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How to Polish a Car Using an Orbital Polisher

Polishing your car by hand may increase its shine but fail to hide swirls and minor scratches in the paint. By using an orbital polisher to polish your vehicle, you will not only give your car the appearance of a professional-quality polishing job, but you will also fill in small scratches and other minor defects. Orbital polishers (also called dual-action polishers) are a safe option for novices because, unlike standard rotary polishing machines, they do not generate the heat and power necessary to damage your car's paint.


1. Affix a compounding pad to your orbital polisher. Dampen the compounding pad with pad lubricant.

2. Apply compounding material to the pad. Use the polisher to smear the compounding material onto a 2-foot square surface of your car's paint. This coats the paint and the compounding pad.

3. Turn the orbital polisher on. Press the polishing pad firmly into the compounded area and move the machine back and forth or in a circular motion until the compounding material on the paint's surface begins to dry and leave a hazy finish.

4. Turn the orbital polishing machine off. Spray the compounded area with an equal mixture of water and rubbing alcohol.

5. Wipe the compounding material away with a clean cloth.


6. Remove the compounding pad from the orbital polisher. Replace it with a polishing pad.

7. Dampen the polishing pad with pad lubricant.

8. Apply polishing solution or gel to the previously compounded area. Start with a small amount of polish. You can always add more if you need to.

9. Smear the polishing solution around the same two foot square surface with the orbital polisher.

10. Turn the orbital polisher on. Move the polisher firmly around the surface of your car's paint for several minutes or until the polishing solution develops a hazy residue.

11. Turn the orbital polishing machine off. Buff away the polish with a clean cloth.

12. Inspect the polishing job. Repeat the polishing process if paint defects or minor scratches are still apparent.

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