How To Buff A Car and Why You Should Care
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You may love being a total stickler for your car’s appearance, but many vehicle owners don’t spend that much time thinking about paint smoothing and polishing. The good news is that even if you’re a complete novice, you can make your vehicle look showroom-new in just a few steps.
Buffing a car requires some time and effort, but the results are wonderful. You can get rid of small scratches and scrapes, brighten the paint, and thoroughly clean your vehicle in the process. You can do the whole job by hand, but an electric rotary buffer will make life much easier.
Let The Drive’s team of crack experts show you the correct way to buff your car, and take a dive into the equipment and safety precautions needed to do the job the right way.
Pay attention to what you’re doing, or you’ll end up with a bald spot.
Buff A Car Basics
Estimated Time Needed: 1-2 hours, depending on the size of your vehicle
Skill Level: Beginner
Vehicle System: Exterior
Buffing a Car Safety
Buffers spin at dangerously high RPM. You’ll not only want to keep your wits about you, but also gear up, and strip down, to keep you, your fingers, your eyes, and your torso intact. Here’s what you’ll need and want to do to stay safe—hopefully.
- Keep rings, bracelets, and other jewelry away from the buffer to avoid getting caught up in the spinning wheel. Heck, you aren’t there to impress anyone, take them off.
- Work in a well-ventilated space to avoid breathing polishing fumes.
- If you get solution on your skin or in your eyes, wash immediately and call a poison control center.
- Wear gloves and safety glasses.
You don’t need a boatload of equipment to do the job right.
Everything You’ll Need To Buff A Car
You may already have what you need lying around in your garage, but be sure you have everything before getting started.
- Rotary buffer
- Wool and foam pads
- Car wash mitt
- Clean microfiber towels
- Masking tape
- Automotive soap
- Carnauba wax
- Vinyl and rubber compounds
- Cutting and polishing compounds
Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won’t need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)
You’ll also need a flat workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking that is also well-ventilated. Check your local laws to make sure you’re not violating any codes when using the street because we aren’t getting you or your ride out of the clink.
Here’s How To Buff A Car
The process below looks like it’ll be a real pain, but there’s nothing to worry about. Work deliberately and cover small parts of the vehicle at a time to make sure you’re working in the solution before it dries.
With that out of the way, let’s do this!
Buffing Your Car
Attention to detail here is key.
Get Help To Buff A Car From a Mechanic On JustAnswer
The Drive recognizes that while our How-To guides are detailed and easily followed, a rusty bolt, an engine component not in the correct position, or oil leaking everywhere can derail a project. That’s why we’ve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you to certified mechanics around the globe, to get you through even the toughest jobs.
So if you have a question or are stuck, click here and talk to a mechanic near you.
Pro Tips To Buff A Car
The Drive’s editors have spent the time behind a buffer to help you understand the ins and outs of doing it like a pro. Here are our pro tips.
Goldkin seven-inch rotary buffer
Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax
AmazonBasics microfiber cleaning cloths
Got a question? Got a pro tip? Send us a note: [email protected]
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