea for this method from the guys that applied my tint as they used a soapy mixture to clean the windows before application


Does anybody have a better solution?
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  #16  
Old 05-23-2005, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zentenn
My 325CIC is titanium silver so any swirl marks don't show up, at least not that I can tell. Anyway, I'm more OCD about clean and streak free windows.

It seems that any OTC spray cleaner leaves streaks.
Have you tried Stoner's Invisible Glass? I'm amazed at how well it works - and so many people on many different boards have recommended it highly. A good waffle weave towel is essential as well.
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  #17  
Old 12-14-2005, 01:31 PM
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Hey folks, I had to chime in and correct a few things here.

Swirls are not in the wax, they are in the clear coat. Waxes and glazes do not remove swirls, they merely "fill" them temporarily, making them less optically visible. They fill the micro scratches with fillers or oils so that light doesn't hit them, hence hiding them.

Carnauba's and glazes last a very short time. So after you wash your car, you'll most likely see all those same swirls all over again.

There is only way to truly remove swirls: polish them out. Polishing is by definition a process where by you are removing a micro-thin layer of your clearcoat. The more aggressive or abrasive the polish, the more clear coat you are removing. Polishing is often a multi-step process, where an agressive polish is followed by a more gentle polish, etc. and then onto a wax or a synthetic sealant. Aggressive polishing is best done with either a rotary or a random orbital, and light polishing is best done with a random orbital. Beginners should not use a rotary, but anyone with some quick training can use an orbital.

An orbital not only spins, it oscillates. That "dual action" means it doesn't generate enough heat in one space to "burn" the paint, which would leave those aweful hologram looking marks in your paint.

I could go on forever here, but just wanted to shed some light on this. The technique recommended with using an MF bonnet and QD sounds fishy to me. Why do you need to use your PC for that? Just use QD and an MF and you're fine. You're not really accomplishing much by applying the QD with a PC.
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  #18  
Old 12-26-2005, 07:30 PM
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Watch out for the cheap "hand wax" offer at full service car washes. Recently I -very stupidly- had my 2 month-old black E90 waxed when it was offered to me by a detail shop who rents a service bay at my regular auto wash place. When I got my car back the paint was positively destroyed! I took it back after calling the owner of the shop and showed them the problem and stressed that the car was only 2 months old . They offered to "put their best guy on the job" and fix the damage. They delivered my car to me in the dark so it was difficult to see what it looked like. The next morning I just wanted to scream and kick or just faint! SWIRLS everywhere I looked. Their "best guy" had used a wool pad to buff out the other swirls he made and only made the problem worse. Phone call #2 to the owner. I told him I was taking my car to a body shop to have the paint fixed and that I would be giving him the invoice for $300. He choked and said, "thats a lot of money." I reminded him that his $40. wax job and his "you should wax your car once a quarter" line was the real cause of my problem (and my own stupidity, but I didn't tell him that) and that he could agree to pay the 300 or pay $6,000. to have it re-painted at my dealership. He agreed to pay the 300...smart guy. So the detailer, "the black car specialist" at the European Auto body shop worked on my car for 7 hours on his day off to fix the paint. He did a great job, but there are still surface scratches on the paint. I'll never, ever own another black car again... Is there anything that will remove those tiny little scratches for a "dumb girl" to use on her new baby?
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  #19  
Old 12-26-2005, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Second3
Is there anything that will remove those tiny little scratches for a "dumb girl" to use on her new baby?

Yes. Read the first post of this thread.
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  #20  
Old 12-26-2005, 08:35 PM
Second3 Second3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misterlance
Yes. Read the first post of this thread.
Sorry, maybe I should have added that little part about not wanting to use a buffer by myself for the first time...Eeek. Are all surface scratches permanent? I just can't believe that a $300. detail couldn't remove all of them!!!!!!!!
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  #21  
Old 12-26-2005, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Second3
Sorry, maybe I should have added that little part about not wanting to use a buffer by myself for the first time...Eeek. Are all surface scratches permanent? I just can't believe that a $300. detail couldn't remove all of them!!!!!!!!

Its not so bad as your making it. You can accomplish the same effect with your hands. Basically your filling the scratches in with wax. I am surprised this wasn't taken care of in the detail. But remember if the scratches are deep enough to go below the clear coat and paint, you will need to fill the scratches with touch-up paint.
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  #22  
Old 12-27-2005, 03:16 PM
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a VERY important step while applying any product to a black car is the towels used in the removal of the products.
Zaino recommends 100%, american made cotton towels and i've yet to try the microfiber towels. better than cotton??????
found out the hard way when i rubbed too hard (using an old towel that was lying around!)applying Z8 Zaino detailing spray to my mothers crv (luckily only in one little spot). it's amazing how easy it is to do this. be careful!!!!
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  #23  
Old 12-28-2005, 11:41 AM
cattman cattman is offline
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Listen, the posted advice at the top here will not remove scratches or swirls, it will only fill them TEMPORARILY!
To remove a scratch, you have to abrade away the paint around it, to get all the paint at the same level, so that scratch is not at a deeper level than the rest of the paint. Think of this way: you draw a line in the dirt. to get rid of that line, you can either fill it back in with more dirt, or level is out with the dirt on either side of the line.
Filling in a scratch is only a temporary fix.
You have to level the paint to remove a scratch. Wetsanding, polishing, etc. is how that's done.
Most cars, black more than any, suffer from micro-maring/ swirl marks, which are tiny tiny micro scratches that often cover a car from stem to stern. Those can be created when you go to a car wash, trust your car to a less then great detailer, clean it yourself without understanding products/ practices.

Please post some pics of your paint and I will cook you a recipe, or find you someone in your area who can do it for you.
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  #24  
Old 07-11-2006, 07:34 AM
BMW Detailer BMW Detailer is offline
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Good advice cattman- I do the same using a random orbital and Meguir's Diamond Cut and/or their polish. If I use a circular pad to remove scratches, I use very low rpms with a foam pad- never wool. But the random orbit makes it near impossible to ever leave swirls.
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  #25  
Old 07-11-2006, 07:38 AM
dboy11 dboy11 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cattman
Hey folks, I had to chime in and correct a few things here.

Swirls are not in the wax, they are in the clear coat. Waxes and glazes do not remove swirls, they merely "fill" them temporarily, making them less optically visible. They fill the micro scratches with fillers or oils so that light doesn't hit them, hence hiding them.

Carnauba's and glazes last a very short time. So after you wash your car, you'll most likely see all those same swirls all over again.

There is only way to truly remove swirls: polish them out. Polishing is by definition a process where by you are removing a micro-thin layer of your clearcoat. The more aggressive or abrasive the polish, the more clear coat you are removing. Polishing is often a multi-step process, where an agressive polish is followed by a more gentle polish, etc. and then onto a wax or a synthetic sealant. Aggressive polishing is best done with either a rotary or a random orbital, and light polishing is best done with a random orbital. Beginners should not use a rotary, but anyone with some quick training can use an orbital.

An orbital not only spins, it oscillates. That "dual action" means it doesn't generate enough heat in one space to "burn" the paint, which would leave those aweful hologram looking marks in your paint.

I could go on forever here, but just wanted to shed some light on this. The technique recommended with using an MF bonnet and QD sounds fishy to me. Why do you need to use your PC for that? Just use QD and an MF and you're fine. You're not really accomplishing much by applying the QD with a PC.
Very well put and on the money!!!
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