Step by Step Guide to Machine Polishing
Step by Step Guide to Machine Polishing
There are no worries when it comes to using a Random Orbital Polisher like the G110V2 Dual-Action Car Polisher by Meguiar’s, or the Porter Cable 7424XP of damaging your paint, even if you have never used a car polisher before! These machines offer variable speeds and a random orbit dual action for safe, swirl free polishing.
This polisher with the correct pad and polish, is capable of removing random isolated scratches, swirl, oxidation, water spots, acid rain etching and bird dropping damage as well as other unfortunate paint defects that stand in the way of that brilliant shine.
The polisher is also a great maintenance tool for your gloss enhancement polishing, pre-wax cleaning and applying thin, even coats of your favorite car wax, paint sealant or protectant. Even if you have never used any type of car polisher you can still achieve an amazing, swirl free shine.
This guide will take you through the process step-by-step.
GETTING STARTED - Dual Action Car Polisher
It's easy to give out advice on what steps to take to make your car look good, but there are many variables that come into play that we need to consider. This guide will lead you through the necessary steps to achieve that sought after, deep, wet looking shine.
STEP ONE - SURFACE EVALUATION
You know how you want it to look but you must also take in to consideration the time involved, tools needed and if the damage is severe, your own skill level. Here are a few things you need to think about before you start your surface evaluation process.
• Products and Tools Available
• Time Available
• Work Space Including Lighting Weather Conditions
• Skill Level
• Your Expectations
Now that we know what we have to work with, let’s evaluate the surface of your paint to determine our plan of attack.
Overall Paint Condition- Is your paint new or like new, in need of light polishing for gloss enhancement, requiring minor defect removal or is your paint neglected and needing heavy defect removal?
Paint Hardness -This is difficult to tell until you start polishing your car. Some paints are harder than others making defect removal more difficult so more aggressive products would be needed.
Paint Thickness - This is difficult to tell unless you have a paint thickness gage. Without a gage, what you need to look for is thin spots or any areas that may have been burnt through in the past by inexperienced detailers with the wrong type of buffer. If you find a thin area, stay away from that area with your polisher. You can't polish out thin paint, it just wears it away.
Individual Paint Defect -
• Isolated Scratches
• Paint Etching
• Water Spots
• Paint Staining
• Clarity of overall surface
Now that we know what needs to be corrected we need to choose the proper polish and polishing pad to correct the defects in your paint’s surface and achieve desired results.
STEP TWO - POLISH AND POLISHING PAD SELECTION
Now that you have evaluated the surface and know what needs to be done it’s time to figure out what products you will need to get the job done. Keep in mind you always start with your least aggressive product for the job and step up in aggressiveness only if needed.
Major Defect Removal – Remove Scratches, Oxidation and Other Serious Defects
The yellow Buff and Shine Euro Foam Grip Pad is the first step in serious defect removal such as random isolated scratches, heavy swirl, severe oxidation, stubborn water etching and other difficult to remove paint defects. Use the Buff and Shine Euro Foam Grip Pad for safe and efficient removal of more serious defects with a compound such as the Meguiar’s M105 Ultra Cut Compound.
Minor Defect Removal – Remove Swirls, Light Scratches, Oxidation and Minor Defects
The Orange Buff and Shine Euro Foam Grip Pad is the second step for minor defect removal of swirls, fine isolated scratches, water spots, mild water etching, light oxidation and other less severe paint finish defects. Use the Buff and Shine Euro Foam Grip Pad for safe and competent removal of medium to light common defects with a swirl remover polish such as Menzerna PF2500 Power Finish Polish or Sonax Profiline Fine Abrasive Paste.
Gloss Enhancement and Paint Cleaning – Pre Wax Cleaning and Gloss Enhancement
The green Buff and Shine Foam Grip Pad is your third step in paint perfection and is used to clean your paint and enhance gloss so you can achieve that desired deep, wet looking shine. Use the green Buff and Shine Foam Grip Pad for your pre-wax cleaning and final gloss enhancement as well as to prep your surface for proper bonding of car wax, paint sealant or protectant with a finish polish such as Duragloss 105 Total Performance Polish or Optimum Finish Polish.
Protection Application – Protect your Paint Finish from Harsh Environmental Elements
The red Buff and Shine Foam Grip Pad is the final step to a flawless finish and is used to safely apply your car wax, paint sealant or protectant. Use Sonus SFX-4 Final Gloss Seal and Protect Pad for thin, even application of the Sonus SFX-4 Paint Sealant.
STEP THREE - PAINT POLISHING PROCESS
Now let's start polishing! Remember to never work in direct sunlight or on a hot surface.
Good lighting is also very important so you are able to evaluate your work during the polishing process. Thoroughly wash and dry your car.
o Use a detailing clay to remove bonded surface contamination that is in the way of polishing your paint.
o Choose an area approximately 2' by 2' area on the surface to begin your process. Usually the worst area is your best choice.
o With painter’s tape, tape off any sharp edges and trim to avoid staining trim, build up in cracks and crevices and pad damage.
o Select the proper polish and polishing pad based on your surface evaluation to start your process.
o Adjust your speed setting according to the “Recommended Speed Setting Guide” below.
o Place the pad on the surface of the paint.
o Turn on the power switch. WARNING! Never lift the polisher off the surface of your paint while it is turned on!
o When removing any type of defects apply medium pressure while polishing and move in SLOW overlapping motions according to the “Recommended Paint Polishing Pattern Guide” below.
o When the polish is worked in well it will start to turn clear.
o At this point turn off the machine and lift it off the surface of the paint.
o With a clean, quality microfiber towel, buff the remaining product residue off the surface of your paint.
o In good lighting, evaluate your work.
o If it looks like you need to work on the defects a little more, add a few more pea size dabs of polish and repeat your process until your evaluation revels success. (Keep in mind when using more aggressive products you need to work your way down in aggressiveness to achieve your best shine.)
o Don’t forget, this is a four-step process but you may not need all for steps.
o Working in sections that are no larger than 2’ by 2’ to concentrate your work repeat the necessary polishing processes over the entire surface of your car until desired results are achieved.
o Remember areas with more serious defects will require more polishing time so be patient and allow the polisher to do its job.
Using your final wax pad, apply your favorite car wax, paint sealant or paint protectant and allow to cure. Remove remaining residue with a clean, quality microfiber towel or buff off using your microfiber bonnets to reveal a brilliant shine!
Maintain your shine by quick detailing when lightly dusty and regular washing as needed with a quality car wash shampoo, wash mitt and microfiber drying towel.
Proper machine polishing is as easy as following this simple pattern and concentrating your work in a 2' by 2' section at a time. Master this and you are on your way to a brilliant shine!
RECOMMENDED SPEED SETTING GUIDE
Remove Serious Defects – 5 to 5.5
Remove Swirl and Minor Defects – 4.5 to 5
Pre Wax Cleaning and Gloss Enhancement – 4.5
Protect your paint finish from harsh environmental elements – 2.5 Last Step Product Application - 2.5 to 3
Note: Not all paint finishes require the entire four-step process. Complete only the steps necessary for the condition or your paint finish.
CAR POLISHER TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
o Do a test spot! Make sure your technique and process is offering desired results before proceeding to polish the entire car
o Use the proper pad, polish and speed combination for your paint’s condition
o Keep the pad level on your paint surface at all times
o Always start with your least aggressive polish, then step up only if needed
o Use overlapping motions
o SLOW Down! Don’t run the machine over the paint too fast or it won’t get the job done
o Work a small (2’ by 2’) area at a time so you can concentrate on your work More polish is not better! Use only about 3 to 4 pea size dabs and add more as necessary
o Never dry buff! Add polish when you see your polish is thin and starts to go clear
o Never buff in direct sun or on a warm or hot surface Never use more than one type of polish on your polishing or buffing pad
o Keep your pads away from trim and sharp edges
o Tape off trim with painter's tape to avoid staining trim and polish build up in cracks and crevices
o Never lift your pad off the paint when the machine is turned on
o Keep the cord over your shoulder and away from your paint Tie a loose knot around where the extension cord meets the polisher cord so it stays plugged in
o Make sure your lighting is good so you can see your progress
o Apply medium pressure only when removing defects
o Check your work often to make sure your process is working
I read every word. I use a Porter Cable 7424xp. You did a great job laying out a ton of detailed instruction and as far as I can tell did not leave out a thing.
My only reason for chiming in is to let any beginners know that if you read Primo's steps a couple times (even though it looks a little overwhelming) you will get excellent results that make you very happy. And once you get the basics down it really is very easy as long as you believe him when he says go slow. Professional detailers charge a ridiculous premium because they go slow and do it right.
Sometimes I just do a section of the truck per night. After dinner, grab a beer and head out to spend an hour or two listening to a ballgame.... no rush, no sweat and no hurrying to finish.
I look forward to reading all of your "How Too's"
no problem Spoiler...i hope they help!
Excellent advice on this process, primo. If I may ask you one question though, how do you deal with body "creases". e.g. the "sharp" transitions like on the hood bulges or fender lines on our RAM's? Just lessen the pressure on the machine? Or work these areas very quickly? Seems as if they would be subject to more "cut" from the machine process. Anyway, thank you for all of the great info, man!
actually you are totally right in letting up on your pressure, but for a very different reason. BUT THIS IS ONLY WHEN YOUR NOT USING A ROTARY POLISHER.
If you are using a free floating spindle design machine like the PC 7424, you will need to reduce your pressure, adjust the pad angle and really work the technique in these areas, because this is exactly where this type of machine will stop working. This is what makes the machine so safe to use. These deep depressions/body lines will actually stop the pad from oscillating and without the oscillation, you will get no correction. so letting up on your pressure on the machine will usually allow the pad to oscillate again, therefore causing the correction you are looking for.
NOW, when using a DA that is a forced rotation such as the Flex, or a rotary polisher, yes, i will let up on the pressure in those same areas, but to avoid burning through the paint.
It is still very unlikely to burn through the paint with the Flex DA, because it is still a dual action machine that is rotating and oscillating and generating alot less heat. But a rotary will eat through the paint, especially where the edge of the pad can hit these areas in split seconds.
While the rotary is still kind of the king of machines in any detailing business, because they work fast, in the hands of an inexperienced user the results can be damaging. It is also very difficult to finish without holograms (buffer trails) on a rotary.
Ive been using a rotary for over 20 years and still have a hard time finishing with it. I usually always grab the Flex DA over the rotary, unless i have some serious correction that requires a wool pad, and then i will still finish with the DA. even though it takes a bit longer, the DA has been my goto tool for a long time for a few of the reasons listed here.
Great explanation on that, thanks primo!
np Paul...hope it helps...
Hey Primo, did I mess up? I had a Teflon protectant applied, can I still polish and wax???
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