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In this article I will talk about the types of buffing or polishing pads that are needed for polishing and buffing black cars. The same pads can be used in any color car but I will focus on black because it’s less forgiving and more care is required. A super high gloss shine is what every black car owner wants.
Best Pad for Black Cars
Chemical Guys Hex-Logic Orange Pad is perfect for black and dark-colored cars. It’s ideal for use with Polish or Wax. It’s also perfect for use with the latest all-on-one products.
You can buy multiple orange pads for polishing your car. It’s much quicker to grab a new clean pad for each section rather than spending time cleaning the pad as you go around. Chemical Guys sell Pad Cleaner that works really well too.
Chemical Guys pads are very well made and last a long time. They are often used by professional detailers as well as DIYers.
The Chemical Guys Orange pad is described as a “Medium-Heavy Cutting Pad“.
Hazing may occur if using a heave cutting compound but I have found no haze when using polish. For a truly flawless finish, you can follow up the Chemical Guys Black Finishing pad which is super soft.
Types of Pads: Foam vs Microfiber vs Wool
Microfiber pads are generally used with cutting/compounding. Foam pads are used for polishing or finishing. Although that’s not always the case. Many modern foam pads can do everything you need. I have also used microfiber pads for finishing.
Wool pads are not used much anymore except by pro detailers who have a lot of experience. Wool pads were mainly used for fast cutting.
For beginners I recommend foam pads like those available from Chemical Guys. They are well made and will last a long time of taken car of properly.
Use those pads with an all in one polish like Chemical Guys VSS and you will get rid of 99% of scratches and swirl marks.
View on Amazon : Chemical Guys COM_129_16 Scratch and Swirl Remover (16 oz)
Getting Rid of Swirl Marks
Swirl marks are visible in direct sunlight or under a bright spotlight. They look like spider webs around the reflection of the light.
If the paint was perfect you would see the light reflected like a mirror. Swirls are caused by millions of tiny scratches that are usually created when washing and drying. Make sure you know the best and safest washing and drying methods. Swirl marks can be removed by compounding and polishing.
What is Cutting or Compounding
To remove scratches and particularly swirl marks you need to smoothen down the paint’s clear coat. The clear coat is the top layer of protective clear paint that gives your car its shine. Initially, you want to remove a tiny outer layer or scratched paint. Then you want to bring out the shine on the newly exposed surface.
Compounding or cutting removes paint more quickly than polishing. That’s why we usually do compounding/cutting first and then follow up with polishing to bring back the shine. Compound is more abrasive than polish.
After compounding you will not have a perfect shine but most of the scratches and swirls will be gone.
Can I damage my car if I use the wrong pads?
Yes. It’s possible to remove too much paint. This can happen with a cutting pad combined with a strong cutting compound. You can also create holograms which are marks left by the pad. Holograms can be removed though.
You could also add scratches to your paint. This happens if the surface isn’t prepared properly. You will probably need to clay your car before you polish it.
Heat is always a problem. The friction of the pad on the paint generates heat and too much heat will burn your paint and leave a permanent mark. A DA polisher will help reduce heat. Foam pads are also better at keeping heat down then other types of pads. I like to check the heat on the man every no and then with my fingers to make sure it’s not getting hot.
How to choose the right pad.
There is no best pad. It totally depends on what you need to achieve. If your car is in good condition then maybe all you need is a polishing pad. If you are a beginner you should definitely start with foam. You can get absolutely incredible results and cause no damage.
Keep it simple. Buy the Chemical Guys set of 3 pads mentioned above. And if you don’t already have a compound and polish, you can get a great all-in-one product like Chemical Guys VSS.
First apply VSS with the orange pad and in most cases, you will be amazed. Then apply VSS with the white pad and you will be blown away. It’s surprising how easy it can be.
If you have an older car with heavy scratches and oxidation then a cutting pad will be needed. But never start a job with a cutting pad because you don’t know how hard or soft the paint will be. Chemical Guys have a yellow pad that gives the strongest cut.
For the average person who wants to restore the shine to a car that is less than 15 years old, you will probably need to use a foam cutting pad and a finishing pad.
My current daily driver is two years old and I can get great results with just one pad. I recently used the Chemical Guy’s green heavy polishing pad. The results were really good and I didn’t need to follow up with a polishing pad. I used it with Chemical Guys v36 polish. I have also used the green pad with Meguiars Ultimate Polish to give excellent quick results with just a couple of passes with my DA polisher.
Use the least powerful pad and liquid first and see if that gives you the results you need. If not, use the heavier cutting pad and compound and then follow up with the finishing pad and polish to restore shine.
If your car is a few years old and you have never polished it before you could start with the green or orange chemical guys pad and then finish with the white pad and V38 polish to deliver the shine.
The green pad can also be used on your plastic lights to remove scratches.
Chemical Guys blue pad has no cutting power, it’s really used for spreading out glaze type products like their Black Light Hybrid Radiant Finish Color Enhancer. Personally, I prefer to apply these products by hand and not with a DA machine, but that’s my preference.
What is pad density?
This refers to the sponginess of foam pad. Finishing pads are soft while cutting pads are harder. For panels with creaser and curves, you may need to use softer pads to get into the contours.
Foam pad color.
Some manufacturers have all their pads the same color. But other such as chemical guys use different colors to represent the different densities. But a word of warning. Different manufacturers might use different color coding systems.
Cleaning Buffing Pads
Keeping pads clean is key. If you don’t clean them after use they will become clogged with dried liquid and will damage your paint the next time you use them. After each use, you should wash them. Use a cleaner like Chemical Guys Polishing Pad Cleaner and Rejuvenator. Also, use a brush like Chemical Guys Foam Pad Conditioning Brush. A toothbrush works too.
I generally wash my pads in the sink with warm water and allow them to dry naturally. Some people use dish soap or an APC cleaner. The washing machine doesn’t appear to remove everything from them because they need to be squeezed by hand. Don’t put them in the dryer because it dries them out too much.