A highly polished paint coat not only attracts attention, it also helps to maintain the value of your car. In addition, a sealant in the form of wax protects the surface better against environmental influences. Our guide shows you how to give your car a new shine in a simple and sustainable way.
What do I need for a thorough car polish??
The process itself is usually completed within a few hours, depending on the experience and tools used. It is important that you have the necessary tools as well as the polish and wax or the wax for the car in advance. Prepare the appropriate combination products. The result is impressive – compared to superficial wax care in washing plants.
An improper polish can quickly cause damage to the car paint. scratches, discoloration or cloudiness are the result. We show you how to avoid various beginner’s mistakes and let you marvel at the before-and-after comparison.
For optimum results, it is advisable to have the following utensils ready so that you do not have to interrupt the polishing process unnecessarily:
- Sanding polishing paste (for scratches)
- Paint and tar remover
- Drying cloths
- Microfiber cloths
- Polishing cotton
- Car polishing machine with sanding pads
Matt coatings should not be polished under any circumstances, as the polished surfaces would otherwise shine. Cleaning by hand is, however, possible without any problems.
Car polish and wax – the differences at a glance
In principle, it makes sense to use both products when preparing the paint. Polish contains chemical products made of crude oil, which in combination with abrasive particles have an abrasive effect. During the polishing process, the top layer of paint (clearcoat) is sanded down so that a uniform, smooth surface is created. This creates light reflections and a mirror-like shine. As a side effect, smaller scratches also disappear due to the abrasion. If larger scratches are to be covered, there are polishes with coarser particles for this purpose. Since larger amounts are removed, lasting damage can occur much more quickly – especially when using a polishing machine. If the scratch penetrates the clear coat, it can no longer be removed by polishing. As a rule of thumb, if you run your fingernail across the scratch and it gets stuck, the scratch is already too deep and can no longer be polished.
Wax, on the other hand, is excellent for preserving polished car paint. Due to its water-repellent effect, often called the lotus effect, it protects the bodywork from environmental influences. Since car wax can withstand temperatures of up to 80 degrees celsius, even the blazing sun no longer poses a threat to the paint layer. In addition, a waxed car has the advantage that dirt is easier to remove.
For long-lasting results, it is advisable to seal the car paint with wax after polishing. Otherwise, dirt could adhere more firmly and the gloss effect would be short-lived. There are now also more complex combination products that combine both processes. These are available under the name of wax polish or wax polish. Finish polish known. However, caution is advised here, as the quality of the products varies.
Choosing the best car polish
Which car polish is the most suitable for your car cannot be answered in a general way with a single product. The most important factor is the grain size, which determines the size of the loosened abrasive particles (or the surface finish). The fine mesh of the screen) measured in grain. This is enough with commercial means of 1.000 to 3.500 – where lower values mean coarser, higher values mean finer. Manufacturers often use color schemes or terms such as "sanding polish" (for coarser polishes) and "finishing polish" (for finer polishes). For optimum, glossy results, it is best to use different grit sizes. Start at low numbers and use finer polishes afterwards.
Since there is a suitable polish for many applications, you should decide in advance how you want to prepare the paint.
Prepare very small scratches
Minor damage to the car’s paintwork is best tackled with grit sizes between 2.000 and 2.500 to life. Products with this grit provide a medium abrasiveness and can be applied effortlessly with a microfiber cloth, not only with car polishing machines, but also by hand.
Remove slightly larger scratches
For larger damages, sanding polish with a coarser grit of about 500 to 1.000 the method of choice. With polishes of this strength, you can remove the top layer of paint in no time, even if you polish by hand. Especially on heavily weathered or dull surfaces, this method quickly delivers visible results. The use of an abrasive pad or disc is preferable to a microfiber cloth.
If the scratches penetrate the top layer of paint (clearcoat), polishing is no longer sufficient. In this case it is necessary that you visit a professional workshop. If an optimal result is not so important to you, z.B. For older cars, you can also use a paint repair kit or a paint pen in the same color as your car. The colors are usually standardized, so you can use the color codes (three-digit number sequence) contained in the type certificate or in the operating instructions as a guide.
With so-called finish products, the main aim is to remove micro-scratches, streaks, shadows or holograms caused by polishing. In addition, its application produces a recognizable deep gloss with clean reflections. Apply these products by hand with a polishing pad or with a polishing machine.
If you are not sure which products are suitable for your car, consult a professional. Salesmen of the corresponding products will advise you individually. Paint is not known to forgive mistakes.
Top results with good preparation
Before you start the actual procedure, your vehicle should be absolutely clean and dust-free. Even the smallest particles can leave notorious swirls (fine, circular scratches) when polishing. Place your car in the shade to allow the paint to cool and to prevent hairline cracks caused by excessively cold water. The ideal temperature for polishing a car is between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. In the next step, clean the body thoroughly, for example at a self-service car wash. Use the high-pressure cleaner to remove the coarsest dirt first, followed by the foam nozzle or the cleaning agent. Brush. After just a few minutes, rinse off the shampoo with clean water. Finally, check again that all dirt deposits have been removed. For stubborn residues, you can also use varnish plasticine. This must be processed with lubricant and in straight paths. Tar and flash rust can be removed with the appropriate removers. Keep in mind that the following procedure only applies to glossy finishes.
Learn more about car reconditioning and give your car a visual freshness kick.
Polish the car properly by hand
The easiest way to restore the shine of your car is to polish it by hand. If you do not carry out the procedure regularly, it is not absolutely necessary to purchase a comparatively expensive car polishing machine.
Tips for a successful polish
- Make sure the car’s paint is clean and dry before you start working.
- If necessary, use special (microfiber) drying cloths to dry off the dirt. Make sure that they are dry and dust-free and have no sharp edges or labels that could damage the paintwork.
- Do not use household remedies such as sponges or discarded fabric scraps.
- It is best to work your way from component to component. Gradually in individual, plate-sized areas.
- For smaller surfaces or edges, be careful not to exert too much pressure on the sensitive surface.
- Remove adhesive from plastic parts and seals in advance, as these are attacked by the polish.
- If you are polishing a black car, it is advisable to use an anti-hologram polish. With dark surfaces, so-called holograms can quickly form with conventional polishing methods.
And now: get to work on the car paint!
Start the polishing process on the roof of your car. Apply some polish to the cloth or polishing pad according to the instructions on the package and spread it on the surface to be treated. Do not apply the paste directly to the paint. Then massage the polish into the surface in circular motions under light pressure. Less is often more. As soon as the consistency becomes milky or crumbles, the procedure is finished at this point. Also remove any excess polish residue with the microfiber cloth.
If dull areas are still visible afterwards, it is possible to rework them with polishing paste. This type of polish contains coarser particles, so that even very weathered paintwork or deep scratches can be reconditioned during application. However, it should be massaged in with much greater care.
Polish your car properly with a polishing machine
Compared to the manual variant, you save time and energy with a car polishing machine. Due to the high rotation of the sponge or polishing pad, however, errors can easily occur – for example, if the pressure is too high or the surface is uneven – which is why this method is only suitable for beginners to a limited extent.
Nevertheless, machine polishing also has advantages. This gives a more homogeneous finish and usually produces slightly more attractive results than manual polishing. With the right tools and a good deal of dexterity, there’s nothing to stop you from machine polishing.
Choosing the right tools
When choosing a polishing machine, you should opt for an eccentric polishing machine, especially if you have little experience. This polishes in elliptical movement patterns and causes less damage if used incorrectly. Rotary polishers are suitable for professionals and are more powerful in terms of removal rate. In any case, find out about suitable equipment before you buy. The prices for these are between 100 and 300 euros.
In addition, you will need several grinding or polishing cycles. Polishing pads – usually between 5 and 8 per pass. Make sure that the dimensions correspond to those of the rotation plate of the machine or the polishing unit. Exceed them by a few millimeters. Angle grinders rotate too fast and cordless screwdrivers cannot be run flat over the surface. Both are therefore unsuitable for this task.
When buying the polish, make sure that it is suitable for polishing machines. The abrasive particles dissolved in it are much smaller than with hand polishes. If the paste is too coarse-grained, unsightly marks will quickly appear on the paintwork.
Procedure for machine polishing
Now it’s time to get down to business. In the interest of occupational safety, safety glasses and mouth protection should not be missing, as should good gloves. Install a hard rotary plate on the unit for flat surfaces and a soft one for edges and curves. Then mount the polishing wheel as centered as possible. Apply a few dabs of polish to the windshield (not to the car paint itself) and start at the lowest possible speed (about 600 to 1.000 revolutions per minute). Depending on the polish, this can be successively increased. Read the instructions of the manufacturer. For smoother running and less friction heat, spray the polishing pads with a little clean water.
Putting the cable over your shoulder doesn’t interfere with polishing. Now move the device with light pressure first vertically, then horizontally in staggered lines over the paint. Start at the roof and work your way down in plate sized areas. The result should be visible after a few seconds. Remove residues as quickly as possible with a microfiber cloth. Avoid polishing sharp edges and details with the machine. Here, manual work is the much safer option. In the case of plastic components, you should also reduce the pressure as much as possible. Due to the low thermal conductivity of these components, frictional heat can only flow away poorly, so that the paint heats up more quickly and bubbles form.