How to Polish a Black Car – To Perfection
To polish a black car to perfection takes time and patience. And it also takes some know-how.
I have polished many black cars over the years, including my own car multiple times.
It’s possible to make a black car shine like glass and achieve outstanding results when you have the right tools and knowledge.
Polishing will remove light scratches and swirl marks. Once removed, you should learn how to prevent swirls marks from happening again.
Polishing with Multi-Stage Paint Correction
Depending on the degree of imperfections on the paint, you may need to do two stages of polishing. If the paint has been looked after properly or the car is relatively new, you may only need to do the second stage below.
Stage One: The first stage is more abrasive and will remove swirls and light scratches. Some paint or clear coat is permanently removed and too much can damage it. Cutting pads and cutting compound are used.
Stage Two: is all about bringing back the shine. A smaller amount of clear coat is removed. Softer foam pads and finishing polish are used.
What you do before and after these two stages is also vital to getting good results. Paint should be spotlessly clean before starting and protection should be added after.
Tools for Polishing a Black Car
- Dual Action Polishing Machine. You won’t get perfect results without a polishing machine. Dual Action is the best.
- Cutting and Finishing Pads. Microfibre cutting pads are needed for paint correction and soft finishing pads are needed to shine and mirror-like reflection.
- Cutting Compound. Needed for correcting swirls and scuffs.
- Finishing Polish. Needed to refine the finish and bring back gloss and reflection.
- Swirl Remover contains both compound and polish in one product
- Microfibre buffing towels. Soft clean buffing towels are great for removing polish.
- Paint Surface Cleanser. Helps clean the surface before and after polishing. Use an IPA cleanser or a product like Gyeon Prep.
- Detailing Tape. Polish can spatter everywhere and stain plastic and rubber trim. So it’s worth covering it with tape.
- Inspection torch. Good lighting helps a lot. A torch or inspection light makes the job a lot easier as it can be hard to see how good the reflection is and if you are making progress.
Why preparation is so important
Preparing your car for polish is one of the most important steps. Washing your car will remove surface dirt but won’t remove bonded dirt. If your paint isn’t clean and contaminant free you will run into several problems…
- Polishing won’t be as effective and could take a lot longer.
- Bonded dirt can detach from paint and scratch it.
- Polishing pads can be damaged.
Your paint should feel super smooth before you polish it. And the best way to achieve that is by using a clay bar or other clay-type product. Remember, a clay bar could slightly mar the paint so don’t clay your car if you don’t need to.
Step-by-step tips for multi-stage paint correction
- Do a full paint prep and decontamination.
- Tape off plastic and rubber trim.
- Remove light dust with Paint Surface Cleanser.
- Only work on a small section at a time, e.g. a quarter of the hood.
- Inspect the area with a torch to see what you are working with.
- Apply the compound to a microfibre cutting pad
- Rub the compound into fibers with your fingers.
- Set the machine to the lowest speed setting.
- Place the polisher on the paint and switch it on.
- Using back-and-forth motions, spread the compound over the entire area
- Increase the speed of the machine.
- Move slowly and steadily over the paint in a straight line using an overlapping pattern.
- Go back over the area in cross-hatch patterns to ensure even coverage.
- Don’t use too much pressure.
- Once you have gone over the area a few times, switch off the machine.
- Wipe off the residue with a microfibre towel.
- Use the torch again to see if you are progressing.
- The paint might be hazy, but that’s fine. Are swirls gone?
- If not repeat.
- Clean pads with compressed air or with a small brush for each section.
- Use a clean pad every now and then.
- For stage two, repeat with a soft finish pad and finishing polish.
- Wipe down paint with a paint cleanser.
- Apply protection such as one of my recommended car waxes to protect your work and add gloss.
Polishing Tips for Black Cars
- Don’t let the machine sit in one spot for too long.
- Don’t use too much pressure.
- Try not to let the polish or pad dry out.
- No need to wait for the polish to bond or dry.
- Check for heat every now and then. Too much heat can burn the paint.
- Clean pads and buffing towels are a big help.
- Check each section with an inspection torch.
- Test using light polish and soft pad first. You may not need a heavy cut.
- Haze can be a problem. APC or paint cleanser can help. Clean pads and clean paint.
- Place pads in a bucket of warm water with detergent before the polish has a chance to dry
- Don’t use a clay bar unless you need to, i.e. paint feels rough.
- Read the instructions for whatever products you are using.
- Use a mobile dent repair service to fix any dents.
- Fix rock chips before beginning to polish.
Tips to improve your polishing skills
- If you have never polished a car before it might be worth finding an old hood or door panel in a junkyard to practice with.
- Buy a smaller backing plate and pads for use with small pads to work on narrow spots.
- Consider getting a mini polisher for even tighter spots
Conclusion and next steps
Getting perfect results from polishing a black car can be difficult. But not impossible. Proper preparation and working with care will deliver stunning results.
Next Step: Protect your polished black car with the best wax on the market for black cars.