car restoration

Why The Polish!?

If you’ve been wondering how to polish a car, good news, we have a nice easy guide for you! Polishing your vehicle will restore the color depth slightly and greatly increase the “gloss” effect that clear coat has.

After applying automotive grade paint polish to your vehicle, you will notice a night and day difference.

To polish a car correctly. Apply some polish to a Dual Action polisher or microfiber towel. Buff the polish into the paint until the entire surface starts to show up glossy or wet. Remove excess polish with a clean microfiber towel and wax after for best results.

From here we will walk you through step by step how to apply polish by hand for a beginner, and with a machine for more experienced users. If you were not willing to use a dual action polisher before, we hope this guide helps comfort that fear!

How To Polish A Car – Application!

By Hand:how to polish a car

Polishing your vehicle by hand isn’t difficult by any means, but it definitely can be time consuming. Are the results worth it? Totally! However for those of you who are applying your polish by hand, get ready for a workout!

Supplies Needed:
2-4 Microfiber Towels (Keep them in pairs of 2)
Your choice of vehicle polish (We use the V36 Optical Grade Polish)
Optional – a small detailing brush.

Start by applying a couple of small sized drops onto your microfiber towel. Apply the polish using vertical and horizontal movements. You should start to notice that the panel you are working on will start to have “grip” feeling and the paint will appear dull.

Continue to buff in the polish until you start to see a clear film on top instead. You the goal here is to continuously work in horizontal and vertical motions asĀ  you work the polish into the paint.

Once you start to see the gloss appear instead of a dull haze, you will now want to switch over to a clean and separated microfiber towel. Using this new clean towel follow the same pattern you had before.

What we are doing now is removing the excess residue off of the surface. Failing to do this can leave swirls and cause the polish to dry onto the surface. This will make clean up very messy and very time consuming.

Get your polished buffed in and immediately remove it once the area you are working on shows a slight glossy reflection. This lets you know it’s time to remove the excess.

Don’t Forget Small Areas!

We mentioned earlier that there was the optional small brush you should have. This is so when you get into area that connect your fenders to your bumper or the rear bumper to your 1/4 panel.

You are going to accidentally get some polish in some unwanted cracks/crevices. Using the soft bristle brush you can gently remove the polish that may have gotten into some stubborn areas.

This prevents having dried white polish show up after you just cleaned your vehicle! That’s literally all there is to it! Once you have removed all of your polish we recommend following up with a quality grade wax/ceramic coat to protect the top layer.

How To Polish A Car – Machines!

Applying Using A DA. how to polish a car

The abbreviation “DA” stands for dual action. We highly recommend a dual action polisher for buffing and polishing your vehicle. It will save you a lot of time, product, and elbow strain using a dual action polisher.

Dual action polishers have a much harder time burning through the clear coat usually due to the safety precautions built into the machine. The DA we have personally shuts off when it detects it gets to hot on the surface.

However dual action polishers don’t just spin in a circle, they also pulse frequently to help reduce heat while polishing/compounding.

If you are looking for a medium – high level kit, we recommend this one here.

To apply your polish via a dual action polisher you will need the following:

A Dual Action Polisher With Polish

1 POLISHING PAD for dual action polisher

A few microfiber towels and brushes.

Polishing Process!

Start by placing about 2-4 dime sized drops of polish on the north, east, west, and south portions of your polishing pad. From here you will want to place the polisher on the panel you are working on.

Dab the polisher with polish on it in a small 3×3 or 4×4 inch area at a time. Turn the polisher on a speed setting 1 to move around the polish nice and evenly on the panel.

From here you will want to turn up the speed to 4-6 (6 for the advanced) to work the polish into the panel. The proper movements will be just like doing it by hand. Move consistently horizontal and vertically spending no longer than 1/1/2 to 2 seconds in each spot at a time.

The polisher should always be moving but you don’t need to move it incredibly fast either.

Just like last time you will begin to notice a dull appearance on the area you are working on. As you move your polisher you will begin to notice that gloss effect come back through.

Once it looks pretty much shiny and has that residue on the surface again, it’s time to remove.

The professionals typically can buff on and buff off using the same pad, we always recommend buffing in with the polisher and removing residue by hand using a microfiber towel.

This will allow you to partner it up with your brush and remove polish from those hard to reach areas. Overall it just makes it look much more even and easier to remove as well.

As usual make sure you follow up with a protection layer as well! That’s literally all there is to polishing your car! Super simple right?

Extra Tips!

You now know how to polish a car correctly, but before we go, we wanted to leave you with a few tips!

Multiple Passes!

You may not get the right results you are looking for the first time around. It may take a couple of passes depending on how much surface contaminates there are and the current condition of the clear coat.

Working slowly and in small areas yields the best results. It’s okay if it takes you a couple of hours to get that show room shine, it’s totally worth it!

Work In The Shade!

The sunlight is your worst enemy when it comes to detailing, polishing, waxing, etc… The sun dries the product to the surface you are working on and can leave a mess. It dries out, gets hard to remove and leaves a real ugly finish on your vehicle.

Always work in the shade when cleaning your vehicle.

Make Sure It’s Clean!

DON’T EVER APPLY POLISH TO A DIRTY CAR! All you will do is buff/burn dirt into your paint causing scratches, swirls, and more discoloration. Make sure you wash the car thoroughly first.

For the best results, do a touch less wash, clay bar treatment, and a touch wash before applying any compound/polish/wax.

Try Multiple Cleaners!

Some cleaners work better than others, if you’ve been following us, you know we love the Chemical Guy’s company as well as Meguires. Not every product is going to work the same, and some products yield a higher gloss than others.

It’s up to you to determine what works great for you and what products you enjoy the most!

Other than that, that’s all the extra tips we have for you! To learn more about restoring you car click here! If you want to move onto making your interior look like new, check out our guide to carpet and seat cleaning!

Polished before? Leave a comment and let everyone know what setup you are using and the results you have had! We love to see them!

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