How to Buff Clear Coat

You don't need to be a pro to perfectly buff the clear coat on your car. With the proper tools and material, some time, and some elbow grease, you can have that high-gloss finish you want.


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    Wait a day or so to let the clear harden if the finishing is new. At this point, if you see "orange peel" or "trash" on the surface, wet sand with 1000 or 1200 grit wet or dry automotive grade sandpaper. This will smooth out the surface and allow for a super shine finish.
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    Get a buffer. A variable speed buffer with a lambs wool pad will be necessary to do a nice job. Single speed buffers are not recommend because of the increased chance of burning the finish down to the color coat.
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    Use a product such as 3M Micro-finish which can be purchased at automotive paint stores.
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    Apply to an area no more than two feet square at a time. Keep the buffer moving and watch how the finish is changing to a high gloss.
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    Experiment with the speed to achieve the best results. Don't overdo it.
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    Wipe off any residue on the surface after compounding the area.
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    Replace the lambs wool buffing pad with a polishing pad. This may be terry cloth or foam.
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    Apply a high quality liquid or paste wax and again, in a small area buff until you are satisfied with the results. You can run the buffer at a higher speed for this step. If there are swirl marks remaining on the finish you can also purchase a swirl mark remover. This will give you a professional high gloss finish.


  • Keep surface cool to avoid burnishing.
  • Before turning on the buffer wipe the compound slightly with the buffer pad to prevent the compound from "slinging" causing it to fly all over.
  • Cover windows with masking paper to ease clean up. Stay away from items with a black finish as the compounds will cause them to become discolored gray and impossible to remove, i.e mirror frames, body side moldings, bumpers, etc.


  • Keep the power cord away from the spinning buffer as this could result in injury and damage to the cord. Take the power cord and try to keep it behind you making a loop and put it through a belt loop.

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Categories: Car Maintenance and Repair | Cleaning Cars