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Ever wonder how professional detailers restore dull, weathered paintwork to such a smooth, flawless finish? Or maybe you tried to remove a nasty scratch on the side of your vehicle, and the results weren't what you were hoping for. Restoring your car’s paint at home can be an intimidating task to undertake, especially if you’re new to the world of car care. It’s important to do your research and make sure that you have all the right tools before attempting your first car paint restoration. Luckily, by clicking on this article, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction!
In this guide, you’ll learn how the pros prep, polish and protect all types of finishes to restore scratched, swirled or oxidized paintwork to showroom-level quality. You’ll also find all the resources you need to learn more about what kind of finish you’re working with, as well as which polishes and waxes work best for you!
Different car manufacturers build and design their vehicles with different types of paint finishes: solid, metallic, pearlescent—the list goes on. It’s important to know what kind of paint you’re working with before using a polish or rubbing compound on your car exterior.
The International Detailing Association (IDA) is a great place to begin your research. Their website is chock-full of helpful resources, including a glossary of the most commonly used detailing terms and a library of entry-level courses for beginners.
Once you know what kind of finish your vehicle has, you’ll need a polish or rubbing compound that’s compatible with your paintwork. We recommend an adjustable polishing compound like Hybrid Solutions 1 & Done Compound to truly achieve the best results. These professional-grade car polishes are infused with precision platelet technology to smooth everything from fine lines to the heaviest scratches without streaking or marring your delicate clear coat.
If you’ve learned the basics and decide to get really serious, you’ll also need a machine polisher to restore your car like the pros do. These powerful tools speed up the polishing process and produce a much smoother, glossier finish. If you don’t already own one, we recommend investing in a handheld, dual action polisher with a random orbital throw to achieve that deep, metallic shine.
A professional detailer’s paint restoration process always begins with thorough prep work to remove deeply embedded contaminants from the vehicle’s surface. To do this, use a heavy-duty car wash like M.A.X. Car Wash to scrub away tough stains and soils and strip away old, tired layers of wax. Rinse your vehicle well and pat it dry using a fresh, microfiber towel.
Once you've washed your car, you may notice that your painted exterior still feels rough and abrasive. That’s because there are still tiny particles embedded in your clear coat that won't come clean using a car wash soap.
Pro detailers use clay bars or iron removers to lift or dissolve these contaminants. This extra prep work elevates the overall paint restoration to create incredible, showroom results.
Before polishing your vehicle, you should always perform a spot test to see if the product and pad you’re using will give you the results you want. Start with the least aggressive polish and pad you’ve got, and choose a small, inconspicuous area to test your product to see how it interacts with your vehicle’s paintwork. We recommend performing a spot test on the lower rocker panel of one of your back doors since this is a less noticeable area of your vehicle.
If you need a higher level of correction, switch to the second gentlest pad and a heavier compound and perform another spot test and repeat this process until you get the results you’re looking for.
Now you can use your preferred pad and compound with your machine polisher to correct any scratches, swirls and oxidation on your vehicle’s paintwork. Continue polishing until you remove all the imperfections in your clear coat.
Now that you’ve successfully restored your car’s paintwork, it’s time to add a fresh coat of shine and protection to create the ultimate wow factor! To give your car a professional-grade finish, you’ll need a premium car wax like Hybrid Solutions Pro to the Max for the most durable protection and eye-popping shine.
Use your machine polisher and a foam finishing pad to apply your preferred protectant like the pros. If you’re in a hurry, or you prefer a spray wax over a liquid wax, we recommend our Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax, with all the benefits of Pro to the Max packed in one incredible spray. Once you’ve finished applying your wax, your car will glow in the streetlights.
Congratulations, you’ve restored your car’s paint like the pros! Now just sit back and admire your handiwork.
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