How To Remove Swirl Marks On Ceramic Coating (Easily)

Image Credit: RossHelen via Envato Elements

Image Credit: RossHelen via Envato Elements

How To Remove Swirl Marks On Ceramic Coating (Easily)


A ceramic coating is scratch resistant but it isn’t scratch proof. This can be surprising when you think back on all the hype you heard when you were sold that nuclear explosion-proof ceramic coating.

Ceramic coatings are really great. But they aren’t indestructible. They can’t prevent every scratch from forming. You still need to make sure that you treat your vehicle’s paint with care.

Don’t second guess your decision to get a ceramic coat applied to your car. It will do an excellent job of protecting your finish from bird droppings, acid rain, dirt, and other road grime and environmental contaminants that could cause damage.

Let’s go over the best way to deal with small scratches on the surface of your car or truck.

How To Remove Swirl Marks On Ceramic Coating

Swirl marks that appear to be on a ceramic coating are actually underneath and in the clear coat of the paint. The clear coat is softer than the ceramic coating, therefore dirt and other road grime can cause swirl marks and scratches through the ceramic coating if ground into the finish.

A great alternative to removing swirls and scratches is to use a glaze. Glazes are specifically designed to fill in scratches and swirls in your clear coat. Whether it’s been coated with a ceramic coating or not, a glaze should help hide scratches.

What Causes Swirls In Car Paint?

Car paint swirl marks and scratches are most often caused by not using safe methods to wash and dry your car or truck. Clear coat is very soft and it doesn’t take much to cause light scratches and swirl marks. Even incidental contact such as simply touching the surface of your vehicle can cause scratches.

The best practice to help ensure your car or truck remains scratch-free is to use the touchless wash method or at least the two bucket method.

The touchless method is just as you probably expect, no physical contact is involved during the car washing process. The process involves using a pH neutral car wash shampoo, pressure washer, and an air dryer or leaf blower to dry the vehicle.

The two bucket method involves 2 buckets of course but it does involve physically touching the finish. One bucket is for dunking your microfiber wash mitt in soapy water. The other is for rinsing it off when you’ve finished wiping down the car or truck with the wash mitt and need to soap it back up again.

The touchless method isn’t very effective on particularly dirty cars and trucks but it’s a great method to use in-between more thorough two bucket method washes.

Can Ceramic Coating Get Swirl Marks?

Ceramic coatings themselves don’t get swirl marks and scratches, but they are able to transfer scratches through to the clear coating beneath. Ceramic coating is scratch resistant but it isn’t scratch proof.

Ceramic coatings will help minimize scratches in your finish but they can’t prevent every swirl mark or scratch. You still need to avoid touching the surface of your car’s paint and use proper wash methods to minimize the risk of creating swirl marks in your ceramic coating.

Ceramic coatings are great protective coatings that can last for many years and provide excellent protection. Don’t get the wrong idea. Ceramic coatings are great, but the do tend to get overhyped.

Professional grade ceramic coatings are usually thicker and can provide better protection against scratches but even those aren’t capable of preventing damage to your clear coat completely.

Keep your expectations a little more realistic and be sure to properly wash your car to minimize the chances of causing light scratches or swirls in the finish.

How Do You Get Scratches Out Of Ceramic Coating?

Since the scratches aren’t actually in the ceramic coating itself, you can’t remove swirl marks or light scratches without actually removing the ceramic coating and fixing the underlying problem.

The only way to remove swirls in a ceramic coating would be to polish through the ceramic coating and remove the top of the clear coat that the scratches are embedded into.

This is obviously less than ideal. This is especially true if you’ve paid to have your car or truck paint corrected prior to having a ceramic coating applied.

Trying to remove scratches when you have a ceramic coating that is in good condition shouldn’t be attempted unless you have money to burn. Hiding the scratches is a much better approach. Try looking at a glaze to fill in and minimize those swirls and scratches.

Hiding these paint blemishes is cost-effective and a good stopgap until it’s time to reapply a ceramic coating. You can then take the opportunity to have the paint corrected and be sure to follow through on properly maintaining your finish to prevent damage.


Can You Polish A Ceramic Coated Car?

Polishing any car or truck with a ceramic coating applied to the surface will remove the coating as well as the top of the clear coating itself.

This is not going to be an ideal way to resolve the problem unless your ceramic coating fails and you need to go ahead and remove it anyhow. Ceramic coating wears away over time and won’t last forever.

Some ceramic coatings are capable of lasting many years, even over a decade for professional grade ceramic coatings. If you’ve recently had a ceramic coating applied to your car or truck you will want to consider other options.

Can You Buff Ceramic Coating?

The technical definition of buffing is that it is essentially a less aggressive version of polishing, using a finer grit or no abrasives at all.

Buffing will simply less quickly remove the ceramic coating than polishing, and it will require following with a polish to actually remove the scratches.

Does Polishing Remove Swirl Marks?

Polishing removes the top portion of the clear coat by wearing away the surface with abrasive compounds and polishes. This process will remove swirl marks as long as they are more shallow than the depth of clear coating that is removed from the surface.

Polishing is an aggressive solution to solve the problem of scratches. The problem with polishing to remove scratches is that your clear coat is only just so thick. You can only polish your car or truck so many times before the clear coat will become too thin.

It’s generally considered safe to polish your finish 4 or 5 times before you need to second guess whether it is safe to polish another time.

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How Much Does It Cost To Remove Swirl Marks?

A professional detailer can remove swirls and light scratches by polishing and compounding your finish for you. This service is called paint correction.

Paint correction services can vary quite a bit in cost. Factors that affect the cost of paint correction are the size of the vehicle, the amount of swirls and scratches to be removed, and the depth and severity of the scratches themselves.

Mild paint correction services can cost a few hundred dollars. Severe paint correction services can cost thousands. The cost involved is related to the amount of labor involved. The more work required to correct the paint, the longer it takes and the more you will need to pay the detailer.

Will Wax Hide Swirl Marks?

Wax can somewhat minimize the look of swirl marks in a car’s surface, but it won’t really do a very good job of hiding them. That’s not the purpose of wax so it isn’t optimized for that job.

Waxes and paint sealants (which are frequently called wax) are excellent at providing good protection from UV rays and are a great addition to add on top of a ceramic coating that has begun to loose it’s water beading properties and shine.

Does Glaze Hide Swirl Marks?

Glaze is a product that is specifically designed to fill in swirl marks and light scratches. It contains fillers and levelers that fill in the marks in the car’s paint.

Glazes are great alternatives to polishing your car or truck. They can dramatically improve the look of your finish without the expense or hard work involved with paint correction.

Glazes are a particularly excellent choice if you find that you have scratches that appear to be in your ceramic coated car. This will prevent swirl marks from needing to be polished away which would remove your ceramic coating.



A nano ceramic coating provides far more protection than a wax or paint sealant. They can help reduce the chance of swirls in your finish but they will still happen.

You can get a dual action polisher and remove the blemishes in your paint, but you’ll also be removing the ceramic coating as you do so.

Replacing a ceramic coating isn’t inexpensive to have done and it’s a lot of work to apply yourself. If your ceramic coating is beginning to fail then it might be worth going ahead and biting the bullet.

If you’ve recently had your ceramic coating applied, you probably don’t want to have to go through the expense or work of having it all reapplied.

Using a glaze to hide swirl marks is a much more reasonable solution to a potentially expensive problem. Glazes are inexpensive and easily applied. You can the apply wax or a paint sealant over top of the glaze to restore hydrophobic properties and shine as the ceramic coating begins to fail.

Good luck and happy detailing.

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