Black cars are a thing of beauty – until you get them polished incorrectly and get unsightly swirl marks all over it.
What makes this situation extra tricky is that many cases of swirl marks are caused by using automatic brushed car washers. Swirl marks and scratches are primarily caused by dirt being scrubbed onto the paint, and you just don’t know how clean the brushed car washers are.
So, this may not be what you want to hear, but the easiest way to keep your black baby swirl-free is to polish it yourself.
The good news is there are a few steps and tips to help you achieve this easily. In this blog post, we’ll be talking about how to polish a black car without swirl marks and also how to properly polish a car with swirl marks. This post is packed with meaty car detailing info, so get ready and keep reading!
What is a Polish, And What Does It Do?
Polishing is what folks do to correct minor defects on their car paint. A paint polish is a product that can remove small amounts of a car’s paint only on a microscopic level. You won’t actually notice that your paint got messed up.
What it does is it dissolves a small amount of the paint so it can fill up minor defects like scratches and swirl marks.
Before you do any polishing, you first need to come to terms that there are some damages that polishing won’t fix. So if you see leftover marks or scratches after polishing, it might be because the problem is advanced for simple polishing.
You also should be aware that each paint polish has varying “cutting ability” which affects the amount of paint removed with each revolution of an orbital buffer or stroke of your hand. A coarse polish will cloud the paint’s surface while a fine one will result in a deep, moist-looking gloss.
How to Polish a Black Car Without Swirl Marks
There are two ways to polish a car: using an orbital buffer or doing it by hand.
Using an orbital buffer gives you faster results but has the higher potential of causing deep scratches should dirt or debris come into contact with your buffer pad.
Doing it by hand is obviously slower but gives you greater control over the process, is less expensive than an orbital buffer, and minimizes the chances of causing deep scratches.
You need to first decide whether to do it by hand or a buffer.
Things You’ll Need:
- water hose or high-pressure car wash hose
- 2 buckets
- car-wash solution
- Grit Guard bucket insert (optional)
- orbital buffer OR 3 microfiber chenille wash mitts
- less abrasive car polisher
- waffle-weave microfiber drying tower OR an air compressor
- car wax
8 Steps to Properly Polish a Black Car
Step 1: Wash away the dirt using a water hose or car wash hose.
Be very thorough in this because if you polish with dirt still on your car paint, you can bet you’ll have brand new swirl marks by the end of the session.
Step 2: Get your two buckets and car-wash solution.
Fill the first one with clean water ONLY and the second one with clean water and car-wash solution. I’ve seen folks using only one bucket, and this often means that the dirt and grime taken off with a wash mitt goes right back into the bucket to be picked up by the mitt again.
Pro Tip: Even though it’s quite effective in cleaning cars, avoid using a dishwasher detergent since this is a degreaser. Degreasers strip off the protective wax or sealant from the clear coat. This makes your car more susceptible to scratches.
Step 3: Start washing your car using a microfiber chenille wash mitt.
Dip your wash mitt on the plain water bucket and then into the car-wash solution bucket. Start washing at the top of the car then work your way down.
NOTE: This doesn’t include your wheels and tires! Those are the dirtiest parts of your exterior, so you have to clean those first to avoid getting their dirt on your newly washed car.
Pro Tip: The key to keeping your car scratch-free is to use the gentlest cleaning materials you can find. Invest in a high-quality chenille wash mitt which is soft, washable, and durable. It’s best to have two wash mitts – one for wheels and one for body work.
Step 4 (Optional): Consider inserting a Grit Guard bucket insert.
This is a vane-type plastic tray that sits at the bottom of the washing bucket and traps dirt and debris that falls from the wash mitts. This will help keep your mitts as clean as possible.
Step 5: Polish your car using a buffer or microfiber mitts.
Once your car is completely clean, get your less abrasive car polish and pour a small amount on the pad of your orbital buffer or the microfiber cloth. Too much polish can cause swirl marks, so be careful to use only a small amount.
Apply the polisher in a circular motion. Do one section at a time. Once you’re done, remove the excess polish using a clean microfiber towel.
Step 6: If your car has swirl marks, apply slightly more pressure on the site.
This will also work for scratches. Gradually reduce the pressure as you remove from the area.
Step 7: Dry the car.
You can dry your car using a towel or an air compressor. Let’s first talk about using a towel.
Use a scratch-free microfiber drying towel and make sure it’s clean. The most common drying towels are the waffle-weave microfiber drying towel, and these are usually good enough.
The technique is crucial, too. The best technique is to blot it instead of dragging it across the surface. This will minimize the risk of scratching. But if you don’t have the time (or patience!) for the blotting technique, you can just move the towel slowly.
If you want a faster way of drying your exterior, you can also use an air compressor. This will dry your car without any physical contact.
Step 8: Wax your car.
Our final step in keeping your newly polished car swirl-mark free is applying a car wax. Car wax is like sunscreen for your car’s paint as it protects it from harsh weather elements and keeps it shiny.
There are waxes especially made for black cars. These areas create a darker, deeper reflection and can even remove light scratches. Apply two layers of wax, leave it on for a few minutes, and then remove it with a microfiber towel.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully polished your car without swirl marks. But just to make sure that you get everything right, here are some more pointers to keep in mind:
- Never polish a car under direct sunlight. If you do, the water and car cleaner will dry up too quickly, giving you water spots and even swirl marks. But if you don’t have a shady spot, regularly spray the car with water to keep it cool.
- You only need to polish your car when the finish has become flat and dull. Polish is abrasive, so it should be used as infrequently as possible.
- Keep an extra buffer pad or microfiber cloth for replacement in case you drop the one you’re using. This will ensure that no debris is on it before you use it on your car.
- Never pour waxes or polish directly on your car surface. This often causes uneven, dark streaks on your finish. What you should do instead is to pour it on your applicator whether it’s the pad of the buffer or a microfiber towel.
- Keep the car surface wet as your polish to avoid scratching.
As I said before, polishing is not the be-all and end-all for all types of car surface defects. Some defects might be too advanced, so if it’s still there after polishing, consider taking it to a local car detailer.
Did you find this tutorial useful? Share it with your friends who might need it too! If you have any questions or comments, leave it in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!