Car Polishing: A How-to Guide

Do you want your car to look shiny and new? Read on for effective techniques to polish and wax your car.


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Car polishing is an important part of caring for your vehicle. It helps to prevent environmental wear and tear, and with good car polish, you can really make your vehicle look fresh and new.

However, for a novice, car polishing can seem a bit daunting, and there are some things in particular that you need to be aware of from the outset to avoid damaging your car.

Read on for helpful car care tips!

When it comes to getting your car gleaming all over, there are a couple of tricks you can use to buff it up to a high shine. Get utterly streak-free windows by swapping a regular cleaning cloth for a scrap of the newspaper: just spritz your chosen product on and buff it off with the paper. You can also optimise your polishing efforts with good old-fashioned chamois leather. This entirely unabrasive, absorbent cloth is great for drying a car off without damaging the paint.

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How to Polish a Car

First, you’ll need to make sure which parts of your car are plastic or metal. Many modern cars have features that look like polished metal, but which are either chromed plastic or metal that has been painted and then covered with a “clear coat” to reduce the chances of rusting or scratching. Once you’ve done this, you can gather together your cleaning supplies and begin:

Step 1:

Test to see which parts of your car are metal. If you’re not sure if a particular part of your car is metal or if it has a clear coat finish, then dab some metal polish onto your sponge or cloth and lightly apply it to the area you want to polish.

Step 2:

Inspect your sponge or cloth. If the surface is actually polished metal, you’ll see a distinctive dark grey residue. Otherwise, you’re dealing with a clear coat. Do not use metal polish on a clear coat. It will cause it to erode, causing problems later on.

Step 3:

Apply the polish. Once you’ve worked out what bits of your car actually is metal, either use an electric polishing device (you can find these in specialist car care shops or online) or old-fashioned elbow grease to distribute your polish.

Step 4:

Thoroughly polish your headlights and indicators with plastic polish. This will remove the layer of dirt that often settles on headlights after prolonged use.

Step 5:

Remember to mask nearby areas when polishing the headlamps. This will prevent the polish from damaging or removing paintwork.

Step 6:

Polish your wheel hubcaps, either with specialised wheel cleaner, or, if you know the surface is real metal (using the trick described above), actual metal polish.

Key Steps:

You will need the following materials:

  • A polishing sponge or soft cloth

  • Metal car polish and plastic car polish (or a product that works for both).

  • (Optional) additional polishing tools

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