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  • Writer's pictureTommy Trenton Jr

What is Paint Correction, How Much Does it Cost, Do I Need it?

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

I want to be very transparent on what I talk about here in hopes of educating the consumer public on the subject of paint correction. My goal is to educate customers so they make good decisions when hiring a company to perform paint corrections on their vehicles.

Man holding an Adams Polishes Swirl Killer buffer on red paint. Paint Correction
Tommy Trenton Jr Owner of NitPickin Mobile Detailing

What is Paint Correction? Paint correction is an auto detailing procedure that removes hazing, oxidation, minor scratches, marring, swirl marks, scuff marks and other blemishes from the vehicle's clear coat leaving the paint extremely smooth & shiny.

NOTE: Even new vehicles often come with what we call, factory swirls on the paint. Paint correction also removes those.

Before and Aft6er of paint correction on black paint
3 Step Paint Correction on a 2010 Camaro SS 6.2 Liter

Let's go a little further in-depth about what paint correction is.

A professional paint correction will remove those ugly imperfections (factory swirls, light scratches, medium scratches, sometimes deep scratches, hazing, oxidation, scuff marks and other blemishes) and will leave your vehicle's paint looking better than new. Not only will it remove scratches and marring, paint correction will also restore your car's clear coat and create that shine and luster people often drool over. Like this photo above. That is a 2010 Camaro SS 6.2 liter that we did a 3 step paint correction on back in 2021. It took 3-1/2 days to remove the years of neglect and damage from improper washing techniques. We removed 90% of the scratches and imperfections from its paint. That is true paint correction right there. After it was complete, we applied a 7 Year Ceramic Coating to protect the hard work we performed! 2 Years later it is still looking very good!


How Much Does Paint Correction Cost? These are the baseline prices. Every job is different and prices vary depending on vehicle type and location.

I'll get right to the answer. Paint correction will cost you anywhere between $250 to $2500. 1 Stage Quick Polish (2-Passes) $250-$350 is around 10-15% of imperfections removed. 1 or 2 Stage Paint Correction (4-8 Passes) $700-$1500 is 50-85% of imperfections removed.

3 Stage Paint Correction (12 Passes) $2500 is right around 90-95% of imperfections removed.


Why Is Paint Correction So Expensive?

This can be broken down into four categories.

1-Experience | 2-Tools | 3-Labor Intensive | 4) Time.

  1. Experience: Paint correction involves a lot of risks, therefore requiring more knowledge of different types of tools, chemicals, techniques, and paints, all while understanding the circumstances of each individual vehicle and the wants and needs of the customer. This knowledge only comes with experience.

  2. Tools: Professionals use professional tools and they are not cheap. Here is a list of the paint correction tools we use and how much they cost per person.

  • Flex - Gear Driven XCE 10-8 Polisher - $450

  • Flex - XFE 7-15 Polisher - $430

  • TORQ 15mm (backup) - $230

  • Adam's Swirl Killer MINI 12mm LT - $150

  • Rupes iBrid Nano Micro Polisher - $600

  • Adam's SK Pro Micro Polisher 2.0 - $250

  • Polisher backing plates (12 total) - $210

  • Dremel Paint Polisher - $200

  • Various Pads on hand -$700

  • Compounds and Polishes - $150

  • Flame Thrower Polisher Lights (2 Total) - $160

  • LUTEC 6290MAX 11000 Lumen light -$180

  • 7000 lumen Head Light - $40

  • Paint Depth Gauge -$500

That totals out to right around $4398 after Florida sales taxes. And this is per paint correction specialist. In our case, I, "Tommy" am the only one who performs paint correction and Julia assists me. All of those items will get used up, worn out and will need to either be repaired or replaced so the cost continues.

3. Labor intensive: Performing paint correction is not for the faint of heart. It is a job that requires both mental and physical endurance. Our polishers weigh anywhere from 2 pounds to 6 pounds each. Now hold 2 - 6 pounds and move your arms up and down and side to side while squatting, standing up, and squatting back down and bending over all day long (Summer or Winter inside or outside) without letting muscle soreness and exhaustion damper the quality of paint correction that needs to be done. Fact is, it takes focus, physical endurance, and a little bit of strength to perform high-quality paint correction consistently over the course of a work day.

4. Time: Paint correction takes time and patience. It can be very tedious. The time it takes depends on the job and desired results by the customer. As an example, see the video below. I did a very thorough 2 stage paint correction that took right around 12 hours. 85% of the imperfections were removed. Cars that are in worse condition and have deeper scratches that need more attention will take longer for a two-stage correction. Basically the longer it takes the more cost is involved.

Each paint correction job will vary in time. It depends on the type of paint and the condition it's in. Is it hard, medium, or soft paint? Are there just light scratches or are there light, medium, and deep scratches? Is the paint lightly oxidized or heavily oxidized or not at all? Is the paint covered in mildew and fallout or stains like road tar, paint overspray, artillery fungus, etc that need to be removed in the paint decontamination process. A good rule of thumb is, that the worse condition it's in, the longer it will take and the more it will cost. In some cases, the paint cannot be fixed at all. That usually means new paint. Ok, moving on!


What Does it Mean, 1 Stage, 2 Stage, and 3 Stage Paint Correction?

  • 1 Stage Quick Polish is perfect for a vehicle that just needs a quick touch up to bring back a its shine. You can typically expect 10-15% of imperfections removed.

  • 1 Stage is cutting & polishing done at the same time using a specific pad and combining a synthetic polish and a compound to the pad at the same time. Expect 50% Paint Improvement.

  • 2 Stage is for removal of light and medium depth scratches. 2 Stage is first cutting, then polishing, "hence 2 Stages". The 1st stage is a medium to medium-heavy cut that does exactly what it sounds like. It cuts the clear coat down until the "swirls/scratches" are filed down leaving the paints surface flat/smooth. The next stage, the 2nd stage is the polishing stage. This will remove the micro scratches left behind by the cutting compound and pad leaving the paints surface super smooth and flat. If your vehicle has light and medium scratches and you want them gone leaving the paint super shiny, it will take a 2 Stage Paint Correction. Expect 80% to 90% Paint Improvement.

  • 3 Stage is when a more abrasive compound is used with a more abrasive pad to cut the clear coat down faster and more aggressively. This stage has to be done if you expect the best results with 90-95% paint improvement sometimes even 100% paint improvement. The 1st stage is called heavy cut. Heavy cutting will mow right through the clear coat to help level out those deeper scratches. The 2nd stage needs to be the removal of the light/medium scratches caused by the the heavy cut, then the 3rd stage is the final step, polishing which removes the micro scratches left behind by stage 2 leaving the paints surface smooth/flat and super shiney. 3 stage refers to, it takes 3 stages to get the paint super shiny with little to no scratches left behind. Expect 90% to 100% Paint Improvement.

NOTE: Sometimes it is not worth risking the removal of deep scratches. A professional can tell when a scratch is to deep to be removed and will communicate this with the customer.


How Did My Paint Get So Messed Up?

This is always my favorite question when discussing paint correction. Three things; neglect, improper washing techniques and normal wear n tear from driving in environments like dusty dirty muddy roads, woods, construction sites etc. Of course all sorts of things can happen to your vehicles paint but those are the most common reasons. Well, improper washing technique is the most common cause of paint damage. Improper washing techniques also includes soft touch car washes. Even touchless car washes can damage your vehicles paint over time. The chemicals that drive through car washes use on your paint are very strong and will clog up ceramic coatings, remove any type of wax and if its a touch "brushed" car wash it will scratch your paint period. Do that once a week for just 6 months then see how your paint looks in the sunlight. Most people don't even realize how scratched up their paint really is until I point it out. BUT people will always notice how shiny it is driving down the road all beautiful and glossy.


Do I Need Paint Correction? Well the question is, does it matter to you? Do any of these apply to you?

  • Do you care about the condition and longevity of your vehicles paint?

  • Do you like having a shiny vehicle?

  • Do you want your paint to be super slick to the touch?

  • Does image matter to you? It matters to most realtors, business owners, & people in general who take pride in their ride.

  • Yes you might need paint correction if you are getting a Ceramic Coating.

  • Are you planning on selling your car and you want a higher selling price?

If you answered yes to enough of these questions than Id say its safe to assume you not only need it, you want it.

The bottom line is, if you value the appearance and longevity of your vehicle, having a paint correction done by a professional is absolutely worth it. There is no better way to make you and your vehicle stand out from the crowd and get some serious attention – even from people who know nothing about cars. Personally, I love how shiny my truck is. It makes my business look better and more approachable being that I own a professional detailing business. I get stopped in parking lots all the time just to tell me how shiny my truck is and most of the time they ask for a business card. It's simply a good look to have and it helps.


That about wraps it up. If you are reading this post because you're interested in getting paint correction done by a NitPickin professional, please feel free to visit our website. Either create a profile or go to the contact page! We are more than happy to assist you.

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