How to Wax a Car with a Machine Buffer

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Waxing your vehicle is the final step in the cleaning process that makes your car gleam and adds protection to the paintwork to help keep it that way.

Using a machine buffer (also referred to as a polisher) is an excellent way to speed up waxing your vehicle.

For beginners, the use of a machine buffer can seem daunting but once you learn how, you’ll wonder why you never tried it before.

How to Wax a Car with a Buffer

There are four basic steps to waxing your car with a machine buffer which I have outlined below.

Before I jump into the steps, you’ll need to ensure you have the following equipment:

  • Machine Polisher – I recommend a dual action orbital polisher for beginners
  • Finishing Pad – most polishers come with a set of pads for different surfaces, or you can buy them separately
  • Liquid Wax
  • Microfibre Towel

Step 1: Ensure your car is ready for waxing

Machine buffers are best suited to cars with large panels, if you have lots of fiddly areas, then waxing by hand might be more appropriate.

Waxing your car is best done immediately after washing, this is to ensure there is no dirt on the surface that could cause damage to the paintwork if picked up by the polisher.

You should also make sure you have thoroughly dried your vehicle after washing it.

Put your car in a suitable place for waxing. Heat causes the wax to dry quicker so it’s best to place your car in a garage or somewhere shaded and out of direct sunlight.

Step 2: Apply the wax with the machine turned off

Once you have attached the applicator pads to the machine buffer, squeeze the liquid wax on to the pad and then apply it lightly on to the area of the car that you will be working on, all without turning the polisher on.

Don’t apply the wax to glass or plastic areas of the vehicle such as headlights or windows, stick to the bodywork.

Step 3: Buff the car using light pressure

Now you can start the machine and begin buffing the section. Apply light, but even pressure as you buff the vehicle, and make long sweeping passes across the section until you have covered it.

You will need to cover each section multiple times until the wax has been worked into the paintwork.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each section until you have covered the whole vehicle.

Step four: Go over the surface with a microfibre towel

After you have finished buffing the car, use a microfibre towel to go over the surface and remove excess wax.

Again, try to use long strokes and avoid going in circles as this will leave swirls.

If there is still wax left, use a second microfibre towel to do another sweep across the car.

Types of Machine Buffer: Dual Action vs Rotary

Let’s take a little look at the two main types of machine buffer you may encounter: dual action and rotary.

The main difference between these is how the head spins but below I’ll explain the key points for each type and the main uses:

Dual Action Orbital Polishers

A dual action orbital polisher (also known as a DA or random orbital polisher) oscillates in random circles that is meant to mimic the movement that your hand would make.

These often look like they are wobbling, rather than spinning.

These are generally better for applying wax as a final finish. They are more beginner friendly than a rotary polisher as it is difficult to damage your vehicle using a dual action buffer.

Variable Speed Rotary Polisher

A variable speed rotary polisher looks very similar in appearance to the dual action buffer, but they spin on a single axis rather than a random orbit.

They are mainly used to apply polish which can cover blemishes and paint defects but are also used by professional detailers to apply wax.

They are no very beginner friendly so I would not recommend you use one for waxing. If you apply too much pressure, it won’t slow down like the dual action buffer and could cause damage to the paintwork.

What’s the Best Machine Buffer for Cars?

The machine buffer that I recommend for beginners is the Von Haus Dual Action Polisher.

It’s a dual action polisher which is the best type for beginners and won’t damage your vehicle so you can learn with ease.

It’s also very reasonably priced and the kit includes all the foam applicators and a microfibre towel, so you’ll have everything you need to get starter.

How Often Should I Wax My Car?

Most people will wax their cars between 2 and 6 times per year.

The frequency will depend upon the wax you use. Synthetic Waxes tend to last for around 4-6 months, whereas the more natural Carnauba Wax does not last as long, with around 1-2 months between each application.

You can tell if a car needs waxing by spraying some water on to the surface, if it beads up into small droplets then you don’t need to apply another coat just yet.

What’s the Best Wax for a Machine Buffer?

You’ll want to use liquid wax with your machine buffer, rather than a spray wax.

Meguiars is a well-known auto detailing brand and have a range of great waxes. In fact, all their detailing products are highly recommended.

Their Ultimate Liquid Car Wax is my recommendation. It’s a Synthetic Wax which is long lasting and it’s easy to buff which makes it a good choice for beginners.

Although it’s not the cheapest, the formula is highly concentrated so you’ll only need to use a small amount for each section of the vehicle.

What are the Benefits of Waxing a Car?

Waxing not only improves the look of your vehicle by making it shine, but it adds lasting protection to the paintwork.

Here are some of the key benefits that a coat of wax will provide when applied correctly:

Protection against sun damage

Over time the sun can damage your paintwork. The ultraviolet (UV) rays in the sun can cause oxidation of your vehicle.

Initially the clear coat (the clear resin applied over the paint itself) will protect the vehicle but over time this will become damaged by the sun rays.

This is why many older vehicles have paint that has faded away and look very old.

The wax will help protect your vehicle from the UV rays and keep it looking newer for longer. This can have a knock-on effect on the value of your car if you come to sell it.

Makes your car gleam

Wax is the final part of detailing your vehicle and gives it the shine that makes it look great.

Whilst polish is normally used before wax to repair any blemishes to the paintwork, wax also has some properties that can hide away minor imperfections.

Prevents dust and dirt sticking to your vehicle

As well as protecting from the sun light, the wax will also help prevent the build-up of any dust, pollen and dirt.

Wax creates a slicker surface that makes it harder the dirt particles to stick.

Not only does this look great, but it prevents any scratches or paint damage that can occur when you have lots of dirt on your car.