Most of us use our cars every single day & with everyday use comes contamination, UV ray exposure, rain & pollutants so your paint work is inevitably going to pick up scratches & other defects, there’s nothing you can do… it happens!

At some point you notice your deteriorating paintwork & decide to take action, most will take a drive to their local Auto Supplies store & pick up some polish & get buffing. However, at the end of their days work they stand back and look at their pride & joy and yeah, it looks a lot better than before but yet even now it’s still not perfect! Why? They didn’t know why or how to compound a car, which is exactly what you’re going to learn today & as a result you’re going to learn how to really make your paintwork look damn-close to new.How_To_Compound_A_car

What Is Compound?


A rubbing / cutting compound is an abrasive material formed in a paste for ease of use, which is primarily used to restore paintwork to a much higher standard than that off it’s little sister – Polish. It removes contaminated & oxidised paint allowing the fresh layer of paint underneath to shine through, although generally used on the entire car to restore the paintwork it can also be used to target & remove scratches.

Compounding VS Polishing, What’s The Difference?


Compounding & polishing are often confused with each other & I can see why because they do share similar properties both are abrasive materials, both remove scratches & minor defects, both leave the paintwork shining & both come in a bottle! You probably knew that already but you get the point, they have a lot of similarities but even so, they are a World apart from each other.

Knowing whether your car needs polishing or needs compounding can save you a lot of time & effort so take note of the differences between the two.

Polish

  • Polish is a lightly abrasive material that removes a very small amount of the damaged clear coat (outer layer of your paint.)
  • Polish can be used to remove very light scratches by removing a small layer of protection.
  • Leaves the paintwork shiny & reflective but you must add protection (Wax) to stop the polish getting washed away.

Compound

  • Permanently removes defects – Compound will smooth out the damaged areas of paint so your results last a lot longer than polish & won’t disappear after a couple of washes!
  • Super-effective at removing scratches & ugly swirl marks, these defects are as unsightly as they are frustrating for the owner so when your paintwork is suddenly cleansed of these defects, it’s really something to behold.
  • Eliminates ALL contaminants – All the threats that nature poses such as tree sap, bugs, road grime, acid, rail dust & bird crap are completely removed from your paintwork which prevents them from causing any further deterioration.
  • The “Looks Like New” Effect – After compounding your car the paintwork is in a state of perfection & owners often claim that their paintwork is just as perfect & shiny as a new car. The paintwork is smooth, shiny, reflective & most importantly; scratch & swirl mark-FREE!

How To Compound A Car – The Full Picture


I so often stress this point; perfection is not achieved by any one product, it is achieved by following the correct steps throughout the paint restoration process, paying $100 for a bottle of Polish doesn’t necessarily guarantee results if you don’t follow ALL the right steps.

There are two ways to compound your car which depends on the equipment you have available to you, you can compound your car by hand or you can compound your car using a machine polisher.

Now is a good time to remind you that Compound is an Abrasive material & if not applied correctly can cause damage to your paint so when it comes to Compounding, honestly I can’t stress how much easier & safer it is with a machine polisher, even just for the feeling of security because my paintwork is my pride & joy so for me it’s a reasonable investment to keep my paint safe.

The instructions below is my detailed formula to perfection (like I promised at the start of this article) so I have implemented products like Clay Bar & Wax, don’t worry, if you don’t have these products you can still Compound your car but the guide below is focused on getting you a perfect result.

Compounding By HandHand_Washing_A_Car

Step 1 – Ensure your car is thoroughly washed & thoroughly dried & by thoroughly- I mean thoroughly! Take a walk around with a drying towel before you begin to make sure no dirt remains.

Step 2 – Use Clay Bar to remove any bugs or contaminants, this ensures that you don’t cause any scratches when rubbing with your cloth & Clay Bar further adds to the deep, wet-look shine.

Step 3 – Apply a small amount of compound to your applicator & rub into your paintwork using a circular motion to ensure even coverage, use light pressure – remember, this is an abrasive material.

Step 4 – Wipe away any leftover residue before it gets a chance to dry, I like to keep a clean microfibre towel beside me at all times so that I can immediately remove any excess product, straight away.

Step 5 – Buff your paintwork with a clean, dry microfibre towel.

Step 6- Apply a high quality Wax to your paintwork to protect your paint & maintain the deep shine. Waxing after compounding can make your results easily last twice as long as without Wax.

Compounding With a Machine Polisher

Step 1 – Ensure your car is thoroughly washed & thoroughly dried & by thoroughly- I mean thoroughly! Take a walk around with a drying towel before you begin to make sure no dirt remains.

Step 2 – Use Clay Bar to remove any bugs or contaminants, this ensures that you don’t cause any scratches when rubbing with your cloth & Clay Bar further adds to the deep, wet-look shine.

Step 3 – Apply a small amount of compound to the Compounding Pad or Wool Pad depending on which Machine Polisher you use. For those using the MT320 Machine Polisher you should use the Red Cutting Pad.

Step 4 – Apply the product to the paint by using light, steady strokes, ensuring even coverage.

Step 5 – Wipe away any excess product before it gets a chance to dry, I always keep a clean microfibre towel beside me so I can remove residue straight away.

Step 6 – Buff your paintwork using the buffing pad.

Step 7 – Once the entire car has been completed, you can apply a high quality Wax to seal & protect your paint & by doing this, you ensure that your perfect result is safe for another few months at least, in 2/3 months depending on your climate I recommend following up with another Wax to stop your paint from going dull.

When it comes to paintwork, I don’t believe in “quick fixes” the only way to get a perfect result is to tick all the boxes & cover every aspect of your paintworks’ health, follow these steps & you will achieve the result you desire, if you’re not using a machine polisher you most likely will spend most of your Sunday working on this but when it’s done, Wow it’s a good feeling!

Which Products Work Best?


In my personal experience these are the products that have been the most effective, of course I advise you to go with your own preference but if you’re unsure or your products aren’t getting you the results then these products are excellent, high-quality choices. All products are listed on Amazon.com.

Meguiar’s MT320 Machine Polisher

Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound Colour & Clarity Restorer 450ml

Mothers – California Gold Clay Bar Kit (2 x Clay Bar 1 x Detailer 1 x Microfibre Towel)

DODO JUICE Blue Velvet Carnauba Car Wax 30ml

You Want It, You Got It!


There you have it, everything you need to know on how to compound a car, as I’ve mentioned a few times in this tutorial, if you are not using a machine polisher just take it easy, no hard rubbing, just a little light pressure is all you need but when you’re finished & you get to see your car looking like it’s been garaged for its entire life, boy it’s worth it!

If you have any concerns or questions about compounding please don’t keep it to yourself, reach out to me in the comment section & I’ll be delighted to help out.

That’s all for today,

Happy Detailing!