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Hologram-like defect in automotive paint (AKA holographic buffing tails)

Newest answer:

A. Jamie Panter: "Haloing". The scratches are surrounded by a much finer set of 'scratches'. Water and oils get trapped in these spaces. The holographic look is haloing of light on the surface (Like oil slicks or rainbows)

I would LOVE to be able to purposely replicate this effect with control. Unfortunately, it makes for weird marring on the surface of clear coated paint jobs.

(Heat and chemicals in the water/acid rain are also components to this weird effect that I've noticed possibly adding to the chaos).

g motisi
- New York
April 23, 2022

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. I am seeking information on a phenomenon known within the automotive industry as the "hologram effect". In my capacity as Technical Manager (for automotive refinish products), I have been asked by a large car manufacturer to report on a complaint regarding "recurring scratches" on a black pearl clear over base finish. The finish is O.E.M. This complaint will be dealt with by a fair-trading tribunal.

A brief on my information to date is -- The hologram effect occurs, apparently, when numerous scratches are reflected off dark automotive colours, and appear to follow the sight line of the observer from what ever angle viewed.

I require information on the cause of hologram effect,with scientific argumentation. Also, secondary, any possible rectification processes.

Thanks in advance,

Jamie Panter
coatings OEM - Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

A. I have never heard of this term before, but it sounds to me like the clearcoat finish may have a durability issue.

Is the area(s) in question localized or is this condition viewable on the entire surface?

If it is local, I would suggest that the OEM supplier may have polished that particular area prior to shipment. An over aggressive operator / improper sand-paper / incorrect polisher all have the potential to leave very small scratches in the surface of the clearcoat.

Shane Sylvestre
- Windsor, Ontario, Canada

A. The problem you are seeing is :- I believe the reoccurring scratches are a result of poor buffing practice of hiding swirls or the hologram effect you are talking about. the marks have been hidden or filled and not removed; a pad glaze of some description has been used. Once the car has washed (with a non neutral wash or wash diluted incorrectly) the polish is removed therefore the marks reappear. this is in fact a very common problem due to the time-consuming task of removing swirls opposed to a quick fix of hiding or filling swirls because time is money and most car yards pay little for detailing, so quick fixes are used instead.

gavin [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- gold coast, Australia


Q. I am very interested to obtain an holographic effect on a metal surface. Is this possible by polishing?

Gijs van Suylekom
holographic technology - Middelburg, the Netherlands

June 20, 2008

Q. Just read your message with much interest.
I operate a hand car wash in Melbourne and have experienced this problem a number of times over the years.
At times we have been accused (wrongly) of causing these scratches - placing us in a difficult situation.
I have been asking a number of different panel beaters and detailers as to the cause of these scratches - and no one has an explanation which I believe.
I know it is not my car wash.
Although, this week I was talking to a rep from "Rupes" who seemed to have a better understanding - he put me onto his boss - who I am in the process of following up.
I would like to get to the stage where I have some documented information so we can show any future problem customers.

Rick Marks
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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