What Is Car Paint Correction?

You heard about it but you have a very perfunctory idea of what it is and what it’s needed for? Then this article will help you to figure this out!

Perhaps, almost every car owner has experienced this scenario at least once in his lifetime: when you wash your car using the best and the most expensive washing products and the best microfiber cloths, and then you suddenly notice those almost invisible web-like cracks in the car’s paint! And what the heck is that?!

That means that your vehicle will need what is called paint correction. And this is exactly when the majority of car enthusiasts start hesitating.

Ok, they think, washing and even polishing a car is fine, and we can do that ourselves. But polishing?! Will the paint on the vehicle survive that?!

All right, let’s figure this out once and for all. Today, in the very article that we have prepared for you below, you will find the answers to the majority of questions regarding your car’s polishing and paint correction.

We will tell you what exactly is that scary paint correction on a vehicle, why it should be done, and how much it may cost you should you do that.

Also, you will learn more about the three different types of a car paint correction so that after you are done reading, you will be able to tell the difference between the one-step paint correction, two-step correction, and the three-step car paint correction!

Already impressed? Hold on, this is just the beginning! In the end, we will share a few handy tips with you on what actions to take in order to keep your lovely car as far from any damage as possible. Are you ready? Then off we go!

What Is Paint Correction On A Car?

So, let’s start with the most thrilling question of all times: what is that car paint correction in fact? Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that your whole vehicle will have to be stripped off the color and repainted from scratch!

Car paint correction simply means that a big dude called detailer will remove the minor scratches and imperfections from the surface of your vehicle, to be precise, from its clear coat, with the use of a special tool.

That tool is an electric polisher: it consists of a microfiber buffing pad and a special cutting compound.

So when you bring your car to the service center, the detailer will cut unto the clear coat of your car’s paint with the electric polisher till all the minor scratches are removed or leveled.

What Is Paint Correction On A Car
Housekeepingbay.com

When completed correctly and taking your time – there is no need to stress for you. However, if you try to rush the job, it is possible to damage the clear coating past the point of repair.

That all said, paint correcting a car’s paint job is a critical step if you plan on applying a nano ceramic coating or paint protection film.

Paint correction can be broken down into multiple stages – based mainly on the damage to the clear coating.

And below, we will tell you more about each of them in detail.

What Is Paint Correction On A Car
Credits: Denin Lawley, via Unsplash.com

What Is 1 Step Paint Correction?

This type of car paint correction is what can be called self-explanatory. It is a single step polishing process that is usually using a cutting compound or the liquid polish, and a pad.

The single stage paint correction is used when it is needed to remove small marring and swirl marks that are easily removed.

What Is 1 Step Paint Correction
Credits: Kartik Bhattacharjee, via Unsplash.com

Related: How Much Does It Cost to Paint Rims?

What Is a 2 Step Paint Correction?

When the paint of a car has moderate or medium swirl marks and scratches that are embedded in the clear coat, stage two is the next thing that must be done.

At this point, you are going to use two different polishes and pad combinations.

Typically, it starts by using a more abrasive polish first, then stepping down to a finer compound in order to remove any light scratches left by the first step.

What Is a 2 Step Paint Correction
Credits: aoo8449, via Crello.com

Related: How to Fix Spray Paint Bubbles

What Is a 3 Step Paint Correction?

Finally, in case you do get to this point, it is a good idea to do some careful research before you start, and perhaps even defer to a professional.

So basically, a three-step paint correction of your car is a three-step program, where the car’s paint job has heavy swirl marks, marring, or other defects.

The first step involves using a heavy cutting compound, with the help of a machine polisher, and a polishing pad to really dig into that paint damage.

The second step progressively decreases the grit, and finally, a light polishing compound should smooth out the damage.

And now that you are a bit more aware of what each of these steps are about, let us explain why this procedure should be taken at all.

How To Polish A Car For Beginners - Paint Correction Guide for first timersHow To Polish A Car For Beginners – Paint Correction Guide for first timers

Why Is Car Paint Correction Completed?

As we have already mentioned above, a car paint correction procedure is usually taken when it is needed to remove any minor imperfections and scratches from the car paint’s clear coat.

It is a kind service that is completed typically to prepare your vehicle for a protective coating or film.

The process is always customized based on the type of paint, the type of imperfections of the car’s surface, and the request of the customer.

The detailer at the service center will polish a vehicle to remove a few individual imperfections that may include the following ones:

  • Removing fine scratches
  • Remove spider webbing or swirl marks
  • Get rid of stains left by animal waste, such as bird droppings and bug splatters
  • Remove calcium deposits also known as water spots
  • Damage or high / low spots by poor installation of DIY protective solutions
  • Removing wax, paint sealants, or ceramic coatings from paintwork

There are also some liquid chemical products that can be used to remove existing ceramic coatings.

However, the risk of using these products is similar to being too aggressive with polishing as it can damage the clear coat of the vehicle’s paint.

Why Is Car Paint Correction Completed
Credits: Julian Hochgesang, via Unsplash.com

Can You Remove the Clear Coat When Using Car Paint Correction?

This question bothers many car owners, to be honest. Since polishing your car is quite an “aggressive” procedure, you might be concerned about its safety for the surface of the vehicle and its appearance.

And essentially, there is such a possibility. The process of car paint polishing involves a cutting compound which is basically a gritty substance.

So when the detailer turns the electric polisher on, the polish liquid or paste is spread evenly on the painted surface of your car, creating friction in order to be able to cut through the clear coat of the paint work.

Those polishers are designed for different purposes and thus they come in multiple grit levels. Some of them are used for filling scratches whilst others work to remove the clear coat until the scratch is deleted. And this is what introduces that risk of damaging the clear coat on your car or even removing it.

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 damage.

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’d hope.

Can You Remove the Clear Coat When Using Car Paint Correction
Credits: djedzura, via Crello.com

Do I Need to Polish My Car Before Ceramic Coating Is Applied?

This is another frequent question that automobile enthusiasts ask when it comes to polishing a car. In fact, the answer will really depend on the condition of the car’s paint. See, when a ceramic coating is applied, regardless of the different formulation or application method, the aim of the coating is to bond directly to the surface, then harden, and then provide a protective layer.

When the coating hardens, it is transparent, thus making it act like glass. This amplifies the paint underneath.

So, a gloss finish will appear even more-glossy while a matte finish will provide more depth. Any tiny or hard to see scratches will be amplified or enhanced! Any swirl marks will stand out, not be covered up!

This is actually one of the biggest myths about DIY ceramic coatings and other paint protection coats – that they fill scratches and improve the condition of paint.

Unfortunately, improving the condition of paint and filling the scratches is only possible through paint correction.

As such, if you have any imperfections in the vehicle’s paint surface, we would strongly recommend you to take your car to a professional detailer to polish it or buff the paint as part of the preparatory work.

Do I Need to Polish My Car Before Ceramic Coating Is Applied
Credits: djedzura, via Crello.com

How Can You Protect Your Car From Future Damage? Tips And Life Hacks

Of course, every car owner would love to see his or her vehicle with a fine glossy finish, well-painted and good-looking, as long as possible.

However, reality hits as we all know, and sooner or later, even if you keep your vehicle in the garage and you wash it regularly with the best washing products and the softest sponges or cloths, you will see different imperfections.

Tiny scratches, dust and debris, salt and road grime, bug splatters and birds’ poo, water marks and other visible signs of the outer world definitely don’t make your car look nicer!

How Can You Protect Your Car From Future Damage Tips And Life Hacks
Credits: Nomadsoul1, via Crello.com

Even the sun can cause noticeable damage by making the paint on your car fade. But does it mean you will have to take it to the detailer every month, or what?! Of course, not! And we are going to tell you what can be done in order to avoid that scenario.

  • Wash your car regularly, preferably manually, using a two-bucket method instead of automatic car washes since they damage the paint.
  • Apply the ceramic coating to protect the car against UV rays.
  • Keep your car covered if you leave it outdoors on sunny days.

When following these simple recommendations, you will be able to significantly extend the lifespan of your car’s paint and clear coat, and paint correction will not be needed for quite a long time!

Well, now you ladies and gentlemen know more about such a mysterious procedure as car paint correction! We told you what it is and why it might be needed.

Also, now you are aware of some details regarding it, such as the three types of the car paint correction.

So even though you will have to bring your vehicle to the detailer, you will be able to understand what he is talking about when he tells you about the one-step or two-step correction!

And since you are now informed about a few easy yet very useful tips on how to make the painted layer on your car last longer, we are sure that the help of the detailer will not be needed for you for quite a long time!

Keep your car clean, and ride safe!

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ Do you need to polish small scratches before applying PPF?

It depends on the type of scratch and the brand of the paint protection film. If the PPF is infused with nanotechnology, minor damage can be filled with the adhesive. Heavy defects will need paint correction.

⭐ How much time should pInt correction take?

It can last from 5 hours for the minor correction and up to 30 hours for fixing the serious damage.

⭐ How to protect the paint after paint correction?

Use sealant wax or ceramic coating, or coating toppers.

Written by Melinda Sherween
avatar
Melinda worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years in total. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco where she was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. At this job, Melinda showed herself as a confident specialist and a true art lover with exceptional taste and artistic sense. Melinda is a passionate author of Housekeeping Bay and we are really happy that she is our Expert.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
A GUIDE TO RESTORING CAR PAINT- (paint decontamination, paint correction & paint protection)A GUIDE TO RESTORING CAR PAINT- (paint decontamination, paint correction & paint protection)
13 Best Greige Paint Colors. Ultimate Guide
Paint color greige ultimate guide