The answer to this question depends on what type of car you have, how much money you want to spend, and your skill set.
this article is an overview of the different types of finishes available for cars. it provides general guidance that's applicable to many types of vehicles, but not specific recommendations for each type or brand. if you're looking for something more personalized, it might be worth your time to discuss your options with a professional detailer at your next oil change or detailing appointment.
if this is something that's outside your budget or competency level at all, there are plenty of other ways to make sure it looks “nice” (but not “showroom new”). for instance, one classic way people like
how do you properly polish a car?
– first, you need a soft sponge. natural sponges are best because they won't scratch the surface of your car.
– next, you'll need a bucket of water and soap. fill the bucket with water and then add about one – two tablespoons of dishwater detergent or car wash detergent to it. soak the sponge in that solution and keep adding more soapy water until it foams up nicely. some people even put some baking soda in there for extra cleaning power!
– start by washing the parts on top, like the windshield and roof and hood, before working your way down towards wheels and bumpers. don't forget to rub really hard when trying to get rid of dirt on areas
how do you polish a car by yourself?
one of the most effective ways to polish a car is with either clay or an orbital buffer. to clean your car before polishing, use warm water and dish soap, microfiber towels (one moist, one dry), and an interior quick detailer with gloss enhancer like turtle wax ice liquid polish.
use a different microfiber towel from each group for cleaning both the inside and outside of your vehicle. for example, you should have two soft terry cloth towels soaked in soapy water for cleaning the windows and exterior body panels, while you should have two dry ones for buffing out scratches to restore a clear finish on windows or paint surfaces.
start by drying any standing water off your car's exterior surface
can you polish a car by hand?
no. hand polishing is done with a tool called a “polisher.”
you would run the polisher over the car's surface until it shines, removing small imperfections and scratches, but polishers are expensive tools to buy. it can be easier to pay someone else to do this for you instead of trying something that may take up too much time and gets tiring after awhile. if you do decide to make an investment in this type of equipment, make sure you get one that does not use compressed air for power, as these tend wear out quickly due to rapid changes in altitude. ask about any discounts available on their website before purchasing anything.
do you buff or polish a car first?
headlights, taillights, and headlights
neither car takes precedence here. one does not magically “wear” better than the other so the answer is about convenience. a buffed surface has a scratch-resisting gloss that needs to be applied more often, while polishing does not involve any abrasion which means it lasts longer. buffing your wheels will get rid of brake dust before you polish but if you want to minimize water spots then start by washing instead of polishing. it's also important to make sure everything is cool dry before applying either product because heat can cause adhesion problems later on in the process!