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Finishing Touches
Finishing Touches
Thursday, July 28, 2011 3:02 PM

A polished act this round

In June, we discussed about a pre-flight checklist before starting actual polishing work.

Today, we’ll discuss the polishing process.

As should be the first step prior to the polishing process, ensure that your vehicle is washed and surface prepped using a combination of effective grease-cutters like degreasers and include a thorough clay-bar workout to ensure that any bonded contaminants are removed.

Once the vehicle is washed and dried, park it in a shaded area with sufficient lighting. Your detailing is only as good as the quality of work you put in and how effectively your eyes can spot imperfections and work to correct them. Again lighting is everything.

1. Set a realistic goal and expectation

Detailing a car can take anywhere from half a day for a quick wax session to a couple of days for a more complex corrective detailing regiment. Decide what you are trying to achieve in a set timespan. If this is your first time attempting a detail, be prepared for a couple of surprises here and there.

Remember, the quest for perfection is a long-road ahead filled with mistakes, frustration and the occasional curveball. Once you’ve gone through them you’ll start to gain the necessary experience towards detailing.

2. Determine the product and pad combination

Always start with the least abrasive polish and work your way up to more aggressive compounds depending on your requirements.
This allows you to minimise premature degradation of your vehicle’s clear-coat. Pad selection is another critical factor for consideration.

Softer foam pads are designed for a gentler approach and just like starting with a least abrasive polish, one should also apply the same understanding here.

Pad pressure is also another factor. An increase of pressure applied onto the foam pads amplifies the “cutting” ability of the foam pads.

Typical foam pads come in two popular sizes; 6.5” or 8” with the contact area size being more of a preference for a detailer who can either use the smaller pad for better control or a larger one to cover bigger panels as is the case with an SUV or an MPV.

3. Apply bodyshop-grade masking tape on the external trims

The trims refer to rubbers, plastic mouldings as well as gaps and edges where excess polish can be trapped.

The masking tape can save you a lot of the headaches like damaged trim (which you’ll typically notice on a lot of cars that are polished by observing the white-ish residue on the rubber trims and discolouration on plastics. Machine-polishing works on the basis of friction and when the rubber trims or plastics aren’t protected, the damage is usually irreparable.

4. Work one section at a time

Proper structured detailing can’t be rushed. Whether by machine or hand, the fundamentals remain.
First prime the foam pad by squeezing out about 3 to 8-inches of polish/compound directly onto the foam pad depending of course on the pad size.

Be careful not to load too much polish onto the pad as it will sling excess polish with the use of a machine. When you begin the buffing process, begin on a specific section at a time and monitor the improvement.

Directionality of the foam pad should be using overlapping passes not unlike that of a chessboard.

The photo will show you how the overlapping passes should work. This ensures that the buffing is even and no portion of the paintwork is missed.
As you buff each paintwork section, you’ll begin to notice an improvement in the shine. Note that as you buff, the polish/compound will be worked into the clearcoat turning it into a clearer slightly hazy finish.

If the swirls and scratches are still there, add more polish to the pad and continue the correction process.

If you’re using a machine constantly, ensure that the foam pad has sufficient polish so that you do not dry-buff the paintwork. That would scar the paintwork inversely.

5. Clean and protect

Once the polishing process is completed, remove the masking tapes and spend some time to clean any other residue. I’d recommend rinsing the vehicle and drying it. Check the entire surface for a perfectly cleaned finish.

Proceed with a quality last step product like a wax or a synthetic sealant to protect the paintwork and allow for easy maintenance. Remember that you’ll have to perform a monthly waxing routine to maintain the finish.

Most importantly, stand back and enjoy your work!

For more information, head on over to www.autodetailer.co
Please e-mail issues you have with your vehicle to automania@thestar.com.my State place (city/town/village) where you are writing from.
The information contained in the 'Finishing Touches' column is for general educational purposes only. Neither Star Motoring nor the columnist gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. Star Motoring and the columnist disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
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