How to Polish a Car

While we all crave that new car feeling, most of us wish we had that “new car paint job,” without any nicks or scratches to speak. Luckily, there’s a quicker fix that doesn’t involve dragging your car to a detail shop or breaking the bank. Car polish can reduce and even eliminate the appearance of scratches in the paint, and can make the entire surface much smoother.

Car polish is used to enhance the finish and paint job of a car, and can easily be done at home with a little extra elbow grease. Here's how you can polish a car:

How to polish your car

  1. Gather the right materials - To polish your car, you will need the following: Car polish of choice (read more below for choosing polishes), Soft cloth, Orbital buffer (optional).

  2. Decide if you want to use a buffer - You don’t have to use an orbital buffer to apply car polish. In fact, you can simply hand-polish the car using a soft cloth. Here is a review of the pros and cons to both options:

    buffer vs polisher chart

    Tip: If you choose to use an orbital buffer, it is wise to keep a soft cloth on hand in the event that you need to polish inside of a smaller nook or cranny.

    Warning: Due to the risk of scratches, you can use the slowest setting available on your buffer to avoid scratches and prevent removing too much finish or paint from the vehicle.

  3. Choose your car polish - There is a wide variety of car polishes available at most big box stores, auto shops, and online. Some polishes target different issues you may have with your finish, so be sure to read the labels carefully.

    Tip: If you are looking to diminish light swirls and fading, try Einszett Car Polish.

    Tip: If you’re solely seeking to remove small scratches, nicks, and imperfections, try a strong car polish like Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish.

    person rinsing down vehicle

  4. Wash your car thoroughly - Wash the exterior of your car thoroughly to ensure your polish can be applied safely. If there is any type of dirt or debris left on your car before the polishing process begins, they can grind into the finish and potentially leave deep scratches.

    Tip: Make sure your vehicle is 100% dry before you begin polishing. Depending on the climate and humidity, it is recommended that you wait at least a good half hour after washing before applying any car polish.

    hand polishing car hood

  5. Apply the car polish - Apply the car polish to either the pad of your orbital buffer or your soft cloth and begin rubbing the product into the car finish using a circular motion. If you are polishing your entire car, remember to work slowly, one section at a time, and use a healthy amount of polish paste to prevent your cloth or pad from drying out.

    person using a buffer on side of vehicle

  6. Apply more pressure - You will want to apply firm pressure to areas of the car that are scratched and gradually reduce pressure as your move away from the scratched site. This will aid the polish in transitioning into the rest of your finish.

    Tip: If you are using an orbital buffer, begin rubbing the polish product onto the car for a couple seconds before turning the buffer on. This will prevent any splattering that would otherwise occur.

    person buffing out car paying attention to detail

  7. Buff the polish into the finish until it disappears completely - Continue rubbing and buffing the car in a circular motion until the polish disappears. If you are polishing your entire car, finish working in one area entirely until the polish disappears, before moving on to the next sections. By buffing the polish away completely, this keeps the polish from drying onto your car’s finish and leaving a smudgy appearance.

    Note: Be sure to let your car sit in a safe space for a good hour after you’ve finished your polish to ensure that everything is completely dry.

After completing these five steps, you have finished polishing your car! Depending on the strength of the polish you used, you will not need to polish your car again for at least another couple months. You can now enjoy a fresh ride with your car looking more like new! If you need help at any point, don't hesitate to call a mechanic for help!


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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