Buffer Trails

Buffer trails are one of several names for microscopic scratches which can show up on highly polished surfaces as imperfections in the finish. Buffer trails are specifically micro-maring which is introduced as part of the polishing process, and any system of machine polishing will use ever finer abrasives to reduce the micro-scratches by the previous stage until the scratches are so fine they are invisible unless seen under a microscope.

If not done properly, the car will be left with buffer trails. The polishes and compounds used in machine polishes contain oils to act as lubricants, and these oils are very good at filling and hiding micro-scratches. So an essential part of the process of machine polishing is to wipe the car down with alcohol to remove the oils, and then examining the car under harsh light from multiple angles, as buffer trails are often only visible under the right conditions.

Car waxes can hide buffer marks, however more modern coatings do not and may even make them more visible.