Car Polishing: What Does it Do and How Does it Work?

In this post, we will be going through precisely what the function of a vehicle polish is, the dangers, limitations, and the preparation required to get the very best finish.


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Car polishing is a widely misinterpreted procedure, however one that is truly important to make the paintwork appearance as shiny as possible. In this post, we will be going through precisely what the function of a vehicle polish is, the dangers, limitations, and the preparation required to get the very best finish.

Vehicle polishing is the process of getting rid of minor clear coat damage (scratches and swirl marks) utilizing a polishing liquid to flatten the clear coat which increases the gloss level. The polishing process can be performed by a machine or by hand and should be followed by securing the paint using a wax, sealant or coating.

Polish Isn't the Same as Wax

This is possibly one of the most significant mistaken beliefs in car care. A lot of car owners fall under the trap of using the terms "wax" and "polish", interchangeably, however they have very different functions.

Car polishes are mildly abrasive, implying they have the ability to flatten the clear coat (the top layer of paint on the car). This eliminates any light imperfections, normally caused during the wash procedure by utilizing sponges, brushes or other aggressive techniques to clean up the paintwork. The general objective is to enhance the gloss level. Put simply, the flatter the clearcoat, the shinier the paint.

Waxes are not abrasive and leave a protective layer on the paintwork to help shield it from UV rays, dirt, roadway gunk etc. They do not have the capability to flatten the clear coat since they do not consist of abrasives. Polishes do not safeguard the paintwork, so it is essential to wax after polishing to safeguard the finish.

The confusion between waxes and polishes most likely arises from the underlying claims that they both make the paint appearance shinier. Waxes tend to consist of chemicals that will include some level of gloss to the paintwork. They do not have nearly as much of an effect as polishing. A really glossy surface comes from the flatness of the clear coat, not what you put on top.

How Does Polishing Work?

We've discussed this currently by saying that polishes are abrasive and assist to flatten the clear coat, however, it truly needs a bit more description. The clear coat on a car is very seldom completely flat and will include some level of damage unless the car has actually been recently polished and properly maintained.

Polishes consist of mild abrasives in a liquid format which are developed to eliminate the damaged layer of clear coat, to expose a fresh, flat layer of paint. They can be applied using a device polisher, or by hand with a foam or microfiber pad. They are used in circular movements, on a little area at a time and worked into the paintwork with the objective of getting rid of an even layer. As soon as the polish has actually been operated in, the residue can be buffed away utilizing a microfiber towel. It might take several attempts in the same area to attain the level of finish that is needed.

What Types of Scratches Can Polishing Remove?

Polishing is just capable of eliminating extremely fine clear coat scratches. It is not capable of getting rid of scratches that have gone through to the skim coat, which generally appears white in colour. Polishes are just created to truly improve the paintwork to a mirror finish.

In order to deal with much deeper clear coat scratches, other methods can be used instead. The most typical is called intensifying. Substances are still utilized in the same way as polishes and exist in a liquid format including abrasives, however they have a greater level of "cut" (abrasion), compared to polishes. This implies they are more efficient in effectively removing clear coat damage. Remember though that they can not deal with deeper scratches that have permeated the skim coat, as this will require the addition of paint.

Substances can in some cases leave some very light "hazing" because they have a higher level of abrasion. Compounding is normally followed up by car polishing to improve the paintwork and eliminate the hazing to leave a glossier finish. This is referred to as a two-stage paint correction, the first stage being compounded to remove clear coat scratches, and the 2nd being polishing to refine the finish.

There is likewise another strategy utilized to remedy clear coat scratches, called wet sanding. This is even more aggressive than intensifying and is utilized to deal with severe clear coat damage. It will leave a haze behind, which can be gotten rid of with a compound followed by a polish to reveal the shiniest finish possible.