For many of us, our car is our pride and joy, and caring for it is a labor of love. One of the most important aspects of keeping your vehicle in perfect condition is buffing it – and if you need to know how it’s done, here’s our step-by-step guide.
If you want a preview of some of the things we’re going to be talking about, check out this video before reading on.
Choose the best way to buff a car
The first thing you need to do before you start buffing your car is to choose the buffing technique you’re going to use, and you basically have three choices – a high-speed buffer, a random orbital buffer and buffing by hand. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Using a high-speed buffer is a highly effective way of eliminating scratches and other marks from your vehicle’s paint job. It can also help give it a professional-looking shine that is hard to match when using other techniques.
The downside is that using one properly requires training and experience, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can end up damaging your car or removing too much paint. This means you should take great care when using one.
Random orbital buffer
Random orbital buffers are easier to use, and there is less risk of damage to the car, even in the hands of a non-professional. They give you a very satisfactory result – although not quite the same standard as with a high-speed buffer.
They also consume less buffing product, making them a less expensive option.
The downsides are that they won’t remove quite as many of the imperfections as a high-speed buffer, and the results won’t last as long either.
You can always do things the old-fashioned way, and the advantage is that you won’t need any special equipment – just a suitable cloth and some buffing product.
However, this method will take the longest to complete, the result won’t be as professional, and the effect won’t last as long.
Step-by-step guide on how to buff a car
Once you have chosen how you want to buff your car and have prepared everything you need, you are ready to begin. Here’s a step by step guide to how it’s done.
Step 1. Wash your car
There’s no point in buffing a dirty car, so the first step is to wash it. We don’t need to go into the details of how this is done here – if you need help with this step, you can check out this video for some tips.
Make sure you do a proper job and that you remove all dirt and grit (otherwise you could end up damaging your car’s paintwork), and you’re ready to move on to step #2.
Step 2. Dry it off
After you’ve washed it, you need to make sure it’s perfectly dry before you start buffing. The best way to do this is the traditional way – take a chamois or other soft towel and dry it thoroughly by hand.
Step 3. Protect it
Unless you are going to be buffing manually, you’ll need to protect the more delicate parts of your vehicle. A high-speed buffer or random orbital buffer can easily damage headlights, taillights, handles, badges and so on.
For this reason, you need to make sure they’re all covered up before you start buffing. The best way to do this is to stick masking tape over them to prevent any damage.
Step 4. Apply the buffing product to the car
When the car is ready for the actual buffing, begin by applying the buffing product. The best place to start is on the hood because that way, you will be able to see most clearly the effect it has.
A good tip here if you’re using a high-speed buffer or random orbital buffer is to use the pad to spread the product evenly over the surface of the car before you turn the buffer on. This will avoid spraying the product everywhere if there is too much on the surface.
Step 5. Buff the rest of the car
Once you’ve tested the buffer on the hood and are satisfied with the results, work around the whole surface of your vehicle, making sure you don’t miss anywhere.
If you are using a machine buffer, make sure you buff with the center of the pad. This way, you will ensure you buff evenly and will reduce the risk of damaging your vehicle’s paint.
If buffing manually, work in a circular motion and try to apply even pressure at all times.
Keep working until the whole car is done and you have the perfect sheen that you were hoping for.
Step 6. Consider polishing and waxing
After buffing your car, for a truly professional sheen, consider using polish and wax.
Polishing can be done either by hand or using the same machine as you used for buffing – you just need to switch from the buffing pad to a foam polishing pad.
Waxing will fill in the tiny scratches that buffing alone leaves behind, protecting your vehicle and giving it a perfect mirror-like sheen.
To do it, choose a suitable waxing product and apply it to a waxing pad. Work around your whole car, working it into the surface of the paint until you have achieved the desired result.
Step 7. Repeat regularly
For the best results and to keep your car in optimum condition, you should repeat this process every two or three months. This will prevent any tiny scratches or chips from developing into anything more serious.
Prevention is better than cure
Buffing your car is a great way to keep it looking great, but there’s a more important reason for doing it than that. As we just mentioned, tiny scratches and chips can develop into more significant damage, and if this happens, it will cost a lot of money to put right.
However, if you make a point of buffing your car regularly – and following this up by polishing and waxing – you will ensure minor wear and tear never develops into anything more serious. As they say, prevention is better than cure!