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Car polish is a mildly abrasive substance that sands the surface of your car's paint by means of friction and heat. This way, it will try to recreate the smooth look it had when it was first painted. (This is distinguished from car wax—car wax is a coating that protects the paint job on your car. It also helps the shine of the car.) Polishing is done to remove the built-up dirt on the car's painted surface, and to smooth out scratches—but it also removes a layer of paint as well. If you polish too often, it will remove the paint altogether. But at times imperfections that have developed in the car's layer of paint have to be polished away. Here is a guide to some of the best car polishes on the market.
Finishing polish: This type of polish removes only minor imperfections. Finishing polish comes in liquid and paste forms. It will succeed in making the paint job look smoother and shinier, and restore its gloss. But it can't remove deep scratches, swirls, and “holograms”--buffer trails, caused by poor polishing and the heat generated by a rotary polisher.
Cutting polish: This polish is to repair moderate imperfections in the car's paint, and damage due to washing and drying. Usually finishing polish is applied on top of this. This can be applied by hand or with a mechanical buffer.
Compounds: These are polishes that are not used on a regular basis, but are used to renew a paint finish. They are used for deep scratches and heavy damage to the paint. But they are recommended more for professional detailing.
Effort and time: Some polishes allow you to finish treating the entire car in a half-hour, using an dual-action buffer. But at first, work with the buffer at a slow speed (4.5- 5), and very little pressure, just to test it out. Then you can increase the speed and pressure if you are pleased with the results.
Quantity used: When polishing by hand, apply polish about the size of a nickel on the polishing pad. Do only a small section: no more than 2” x 2”, in order to see the results. Work the polish in at first in a circular motion, and then move it back and forth, until the polish turns clear. Also, look at the section you polished under bright lights, to get an impression of how well the polish works.
Other uses: After people have seen success with their car's polish, they try using it on other items in their home: some see that finishing polish is effective on chrome, silver, and aluminum.
UV-protection: Sunlight is known to make your car's paint job fade due to oxidation (red paint fades the most when exposed to sunlight). So look for a car polish that also offers UV-protection, since the UV is what damages the color.
Types of pads: The type of polish that you need (finishing polishes for minor scratches, or compounds for deep imperfections) will also determine the type of buffer pad that you use on the machine. The pads are color coded, to indicate their purpose: for example, purple and yellow are for deep cutting polish, whereas blue and black are for finishing polish.
Polish application: Pay attention to whether the polish can be applied by hand, or whether you'll need a mechanical buffer to perform the polishing. There are two types of mechanical buffers:
Dual-action polishers: A dual-action (DA, for short) polisher spins the polishing pad on a central spindle, and this spindle revolves around an off-center point on the polisher head. (This is also called an “orbital polisher”, since its motion resembles that of a planet rotating and also revolving around the sun.) These are designed to prevent polishing too abrasively, generating too much heat, and damaging the top layer of paint.
Rotary (or circular) polisher: This is used to remove deep paint scratches—but these should only be used by a professional. Amateurs using the rotary polisher risk burning the car's paint from the friction generated.
Griot's Garage—is a company manufacturing car care products. They were founded in 1990, and are based in Tacoma, Washington. They have products for care and maintenance of the interior and exterior of your car, as well as garage accessories and tools.
AllTrade Direct— is a workshop supplier of car accessories and electrical parts. Their headquarters is located in Bristol, Great Britain. They sell car care and maintenance products, tools, lights, paint supplies, and more.
TORQ Tool Company-- manufactures a line of car polishing products and auto detailing tools. They also sell accessories for waxing and polishing automobiles.
Meguiar's— is a car care company, founded by Frank Meguiar, Jr. in 1901. Originally they marketed furniture polish, but later expanded to surface care products in general, selling polishes and waxes for cars, motorcycles and boats.