The last installment of the Detailing Files focused on getting the exterior paint ready to be polished, by a very thorough washing using Dawn instead of a milder automotive specific detergent.
Now that you have a clean paint surface, mostly wax free (as is evidenced by there being virtually no beading of the water in the final rinse), you can begin the restoration of the finish.
This is typically a four step process (or five if you need to use a medium cut compound).
- Clay bar the surface – using detailing clay to remove embedded contaminants from the paint.
- Cutting Compound – Assuming that you have some fine surface scratches or marring to remove, a fine (or medium in really bad cases, followed by a fine) will get the surface ready for polishing
- Polishing Compound – this removes buffing marks and “swirls” in the finish to leave a smooth, clear surface
- Waxing or Sealant – A high quality carnuba wax coat, or a polymer sealant to provide protection to your finish.