The buffer pads I chose for this 2009 Corvette were red Lake Country wax/sealant applicators since no polishing on this car was necessary. The sealant is very hard to see in this picture, but it is setting up on the hood.
In order to polish your vehicle, you are going to have to decide which
pads and polish are ideal for your paint.
The pad types available are foam, wool, and now micro fiber is beginning to make an appearance. There are many different variations of pads due to the fact that every correction is different.
There are pads with different levels of cutting ability for defect removal from
mild to severe. There are pads with zero defect removal ability which are
designed for wax and sealant application.
Buffer pads also come in several different sizes, from 3 inch to 8 inch.
Being that there is such a variation in size, there are also different sized
backing plates available to accommodate.
3 inch pads are primarily used for accessing hard to reach areas. I wouldn't recommend using a 3 inch pad to buff the entire vehicle. 8 inch pads are designed to polish larger surface areas.
Keep in mind, the smaller the buffer pad, the faster it will heat up the paint surface. Make sure to keep the pad moving so it doesn't heat up too quick and burn the paint.
Wool buffer pads are more aggressive than foam, therefore they remove defects
much faster. They are great for removing more serious defects, oxidation and wet
sanding marks. The trade off is since they work faster, they can cause damage
faster than foam also.
Once you get comfortable with wool pads, they are a big help during tough polish
jobs. A foam pad will do the same job as a wool, it just may take longer.
This 1968 Chevy Camaro was freshly painted and wet sanded by a local
body shop. It was sanded using 2000 grit paper. I used a wool pad and a medium
cut polish to remove the sanding marks, followed by a foam pad and finishing
Whenever I do the first polishing step with a wool pad, I always do the
second step with a foam pad. Wool pads tend to leave behind marring, going
over the vehicle again with a foam pad and finer polish will remove this
Buffer pads are dyed different colors to let you know what the pad is capable
of. There are pads for heavy defect removal, moderate defects, polishing,
light polishing, finishing, finessing, and wax application!
This can get very confusing, especially since it seems every pad manufacturer likes to use different color coding! For example, I use Lake Country brand pads. The line of pads from them that I use most often, has a yellow pad for heavy defect removal. Meguiars on the other hand has a burgundy pad available for the same purpose. Other manufacturers use different colors also!
Its very important to read the labels and know exactly what the pad you are
purchasing is capable of doing.
Lets say you have decided to buy foam pads to do a two step polish on your
vehicle and finish it with a wax. Lets also say you are using Lake Country pads
and have chosen their orange light cutting pad, their white polishing pad, and
their gray finishing pad.
Its a good idea to purchase 2 of each pad so you always have a clean back up
during the job.
When you start polishing, do a test panel with your least aggressive polish and pad first. Since the gray pad has zero cutting ability, use the white pad for the test. If this combo produces satisfactory results, continue with it for the entire vehicle.
This 2006 Chevy SS-R is in need of some attention! After doing a test panel I decided a Lake Country orange light cutting pad with a medium cut polish was needed for the first step.
The goal of polishing is to do a great job while removing as little clear
coat as possible.
If the white polishing pad and mild polish combination isn't removing the
defects to your liking, step up to a more aggressive pad (orange), and do the
same test. Eventually you will discover the right combination for your paint.
If you find you need a heavy cut pad and polish combination to get the desired results, make sure to follow up with a polishing pad and swirl remover to take care of any buffer lines/holograms. Buffer lines are almost always introduced when using an aggressive combo.
Wax or paint sealant application can be done by hand easily. However, if you
choose to apply it using a buffer, use a pad with zero cutting ability such as
the Lake Country gray finishing pad. These are much softer, perfect for wax and
won't introduce buffer lines.
Like I mentioned earlier, manufacturers of buffer pads like to use different
color coding, so be sure to read the labels carefully!
Here is the 2006 Chevy SS-R after the orange pad/medium cut polish, white pad
and finishing polish, and a coat of carnauba wax. Much better!
Return to "How to Polish Cars" from "Buffer Pads".