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Car scratches. They are every car owner’s nightmare. When it comes to paint scratches on your car, you’ll likely encounter the phrase, buffing a car and exterior detailing.
Buffing is a procedure that removes scratches on the finish. Most shops offer this service, at the cost of course. However, in most cases, it can be done successfully at home by yourself to save a few bucks.
So, the question is, will it remove scratches? Well, it depends on the severity of the scratches. If you only have to deal with swirl marks and minor nicks, then yes, it will remove them. That is what a buffing service is actually for. However, anything worse than that will likely require more than just buffing to fix.
While buffing will remove scratches on the paint surface, you need to understand how “removing” or “erasing” means in this case. Scratches dig into the surface of the paint, and the only way to “remove” or “erase” them is to level the surface surrounding them. Basically, buffing is taking away material around the scratch until it evens out, hence, scratch gone.
Now, with that in mind, modern car finishes are made up of 3 layers; primer, base coat (actual color), and the clear coat. The last one is important because that is the only area where buffing can do its magic. If the scratch breaches the clear coat and works its way into the base coat, or worse, the bare metal itself, the only way to fix that is to have it painted by a professional.
There are many products available in the market that claim to remove or “erase” even the deepest scratches on the paint by filling it in. While it may do the job of removing the scratch temporarily, the filler will wash away eventually, revealing the scratch once again.
As discussed earlier, the only way to remove surface scratches permanently is to level it out by buffing. However, if the scratch is deep into the paint, you’ll need a respray.
There is a difference between waxes, polish, and compounds. Ideally, you need to use all three. Think of it as steps or levels, from light to severe damage. Depending on the type of damage you’re dealing with, you can omit some of the “steps”.
Buffing by hand will give the best results since it gives you the control and flexibility especially in tight spaces. However, applying consistent pressure over large surfaces will be a very challenging proposition, even for professionals. Which is why you’re better off using a machine.
Orbital buffers and angle grinders with buffing attachments are the most popular types to use. Generally, what you need to look for is something that you can change the speed easily and a wide RPM range.
Buffing pads are just as important as the machine itself. There a lot of pads available and choosing the right one will, again, depend on your intended use. More specifically, the wax, polish or compound you’ll be using. Some products will require specific pads while some will work on anything as long as you adjust the speed.
Buffing is easy once you get the hang of it. If you’re doing it for the first time, make sure to do extensive research on different compounds, substances, waxes, and polish and what pads, machines and strategies to use before buying. Or if you’re borrowing a machine, take the time to know what works for that machine. As mentioned earlier, different substances may have specific instructions on what or how to use them.
Once you figure out what to use, dedicate at least one whole day, especially if you’re just starting out. With practice, the whole procedure becomes easier and will definitely cut your work time significantly.
Prep your car. Start off with a clean surface and dry it out thoroughly. Use a microfiber cloth to remove surface dirt and smudges. Also, make sure that you’re in a covered and well-ventilated area while working on your car. After that, buff away.
Buffing is a great way of removing scratches on your car’s finish. However, it will only work for surface scratches that do not penetrate the top coat. For deep gouges and pits, you shall read the tips of car scratch removal, and are better off getting it professionally mended by a body shop. But before you dismiss the idea of buffing a heavily scratched vehicle, buffing can help preserve the metal surface from incurring further damage by sealing off the scratch from the elements, albeit temporarily. This will at least give you time until you can fix the problem permanently.
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