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Faded paint is caused by fine scratches and oxidization. If a black car isn’t cared for properly the paint will quickly fade. Even a six month old black car can lose a lot of its original glass like shine.
The fine scratches cause reflected light to look defused and dull.
But don’t panic. The good news is you will be surprised how easy it can be to restore the shine using modern products and techniques.
Nothing beats the satisfaction you get from doing this job. When the shine has been restored you can apply a coat of modern sealant and then a wax and the shine you can achieve will simply be stunning.
The Quick Fix
An incredibly quick and effective way to restore paint is using an all-in-one type product like Autoglym Super Resin Polish.
There is no need to buy a polishing machine with this product. Its super easy to apply by hand and is hugely popular in Europe and its starting to get talked about in America too. It removes minor scratches and swirl marks and gives a fantastic shine. It will even remove oxidization stains.
Just this amazing product on its own will blow your mind considering how quick and easy it is to use. Its one of my personal all time favorite products.
Click here to check the Price on Amazon of Autoglym Super Resin Polish
To permanently fix dull paint and scratches you will need to polish your car with a machine polisher and a cutting compound or polish. I’ll talk you through doing this by hand and also with a polishing machine. At the bottom of the page I’ll provide links to some of the best products available on Amazon.
Do I need to buy a polishing machine?
You can do a really good job by hand. It will take longer but it is possible to restore a deep gloss and shine which most people would be very happy with.
But in many cases using modern Polishing Machine is the only way to effectively restore shine to faded paint. It will completely remove scratches and not just cover them up.
I’ve always been a fan of Dual Action (DA) polishing machines made by Porter Cable.
Chemical Guys Porter Cable Detailing Kit is an excellent Polishing Kit on Amazon that comes with a Porter-Cable Dual Action Polisher. It comes with three types of polishing pads and a sample kit of four polishing compounds for you to use. Its easily enough to do a whole car.
You might think that that using a polishing machine is going to be too difficult but with these modern products anyone can achieve stunning results in very short time.
Will compound or polish remove stone chips?
No amount of polishing or compounding will remove deep stone chips. Even if you use a polishing machine. This is because most stone chips have completely removed clear coat and paint. If the chip looks white that’s undercoat or bare metal you’re looking at.
Please read my post on fixing rock chips on a black car. If you have stone chips and you want to fix them its a good idea to fix them before you polish.
What does compound and polish do to car paint?
Car compound and polish smoothens down the paint or clear coat that was applied to your car when it was manufactured. The clear coat gets tiny scratches over time that defuse the light that reflects on your car and makes the shine look a little dull. These scratches are microscopic but are very noticeable on dark colored cars .
Modern products will make the scratches disappear and allow you to apply a new protective sealant or wax coat (or both).
The polishing stage can have an incredible effect on the appearance of a black car. The shine will be truly mirror like if done properly. Applying sealant or wax alone can do a good job, but polishing before sealing is what creates a truly stunning showroom finish that lasts.
Getting this stage right is not straightforward. There is no simple way to do this and every car is different.
Compounding and polishing is not as easy as waxing but luckily it’s not something you need to do very often. Professionals buy special equipment such as a polisher and special lighting. As well as different compounds, polishes and pads for the polishing machine. Its possible to do this buy hand but it will take longer.
How do I know if I need to polish my car?
If a car has been badly treated it will be covered in tiny scratches and swirl marks and possibly oxidation and discoloration on older cars. This usually comes from improper washing and drying. If you want your black car to have a mirror like finish you should definitely polish it. Read about safe ways to wash your car such as the two bucket method and to greatly reduce the need for polishing and protect your paint.
If you just bought a new black car you may not need to compound or polish it but it is possible. For example bird droppings can stain the paint the you may need to use compound and polish to get the stain fully out. In these cases you should only polish the spot that needs it.
Read More: How often should I polish my car?
What are the types of compounds and polishes?
Compound is more aggressive than polish. It’s also know as a cutting compound or cutting agent. I’ve also heard of compound being referred to as a paint cleanser. Some polishes are chemical based which are non abrasive and others are abrasive. You should use the least abrasive product necessary. The type of product you use depends on how badly scratched the paint is. If you use a product with low abrasion on paint with heavy swirling you will spend a long time with the polisher trying to get the scratches out.
You may need to use more than one grade of polish to finish a car. Using the more abrasive polish in the worst areas and using the lighter product in areas that are not so bad.
Compound can leave the black paint looking hazy due to its abrasive nature. You should apply finer finishing polish after you use compound to bring back some shine. Compound is usually used on older cars where the paint is visibly damaged or faded.
For black paint with heavy swirl marks and scratches I recommend using a cutting polish followed by a finishing polish.
If the paint is only lightly faded you should try an all in one product.
Best polish for black cars.
A fantastic all in one product is Chemical Guys VSS Swirl and Scratch Remover. Great results can be achieved by hand application. If you have a bigger car it will definitely be easier with a Dual Action Polisher. Click here to read my comparison of two of the best polishing machines.
Chemical Guys VSS Swirl and Scratch Remover is perfect for most cases unless your car needs some serious work. It does an incredible job of restoring shine to faded paint. I have used in on all types of cars to quickly remove swirl marks and oxidation. I have done it by hand but I usually use a polisher because its quicker.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is a product I have used to great success. It can be applied by hand or with a Dual Action Polisher. The abrasives will smoothen down your paint slightly and make most scratches disappear. You may need to apply it a few times for very faded paint.
Follow the instructions carefully as it can leave a white residue behind. You could follow up with a finishing polish such as Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish to get more shine as Ultimate Compound is an abrasive substance and can leave a haze on the paint. The product has great reviews on Amazon. When I read the negative review I have to wonder if people are using the products properly.
If you car has light swirl marks then maybe Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish will be enough on its own and you wont need the compound. Remember that the polish also contains abrasives but they are much lighter yet they are effective at removing very light swirls.
What do professional detailers use?
Meguiars also make a more potent compound called Meguiars M105 which is very popular with professional car detailers. On Meguiar’s abrasiveness scale of 1 to 12 its a 12. You might need to use this if the scratches are deep and the paint is oxidized and discolored. You must use the correct cutting pads to use this effectively. Also follow up with Meguiars professional finishing polish called Meguiars M205.
How to prepare a black car for compounding or polishing.
Good preparation is important. You will be rubbing your paint fairly rigorously so you must remove as much contamination as possible before you begin.
You must thoroughly wash and dry your car before you start. You could use a degreaser shampoo such as Chemical Guys Clean Slate or Adams Strip Wash. After applying the polish you should wash it again to remove the residue and to give a clean surface to apply sealant.
If the paint still feels rough to the touch you should use a clay bar or clay mitt to further decontaminate the surface. Read my blog post on the subject here. You are now ready for compound and/or polishing.
How long will polish last on a car?
A polished car will stay scratch free for a long time if protected and washed properly. After polishing apply sealant and wax.
When it comes time to wash the car don’t take it to a car wash and don’t use a sponge and a bucket.
If you are removing dust from your car you can just spray it down with water and dry with microfiber towels and detailing spray. Use a clean part of the towel for each wipe. You might need to use a number of towels.
Another great way to remove light dirt and dust is with ONR (Optimum No Rinse).
If your car is dirty you need to give it a full wash you can apply a quick layer of wax again to top up the protection. Read my guide on how to wash and dry a black car using the two bucket method. And never dry wipe your car. If you follow these tips you probably polish your car once a year or even less.
What to do after I polish my car
Wash again with a cleanser / degreaser shampoo such as Chemical Guys Clean Slate or Adams Strip Wash. Then apply a sealant to protect paint from sun light damage and from other environmental dangers. A sealant is like a wax except it protects better and lasts longer and the best time to apply it is after polishing as it will bond much better.
Chemical Guys Jetseal offers great protection and shine.
Maguires Ultimate Fast Finish is great value for money and super easy to apply.
Should I use a buffer or polish by hand?
It’s easier with a Dual Action polisher and it does a better job overall but its possible to do a good job by hand also. With a buffer you can get different types of pads depending on the level of polishing required.
Use a softer pad for a finer polish. The buffer can run at a high speed and you need to put some pressure on it.
This would require a lot of elbow grease to do by hand. Some cutting compounds are very abrasive and you can actually remove too much paint from one spot if applying by hand.
Because a DA polisher is wide and moves in multiple directions its actually protects the paint from too much damage. If you want to polish by hand you can use something like the Polishing Pal to give you a more comfortable grip on the pad.
What is the best car polisher for a black car?
There are a few types of buffers available. I always recommend the Dual Action orbital polishers to people as they are much safer to use on paint then the more expensive rotary designs used by professionals.
The problem with rotary is that they can remove too much paint very quickly and you can cause damage that can be difficult to repair. Dual Action or DA polishers spin the pad but also moves side to side to protect your paint.
Im currently using a Meguiar’s Dual Action polisher. Click here to find the latest price on Amazon Meguiar’s MT300 Pro Power DA Polisher. It’s a very powerful polisher used by professionals and amatures alike and its very well made.
Torq products are a little cheaper but are also excellent. Chemical Guys BUF_209X Complete Detailing Kit on Amazon comes with the five different pads and some pad cleaner and conditioner. It also comes with both hard and soft backing plates. Here is the complete list of products included in the kit. It looks like great value and an excellent purchase.
- – TORQ TORQX Random Orbital Polisher.
- – 5 inch Backing Plate.
- – Hex-Logic Medium-Heavy Cutting Pad, Orange (5.5 inch).
- – Hex-Logic Light-Medium Polishing Pad, White (5.5 inch).
- – Hex-Logic Light Polishing/Finishing Pad, Blue (5.5 inch).
- – Hex-Logic Finishing Pad, Black (5.5 Inch).
- – Hex-Logic Ultra Light Finishing Pad, Red (5.5 Inch).
- – TORQ R5 Dual-Action Red Backing Plate with Hyper Flex Technology (5 inch).
- – Foam and Wool Citrus-Based Pad Cleaner (16 oz).
- – Polishing and Buffing Pad Conditioner (16 oz).
- – Monster Extreme Thickness Microfiber Towel (16 inch x 16 inch) – 3 Pack.
Which pads do I need to polish a black car?
Use the correct pad for the product you are using. Cutting pads are more abrasive to the cars paint. Finishing pads are not abrasive at all. And there are tons of options in between. Make sure you get the correct size for you polishing plate. For example a 5 inch polishing place will take 5.5 in pads.
How to buff out scratches on a black car.
If the paint is really scratched and stained you should first use a cutting compound with a microfiber cutting pad. Then use a finishing polish with a foam finishing pad. If it’s not too badly scratched you can skip the cutting compound and just use the polish. For extremely damaged paint a process known as wet sanding might be needed.
After using compound the paint will look hazy. Using the finishing polish with a finishing pad to remove the haze and reveal the new shine. Buff with a clean microfiber towel.
Tape over plastic trim with masking tape as the polish can stain the plastic. I always avoid getting polish on badges and emblems because the chrome finish on a badge can disappear if you run the polisher over it.
How to polish a black car with a buffer.
- If you are using a Dual Action Orbital Polisher to Polish a Black Car for the first time you should first Read the instructions that came with your polisher.
- Select the appropriate backing plate and pad to the buffer.
- Add a few pea sized drops of polish around the edge of the pad. Don’t apply too much polish, start with a small amount. Work the polish into to pad by hand making sure there are no dry fibres left. Work in an 18” square area approximately. Before starting the buffer dab the polish around the square area you intend to polish.
- Start the buffer in a slow speed setting and spread the polish out evenly over the 18” area.
- Turn up the speed and move the buffer evenly over the area.
- Move the buffer slowly, the guide is about one inch per second with 15 lbs of pressure.
- When you reach the end of the first pass move the buffer down by half the diameter of the pad. When you reach the bottom do it again in but go up and down instead of side to side.
- Clean the area (with a clean microfiber towel of course).
- Take look at the paint now. If the scratches are still visible repeat the process maybe with less pressure.
- Put on a new clean pad after a few panels.
How to polish a black car by hand.
I recommend using something like the polishing pal to hold the pad in place. Select the appropriate pad for the product you are using. Apply a few drops to the pad and lightly spread the polish over a small area of the car, about 18 by 18 is a good size.
Work the polish in to the paint with not too much pressure. Keep polishing until the scratches or swirl marks are gone. Use a very clean microfiber towel to wipe away the polish. Polishing by hand can be more abrasive than with a machine so be careful.
It can take a lot of time to complete the whole car but the results are truly worth it. The sealant will bond much better with the paint and it will last much longer. Dirt and grime will not stick to the surface as much so you can easily and quickly wash your car (using the two bucket method of course). Properly washing and drying your car means you will not need to polish for a long time again.
Once you have polished your car you should remove any residue from you paint surface. Use a 50/50 mixture of water and Isopropyl Alcohol also known as IPA for short. Your car is now ready for a coat of protection. See the blog entry for sealing and waxing your car.