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Paint Correction 101 - What is Paint Correction?

May 10, 2021 5 min read

Paint Correction 101 - What is Paint Correction?

Contrary to popular belief, automotive paint is not bulletproof. In fact, the day you pick up that new, shiny car or truck from the dealership, it is likely that it has been contaminated or has suffered mild paint imperfections. To fix these small scratches, swirl marks, and other problems, and to prepare the vehicle for ceramic coating, paint correction is completed.

So - what exactly is paint correction and why do so many DIY enthusiasts and some professionals fear it? To simplify, paint correction is a process that helps to remove imperfections or scratches found on vehicle's paint - or more specifically, the clear coat or top layer of paint.

The key phrase here is 'process' - as paint correction goes much further than simply using a polishing pad, compound, and a dual-action polisher. There are different levels of paint defects - harder and softer paint - or specifically, clear coats, and other variables that makes it difficult to

Over the next few weeks, with support of video tutorials and some easy-to-understand written instructions, we are going to introduce you to the Americana Global paint correction process - a multiple step solution that helps to remove surface contaminants, prep the paint for correction, then using the right materials and techniques to repair damage to the vehicle's paint job.

What is the Paint Correction Steps?

Vehicle paint imperfections come in different sizes, shapes, and types of damage. There are also different grades or hardness of clear coats that protect a car's paint. Depending on the level of damage, the type of coating or paint sealant applied, or the softness of the clear coating, the repair process will require minimal or multiple steps of correcting or fixing those annoying eyesores.

In the professional detailing world, these are known as paint correction stages. However, the complete process of paint correction involves multiple steps - many of which are completed prior to picking up a buffer, choosing the right cutting compound or pad, and learning the techniques.

Here are the recommended steps that should be included in ANY paint correction job.

Washing the Vehicle

The concept of paint correction involves removing tiny scratches caused mainly by improper car washing. These little scratches are often called swirl marks, or spiderwebbing. They are very difficult to see. Depending on the color of your vehicle, the depth of the scratches, and the direction of sunlight or artificial light, the scratch can appear minor too severe.

Before you go through the process of fixing those scratches, you want your vehicles paint to be free of all debris, so you do not cause more damage. Therefore, we recommend washing your vehicle with an aggressive, pH neutral car soap that is safe on all paint and vehicle surfaces.

Americana Global Ceramic Maintenance SOAP is formulated to accomplish this crucial first step - but also is a great maintenance shampoo to use if you've ceramic coated the car, truck, or SUV.

Remove Iron Deposits or Industrial Fallout

When you drive down the road, your vehicle attracts multiple materials ranging from bugs to brake dust. As most vehicles are metallic, ferrous-based substances such as debris left from brake rotors and pads tend to stick to the paintjob.

This is often known as rail-dust or industrial fallout. In the end, they are the same thing - tiny specs of iron that can scratch the paint or specifically the clear coat.

Removing these iron deposits before completing paint correction is a vital second step. To accomplish this, consider using Americana Global Release Iron and Fallout remover.

It is a special formulated chemical compound that is pH neutral, that reacts with iron particles, loosens them from the clear coat, and in many cases, will melt them for easy removal.

This formulation is easy to use, but it is important to ensure the vehicle is not exposed to direct sunlight, as this can quickly dry out the iron remover and cause damage to the clear coat of the paint.

If you want to take an aggressive stance, consider using Americana Global Mystic quick detail spray as a lubricant for using a clay mitt or clay bar.

Why is Paint Correction Completed?

At the source, machine polishing is intended to remove imperfections on the vehicle's painted surface. It's a service that is completed typically to prep a vehicle for a protective coating or paint protection film. The process is always customized based on the type of paint, surface imperfections, and the request of the customer.

The detailer will start by cutting or removing the damage to the clear coat. Once the swirl marks are removed and minor scratches remain, they polish a vehicle to produce the depth, shine, and gloss you're looking to achieve.

There is some liquid, chemical products that can be used to remove existing ceramic coatings. However, the risk of using these products is similar with being too aggressive with polishing - as it can damage the clear coat of the vehicle's paint.

As such, professional detailers stick with correcting damage left my automated car wash machines, bird droppings, and other imperfections - prior to applying a professional ceramic coating or paint protection film.

Does Paint Correction Remove the Clear Coat?

Essentially - YES. The process of polishing involves using a gritty substance called a cutting compound. When you activate the electric polisher, the polish liquid or paste is spread evenly on the vehicle's painted surface, creating friction to cut through the clear coat of your paintwork.

The polishers are made in multiple grit levels, some of them are intended to fill a scratch - while others are designed to remove the clear until the scratch is removed.

This introduces that potential risk we spoke about above.

If the scratch is deeply cut into the clear coat, it is better to consult with a professional detailer or auto body repair company prior to starting to remove the damaged. If you cut the clear too thin, then protective coatings will have a hard time bonding to the surface. Additionally, the paint will not "pop" or shine as well as you would hope.

So - these are the basics about paint correction. The video posted above by Mel Craig gives a great overview on proper paint correction techniques, how to fix those fine scratches, and the simplicity of Americana Global's patented paint correction service and system.

In next week's blog, we'll introduce you to Adam Cote from our friends at Ceramic Pro - and he will walk us through how to pick the right supplies for paint correction.