The temperatures are dropping, the weather’s getting drab — if not downright slushy — and things just look a little grayer than they did in the spring and summer. That makes this the perfect time to buff your vehicle to a glossy shine. Our friends at Car & Driver have some excellent tips on the best practices for buffing your car.
Let’s be up-front: To really buff your vehicle to its best shine, you’re likely going to need to invest in a car polisher. This will set you back a little bit of money to start with, but if you’re a dedicated take-care-of-it-yourselfer, you’ll still be financially ahead of the game. Now, we’re going to start with the basics: a vehicle’s finish is essentially composed of three parts: primer coat, color coat, and clear coat. When you’re buffing, you are only polishing that final clear-coat layer. There’s no need to worry about burning through the clear coat, because orbital buffers are designed to slow to a stop if you apply too much pressure to them. You’ll be surprised at how little pressure it takes to get a good polish, too. Most buffers require only 5 to 7 pounds of force. Let the machinery do the work for you!
Take It Slow
A major mistake first-time buffers make is to speed through the process. Buffing and polishing your car is not something that can be rushed — not if you want it done right — so set aside some time to do it correctly. Find a qualify polishing compound and use an appropriate amount on a two-foot square area on your car. Add some of the compound to your buffer, and then go slow. Professionals recommend you go about one inch per second in order to achieve a quality polish. When you’re done, apply a quality wax to seal the deal on the work you’ve done.
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Buffing is only a single piece in a process; how long your vehicle stays shiny depends on the type of protective coat you use when you’re done buffing. A typical car wax finish will last six months to a year, while the shiny finish you get from ceramic coatings can last up to five years.