When your car’s paint loses its shine or starts to sport blemishes or scratches, your first thought is probably to polish it. While it’s widely believed that car polish will ruin the paint on your vehicle, it’s not entirely true.
Car polish will not ruin your paint, but improperly applying it will. Your car has a thick layer of clear coat that protects the paint from the sun and other elements. Polishing aggressively or frequently removes most of this clear coat. The loss of this clear coat can cause the paint to fade.
Think of car polish as sandpaper. So when you use the wrong grit or rub too deep, it will cause significant damage. This article will discuss car polishing in detail, how to do it right, and how best to improve your car’s appearance without compromising the integrity of the clear coat.
Can Polish Ruin Your Car?
Polishing can help refine your car’s coat and remove scratches, blemishes, and contaminants that may have caused it to lose its shine. However, if you don’t take precautions, car polish can also cause a lot of harm.
Car polish can ruin your car’s coat as it contains certain abrasives. If you use the polisher at a high rpm, employ certain compounds and polish too harshly, you’ll be left with burned paint, cloudy paint, or holographics. When done infrequently, gently, and with the right cutting pads, car polish will not ruin your car.
Before polishing your car, get a professional to test how much clear coat you have on. This is especially crucial if you’ve polished your car in the past, as you need to know how much you have left. If you have never polished your car you probably have a generous coating to work with, but you should still be careful in case of deep scratches in the future.
Here’s a YouTube video on how to use polishers to avoid ruining your paint:
Potential Problems When Polishing a Car
You have probably seen cars covered in swirls, scratches, holographics, or paint burns. Some damage is due to neglect and exposure to elements like the sun and rain. However, some of these issues are a result of car polish.
Here are three common potential problems you may encounter when polishing a car:
Polishing your car often or too aggressively can leave you with a very thin layer of clear coat. When you apply excess pressure while using machines, the heat generated will burn car paint.
Most detailers love aggressive cutting pads because they work deep into the scratches and swirls, leaving an appealing finish. Unfortunately, these pads can also leave the paint vulnerable to burn marks.
Car paint can also burn when overexposed to the sun’s UV rays; cracks or peeling paint are usually signs of UV-ray damage. The paint was most likely affected due to a lack of clear coat protecting it. Besides getting burned, paint subjected to UV rays begins to fade and peel,
exposing the car to further corrosion.
How To Fix It
This video illustrates how paint burns occur and how to avoid them:
Holographics, also known as buffer swirls or buffer trails, form when the wrong high-speed rotary buffers are used. The micro-scratches caused by the circular movement of the rotary polisher can be avoided when the detailer follows the steps to remove blemishes slowly.
Holographics are usually a sign that you:
Holographics don’t always appear immediately after polishing. However, after washing your car a few times, the swirls hidden by heavy fillers will become more visible.
How To Fix It
When you see a chalky residue or faded paint, especially on the hood, roof, or trunk of your car, it’s most likely due to oxidation. When the clear coat is sanded off during the polishing process, the paint is exposed to the elements, which include UV rays, water, and oxygen.
Older vehicles tend to experience this issue more often as the newer models have coats more resistant to oxidation. Sometimes oxidation damage may appear on the entire car or in patches. For example, a red car may turn pink or have patches of pink, while a black car may turn a dull gray.
Although similar effects may be due to exposure to UV rays, oxidation is often the culprit.
If your car is showing signs of oxidation, you need to work on it immediately as leaving it exposed could make things worse.
How To Fix It
Unfortunately, most auto manufacturers guard clear coat formulas, so they are not readily available. They still use wax though, as it effectively protects the paint from external damage.
To prevent paint oxidation, you should:
Is Car Polishing Bad for Your Car?
Scratches and other blemishes will appear on your car over time irrespective of what you do. Elements like the sun, rain, and even stones on the road will affect your car’s appearance over time. At some point, you will need to polish your car to restore its aesthetic appeal.
Car polishing is not bad for your car when done properly and with significant time gaps in between. If your car’s paint is old or too exposed, the effect of the polish will be greatly diminished. Additionally, if the paint is not prepared or the polish is done aggressively, your car’s coat will be adversely affected.
When polishing your car, you need to get someone with the right skills and knowledge on car polishing. The methods and tools used are crucial, and without the right preparation, polishing can ruin your car.
Tips for Properly Polishing a Car
When done properly, polishing can make any car look significantly better in terms of aesthetic appeal. However, the polishing needs to be carried out effectively or you can end up with a poor finish that can be more expensive to reverse.
Here are some tips on how to properly polish a car:
When polishing your car it’s crucial to level the clear coat first, just like sandpapering wood. You should only remove as much of the coating as necessary to eliminate swirls or scratches.
If you go too deep you won’t have enough clear coat left to polish your car sometime in the future. If you’re planning to resell your car, the reduced clear coat can significantly affect its price, so you need to be extra careful.
Here is a great guide on car polish, including tips on how to get it right:
Mistakes To Avoid When Polishing the Car
Considering how sensitive your car coating is to polish, you should be aware of the dos and don’ts involved.
There are some common car polish mistakes people often make that affects the quality of the finish. If you can avoid them, your car will look great after a polish, and you will have enough clear coat left to protect the paint.
How Often Should You Polish Your Car?
As mentioned earlier, car polish isn’t bad for your car when applied in moderation and with the right technique.
Most experts recommend polishing a car once or twice a year. It is important to note that the exact frequency depends on lots of different factors like the conditions of the car’s paint, the level of paint preparation, if the car is parked outside or in a garage, how often the car is driven, and the experience of the person polishing.
You may take your car to the workshop more often if you find it covered in scratches regularly. However, keep in mind that the paint coating will be adversely affected if your car is polished too often.
Now that you know when to polish a car and when to avoid doing so, let’s go over a few key points to keep in mind when polishing your car.
Formula Auto Care: What Are Car Holograms And How To Get Rid Of Them?
JD Power: How to Remove Oxidation From Car Paint
Fast Car Help: Paint Holograms and How to Fix Them
Motor Biscuits: You’re Going to Want to Avoid Making These Car Polish Mistakes
International Journal On Advanced Science Engineering Information Technology: Detection of Scratches on Cars by Means of CNN and R-CNN
Youtube: How To Burn Paint and How To Make Sure You Don’t Burn Paint
The Drive: Here’s How To Polish a Car Like a Pro
Cherish Your Car: How To Fix Burnt Paint On Car? (Explained)