How To Polish a Car: Professional Methods For Beginners

on August 07, 2021

Driving a brand new car off the lot gives you an unmatched sense of pride. Mostly because the sheen and luster of a brand new ride might be enough to stop traffic itself. But after a while, dirt, dust, and drizzles take your car’s shine and make it less fine. 

Keeping your car nice and polished isn’t just good for its aesthetics. A polished vehicle can better stand the test of time and can even help with the resale value once it becomes time to part ways.

If you’ve never polished a car before, now’s a better time than any. Here’s how you can get professional detailing without needing professional experience.

 

Importance of Polishing Your Car

The obvious benefit of giving your car or truck a polish is that it makes it look shiny and new. It can make your 2001 sedan look like a 2021 sedan in no time.

But on top of that, it can help to maintain your car’s paint job. Over time, the paint on the exterior of your car oxidizes, meaning it is exposed to oxygen. This causes a chemical change where the paint becomes duller and starts to look faded. It’s why older cars look a bit less “radiant” than the ones sitting at the dealership. Polishing helps to restore the paint job.

Also, car polishing and waxing can help reduce the frequency of car washes. Waxing adds a protective layer that can deflect small pieces of dirt and grime. So if you don’t like heading to the car wash often, polishing your car can help to keep it clean for longer.

Polishing your paint can also remove small scratches, especially when using a rotary buffer. If the blemishes are a bit more pronounced, you can always use scratch remover to make your car look good as new.

Finally, a shiny-looking car can add more value to your vehicle. If you’re thinking about pawning off your car in the near future, consider giving it a nice buff beforehand. A clean exterior job can help restore to its original color and increase its resale price.

 

Polish Like a Pro

Professionals use a process called “wheeling,” in which a rotary buffer uses friction to liquefy the top layer of paint and let it redissolve to fill in blemishes or cracks. The end result is a car that looks brand new, but this can be a really difficult technique to master as a beginner. So leave that method to the real pros.

With that said, you can get some amazing results with the proper techniques and materials. 

Speaking of, here are some tools you’ll need before you get started:

  • Hand polishing pads
  • Hose with spray nozzle
  • Two microfiber cloths
  • Polishing compound
  • Wax (optional)
  • Soap (for washing car)
  • Sponge or pad (for washing car)

Side note: polishing can get messy. Make sure you cover walls or furniture nearby that you won’t want to have to clean when you’re all finished.

Got everything together? Then let’s get to work on the steps to polishing.

 

1. Wash the Car

You can’t polish a dirty car, so find a shaded area and scrub your vehicle clean using the soap and washing pad. When you’re all finished, rinse your car thoroughly with the hose and spray nozzle.

Use one of the microfiber cloths to dry the car and remove as much moisture as possible. Make sure the cloth is microfiber in order to avoid scratching the exterior.

 

2. Prepare To Polish

Place a small amount of the polishing compound onto the polishing pad. These things are like sponges, so they will absorb a good amount of the compound. The good news is that as you work, you’ll be able to use less and less.

 

3. Apply the Polish

Applying gently, even pressure, apply the polish in small sections. Work the pad in circular motions to evenly spread the compound over the surface of the vehicle. Try to avoid polishing areas that aren’t covered by paint, such as headlights or the windshield.

 

4. Buff it Up

Take your clean microfiber cloth and buff the polish into a shine. The polish itself will look a bit  streaky, so you’ll essentially want to “rub in” the compound with the same gentle, circular motions as before.

 

5. Add Wax

Although it’s not necessary, adding wax to the exterior after you polish can add a protective “shield” that can protect the paint from bugs, bird droppings, dirt, and other debris.

Most waxes come in a tub and need to be applied with a pad. But you can make your life a whole lot easier by using our spray wax that can be easily applied and removed in 15 minutes max. It’ll give your car that showroom shine without the hassle.

 

6. Inspect

Move your car out of the shaded area and into the sun so you can see any remaining imperfections. If you notice some swirl marks, you might want to add a bit more wax to those areas.

Additionally, take some time to wash your vehicle’s windows, headlights, and tires to remove any overflowing polish that might have made its way onto them. 

 

Essential Tips and Tricks

Polishing by hand isn’t too hard and doesn’t take much time at all.

And you can maximize your results by following some simple tips:

 

  • Work in the shade. Working in the sun can quickly dry the polish before you have time to buff it up. Getting the job done in a mild, shaded area can let you slow it down while also keeping you as cool as your refrigerant.
  • Keep the polishing pad clean. The pad will become saturated with the polishing compound as you continue to work on the car, but this can potentially scratch the paint. Every now and then, take some time to rinse the pad with your hose.
  • Work evenly. The trickiest part of polishing is spending an equal amount of time in each area to prevent paint damage. While you don’t need to worry about this as much if you’re hand polishing as opposed to rotary polishing, it’s still good to try to spend an equal amount of time in each section.
  • Choose the right pads. Dark-colored cars are more prone to swirl marks, so make sure you use less abrasive pads if your paint is darker. You can use more abrasive ones on lighter-colored vehicles.

When To Polish a Car

After you see the results of your first-ever polish, you’ll be wanting to do it every single day. The thing is, polishing can be abrasive to your paint if you do it too often, especially when you use a rotary buffer. We always say that you should polish your car thoroughly twice a year.

With that said, you should do a refresher detail once every three months to make sure your car is in top shape. You won’t need to do a full polish, but reapplying the protective wax four times a year will only serve to keep your vehicle in good condition.

Of course, you can polish and wax all-in-one by using Shine Armor’s Fortify Quick Coat spray, which combines the work of three products into one easy-to-use device. The one-step solution washes, shines, and protects your car so that you don’t even need to worry about clumsily lugging around buckets of water and bottles of soap. It’s professional detailing without the hassle.

 

Passion for Polish

Many people are afraid to try polishing their cars because they have no idea where to even start. The thing is, polishing your car is much easier than you think, and it has a vast number of benefits. 

It only takes about an hour, and you don’t need special rotary buffers to do a professional job. Just be sure to work in a shaded area, work in even circles, and keep the polishing pads clean as you work. Also, be sure to add wax afterward to keep your hard work protected from the outside world.

You can also let Shine Armor do all the hard work for you. Our Fortify Quick Coat is the only DIY detailing product that uses ceramic waterless cleaning technology to give you beautiful results in one fell swoop. You don’t need to be an expert to make it look like you are.

 

Sources:

Definitions of Oxidation and Reduction | Chemistry LibreTexts

8 easy ways to boost your car's value | CNN

How do microfiber cloths work? | Explain That Stuff

How to Polish a Car Yourself (DIY) | Family Handyman

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