By Michael Mankarious
© Detailers Finest
For car detailing enthusiasts, polishing is a must in any detailing regimen. For most car owners, on the other hand, polishing is often neglected and overshadowed by waxing and sealants, but is by far the most beneficial step in maintaining the pristine appearance of your car's paint finish. Even with today's super protective ceramic coatings, a paint polished to perfection is vital since the ceramic coating can last several years. Since the finish will be sealed for several years, it needs to be in good condition and polished properly. Nothing is worse than sealing in a paint finish that is hazy, oxidized and full of swirl marks.
What Are Polishes?
Unlike car wax or coatings, which act as a shield designed to take the abuse of environmental elements so the paint surface below doesn't have to, polishes are the real labor force in the process of paintwork care maintenance and enhancing appearance. Polishes maintain and extend the life of paint by one, removing dirt too stubborn for general washing; two, removing oxidized paint (aged paint); three, smoothing out surface scratches and swirl marks (which are circular surface scratches); and four, conditioning the paintwork so that it doesn't dry, crack and peel. Knowing this, it's easy to see why polishing should be given considerable consideration as part of your overall car detailing regimen.
Put Away the Elbow Grease
It wasn't too long ago that car enthusiasts believed that polishing by hand was the best way to polish a car. The detailing world has changed a lot in the last few years and now everyone from newbies to professionals are polishing by hand using polishing machines that can remove paint imperfections such as swirl marks without damaging the paint like the more aggressive polishing machines used in paint and body shops. Dual Action (DA) polishers first came on the DIY market in the late '90s but now it's the standard.
Many of the changes in the polishing realm has revolved around the changes brought upon by the DA. Now practically anyone can polish a car to near professional perfection.
nextzett has reformulated the polishes in the former einszett product line to work better with DA machines which ensures deeper gloss and better paint correction. As before, nextzett polishes are extremely easy to work with and have the perfect balance of core ingredients matched up with the latest German abrasives that know just went to stop cutting.
3 Step Paint Finish System
The first step in polishing is choosing the right polish. And forget about whether the polish is for light or colored paint. It doesn't matter because despite the color of the paint, there's always going to be a clear coat on top and that's what you're correcting. Like the name says, clear coat is just clear paint. So rest assured that nextzett polishes are for EVERY paint color.
A side note... As for where the idea about using certain polishes for different paint colors came from is not certain. I do have a guess though. Many years ago, 3M released two body shop polishes - one for dark colored cars and one for light colored cars. The formulation for both polishes were the same but while the polish for light colored cars was white, the polish for dark colored cars was tinted gray so when you polished, the dust and splatter formed was dark and less visible on dark colored cars.Why that mattered, I don't know? But in the body shop, we used either polish despite the color of the paint and cleanup was the same regardless. Thankfully, today's polishes don't dust and splatter like they used. Good for clean up and in the case of the dusting, good for your health.
Correcting the Paint with No. 1 Clean & Polish
Correcting is the act of removing paint imperfections such as swirl marks, scratches and heavy oxidation from the paint finish. The paint finish might be new with lots of swirl marks from improper washing/drying or from a visit to a carwash with aggressive brushes or it could be old and neglected with swirl marks, scratches and lots of oxidation. Whichever the scenario, using No. 1 Clean & Polish with a foam cutting pad and a DA polisher will remove all these imperfections. Set DA on high (about speed 6). Next up is No. 2 One Step Polish.
Enhancing the Paint with No. 2 One Step Polish
With No. 2, you're going to take the corrected paint from our last step and take it to the next level of depth and gloss. No. 2 One Step Polish will polish out the abrasive dull finish left by No. 1 Clean & Polish and bring it back to the original finish or better. No. 2 can reduce swirl marks and remove any haze. It's also a great maintenance polish to keep haze and swirl marks from coming back. Use with a DA polisher and a polishing pad. Set speed on medium high (about speed 5-6).
Adding Gloss and Protection with No. 3 Polish & Wax
At this point, your paint finish should be in near perfect condition... but there's actually still some room for improvement and that's where No. 3 Polish & Wax comes in. No. 3 will enhance the depth in the paint finish even further and then leave a protective layer of polymer and carnauba wax to keep that new pristine finish protected from bird droppings*, sap* and UV rays. No. 3 can be used as often as you'd like as it will remove light oxidation, haze and protect the paint finish.
When To Polish?
We recommend polishing twice a year - preferably spring and fall. After thoroughly washing the paintwork surface, apply the polish with a Dual Action (DA) polishing machine and a polishing pad that corresponds with the step you are on. For example, No. 1 Clean & Polish will work with a cutting foam DA pad to remove oxidation and swirl marks. A polishing pad goes with No. 2 One Step Polish and a finishing pad or hand applicator foam pad goes with No. 3 Polish & Wax. If you opt to polish by hand, use a 100 percent terry cotton towel or foam applicator pad
After applying the polish, by working it into the surface until it nearly disappears, wipe off with a Microfiber Towel (microfiber towels are highly suggested because of their very fine surface area that wont cause minor surface scratches). Remember, when polishing do not apply too much or too little pressure the same amount of effort as we always suggest for surface care.
The benefits of polishing far exceed those of just waxing. While one works best with the other, polishes remain the work horse in the overall maintenance of the paintwork by removing aged paint, restoring depth and gloss and reducing or removing the appearance of surface defects such as surface scratches and the dreaded swirl mark. It also creates the ideal surface for a coat of wax.
*Always clean bird droppings and sap as soon as possible to reduce the chance of paint staining