So you want to know how to buff your car?!
But why do you want to buff your car?
Do you really want to find the best car polish and polish your car because you find yourself with too much time on your hands? Or do you really just want shinier paint?
Most people really just wan t shinier paint, but accept that in order to get that, you will need to polish your car.
The industry will be more than happy to answer your questions. Just as they will be more than willing to sell you some of their best car polish.
The industry also knows that most of you in search of shinier paint don't have enough experience to ask the right questions. This also means the industry will simply answer your "inadequate" questions based on your inexperience that will get some of their polish in your hands, and some of your money in theirs.
I think it is safe to say that you likely accept that in order to make your car paint shinier, you will need to buff your car. But buffing a car is a massive generalization!
Now that I have laid out a few questions that I have found most people don't necessarily think of, I will answer them in a more appropriate order that should bring far more understanding for you!
If this is your first search online on how to buff your car then consider yourself lucky! I am going to answer questions you won't know to ask due to inexperience and perhaps due to the thousand other opinions you may have heard along the way.
"Today is a world of information overload! Too many voices, too many choices, and far too many so-called experts."
If you have been searching for awhile, then you probably realize we are drowning in a vast sea of endless opinions. It's hard to know who to believe and where to start.
Follow along and let me break this subject down so the thought of how to buff your car doesn't send you into cardiac arrest! You will soon realize you can actually buff your car yourself and even produce professional grade results along the way!
"Do you want to polish paint, or do just want shiny paint?"
The reason I ask is that most people really just want shiny paint, not necessarily how to polish a car. Most of us just accept that we must do the one, in order to get the other.
I know... polishing paint is gonna take some work. But I am certain you already accept that. You probably just want to know the best way to go about it.
But you need a little understanding before we get started....
Here's another question you likely haven't considered and will probably never be asked by someone trying to sell you the next best car polish or rubbing compound. They just want to sell you something rather than actually educate you so you can make an informed decision.
Big difference between those two!
With that said: Do you want your efforts (shinier paint) to be temporary or permanent?
What? Is there a difference?
Yes, there is a big difference.
You can use a very basic car polish with no abrasives, or simply apply a coat of the best car wax to make your car look shinier. But this is simply a temporary fix to what is probably a bigger problem.
That bigger problem being your car paint that you know could look much better if you figured out how to buff your car.
What you really need to do is fix your "canvass" first. And in this metaphor; the canvass is your car paint. If your canvass sucks, then any car wax or sealant is going to be extremely limited on how well it can shine up your car.
Let's talk about how to fix your canvass and fix it at a permanent level.
To "permanently" fix your car paint, you need to scratch it.
Yes, you read that right!
What you need to know is that not all scratches are created equal. I am not talking about all the unwanted scratches your car likely already has. I am talking about using compounds/polishes that contain abrasive particles in them to scratch away paint flaws and imperfections, as well as restore some additional depth and shine before you apply some form of car wax or paint sealant.
"You will literally scratch your way to success!"
The official term of the kind of polishing you need to do to your car is mechanical polishing. This simply means that you use an abrasive material to eliminate or diminish the imperfections of your car paint.
When it comes to polishing your car, these types of abrasives will be found in the endless choices of car polishes and compounds. Your brain might begin to melt at this point at the thought of trying to find the best car polish in which to buff your car, but don't worry! I will be covering that also...
Now that you know that not all scratches are created equal, you also need to know that not all compounds and polishes are created equal. Some car polishes perform better than others.
I start with this question as it is a common one and one you will need to know moving forward. The simple answer is this:
Compounds are more aggressive forms of products used for polishing. Compounds have more aggressive types of abrasives and are used for what you can call the "heavy lifting" of car polishing.
Polishes are made with finer abrasives or no abrasives at all. Since the main goal of a polish is to make a surface (specifically car paint) shinier, there are chemicals that can enhance and restore shine without using any type of abrasives. These "chemical only" car polishes are very limited in their ability to do any real significant change to your paint surface in restoring shine, depth, and gloss.
Since we want to create some lasting shine to your car, you will need a car polish with some form of abrasives engineered into the product.
One of the next commonly asked questions is how to polish a car. But more specifically is it better to polish a car by hand or machine.
The simple answer will be determined based on your commitment to results. So let's analyze the pros and cons of each possibility:
While many people would start by selecting the best car polisher or polishing pad, I am going to start you with what I consider the best car polish. regardless of any other factors of how to buff your car, I think starting with a top rated car polish is your best step forward.
A big part of this is due to the fact that this polish can be used both by hand or machine polishing.
The reason I also start with the car polish is about versatility. I know through decades of experience that regardless of any other factor or component of the car polishing process, choosing the right car polish will allow you to adapt to any situation...
if you have the ability to find and choose the "right" car polish!
If you are a beginner, how to buff your car will be filled with mixed emotions. You want your car paint to be as shiny as possible, but how you get there and the amount of work involved leaves most of us sitting on the fence with no ability to take any action. I want you to take action so you can have a greater love affair with your car by making it shinier than it currently is.
What You Need to Know: Not all car polishes are created equal. The countless guys I have trained or mentored continue to show me just how much fear and anxiety the subject of buffing a car can bring to a guy who is about to buff a car for the first time. I consider the two polishes above as my "sure thing" when it comes to me as a professional, as well as you and how you buff your car.
If you are an over-thinker like I am and want to become fully educated in the world of car polishes, then I suggest you have a look at my page on the difference between car polish and compound. (This will open my other site in a new window)
The Ceram-X was develop as what is known as a Single Product Polish (SPP). This means it has the ability to remove sanding marks and finish to a swirl free shine with the use of a single polish rather than the multiple compounds and polishes that the rest of the industry would have you believe you need. The ability of this polish to do this is possible by formulating the polish with highly refined, consistent abrasive technology that is completely different than the diminishing abrasive technology (DAT) found in virtually every other compound/polish in the market.This single product can perform on any paint, any hardness of paint (or clear coat), with any type of machine or pad (or by hand polishing)
The D1 Polish Enhancer was only developed as an add-on to the Ceram-X for the restoration industry that are working on restoration and paint jobs in the hundreds of thousand, to million+ dollar project cars. Only a very experienced and trained eye could interpret the difference between paint that was finished with Ceram-X only, or paint that was also polished with the D1 Polish Enhancer.
Darren's Tips: Because everyone of you reading this page will come looking how to buff your car with different skills and experience, the good news is that you have options. If you are the very fearful/over-thinking type, then you can always start with the D1 Polish Enhancer to begin your learning curve of how to buff your car. The abrasives in the D1 Polish Enhancer have abrasive particles 10x smaller than that of the Ceram-X.
I know you would be completely safe using the Ceram-X along with a dual-action, random orbital car buffer to start with, but I also know there are plenty of overly fearful guys. How to buff your car is a subject completely saturated with loads of bad information by guys with little, to no real-world experience.
So while I would recommend the Ceram-X as your fist step in how to buff your car regardless of whether you have ever polished a car or not, you can start with the D1 Polish Enhancer also. You have so much control based on the type of polishing pad you choose, the speed of the polisher, the amount of pressure you apply, etc. I completely understand the fear, but I also know that you remain in so much control during the entire process.
It is this very reason that I start with the car polish you choose before anything else in learning how to buff your car.
The type of car polisher you choose is a very simple recommendation that pretty much the entire world of auto detailing would agree upon:
A random orbital polisher. Also known as a dual-action, or DA car polisher. These current day offerings are not to be confused with what you may have grown up with used by your dad to apply wax to his ride. The bulky, rattle your teeth loose, outdated orbital car buffers of days gone by.
Today's offerings in quality engineered dual-action car buffers are vastly superior than they were decades ago and are continuously improved upon. (polisher and buffer is a generalization and are referring to any tool used to buff or polish a car. Some people will say car polisher, some will say car buffer)
"Random orbital car buffers are as safe and friendly to use as any other buffer you can choose."
While I grew up in the world of auto detailing limited to using only the infamous rotary (high-speed) car polisher, no longer is a guy like you limited to a single choice in the type of car polisher you choose.
With that said, I recommend one of the random orbital car buffers below:
Darren's Tips: Whether you are looking to buff your car or go into professional detailing this is a great polisher and pad system to begin with. And for most of you, the last one you will ever need. With that said, if you are the type with a healthy disposable income and demand the best, then you will want one of the polisher s below. This car polisher is quality built, but it is noisier and not quite as powerful as the car polishers that cost more money. (we get what we pay for right?)
Darren's Tips: I own one of these buffers and consider it an excellent choice! It feels great in my hands, has plenty of power with the only draw back is the weight. As a professional doing hours of paint correction at a time, weight really comes into play when choosing a car polisher. For this reason I opt for the Rupes polisher below as it is lighter and engineered to as high of standards as this offering from Griot's.
Darren's Tips: This Rupes would be my very first choice if you are a beginner learning how to buff your car. This of course is based on your ability to spend this kind of money on a car polisher. I use one of these professionally and do so many due to the weight. While the Griot's feels better in my hands, the Rupes is lighter and and when I am performing paint correction for hours at a time, the weight becomes a big factor in a polisher.
Rupes also has a smaller polisher called the LHR15 which represents a 15 mm throw versus this 21 mm throw. I have found that I prefer the larger "stroke" of the 21 mm Rupes, as most of the polishing will be performed on large, open car panels and I can cover these larger areas quicker by using the 21 mm Rupes car polisher.
Due to the endless opinions on the how to buff your car, I am going to break it down for you in hopes of helping you not only take that initial first step, but perform at a level that you would not likely ever think possible.
Darren's Note: Before moving forward in how to buff your car, you will need to decide the following:
Darren's Tips: I understand that if this is your very first time and are just beginning to learn how to buff your car you may be overly cautious. Just know that with any of these buffers, polishes, or polishing pads on this page, it would be very difficult to actually damage your car paint. You may become frustrated as a beginner like most of us naturally will, but you can be assured that you do not need to be overly concerned about doing any actual damage to your car paint.
Because of misinformed people who seem determined to repeat claims and statements they have limited to no experience in, many guys find it simply unacceptable to think about ever touching their car with a machine to polish the paint.
Old school thinking keeps many guys stuck in outdated ways. How to buff your car is a decision only you can make, but buffing your car by hand is going to severely limit the results you will be able to produce.
I have yet to observe any guy who can replicate the consistent movement of a machine with their hand in polishing their car. Machines dominate every industry for a reason, and if doing everything by hand was truly the best and most effective method, I know that we would still be doing it today.
But it simply isn't!
In the event you are one of the people who for whatever reason are not going to learn how to buff your car with a machine, but still want to buff your car by hand, then use the following tips:
Give yourself a break and accept that everything has a natural learning curve to it. It is unrealistic to think you will perform at the same level as a veteran detailer like myself when you first learn how to buff your car. But if you stick with it and put in a little time and patience, you will quickly adapt and learn the skills to produce a shine on your car that will impress both you and anyone else who looks at your car!
I hope this has helped in your first attempts of how to buff your car!
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