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How To Buff A Car

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How To Buff A Car Like A Pro

how to buff a car correctly

Your car is an asset as well as an investment that you would want to keep in great condition. Even…

ByCar Bibles Staff | Updated Jan 10, 2021 4:57 PM

Your car is an asset as well as an investment that you would want to keep in great condition. Even if you do not buy a luxury brand, this vehicle is still very useful in transporting you to work or to wherever you want to go. Whether you are a car enthusiast or not, it is in your best interest to keep it in top shape for as long as you can. While you can always go to the mechanic for maintaining the engine, there is more than that to take care of.

The truth is, your car is exposed to the elements like snow, rain, or the sun. When there is extreme weather, it can be tough on the cars finish. Other than that, dirt, mud and even bird droppings can land on your car and frequent use can lead to scratches. Your cars paint, which protects the vehicle from the elements, can eventually be damaged. This is why maintaining a proper and regular car wash and cleaning schedule is important.

To truly take care of your cars paint, you need to do more than just washing it. Some car owners opt to polish, wax, or buff. These practices will get rid of light scratches and make it shine again like new.

What Is The Difference Between Polishing And Buffing A Car

Polishing and buffing are essential for restoring and preserving car paint. Detailers can accomplish both of these tasks with little effort. But if youre simply a curious car owner, you might be wondering about the difference between polishing and buffing a car!

The difference between polishing and buffing a car has to do with the amount of paint removed. Polishing a car usually uses abrasives to remove the clear coat on your vehicle, eliminating scratches. Buffing, on the other hand, removes a very thin layer of paint, reducing nicks.

Here, well clarify what it means to buff and polish a vehicle. Well also explain whether or not either of these procedures may cause damage to your vehicles paint. Keep reading to learn the difference between polishing and buffing and how to do each at home.

How To Repair Scratches On A Black Car

Scratches show up more easily on black cars than most. There are specialized products that include black pigment, so when you repair a scratch, the black paint job stays black. Such products can be used to remove swirl marks and scratches.

  • Wash your car and allow it to dry completely.
  • Test the black polish on a small section of your car to make sure the color matches.
  • Apply the black swirl mark and scratch remover polish to a soft microfiber cloth and follow the previously listed instruction to repair the damage.
  • After the polish has dried, wipe away any excess with a clean cloth and lightly buff the area until glossy.
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    Hand Polishing And Buffing

    Theres something to be said for the old reliable elbow-grease-and-a-beer approach. While modern technology has brought with it far speedier polishing and buffing techniques, there are plenty of purists who still swear by the hand polishing approach. Despite its obvious physical and time requirements, hand buffing a vehicle does have its merits, with control and attention to detail being the top two perks.

    So if you want to take it easy, and start-out with the hand polishing method, youll the following supplies:

    How To Buff Your Car By Hand And Get Machine

    How to Buff Out a Car Scratch

    The simplest and cheapest way to buff your car is doing it by hand. All you need is a product of your choice, a corresponding buffing pad or microfiber towel, and lots of elbow grease.

    When were talking about polishing, you can produce acceptable results by hand, but it’s usually limited to smaller areas, lighter scratches, and surface contaminants. Polishing the whole vehicle by hand is physically demanding and challenging to get consistent results and even shine.

    That said, if your paint is in good overall condition, you can brighten the bodywork and restore its reflections by hand. Try Torque Details Reverse: Car Scratch Remover. Its a polishing compound thats designed for hand buffing. It is the perfect, easy-to-use product for the paint correction stage of washing a car.

    The reverse will remove light scratches, swirl marks, paint oxidation, brake dust deposits, contamination, and water spots. Just squirt a small amount onto a microfiber towel and start buffing the surface. Work in small sections one at a time – think 12-inch squares or similar sized spots.

    Hand buffing has an advantage in that its a cheap and safe method to detail your vehicle. Its pretty simple, and any beginner can do it without causing any harm.

    You can also apply waxes, sealants, and coatings by hand. They dont require too much physical effort, and you can get the car coated in under an hour. We will cover this later in the Protect Your Paint section of this guide.

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    Preparing To Polish Your Car

  • 1Park your car in a shaded area. The first step to polishing your car is to wash it, and you should always wash a vehicle in a shady area. Direct sunlight could cause the soap you use to dry onto the paint, which will dull the finish. Find a place that keeps the entire vehicle out of direct sunlight and park it there.XResearch source
  • Make sure you park the vehicle on a solid surface. Dirt or grass are not recommended, as you may get mud on the car after you wash it.
  • An overcast day is a great time to wash and polish your car, as long as it doesnt rain.
  • 2Cover or move things you dont want to get messy. Polishing the car can be a messy process. When you turn the polisher on, it may spray rubbing compound as it starts to spin. Make sure your pets are inside and theres nothing around the vehicle that you cant get sprayed with some loose polish.XResearch source
  • The polish will wash away easily, but you may not want to clean some things.
  • Keep children and pets away during the polishing process.
  • 3Rinse the entire vehicle with a hose. Spray water all over the entire vehicle to prepare it for you to hand wash it. If possible, use the water to remove any large bits of debris or dirt that are stuck on the paint of the car.XTrustworthy SourceConsumer ReportsNonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testingGo to source
  • Start from the top and work your way down to the bottom of the vehicle as you rinse it.
  • The two often come in kits.
  • How To Buff A Car: How Determined Are You

    This question really becomes the tipping point for most people. Buffing a car for temporary visual appeal is one thing, but buffing a car because you are chasing a true show car appearance will require far more commitment on your part.

    Not to scare you away by any means, but everyone has different levels of time, money, and determination. I will address both options for you, but you need to know there is a difference.

    The good news is that regardless of how you would label your level of determination, any true beginner can have success.

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    How To Wax Your Car With Amazing Results: 7

  • Special Considerations
  • While most people wash their vehicles every now and then, the majority of drivers do not wax their cars. Waxing your car is one of the best ways to make it look great and protects its exterior. Although waxing a car takes a little elbow grease, it is not a terrible way to spend a Saturday afternoon. You will be proud of your hard work when you see your car gleaming in your driveway. Follow these steps to wax your car to a shine.

    Youre reading one of our Beginner Drivers Guide articles. Need to practice for your upcoming exam? Take our free sample driving test — no registration required!

    When Should My Car Be Buffed

    DIY – Step by step how to buff your car

    If polishing and cleaning your cars paint isnt bringing back its shine, its time to buff. However, buffing isnt a one-step process: once the paint is flat, it will still have microscopic scratches that will need to be polished out, and then the tiny scratches left over need to be filled in with a glaze to get the best shine. When you have your car buffed at Merton Auto, we go through all three steps to give your car the best finish possible.

    Buffing isnt just for old paint, either. A new paint job wont have a perfectly smooth surface, so it needs the same care to get the finish youd expect from fresh paint.

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    How To Remove Light Scratches From Your Car

    Taking care of light swirls or scratches on your cars surface is easy and affordable. Sometimes an automatic car wash can leave light marks on your vehicle. Even fingernails can scratch the surface around door handles. You can easily remove these surface-level blemishes with a little time, a little elbow grease, and a scratch remover product. The process is simple:

  • Wash and dry the car.
  • Apply the scratch remover to a microfiber towel. Spread the product over a 2-foot by 2-foot square.
  • Apply firm pressure and rub the area for about 60 seconds, then let it dry to a haze.
  • Remove the dried product with a microfiber towel.
  • Repeat the process until the affected area is buffed clean.
  • A scratch remover product allows for a one-time application to remove light swirls and scratches. It works by both cleansing and polishing, taking care of light marks on your cars paint. These products will easily take care of scratches on your vehicle.

    Heres How To Buff A Car

    The process below looks like itll be a real pain, but theres nothing to worry about. Work deliberately and cover small parts of the vehicle at a time to make sure youre working in the solution before it dries.

    With that out of the way, lets do this!

    Buffing Your Car

  • Start by rinsing the vehicle to remove any built up dirt and debris. After the rinse, give it a thorough washing with gentle automotive soap.
  • Tape off the areas that you dont want polished. The rotary buffer spins quite fast and generates a ton of heat, so youll want to protect parts of the vehicle like headlights and trim pieces that cant withstand the heat.
  • Start with the wool pad and the gentle buffing compound. Begin by buffing in alternating up-down and left-right motions. Work in a small area, such as one door or fender at a time.
  • When the compound starts to take on a hazy look, its time to use a microfiber towel to wipe it clean. This process removes any surface scratches.
  • Remove the wool pad and install the yellow foam pad to the buffer. Repeat the steps above, working in a small area. Its best to start with a decent amount of pressure and reduce it as you near the end of this step.
  • Once the compound has been spread thin, once again use the microfiber towel to clean up the area.
  • Take time to clean any stray splashes of buffing compound off of windows, mirrors, trim pieces, and wheels.
  • DepositPhotos

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    Apply The Wax Using A Small Circular Motion

    Apply the wax using a small, circular motion. A thin layer of wax should be applied to the section of the vehicle you are working on. It is best to use either horizontal or vertical rows of circles to ensure that the entire area is covered. Try to avoid applying too much wax as it isnt necessary and can actually make it more difficult to remove. A thin layer where you can still see the paint color through the wax is ideal. After youve applied the wax to your car, youll notice that within a couple minutes the wax will begin to dry. When the wax is dry, it will appear matte and feel somewhat chalky.

    When Should I Get My Car Buffed

    How to Properly Buff Out a Car

    If washing and polishing your cars paint still doesnt restore its luster, buffing is the answer. A one-step buffing technique is required because even after the paint has been polished to a level surface, it will contain microscopic scratches that must be cleaned out before a glaze can be applied for the greatest sheen. Using a buffer isnt merely for the removal of old paint. The same attention is needed to get the quality youd expect from a fresh coat of paint, even if the surface isnt absolutely smooth.

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    Different Types Of Polishing And Buffing

    Since the act of polishing essentially involves cutting into the automotive clear coat, knowing your limitations is crucial. Certain types of paint damage, like the three listed on the right side of the graph above, are all embedded within the clear coat itself. Whereas everything on the left runs quite a bit deeper, penetrating paint, primer, and even bare metal.

    If the damage is too deep, you can forget the DIY buffing and paint correction polishing procedures, because a professional repair must be implemented at that point. Sanding down to the root of the damage is no simple task, as it typically requires re-applying primer, paint, clear coat, and even body filler. This is often accompanied by lengthy rounds of color sanding, before a final polish and buffing can commence.

    On the upside, if youve got the kind of clear coat damage that belongs on the right side of our gloriously illustrated infographic, then there are a few ways you can buff your blues away.

    Wash Clay And Dry Your Car

    The first step to a solid buff is a good car washquality car wash soapgive it a good rinseclay the paint to remove any lingering contaminantsautomotive clay barwork in small areas, one panel at a time,

    Pro Tip Be sure to use a dedicated lubricant along with automotive clay. Claying a dry car with no lubricant is next to impossible, and attempting to do so can scratch the paint.

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    Use The Microfiber Buff Cloth To Buff Polish Residue From The Area You Worked

    And enjoy your work!

    Remember, though, that an orbital polisher is not one to mess with. Only use it if youre confident of your buffing skills. Otherwise, schedule an appointment with the experts. They have the right equipment, materials and skills for buffing a car efficiently.

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    S To Buffing Your Own Car

    Beginner’s Guide To: Buffing/Polishing A Car – Eastwood

    To begin, you would need a polisher, a car polish of your choice, and an orbital or high-speed buffer.

    • Park Your Car

    First, you need to bring your car somewhere safe. While most will not think twice about this step, you need a safe and secure spot to park your car while buffing. This might take a bit of time so empty your schedule and prepare yourself. When you have a safe spot for your car, keep it away from direct sunlight that is dangerous to your car paint as well.

    • Clean the Car

    It is vital to remove any surface dust and dirt to prepare for buffing. More than that, you can see any swirl marks, scratches and other imperfections better when the car is clean.

    With your bucket full of soapy water, scrub the car using a sponge, starting from the top and working down. Use circular strokes to cover more ground and become faster. Rinse well and dry the whole car with a microfiber towel.

    • Choose What to Use for Buffing

    You need to determine if you will use a polisher or compound. A polisher is more commonly used but if your car has some deeper scratches or marks, then you should opt for a compound.

    The alternative is an orbital buffer, which will need a bit of effort on your part but will have much more control than the high-speed one. If your cars paint does not have as many imperfections, using this might be enough. You can still expect a nice shine though not as impressive as with a high-speed buffer.

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    Set Up Your Tool Of Choice

    Weve included instructions for each type of tool, as well as for hand-buffing:

    High-Speed or Rotary Buffer

    These are the most likely to burn paint if misused. Unless youre familiar with it, set the speed to low. If your model isnt cordless, plug it in.

    Random Orbital Buffer

    Keep the speed low or mid-high if youve never used one. Plug the unit in so its ready to use.

    Manual Buffing

    Theres nothing to ready except for your own two hands. You might want to put your gloves on.

    Pro Tip #: Use A Soft Brush For Gaps And Molding

    No matter how hard you try to keep wax off of molding and out of cracks its almost inevitable that this will occur. Thats why it is a good idea to keep a soft brush handy while you are waxing your car. The brushes can be purchased at most auto parts stores and only cost a couple of dollars. Removing wax from a cars molding after it has dried can be difficult and sometimes the wax will leave permanent staining. Wax left in the cracks and crevices between body panels will harden and become very noticeable once dry. To avoid both of these situations, use a soft brush to remove any wax from moldings or cracks and crevices before it dries.

    Waxing your vehicle is a great way to ensure that it stays shiny and looking great. Waxing will work to protect your cars paint from damaging sun rays, abrasive dirt, and chemicals in the rain and snow. Properly maintaining your cars paint by regularly waxing can extend the life of your cars paint and help keep your car looking good long into the future. Using the tips in this article, youll be able to wax your car like a pro and feel proud of your hard work when you drive around in your glossy car.


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