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How To Polish A Car Like A Pro

Most people tend to interchange the definition between waxing and polishing. These two are not the same. Yes, both processes are required to maintain a flawless paint finish. But if you want to know how to polish a car like a pro, then you will need to determine the difference between waxing and polishing.

Waxing Versus Polishing – What’s The Difference?

Waxing Versus Polishing

Depending on the product that you’re using. Waxes are composed mainly of vegetable waxes and animal waxes (like carnauba and beeswax). The benefits of waxing are:

  • Protects and seals the clear coat in the paint
  • Enhances the water beading protection of the paint to avoid water spots and water stains when it rains
  • ​Provide a deep, glossy and durable shine
  • Fills in minor imperfections in the paint surface such as scratches and swirl marks

Polish is utilized to clean and prep the paint. Polish contains mild abrasives that will serve to flatten the clear coat in the paint. The abrasive action will remove fine layers to enhance the reflection of light for a flawless shine.

If you want to make your car look brand new, you will need to apply polish before waxing the surface. There are products in the market that claim to polish and wax the surface in one simple application. If you’re a car nut like me, it is better to stay away from these products because nothing beats the protection and shine of treating the paint with polish before applying a fine coat of wax. You can take my word for it.

When To Polish And Wax

When To Polish And Wax

Since polishes are formulated with mild abrasives, you should polish your vehicle once every 6 months. If your vehicle is constantly exposed to harsh weather elements, you can apply polish once every 3 months.

In order to maintain a showroom shine, you should wax the paint once a month or every 3 months depending on the condition of the paint.

When To Polish A Car

Want to know the proper way to determine if your paint needs polish? Wash your car and let it dry. Rub your hand over the hood or the roof of the vehicle. The surface should feel smooth. If you detect rough spots, dull surfaces, or oxidation from the paint then you should polish the finish before applying wax.

You should also polish the finish if you see a lot of scratches and swirl marks in the paint. Swirl marks are most noticeable on black or dark-colored paint.

When To Wax A Car

Wet the car using a garden hose. Do you see a lot of water beads on the paint? If not, you should wax the car after washing. You should also wax the paint whenever you detect that the paint has lost a lot of luster and shine.

How To Polish A Car Like A Pro

Things You Need:

Step 1

Wash the car

Wash the car using water and car shampoo. Dry the surface thoroughly using a clean chamois or microfiber cloth. When washing, polishing and waxing your car, you should park the vehicle in a shaded garage away from direct sunlight.

Step 2

Polish the car

After drying the vehicle, you are ready to apply polish. Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. The application and drying process will depend on the brand of polish that you’re using. In this case, it would be best to follow the directions in the bottle to achieve the best results. Some polishes will require you to spray a bit of water on the paint while buffing the finish.

You can also polish by hand or use an orbital buffer. The choice is up to you. I prefer to apply polish by hand since this will allow me to inspect the paint in detail while applying the product. I would then use an orbital buffer to remove the haze and buff the finish to a brilliant shine. You can achieve good results whether you’re polishing by hand or machine.

Use a foam applicator pad to apply polish. Work one section at a time starting from the topmost parts of your car like the hood, roof, and trunk. Use only a small amount of the product in each section of the car. I prefer to work the polish using small circular motions.

Step 3

Allow the polish to dry to a haze. Again, this will depend on the product you’re using. Some polishes are required to be left on the paint, while some products need to be buffed out instantly after applying the polish.

Step 4

Buff the paint

Buff the paint to achieve a smooth and deep gloss. Use a clean microfiber towel or an orbital buffer to remove the haze while buffing the surface of the paint.

Step 5

Make sure to remove all traces of polish from the edges of the door handles and the emblems. Use a microfiber towel to remove traces of polish from the edges and panel gaps of the painted surface.

Step 6

Good job! You are now ready to apply a coat of wax. Want to know an expert’s guide on how to wax a car? Click here.

Top Tips

1. Use the same brand of polish and wax. You should avoid interchanging products whenever possible. This will help avoid compatibility issues or uneven results.

2. Do not allow polish or wax to sit in the paint for too long. This might make it difficult to remove the haze from the paint.

3. Never wax or polish a hot paint finish. This is the reason why you should wash the car thoroughly before polishing and waxing. Always work on a cool surface.


You don’t need to spend big bucks in order to maintain showroom shine. All you need is to use the right products and employ the right techniques. This will not only make your car stand out, but this will also preserve the value of your investment. Now you know how to polish a car like a pro so you can have the shiniest and cleanest car on the block!

About George Bradley

George is an enthusiastic blogger and an auto mechanic expert whose mission is to provide the readers with the best tips, guides, and recent events in the automotive industry. He has been involved in researching on various topics that are essential to the car owners, especially when it comes to an understanding, maintaining and handling their vehicles.

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