How to Polish a Car Like a Pro
January 11, 2016
Polishing your car twice a year can keep it shiny and in good shape. On top of maintaining its appearance, careful detailing protects the paint from weather conditions, dirt, and typical wear and tear. No matter where you live and what car you drive, knowing how to polish a car benefits your roaming beauty.
Before treatment, decide between manual (by hand) or mechanical (using a rotating wheel) process. Manual application gives you more control, while a rotating wheel provides more coverage in less time. Once you have decided on the method, you will need a shaded area, a hose, car soap, compound, wax (carnauba-based for natural ingredients, polymer-based for a longer-lasting finish, or a combination of both), wax pads (soft pads for dark-colored vehicles; tough pads for light-colored vehicles), and a microfiber towel. Manual application will also need terry cloth towels for spreading the wax.
How to Polish a Car in Six Steps
- First, thoroughly wash your car in a shaded area. Make sure no dirt or dust is left behind because debris can cause scratches if mixed with the compound in the next step. Once the body is fully washed, lightly dry the entire car to prevent water spots.
- Next, use a clean, damp pad to apply the compound. For manual application, work the compound into the paint using parallel strokes with a steady hand. However, if you are using a rotating wheel, set it at medium speed while maintaining a back and forth motion using even pressure to prevent swirl marks. During this step, keep the area you are working on moist by using just enough compound to cover the panel.
- While applying the compound, rinse the foam pad as often as needed to prevent gunky buildup. When using a rotating wheel, the outer edge of the pad moves faster and creates more friction than the center. If intricate areas (like the emblem and mirrors) are overworked, the extra friction will cause a burned finish.
- After covering all areas of the car with compound, give the body another quick rinse and dry.
- Once the car is dry, buff the body by applying a 60:40 mix of paste wax and fine finishing polish on either a soft foam pad on a sander (if using a rotating wheel) or terry cloths (if working by hand). Apply the mix with light, even pressure. The goal is to leave a waxy haze in order to enhance your car’s natural shine.
- While the wax dries, remove any excess with a microfiber towel. If needed, apply touch-up paint onto chips or scratches.
Polishing your car takes time and focused effort, but your vehicle gains the benefit of an extended lifespan and a beautiful exterior to showcase. Professionals apply the same amount of care and attention to their detailing services to achieve showroom results. Browse through the Presidential Detailing package from DetailXPerts to see how experts get it done. Whether by hand or rotating wheel, whether on your own or with the help of professionals, knowing how to polish your car goes a long way in keeping your vehicle as fresh as the day you drove it off the lot.
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