Do it yourself paint evaluation
In order to do this evaluation, you will need the following:
- The sun : No other light source is as reliable for finding
- Soapy water : Just add a few drops of dishwashing liquid
to a spray bottle filled with water. Shake well.
- Clean microfiber tower or softest cloth you can find
- A small plastic bag (sandwich bags work well for this)
- On the hood or the trunk of your vehicle, spray a 2 foot
by 2 foot (60 centimetres by 60 centimetres) area with soapy
- Fold the microfiber towel in 4.
- Wipe the area with one side of the folded microfiber towel
only applying very light pressure.
- Flip the microfiber towel to the dry side and buff the
- Allow the area to dry for about a minute.
- Position yourself in away that allows you to look at the
sun through the reflection in the cleaned area of your
- While looking at the sun spot on the paint, see if there
are any cobweb looking circles around the sun spot. If there
are, those are fine scratches called swirls. If you
move, you will notice no matter how you move they will
follow. That is because the light from the sun only
exposes the edges of some of the millions of scratches
present in the paint. As you move other scratches
edges will show.
- Now look for other type of damage in the form of water
etching or deep scratches (those are usually straight and
much more visible), etc.
- Finally put your hand inside the plastic bag and run it
over the paint in the area you cleaned. Your fingers
will be able to feel any imperfection in the paint. If
you are going over an area that looks clean but the paint
feels rough to the touch, that means it is contaminated and
needs to be cleansed.
Levels of paint
Now that you have an idea what your paint looks and fells like, use the
following list to determine it's condition.
Show car finish
Paint in this condition has no defect at all anywhere on the car.
The only way to maintain this level of paint
quality is for the car not to be driven.
2 - Excellent
The paint in this category looks factory new or better than factory
The paint looks like it has been professionally machine polished
and sealed with a wax, paint sealant or coating
and is regularly maintained.
When viewed in bright sunlight, the paint looks excellent, that is
there are few or no visible swirls or scratches or
so few that there's not enough of them to require machine
The paint has few or no swirls, scratches or any other visible
paint defects outside of Random Isolated Deep
3 - Good
Light swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation.
When viewed in bright sunlight, the paint should look pretty good
overall except that it has light or shallow
looking cobweb swirls and scratches throughout the paint. Any water
spot problems should be shallow imprint
type stains common to Type I Water Spots, certainly not deep
craters like Type II or Type III where the paint is
Paint in this condition would require polishing before applying a
sealant and a wax coat to bring the paint to
excellent or show car condition
4 - Mildly
Normal day-in, day-out wear-n-tear and minimal appearance
maintenance outside of the occasional car wash.
Paint in this condition has medium to light swirls, scratches,
water spots and oxidation.
Cobweb Swirls and
When viewed in bright,
overhead sunlight there are cobweb swirls and scratches evenly
the entire finish but
they're likely instilled through improper washing and drying
techniques, which means
the depth of these
defects won't be as deep as the swirls and scratches in a severely
neglected finish. The
swirls are not inflicted
by a rotary buffer.
Paint with Type I Water
Spots or shallow Type II Water Spots that are more imprints than
they are craters
falls into this category.
and Surface Impurities
If the car being
evaluated is a daily driver, is parked outside 24/7 and has not been
regularly polished and/or
waxed for a few years
then chances are good it has light oxidation and staining of the
paint with some type of
road grime or a build-up
of impurities or some type of topical contamination that does not
wash or wipe-off.
Paint in this
condition would require a paint correction and polishing before
applying a paint sealant and wax
coat to bring it back to excellent or show car condition.
5 - Severely
Paint in this condition has deep swirls, scratches,
water spots and oxidation. Paint in this condition has normal
day-in, day-out wear-n-tear plus no real regular maintenance.
Vehicles in this category are rarely washed on a
regular basis and when they are washed they are washed improperly
or taken through automatic car wash.
Cobweb Swirls and Scratches
Paint that is severely
neglected means that when viewed in bright, overhead sunlight, there
are so many
swirls and scratches that
the paint has an overall hazy appearance which blocks your view of
the true color.
Paint that is in the
severely neglected category can have Type I, Type II and Type III
water spots on all
horizontal panels and
even the vertical panels if caused by a sprinkler or some type of
Paint in this category
has oxidized to the point where the surface has a uniform dull
appearance to the
horizontal surfaces and
to some extent the vertical panels. Clear coats do oxidize but
usually slower than
single stage paints and
don't normally get the whitish, chalky appearance with a rough
texture common to
old, neglected single
stage lacquers and enamels.
Paint in this condition would require a paint correction and
polishing before applying a paint sealant and wax
coat to bring it back to excellent or show car condition.
6 - Beyond help
Paints that are worst than the conditions listed above are most
likely beyond help and the vehicle would need to
be repainted. This includes paints that have become unstable,
have a clear coat failure or have been pierced and
rust has formed on the body panel.
Deep scratch evaluation
If you find deep scratches in your paint, the kind of scratch you
can clearly see from a few feet away, there is an
easy method to know if the scratch have pieced the clear coat or
not. Simply use a water bottle and poor water
on the scratch. If the scratch vanishes when wet, that means
it is a shallow scratch in the clear coat and there is
a very good chance it can be removed by wet sanding if the clear
coat is thick enough (to know that we can perform
a reading with out paint thickness meter). If the scratch
remains visible when wet, it means the clear coat has been
pierced and the scratch will need to be painted. This can be
done by purchasing a paint touchup kit for your car at
the dealership for about 15$, or you can have the whole panel
repainted for about 400$ at a body shop. If the scratch
appears repairable, we can take care of it for about 40$ per
scratch during our visit.