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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am not sure if anyone else is experiencing this so I am seeking for more. But our first editions (Onyx Black Metallic) seems to have really soft paint. It's been swirling like crazy the few times its been at the dealer, it also is scratching up from like random things, especially the front bumper corners, almost seems like its just from particles in the air. This is the first car which we have had this problem with. It seems to hold up especially poorly compared to our black metallic BMW X5. Anyone else experiencing this? Any help is greatly appreciated.
 

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Hmm, that's interesting. I was hesitant to get another black vehicle due to the difficulty of maintenance. Part of the reason I felt comfortable choosing Ember Black is because I have a friend with a high mileage S80 and their Ember Black paint still looks great, and they don't even do too much in the way of detailing. My car goes in for C-Quartz tomorrow and I am hoping this will keep it looking beautiful.

Isn't the Onyx Black a new color for the XC90? It will be interesting to hear of other experiences with this color. In person it reminded me a bit of the Lexus Obsidian Black. Just because it looks the same, doesn't mean it is formulated or will behave similarly. However I have a neighbor with this color car and it is a swirl magnet. His detailer told him that particular paint is known to be soft an hard to maintain due to the way it is formulated. I have found Lexus and Toyota paint in general to be garbage, so take that for what it's worth.

As I mentioned, I was very hesitant to get another dark colored car, but I am always drawn to those colors. We were initially considering Magic Blue, but when I saw it in person it was almost as dark as the blacks. I am not a white car guy. We did love our Oyster Grey Metallic XC70, but I don't care for any of the other light or mid range colors on the XC90. If the Electric Silver Metallic was available in a trim other than the R I might have jumped on that. I saw one in person and it is really beautiful. I have always admired the Ember so we went with it in the end. I am very happy with the choice, however I do hope the paint finish holds up!
 

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Disclaimer: I know nothing about paint.

With that said, I thought that I read that the exterior paint can take one month to six months to fully cure. I also read in Know Your Volvo to avoid automatic car washes for the first few months. You may wish to search and read up on coatings (e.g., OptiCoat, CQuartz, Ceramic Pro) here on SwedeSpeed. - a lot of good information.

Back to whether the paint is soft, I had not heard that about Volvo v. some other name brands. I would think that the length of cure period would be an important factor. My car will have had its paint for 2 + months by the time I get delivery. A professional detailer can do wonders to get it back in shape and apply the coating, but it is an investment.
 

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Volvo offers a 12 year unlimited mileage on their vehicles, I would be surprised they would have a paint process that was that bad!
 

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I've had my Onyx Black XC90 just over 30 days and have put 1,000 miles on her. I've hand-washed her 2x, careful to use the 2 bucket method. And I've driven her through a touchless auto wash 1x. I've been uber-careful in washing the vehicle.

Despite my caution, I just noticed a few micro-abrasions (not swirls) on the drivers side rear panel. I'm sure these came from the hand washes I've done (either the washing or hand-drying). It's discouraging, obviously, just because I've tried to be very careful to avoid exactly this.

Now, it's hard to say whether it's the Volvo paint that is soft, or whether this would have been the case with any car/paint, and I'm just paying closer attention with this one. For some reason, I tend to think it's the latter.


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I'm glad someone posted this. I have had the exact same observation.

In the northeast, not washing the car for 3 months of paint curing is not an option. Heeding Volvo's warning, I took it to a place that hand washes for the first clean and watched them do it. Despite that, I have massive swirling up the rear side panels.

This my first (magic) blue car but I never noticed such prominent marks on my previous dark gray car.

I presume I can have the clear coat repaired by a detailer in the spring.
 

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Hand washing can still create swirls. It's caused by debris on the wash media or inadequate lubrication, not by soft paint. This is the same issue as denim dye transfer. Swirls, light scratches, and dye transfer all come from outside. I don't think the Volvo clear coat is particularly soft but fwiw I have opticoat pro plus, and it can be scuffed without too much effort. I do actually think that all clear coats are kind of soft for what they do (protecting paint) but I tell myself this is because of a compromise to maintain high clarity, gloss etc.
 

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If you drop anything on the ground - a sponge, towel, whatever... it's done for that wash. Also, the final rinse should also be straight from the hose, with no nozzle, to encourage sheeting of the water instead of beading. Wash your wheels first and don't use that sponge for anything else. Start with fresh soapy water on the paint. Two bucket method, grit guard, etc are all good practices.

Many swirls come from the drying process, not the wash. What are you using to dry it? Do you have a brand-new microfiber cloth or freshly washed towel?

I'm using "The Absorber" for drying. Just got a new XL version, but I have several that are many years old and still work great. Don't drag it around on the paint. Just pat it dry and squeeze out the water often.

Finally, what's the deal with XC90's having some special paint warranty that discourages (voids it?) if you apply OptiCoat, etc?
 

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Many swirls come from the drying process, not the wash. What are you using to dry it? Do you have a brand-new microfiber cloth or freshly washed towel?

I'm using "The Absorber" for drying. Just got a new XL version, but I have several that are many years old and still work great. Don't drag it around on the paint. Just pat it dry and squeeze out the water often.
I don't have swirls, but I am noticing a few micro-abrasions. Since I'm hand washing with a new microfiber sponge and carefully using the 2-bucket method, I'm pretty confident the abrasions are coming from drying. I'm using a brand new "absorber", but it's nothing high-end (bought it at Target). And yes, I did do quite a bit of "dragging" of the absorber. So, likely it's user-error. But, really, I've never been THIS careful washing and drying a vehicle, so it's pretty discouraging to still see poor results.

I haven't yet had Opticoat (or Ceramic Pro) installed. But, I'm thinking I'm going to need to just to minimize the damage.


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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the replies. The only reason I see this as a concern is because I haven't had to wash the car much cause it has been to the detailing of the detailer multiple times, but even so, our X5 seems to be holding up perfectly fine, I could try to post a few photos of scratches and swirls. Another thing is for those who has gotten Ceramic Pro or Opti-Coat, do they work in protecting the car? actually preventing light scratches? Cause it is a big investment which we don't usually make in protecting a car's paint (
 

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One reason is probably that many XC90 was fresh off the Gothenburg assembly line and moved directly into the cargo ship for 3 weeks in darkness and eventually went to owners within less than 2 weeks on the dealer lot. So there is not enough time (and UV) to cure the paint.
 

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How about jet washing? Any counter indications?
High pressure jet washing requires extra care. Manual car washes should not have the narrow pin-hole nozzles. If you have your own power washer, the bigger nozzle would seem preferable. In all cases, I think the nozzle should stay about 3 feet away from the paint. Others with more experience might chime in.

BTW, here is the section from "Know Your Volvo" relating to prepping for automatic car washes: "We do NOT recommend washing your car in an automatic wash during the first few months of ownership because the paint may not have hardened sufficiently. However, when you do use an automatic car wash, be sure to:
• Turn off the rain sensor using the steering wheel stalk (the symbol on the instrument panel will go out) – this will avoid damaging the windshield wipers.
• Deactivate the parking sensors using the Sensus Connect screen (make sure the buttons are not green).
• Ensure that the side view mirrors are secure.

If you have chrome wheels, do not use aggressive wheel-cleaning agents – these can permanently stain your wheels.

If you are using a Temporary Spare tire, you should not use an automatic car wash."
 

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Hi guys. I'm a bit of a car detailing nut and have been for about 15 years. Swirls will happen with any color and any make/model of car if you are not 100% careful about what you are doing. Dealers are famous for installing swirl marks on new cars. Swirl marks show up on black cars more than any other color. Over time, swirl marks are nearly impossible to avoid no matter how careful you wash/dry the car.

Personally, I use Optimum no rinse soap and use the two bucket method with grit guards in the bottom of each bucket. I use at least 2 wash mitts throughout the process. I do the wheels last and use different towels and wash mitt on the wheels. I dry using a lubricant/wax and 10 super high quality microfiber towels (Eagle Egdeless super plush). I never use the same side of the towel for more than one wipe. Lately I've been trying Meguiars D-156 to lube as I dry. The safest method is a blot dry in which case I use a high quality waffle weave microfiber. Lately I've been using the "Dry me a River Jr" from the rag company for the blot dry method. It is the best waffle weave drying towel I've used to date. I use 3 - 6 to do the entire car.

All that said, I've not tried any of this on the XC90 yet. I'll be giving it the first wash today or tomorrow.
 

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Dealers are famous for installing swirl marks on new cars.
No kidding. I explicitly told my dealer multiple times not to touch the exterior and to leave the car wrapped once it was delivered. Yesterday my detailer showed me clearly where they ran rough shot with an orbital polisher and left not only swirl marks but scratches! It's nothing they can't take care of, but my XC90 required much more paint correction than either of us anticipated. grrr....
 

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Hi guys. I'm a bit of a car detailing nut and have been for about 15 years. Swirls will happen with any color and any make/model of car if you are not 100% careful about what you are doing. Dealers are famous for installing swirl marks on new cars. Swirl marks show up on black cars more than any other color. Over time, swirl marks are nearly impossible to avoid no matter how careful you wash/dry the car.

Personally, I use Optimum no rinse soap and use the two bucket method with grit guards in the bottom of each bucket. I use at least 2 wash mitts throughout the process. I do the wheels last and use different towels and wash mitt on the wheels. I dry using a lubricant/wax and 10 super high quality microfiber towels (Eagle Egdeless super plush). I never use the same side of the towel for more than one wipe. Lately I've been trying Meguiars D-156 to lube as I dry. The safest method is a blot dry in which case I use a high quality waffle weave microfiber. Lately I've been using the "Dry me a River Jr" from the rag company for the blot dry method. It is the best waffle weave drying towel I've used to date. I use 3 - 6 to do the entire car.

All that said, I've not tried any of this on the XC90 yet. I'll be giving it the first wash today or tomorrow.
This.

Guys, anything other than silver or white are super susceptible to swirls. I learned the hard way, Rebel Blue and Onyx Black are horrible with swirls. And anecdotally, yes, I think newer cars have much softer clear coats at least in the first year, I can't say about any difference afterward.

I have Opti Pro Plus on two new vehicles and I use Opti No rinse to wash. The absolute key, as said, is very fine microfiber, but also VERY LITTLE TO NO PRESSURE. I rinse, then I use absolute zero pressure wipe with Opti No Rinse, wipe with wringed Opti No Rinse, then drag with zero pressure micro fiber and dry with blown air as necessary. If you want no swirls, this is the only answer. I learned this straight from the detailer as he washed my vehicles prior to correction and coating. So far, so good.
 

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I've always liked black cars and had a few. But man the paint really shows flaws. Enough so that it likely costs money at resale time.
 

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Man, I hate the swirls on my car, I have no option on doing the wash myself since the weather here is damn freezing so I had to settle for a hand wash. Anyway after a few washes those ugly swirl marks start to appear and as an added bonus two nasty key marks on each side of the car. Can't believe how people can be mean. :(
 
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