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What is Machine Polishing and why do people do it?

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Since the dawn of cars, people have realised that your motor is a representation of you, which is why we do the best to make sure we give off the best impression possible by having our cars valeted regularly.

However, over time, your car will lose its original glossy finish through the use of dirty rags, towels and sponges from local car washes. Which is why from time to time, it is necessary to have a mobile valeter / mobile car wash to polish your vehicle. Polishing, whether by hand or machine is simply the removal of defects through surface abrasion. Which involves abrading (cutting down microns of clear-coat which is the layer on top of your paint designed to protect it) the paintwork to level out the scratches, and then polishing the remnants and protecting it with a thick layer of wax.

What distinguishes say, a machine polish versus a hand polish is the equipment used and the end result obtained. For the utmost best results, it is often advised to use a dual-action machine polisher with an intense compound product like Meguiars Ultimate Compound which can be found here:

So you've valeted your car, got your machine polisher, your cutting compound and you're ready to start laying down some serious gloss. But it's not that simple, even though the car may look clean, it isn't actually clean, and if you start machine polishing as it is, you run the risk of doing more damage than good. But how? You have to first decontaminate the surface of the paint, as there will be very fine particles locked onto the surface of the paint which you will feel by running your fingers over the dry surface of the paint.

Removing these particles is a straight-forward process called Clay barring, Essentially, a clay bar is either a natural or synthetically engineered resin compound which 'lifts' contamination from your vehicles surface, without scratching it further, to provide a smooth, decontaminated surface ready to be corrected via machine polishing.

A good kit we recommend, and use when carrying our mobile car washes and valets, is another Meguiars product, namely their Clay Kit (which can be found here

This kit has all you need to obtain a decontaminated surface.

Disclaimer: When machine polishing, it is best to have a certified, trained professional to carry out the service, as improper methods, products or tools can lead to damage within paintwork

Now that you're ready to polish, it is imperative you test the depth of the paintwork on your vehicle, so you can accordingly match the correct polishing pad and compound to your vehicle. This is to prevent yourself from abrading away too much paintwork which will require respraying, otherwise known as burning the paint. Ideally, when machine polishing, you should work in systematic, straight lines, overlapping 50% of the last pass you did on each panel. Once you have completed polishing a panel, this is known as a "stage", you should buff off the remaining residue with a clean microfiber cloth and inspect your work. However, when inspecting your work, you may notice that not all of the imperfections have been removed, which is why some vehicles may need 2 or three stages to really restore the showroom finish it once had. A general rule of thumb would be vehicles under 3 years old can get away with a 2 stage machine polish, and anything above that will need 3 stages.

As simple as it may be, this whole process can take up to two days, which is why people, like yourself, will opt for a mobile car wash or mobile car valet like TheSmartWash LTD to do it for you. We do offer this service, and you can book now using the button below:

You can also check out our video of us carrying out a Machine Polish (otherwise known as paint correction) on a customers car in London here:

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