Should You Wash Your Car After Paint Correction?

Paint correction is a great way to restore your vehicle's clear coat back to an almost, if not better-than-new state. However, it's only half the battle.

Proper maintenance is key to keeping your pride and joy looking stunning for as long as possible. This includes avoiding automatic car washes, using a decontamination wash and clay bar, and maintaining your ceramic coating.


Scratches are one of the biggest turn-offs for buyers when looking at a car. While these blemishes aren’t necessarily indicative of a bad paint job, they do make the vehicle look older than it is and can detract from its value. Car Paint correction can remove these blemishes and give the vehicle a better overall appearance. This can also help protect the car’s finish and prevent future damage.

Whether you have minor scratches or deep ones, they can be buffed away with scratch and swirl removal products. However, it is important to note that the scratch removal process must be done correctly. To do this, the surface of the paint must be clean and prepped. Professional detailers will usually start by performing a decontamination procedure, such as a decontamination spray, iron and fallout remover or clay bar treatment. This will ensure that the polish and waxes you’ll be using will work more efficiently on a clean substrate.

Once the decontamination process is complete, the detailer will then wash the vehicle using a two bucket system and high-quality surface prep shampoo. They will then break out a reusable clay bar mitt or towel, along with some clay lubricant and begin to work on the surface of the paint. This will remove any dirt, tar, bird droppings or other debris that may be stuck to the paint surface. Once this is done, the scratch and swirl removal product will be able to do its job.

When buffing out scratches, it is essential to know how far the scratch goes into the clear coat or paint. If the scratch only goes into the clear coat, it can be removed with a light polish and then covered with wax. If it goes into the paint, sanding and repainting will likely be required.

A common mistake that detailers make when attempting to fix scratches is by buffing out the grooves that cause them and then covering them with wax. However, this will only hide the scratch, not eliminate it. To truly remove a scratch, you will need to use a polish that can safely and effectively remove clear coat until it is flush with the deepest point of the scratch.


Swirl marks are a common paint defect that causes your car to look dull and unattractive. Essentially, they are circular scratches that can be seen when the vehicle is viewed under overhead sunlight or a powerful inspection light. Heavy swirl marks can camouflage the true condition and characteristics of your paint, which can make it difficult to tell what kind of finish you have.

They are most often caused by improper washing and automated car washes. When a car is washed improperly, the dirt and contaminants are not rinsed away and they tend to collect on the surface of the paint. As the paint is wiped with a dirty wash mitt or even a California duster, they cause friction that can leave behind fine scratches. Over time, these micro-scratches build up and create the unsightly swirl mark appearance.

The good news is, a full paint correction can eliminate all of the swirls and scratches on your vehicle. However, it is important to note that you will still need to properly care for your car to prevent them from reoccurring. This means avoiding automated car washes and proper washing with the two bucket method. Also, using a high quality towel and wiping the car dry is crucial. It’s important to avoid contaminated towels like water blades or old chamois that can leave scratches.

Another key thing to remember is that any compound, polish or wax will fill in these tiny scratches and make them temporarily disappear. However, once the polishing oils or wax wear off, the swirl marks will be back. This is why it’s so important to use the highest quality products and take your time during the correction process.

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made after a car is polished is to go to a car wash too soon. This can ruin all the hard work that was put into removing the swirls by damaging the paint with harsh chemicals and abrasive tools. It is best to wait a week or so until the paint has completely cured before getting it wet again.


Paint correction is a great way to eliminate surface imperfections and make your vehicle look showroom-fresh. It can even increase the resale value of your car or truck. However, it’s not for everyone and should be avoided in some circumstances. In this article, we’ll discuss if your vehicle is a good candidate for paint correction and when it should be avoided.

The first step in paint correction is to decontaminate the surface. This involves using a clay bar mitt or towel and applying clay lubricant to the surface. This loosens up bonded contamination like road salt and bird droppings that can scratch or mar your vehicle’s paint.

If these contaminants aren’t removed regularly, they will continue to cling to the surface and scratch or stain your paint. This is known as bonded contamination and can be difficult to remove without paint correction. If left untreated, bonded contamination can cause serious etching and corrosion in your vehicle’s top coat.

Another type of contaminant that can damage your paint is iron contamination, also known as rust spots. These are small specks of orange or brown rust that won’t wash off. They’re most noticeable on light-colored vehicles but can occur on any color of paint. Iron contamination can be caused by brake dust, iron filings from the roads and environmental fallout. It can be very difficult to remove without removing the clear coat as well.

Generally, the best time to perform paint correction is in the spring or summer when your vehicle isn’t exposed to harsh UV rays. Performing this service when your vehicle is in its prime condition will ensure that your paint and clear coat last longer and stay looking better for more years.

It’s important to remember that your vehicle will always be susceptible to scratches and swirl marks from improper washing and drive-thru car washes, as well as oxidation and corrosion from exposure to the elements. But by following proper washing techniques, a quality wax or sealant and parking your vehicle in a safe location away from bird droppings, you can protect your investment and keep your vehicle looking showroom-new for as long as possible.

Water spots

Water spots are like acne on your car – not only do they look unattractive, but they also can cause permanent damage. It’s important to have these contaminants removed as quickly as possible so that the clear coat is not harmed. If left untreated, the minerals that form water spots can etch into the paint and create a hole in your cars clear coat. The severity of the etching will vary depending on the type of minerals contained within the water, how long they are left to dry and whether or not your vehicle is protected with a ceramic coating.

Water spot contaminants (Types one and two) are essentially mineral deposits that form when water beads rest on your paint and dry. This can happen from rain, sprinklers, water puddles, car washes, or even kids with squirt guns. The longer the water spot is left to dry, the more etched into your clear coat it will become. The severity of the etching will depend on several factors such as: the concentration of minerals in the water, how warm or cold it was when it dried, how baked in the sun and does the vehicle have any protection such as a ceramic coating?

There is no set time frame in which a water spot can become permanent as there are too many variables. However, a general rule of thumb is that if you have water spots and you have a ceramic coated car, they will most likely not etch into your paint and will be easily removed with a good wash and rinse followed by a quality wax or sealant.

Oftentimes, water spots can be simply removed using a solution of vinegar and water or a commercial water spot remover. Just be sure to follow the instructions on your product as some of these solutions may strip your vehicles wax and require re-waxing. If the water spots or etchings are severe, they will probably need to be professionally removed which would involve a more involved detail with pads, products and machines. Once the etchings and water spots are fully removed it is always a good idea to add a protective layer of wax or ceramic coating to your vehicle.

Paint correction is a great way to restore your vehicle's clear coat back to an almost, if not better-than-new state. However, it's only half the battle. Proper maintenance is key to keeping your pride and joy looking stunning for as long as possible. This includes avoiding automatic car washes, using a decontamination wash and clay…