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How to Polish Your Car

30 November 2015, 15:22

How to Polish Your Car

Polishing the exterior of your vehicle helps to extend the life of the paintwork by removing contaminants and defects, and preparing the bodywork for the application of a wax layer.

Your car’s paintwork is constantly in contact with contaminants ranging from dust and grit from the road to insect debris and bird droppings. If left unwashed, these contaminants can begin to corrode your car’s paintwork.


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Paintwork layers

Most paintwork is made up of three layers – a base coat of primer, the layer of actual colour and then a top coat of lacquer known as clear coat.

The clear coat top layer is normally double the thickness of the colour layer and enhances the appearance of the finish of the paintwork and also provides environmental protection.

Washing and polishing

By washing and then polishing this clear coat layer, you remove any contaminants that have the potential to corrode the clear coat layer and the colour and primer layers.

Polishing helps to remove any minor defects on the clear coat layer and also prepares the clear coat layer for waxing.

Wax for protection

Applying wax adds a layer of protection on top of the clear coat layer. This means that when contaminants land on your car’s paintwork, they land on the layer of wax rather than directly onto the clear coat layer.

The layer of wax in theory acts as an extra layer of defence on your car’s paintwork. To ensure that the wax has a smooth layer to be applied onto, polishing is required to prepare your car’s paintwork for the application of the wax.

How to Polish your car

The most common process of polishing your vehicle is a hand polish although machine polishers are available.

  • Wash your car thoroughly using a sponge and appropriate cleaner to remove all dirt and contaminants.
  • Dry your vehicle either by hand using a chamois or by letting it air dry. Check to ensure that no foreign material is left on the bodywork.
  • Apply vehicle polish as per the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines. Most polish is applied using a foam applicator allowing the polish to be equally applied to all areas of the paintwork.
  • Work the polish into the paintwork using a clean dry cloth. It is best to use varied firm strokes to ensure that the polish fully breaks down onto the paintwork. The polish should become transparent once it is sufficiently broken down.
  • Using a chamois towel, buff of the remaining polish residue. You may need to buff some areas of the paintwork more than once to ensure that all the polish has been broken down. It is best to check in sunlight for any areas of paintwork that may still have residue on them.
  • Having successfully polished your car’s paintwork, it is now ready for the application of the wax layer.


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