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Polishing a Car: How Many Ways Can You Do It?

Polishing a Car

Polishing a Car: How Many Ways Can You Do It?

Regardless of how much we wash our cars, sometimes it fails to retain the nice, smooth appearance. However, there are several ways to restore and maintain the showroom finish. Polishing a car will help replenish the exterior paint.

Polishing a Car is Not Waxing

First things first, polishing a car and waxing a car are two different concepts. For example, polishing uses abrasive products to remove imperfections from your paint. Waxing adds the shine to the exterior of your vehicle, as well as, a layer of protection from the elements. Ultimately, polishing prepares the car to be waxed.

Liquid and Paste Polishes

There are two main types of products. First is a liquid polish that usually comes in a bottle or can. It requires less effort, making it easier to apply and work into the paint. Due to the texture, consumers use the liquid more often. However, make sure to utilize a microfiber towel or pad for application.

Paste polish normally comes in round tins. This means it needs to be scooped out to apply to the paint. Unfortunately, more buffing is required when using the paste option. If the weather is colder, the product can be harder to remove from the can. The paste requires time to become warm or liquefied before polishing a car.

Man Vs. Machine

The two common methods of polishing a car are by hand or using a machine such as an orbital polisher or rotary buffer.

Hand Polishing a Car

No matter which way you choose the first step is to make sure the car is clean. Afterward, you have the choice on whether to clay bar your car. Clay barring your car removes contaminants from it and makes future steps easier. Clay barring is normally done by hand.

Polishing a car by hand takes time and effort. However, if you lack experience with machine polishers, performing the task manually is easiest. Additionally, consider using a less abrasive texture if you haven’t worked with this product before. Hand polishing is still a very effective way to eliminate scratches and swirls with less risk than a machine polisher.

Machine Polishing a Car

The next method requires the use of equipment. Before attempting to use any car polisher familiarize yourself with the proper technique for it. Machine polishers have the ability to burn through your paint if not used correctly. The best way to tackle the task with a buffer is to set the speed to low-medium and apply light pressure.

There are two types of machines for polishing a car: rotary buffers and orbital polishers. The rotary buffer is mostly used for removing deeper scratches. However, you must keep the buffer in constant motion to avoid burning paint. Only professionals and those with experience should polish using these. Secondly, an orbital polisher works well to remove surface scratches and swirls. To prevent external damage to your car, those with less experience should use an orbital polisher.


When applying wax to your car there are 2 options – liquid or paste. Wax keeps your car protected and helps extend the life of the polish. Do this multiple times a year to maintain proper protection of the exterior. If you cannot easily glide a soft cloth across your car or water does not appear to bead on the surface you should wax your car.

A Professional Touch

Lastly, if you prefer to avoid the potential of damaging your car’s exterior you could use a professional. This might be the safest option if you have an older car and want to restore the paint. When choosing a business to polish your car make sure you check reviews and compare. For deeper scratches that require a rotary buffer, utilizing a professional is a safer way than trying it yourself for the first time.

If you are interested in a professional to do the job, consider DetailXPerts. This eco-friendly, mobile auto detailing company offers specialty detailing which includes polishing a car. Our patent-pending steam cleaning technology will restore your the exterior to its former glory.

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