How To Polish Your Car

How To Polish Your  Car

In a perfect world, you wouldn't need to polish your car's paint. Washing and waxing is all that's really necessary to protect and beautify your car's finish. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world so to have that deep wet-looking shine it will take a little work.

While using a great protectant like Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant 3.0 will enhance the look of your paint, the key to a great shine is in the prep work. The protectant is actually the last step to that great looking shine.

Your car's paint is bombarded by contaminants and assaulted by foreign objects every day.  These are the things that make your finish look less than perfect and can't be avoided if you want to drive your car.  Polishing your car removes defects like swirl, etching, scratches and oxidation while enhancing gloss and preparing your car for the protection it needs and deserves. For all of these types of defects there are different types of polish and pads to use with your Dual Action Polisher.


It's easy to give out advice on what steps to take to make your car look good, but there are some variables that come into play that we need to consider before we pick up the polisher. The first one is your expectations. Letís face it, some damage canít be repaired or it may simply be outside of your personal skill set.

The term polish is thrown around loosely in our industry. For our purposes, a paint polish is a product used to remove small amounts of the paint's surface. Don't worry, this is at a microscopic level and will not mess with the integrity of your paint film build. The cutting ability of the polish will determine the amount of paint removed with each hand stroke or each revolution of a buffer, as well as the resulting finish. A fine polish will create a deep, wet-looking gloss, whereas a coarse polish may cloud the paint's surface. Each polish is designed for a specific purpose (e.g., repair or refine) and application (e.g., hand or machine)

When it comes to a polish, this isn't as simple as picking up the bottle and applying it to your car. There are many variables that come in to play when you are thinking of doing a little paint rejuvenation.

First, let's start with the following considerations:

  • Paint Condition
  • Paint Hardness (Harder paint will require more aggressive products and more work.)
  • Paint Thickness
  • Application Process and Tools
  • Products (Don't skimp. Get what you need before you start.)
  • Time Available (Don't rush. You will not get good results)
  • Work Space (Make sure you have an area that you can get the job done.)
  • Weather Conditions (Don't try to work in bad weather or when the surface is hot.)
  • Skill Level (This can be worked on and developed quite easily.)


Always use the least abrasive polish necessary to get the job done. No matter what you might have read or seen on TV, no single polish can do it all. You may need two, even three products to get the desired results.

Step 1) For moderate to severe damage, scratches, heavy swirl and other more serious defects, you would want to use the Orange Light Cutting Lake Country CCS Foam Pad, with Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0 and put your speed setting at 5 to 6.

Step 2) When it comes to normal swirl, light to moderate oxidation, water etching and light scratches, you would need the White Polishing Lake Country CCS Foam Pad with the Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0 with your speed setting set at 3 to 5.

Step 3) If you don't have much as far as damage but want to enhance gloss and prepare a nice clean surface for your protectant, you would want to use the Green Polishing/Finishing Lake Country CCS Foam Pad and Wolfgang Paintwork Polish Enhancer with your speed set at 1 to 3.

Although you can polish your paint by hand, all of these steps are most effective when you use a dual-action polisher like the Rupes LHR 12E Duetto Random Orbital Polisher or FLEX XC3401 VRG Orbital Polisher because it can do the work your hand is simply not able to do.


Before doing the whole car, I always recommend doing a test spot on the worst area of the car. Always start with the least aggressive product first and see if it is doing what you want it to do. If not, step up to a more aggressive product and pad. Then use your next products and procedures and complete the entire process to see if it meets your expectations.

When you are finished with the test spot, and you are happy with the results, do the entire car! If not, it is time to go back to step one and re-evaluate your expectations and variables that come in to play. You also need to determine if thereís something you can change that will help you meet your expectations. Maybe an extra step or a simple change in your process can take you from, "it looks okay", to "Wow, that looks great!" It takes a little more time but think of it as a little insurance on your personal satisfaction.

While polishing your car is fairly easy, there are a few tips and a little technique that will help you with your success.

  • Work a small area at a time, only about 2 ft by 2 ft so you can concentrate on your work.
  • Move SLOW! Most beginners move the polisher way to fast over the paint and they don't allow the polisher to get the work done.
  • Use SLOW, overlapping motions. (Up and down then side to side)
  • Keep your pad level. Beginners tend to look at the paint and forget what the pad is doing.
  • Never dry buff! You need to work the polish so you get results but stop when the polish goes clear, before it dries.
  • Keep the cord over your shoulder and away from your paint to avoid scratching your paint.
  • ALWAYS use the correct pad, polish and speed combinations.
  • When removing defects, use a little pressure. Not enough to bog down the machine, just enough so you can remove the defects.
  • Never lift the polisher off the paint while it is turned on.

Don't forget, polish does not protect. It only improves the look. When you are finished, you will need to protect your work with a protectant or wax like the Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant 3.0.

Now that you know the basics, you are ready to get to work and achieve that show-car shine!

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