Have you tried polishing a car by hand lately? If you have, you might think your car polish is defective when the real issue is your vehicle’s paint. That’s because automotive paint finishes have become much harder in the past few years, allowing them to last longer and resist scratching and chipping like never before.
The changes in paint technology, while very beneficial, have introduced a new problem for car owners. While it was possible to maintain automobile paintwork by hand just a few years ago, today’s new paint finishes make it nearly impossible. If your vehicle’s paintwork has minor scratches, swirl marks or water spot etching, you will need a buffer polisher to correct the problem. The good news is that the number one buffing machine for both home and professional use, the Porter Cable 7424, is very effective on even the most modern paint finishes, including the latest ceramic paints used by Mercedes-Benz.
The original Porter Cable Polisher and the new 7424xp are dual-action polishers. What this means is that the polishing head rotates (free-spins on its spindle) and orbits (powered by the motor) around the center spindle. A mass counterweight mechanism on the spindle dampens vibrations. This polishing action, often referred to as “random orbital” or just “orbital,” totally prevents symmetrical buffing marks, paint burns and the other types of automotive finish damage that people associate with high-speed buffing machines. That means if you use the polisher as intended it’s virtually impossible to damage your car, even with no experience.
This type of electric polisher closely mimics the motion of circular hand polishing. Imagine being able to make 2,500 to 6,000 tight hand circles in a single minute. That should give you a pretty good idea of how this machine does its job. Basically it works just like you do, only at super-human speed. Plus, it never gets tired!
If you have previously owned a car waxing machine that made a lot of racket, but did little else to fix the damage and restore shine, you will appreciate the brilliance of one of these buffing machines. It has all of the power needed to get the job done, yet it’s small enough and light enough that it’s easy to use.
The secret to using a dual action polisher with shining results is choosing the right polish and polishing pads for the job. Basically polishing pads come in three grades: cutting, polishing and finishing. A cutting pad is coarse and used to remove damage. A polishing pad has a bit if coarseness, but not much. It’s used to remove very minor damage and restore full gloss. A finishing pad is very soft. It’s used to polish without cutting and to apply waxes and glazes.
You must use an appropriate polish with each type of pad. Like the pads themselves, polishes have different grades of cut. A compound, for example, is a cutting polish. Compounds are rated by the level of sanding scratch they can remove. A compound designed to remove 2000 to 2500 grit sanding scratches will effectively remove swirl marks and water spots, whereas a product that can remove 1200 to 1500 grit sanding marks will remove fine scratches. If you can feel a scratch with your fingernail, you should remove it with 2000 grit wet and dry sandpaper before polishing.
If you’re confused about which polish to use to remove swirl marks, fine scratches and water spots, let me recommend Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound. It’s probably the best consumer grade product available today, and it’s easy to find at your local auto parts store.
After compounding to remove damage, you might think the finish looks great, but I recommend finishing off the job with a fine polish. Most compounds, including the new Meguiar’s product, will leave just a touch of hazing in the clear coat. All it takes to remove the hazing and restore a brilliant shine is a fine paint polish. I prefer and recommend Klasse All-In-One. It’s an amazing product that will produce a final finish that blows you away.
New automotive paints may be too hard to maintain by hand, but the solution is easy. A Porter Cable 7424xp gets the job done faster that you ever could by hand, and it’s a quality machine that will last a lifetime.