Last Updated on December 2, 2023 by Stewart

You may have heard others talk about car polish, but you’re not entirely sure what it is, and what it does. Luckily, I happen to know a lot about it after using various different brands over the years.

There are actually various different kinds of polish, and they work in slightly different ways, although they bring about the same end result.

In essence, a car polish is used to remove, or significantly reduce the appearance of scratches on the car. Not only that, polishes can restore the clarity in the paint work. This is especially true for red paint which, when left unprotected, can turn to pink over time. There are to main types of car polish; those that are used with a machine polisher, and those that are used by hand.

Machine Polishing

Machine polishing a car is normally a multi stage process. To carry this out, a machine polisher is used. This can be in the form of a rotary polisher (most difficult to master) or a dual action polisher (easiest to use). When it comes to machine polishing, the polish for this is the final stage. Initially the paint will be treated to a compound. This will level out the paint, but can leave it looking hazing. It is like sanding a fine layer of the clear coat off of the car.

The haziness on the clear coat is then removed by using a finishing polish on the paint work. This restores perfect clarity to the paint, as well as removing the scratches and swirl marks from it. It should be noted that it won’t be able to remove deep scratches that are into the base metal. This would instead require painting.

Hand Polishing

Hand polishing is what most car owners are used to doing. This involves using an easy to apply, off the shelf hand polish ( my favourite ones can be found here). When it comes to hand polish, the old favourite was T-Cut. However, this was based on old paint technology and as such I wouldn’t recommend using this on new cars. It is extremely aggressive and if you don’t know what you’re doing it can cause permanent damage to the paintwork.

A large number of hand car polishes on the marking have a small amount of cutting power in that it’ll knock back the scratches on the paint work. In addition to this, it also has fillers in it. These fillers will effectively bind to the scratches and swirls on the paint and minimise their appearance.

In addition to this, it will bring back a deep shine to the paint work. However, since these fillers will wash away over time, repeated applications will be needed. A way to get around this is to  use a wax or a sealant on top of the polish. This will “lock in” the fillers in the polish and mean that it does not need to be applied as often.

Is It Better To Apply Polish By A Machine or Hand?

For the majority of car owners, I would say that the easiest and safest option is to carry out a hand polish. It won’t remove scratches and swirls to the same degree as a machine polish will, but it will be so much easier to apply.

To carry out a machine polish, you will need to buy the machine polisher which can be costly, and also the pads for it. There is also the risk that when carrying out the machine polish, you can burn through the paint if not done correctly. For many, this is a big enough worry to push them in the hand polishing direction.

Generally speaking, polishing by hand is also quicker since it’s a simple one step, and then a quick application of wax on top of it afterwards.

I hope this has given you the information that you needed on car polish, and if you need to know anything else, don’t hesitate to send me an email and I’ll get back to you.