Car Polishing Tips and Techniques

February 21, 2012

Whether car polishing by hand or using a mechanical buffer, these 7 tips will yield better results. Learn whether car polishing machines are worthwhile.

Thorough Car Polishing

Car polishing is probably the most common and well-known method of improving your car's finish. These quick tips and techniques will help ensure that you're polishing your car correctly, and they'll go a long way towards improving your car's finish.

Clean the Car before Polishing
Before polishing your car, wash it thoroughly. Either run it through an automatic car wash or wash it by hand. It's important that your car is as clean as possible before you begin polishing it, as any dirt on the surface will scratch the paint, especially, if you use a mechanical buffer. Additionally, it might be necessary to detail your car's finish as well. This involves using a bar of detailing clay to remove any difficult-to-remove substances from the car's surface that ordinary washing will leave behind, such as tree sap or tar.

Polish Slowly
Whether you're polishing with a mechanical buffer or by hand, polish a small area at a time. Work on 2x2-foot areas at a time, moving slowly to allow the polisher to do its job. Use overlapping strokes to make sure the polish covers as much of the area as possible.

Use a Buffer Properly
Generally, it doesn't matter too much whether you use a buffer or polish by hand. Polishing by hand will just take longer, and a buffer might do a better job of keeping the polish even. If you do opt to use a buffer, be sure that you use it properly:

  • Apply the polish first by placing a sufficient amount on the pad and then spreading it onto the car's finish before turning the buffer on. Turning the buffer on with a large wad of polish on the pad will send the polish flying
  • Make sure that you keep the pad level to ensure that even pressure is applied
  • Buff the polished section until it's clear, but stop before the polish dries
  • Sling the buffer's cord over your shoulder to keep it away from the car's finish
  • As the buffer is running, keep it in contact with the car's surface and turn it off before lifting it up
  • Never allow the pad to come in contact with the ground. Even a single grain of dirt that's left on the pad can leave scratches on your car's finish, especially if you're using a mechanical buffer. If the pad does touch the ground, replace it or wash it thoroughly, no matter how clean it looks

Simply washing your car regularly won't be enough to keep a car's finish looking its best. Every car needs to be polished every once in a while.

Is a Car Polishing Machines Really Worth the Money?

It is a good idea to consider all the positives and negatives to determine whether a car polishing machine will be a worthwhile purchase for you.

Car Condition
Begin by considering the condition of the car. If the car is new, the paintwork will be in perfect condition and will require little effort to keep it that way as long as you are on top of regular maintenance tasks.

Just having a new car can be enough to tempt you into obtaining all the accessories and gadgets that go with it, whether you need them or not. The paint protects the sub-surface of the car from damage and a buffer helps to protect the paint by applying polishes and compounds deep into the surface of the topcoat. If your car has paintwork that is in good condition from the outset, it is easier to keep it this way if you polish by hand, so having your own buffer will not be worthwhile.

Use
Once the machine has been used on a vehicle, it will not require another treatment from the buffer for months if basic cleaning standards are maintained.

If you look after your car and it is stored in a garage, it is unlikely to sustain any damage significant enough to warrant the use of a car polishing machine. If this is the situation, you will find that the number of times you use a buffer will be limited. If you regularly use your car off-road or in other situations where it can sustain scuffs and scratches, a buffer will be required more often.

It is actually possible to work on your car too much and this is even more likely if you own a buffer. Reduce the risk of this happening and decrease your outlay by renting a buffer only when it is required rather than purchasing one. Excess buffing can lead to burn marks in your paintwork.

Running Costs
In addition to the cost of the actual car polishing machine, you must also take into account the items required in order to use it. Consider the cost of any polishing compounds you need with the machine and the cost of polishes. Rather than just spending physical energy as you would with a hand polish, a polishing machine requires a power supply to make it work.