You finally decided that trying to maintain your car’s finish by hand was too much work and the results just weren’t up to what you really wanted, so you bought a G110v2 (or similar) buffer. But you still are not 100% sure just how to use it properly. Maybe you’re even a bit nervous about it still.
Or maybe you’re so nervous about using a power tool on your paint that you haven’t actually purchased one yet.
Either way, this article should answer most of your questions and give you the confidence to finally get out there and use the tool. Once you get started you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how easy and effective the tool can be, and how great your paint can look with far less effort than doing everything by hand. So let’s get started.
First off, let’s get familiar with the tool itself and the pads and liquids you’ll likely be using with it. All of the major brand D/A buffers on the market today are very similar in appearance and use. Although the actual speeds may vary slightly, they all come with 6 variable speed settings adjusted by a small thumbwheel. Feel free to experiment with the following numbers a bit depending on how your paint is responding, but these are good starting points. For routine defect correction speed 5 is going to be your default setting. In some cases you may need to run the tool a bit faster or a bit slower, depending on how your paint responds. You'll also need to apply some pressure to the pad, but don't use so much pressure that you stop the pad from rotating though. How much pressure you need to use is, again, going to depend on the severity of the defects and how the paint reacts to the input. Sometimes a lot of pressure is needed, sometimes only light pressure works best. Applying waxes and sealants or even pure polishes will most often be done on speed 3 and with just light pressure. This is a much less variable process than the defect correction phase. At this point all you’re doing is spreading a thin layer of product onto the paint so from one vehicle to the next this step is almost always the same.
Pad choice is pretty straightforward. In the Meguiar’s line you’ll be using primarily the W8207 Soft Buff 2.0 yellow polishing pad for your defect correction when running the tool at speed 5. This pad is moderately aggressive, meaning it provides a bit of cut along with the liquid you’re using. This cut from the pad helps with the defect correction process. (For a more in depth explanation of this, please see “Let’s Talk About Total Cut”) For application of waxes and sealants you’ll be using a W9207 Soft Buff 2.0 black finishing pad with the tool running at speed 3. You can feel how much softer this pad is than the W8207, which means it offers very little cut, if any, on its own. You want a soft pad like this when applying wax because at that point the paint should look virtually flawless – why use a pad with some level of cut at this point? You don’t want to risk marring the surface at all, so a soft finishing pad is the logical choice.
It is a good idea to use a separate pad for each liquid you’re using rather than mix liquids on a single pad. So if you find you need to use two different liquids that require a similar pad, like a finishing polish and a wax, just have a pad for each liquid available before you get started. Once you’re finished with the project and the pads have gone through the washer and dryer, you can use a different liquid on it during subsequent use. Just don’t go straight from one liquid to another while using the same pad.
Meguiar’s also makes a foam cutting pad, the W7207 Soft Buff 2.0 burgundy cutting pad. While we don’t recommend this pad for use on a D/A buffer like the G110v2, it can be used in a pinch if necessary. The potential downside to using this pad on this tool is that it is aggressive enough that, when coupled with the motion of the tool, some hazing of the paint is common. Yes, the extra aggressiveness can help to get through a stubborn area like a badly etched bird dropping, but for routine use the downside outweighs the upside. Use it only if you absolutely have to. The same can be said of running the tool on speed 6. Prolonged use of maximum speed puts a lot of stress on the hook & loop attachment system of the pad and backing plate. Due to the constantly changing direction of the pad, it is essentially trying to break free from the backing plate, and that generates a lot of friction and heat on the hook & loop system. We’ve seen many cases of pads from various manufacturers failing due to excessive, prolonged heat brought about by constantly running the tool at maximum speed. But again, for removal of a specific, stubborn defect, that extra speed can be a benefit for the short term. Just use it sparingly if you must.
All right, with that out of the way, let’s get started. Gather up all the tools you’re going to need for your paint correction project – your buffer, pads, liquids, towels, masking tape, etc. We’re assuming at this point that the car has been washed and dried, and clayed if needed to remove the above surface bonded contaminants that make the paint feel rough to the touch. We still aren’t quite ready to put pad to paint though. You will want to tape off any textured vinyl and plastic or rubber trim to avoid staining them with your paint cleaner. Taping also prevents or minimizes having dried product accumulate in the edge of trim pieces, washer nozzles, head and tail light assemblies, etc. You generally don’t need to worry about damaging these pieces with a D/A buffer, but it’s much faster to tape them off before you start than to go back and clean everything up after you’re done. So tape off all the trim, washer nozzles, etc before you get started.
Taping off trim, washer nozzles, emblems, etc before buffing.
When working on any car for the first time it’s always smart to do a test spot first. Depending on how severe the defects are you might start with a very light cleaner such as SwirlX, or for very heavy defects you may want to start with Ultimate Compound. What you don’t know just by looking at the paint is how hard or “workable” that paint is. Some paint systems, even when pretty badly marred, are so workable that even a mild paint cleaner is sufficient to fully correct the defects. Other paints are just the opposite, and even minor defects require a fairly aggressive product in order to remove them. But you can’t know for sure which one you’re dealing with until you actually get to work. Sure, you may read online about a specific make and model having very hard or very soft paint, but you can’t assume that to be the case 100% of the time. There are always exceptions. Again, this information found online can be a guide, a starting point, but that’s really all it is. 50 people may have posted that their C6 Corvette has incredibly hard paint and that you need a very aggressive liquid/pad combination at a very high speed and a lot of pressure in order to remove even minor defects. But when working on your C6 Corvette you discover that you’re able to remove defects quite easily with only moderately aggressive products. That doesn’t mean those 50 people are wrong, or that you’re a better detailer than they are. It just means that your car’s paint is not terribly hard or difficult to correct. We use the C6 as an example here because it is indeed notorious for having incredibly hard paint, yet at a recent Saturday Class we were able to remove a year old bird dropping etch mark using just Ultimate Compound and a W8207 Soft Buff 2.0 polishing pad with a G110v2 running on speed 5. Hardly a super aggressive combination. Just keep in mind that nothing is written in stone in this game – every situation is unique.
Test spot laid out and ready to go.
For our purposes we’re going to tape off an area of the hood on this car and apply some SwirlX with a polishing pad. We’ve already set the tool to speed 5 and will simply apply an “X” of product to the face of a clean pad, place the pad firmly onto the paint to avoid splatter, and turn the tool on.
The initial application of product on pad.
Initially you should just quickly spread out the product over your test area, using only moderate pressure. This distributes a film of product over the work area. Just a quick pass is all it takes, then slow down, apply some pressure to the pad, and move the tool slowly over the work area in overlapping strokes. Pay attention to the work area and make smooth, methodical movements from one side to the other, overlapping your strokes by 50%. Keep the pad flat, keep the pressure constant, and pay attention to what’s going on. Relax. The tool is not going to fight you or run off on its own. Too often we see first time users hold the tool in a death grip. Relax. You control the tool, not the other way around. Keep your pressure directly over the pad, not down by the end of the handle near the cord. Doing that will cause the pad to lift up on one side, and it will stop rotating. You want some rotation all the time.
Spreading product quickly over work area, distributing it throughout the area.
Continue working the product in these overlapping passes until it becomes just a very thin film on the surface. Don’t allow the product to dry out, however, as dry buffing usually leads to marring of the surface due to loss of lubricity. You can usually see that the product is still wet, or you can quickly run your finger through the film immediately following the pad. If it’s getting dry it’s time to stop. If it’s almost gone, it’s time to stop.
Move the tool slowly over the paint, applying moderate pressure.
A quick swipe with your finger shows the product is still wet - never dry buff!
Product is thin now, but it's still wet.
Wipe off before product dries.
Once you’ve finished this initial pass of your test spot, take a few minutes to evaluate your progress. Pull the vehicle back into direct sunlight if you need to in order to properly view any remaining defects.
Now it’s decision time. Compare the area you just worked on (your test spot) to the adjacent, untreated area. Are all of the defects completely gone? Probably not, and that’s fine. There are a lot of different possibilities that could be at play here:
- If a single session with a given liquid and pad was able to noticeably reduce the level of defects, then you’re on the right track.
- If it removed the majority of the defects then a second pass should finish off the remnants.
- If it removed almost everything, then maybe a single pass of longer duration and/or with a bit more pressure would do the trick.
- If a single session with a given liquid and pad only removed a small amount of the defects, then you may need to rethink some things.
- Go back over the area and try using more pressure, or work the area longer (assuming the product is still wet after a longer buffing cycle), or a combination of the two
- If two or three passes are still leaving most of the defects behind, and your technique is correct, then you probably need a more aggressive liquid
- If a single session with a given liquid and pad looks like it didn’t do a darn thing, and you used proper technique (pressure, speed, time) then you can safely assume you need a more aggressive liquid. It does NOT, however, mean that you need to now grab the most aggressive thing you can find!
- There is another possibility, and this one can be a bit tricky. If the original defects are mostly, or completely, gone but the paint looks very hazy – or – if suddenly the paint looks much worse than before you started, you’ve probably got very delicate paint that needs a much less aggressive process than what you started with. For new users this can be a tricky thing to diagnose. Have a look at The Challenge of Delicate Paint for more info
Remember that at this point you are ultimately trying to determine the best process to fully remove the most serious defects in your paint. You are not necessarily going to go from a cobwebbed, swirled mess to total perfection in a single step. You may need a follow up finishing polish if your first step required a pretty aggressive approach and your paint responded by hazing slightly. This haze is pretty common, especially with a D/A buffing process, but it is also usually very easy to remove. The paint is going to play a huge role in this, and just because you’ve read somewhere that such and such a process gave “perfect” results on one car does not mean it will return identical results on yours.
With the above information you now have a game plan for the entire vehicle. Maybe that game plan is a single long pass with lots of pressure; or a single short pass; maybe two passes with moderate pressure; maybe an initial pass with a more aggressive liquid and a follow up with a finishing liquid to remove the resulting haze. Now it really is a simple matter of repeating that process over the entire vehicle. If you need to use two different liquids to accomplish the task, then use the more aggressive one first for the whole car (working in small areas at a time, of course) and then move to the finishing liquid.
There are a few other things to keep in mind as you work your way around the vehicle:
- Experiment with pressure on the pad. Using only the weight of the tool is usually not sufficient to correct defects. Pressure and time can help, especially with very severe defects or very hard paint.
This is how the pad looks with just the weight of the tool, and it is usually insufficient for defect removal.
This is a heavily compressed pad - you may or may not need this much pressure depending on the above mentioned variables.
- Keep your work area small, usually no larger than the size of a microfiber towel. Sometimes you may find that you need to work smaller than this even, perhaps half the size of a towel. Remember, you're leveling paint here so you need to concentrate your energy in a workable space.
Work area should be no larger than your microfiber towel.
- Apply pressure directly over the pad, not down toward the base of the tool near the power cord. If you start to come up on the edge of the pad the tool will stop spinning (it will continue to oscillate, however) and you want that spinning action, even if it's slow.
- If the vehicle has curved body panels you will experience areas where you simply can not keep the entire pad flat on the surface. In those cases, roll the tool with the curve of the body panel so as to keep the center line of the pad against the paint, rather than an edge. This way the pad will continue rotate even though it's making less overall contact with the paint.
Keep the pad flat against the paint!
Do your best to avoid moving off a curved panel like this; This is bad form.
Roll with it - follow the panel curves rather than moving off onto the edge of the pad.
- Generally speaking, when working with a D/A polisher it's OK to overlap from one panel to the next. That's part of what makes this tool so much safer than a rotary. Of course, you may end up with some product getting down in the seams but if you only do this when the product has been worked a bit that shouldn't be a problem.
- Be aware, however, that if you're working on an older car with original paint then the paint could be very thin on these edges. While we don't see it very often, it is possible to cause a problem here. But on otherwise healthy paint on a newer vehicle, it should pose no problem at all.
- When you first apply product to the pad you want to make sure the pad is firmly against the paint before you switch it on so as not to splatter product everywhere. But when you've reached the end of your buffing cycle go ahead and lift the pad off the paint as you're turning the tool off. There shouldn't be any heavy product left to splatter, but if you keep the tool firmly against the paint when you turn the tool off you'll get a thick blob of product that can be difficult to wipe off.
Avoid this by lifting the pad off the paint as you switch it off.
- As you work around the vehicle and you continue to add product to the pad, some of it is going to be absorbed into the pad. Some of it will also begin to dry on the outer edges of the pad. Both situations can cause a reduction in the effectiveness of the entire process so you need to clean your pad on the fly regularly. A brush will only remove dried surface material, so do the following after every panel:
- With the tool switched off, press a clean terry cloth towel against the pad while it's still mounted on the tool
- Press the towel firmly against the pad and switch the tool on
- Keep the towel and pad firmly pressed together for a few seconds, then switch the tool off
- The excess product accumulated in the pad is forced out the front of the pad and absorbed by the towel.
- Even when doing this cleaning on the fly regularly, it is still a good idea to switch to a completely fresh pad at least a couple of times when doing a full correction on any vehicle.
Clean your pads often during a paint correction project.
Excess product is forced out of the pad and onto the towel.
- Working on small, narrow or tight areas can sometimes be an issue with a full sized pad, but there is an option. Sure, you could work some areas by hand, but using the 4" version of our Soft Buff 2.0 pads (and an S3BP 3" backing plate, of course) can make some of those jobs easier.
- Use these pads exactly as you would the full sized pads - yellow polishing pad for paint correction, black finishing pad for applying pure polishes and waxes.
- Something very important to consider, however, when using these smaller pads - you are concentrating all the energy of the buffer into a very small space, so you can begin to generate some serious heat. Check your work often as you go. If the paint feels hot, back off. This is especially true when working on urethane bumper covers as this substrate does not dissipate heat as efficiently as steel or aluminum. Be careful!!
4" Soft Buff 2.0 pads are used just like the full sized pads.
Great on A-pillars!
Perfect for bumpers!
Be sure to check often for unwanted heat buildup!!
OK, now you should have fully corrected the paint throughout the vehicle - or at least to your satisfaction - so it's time to move on to the next steps.
If you found the whole defect correction process was a good bit of work, that means you probably did it exactly right! The next two steps are much, much less involved and should go pretty quickly for you. And the G110v2 makes them even easier.
Next, as an optional step, is the application of a pure polish such as M07 Show Car Glaze or Deep Crystal Polish. You might even want to use something like M205 instead to further refine the finish - it's all up to you and what your expectations are.
Since you're done with the defect correction process you can replace your W8207 polishing pad with a W9207 finishing pad and drop the speed of the tool down to 3. When applying a pure polish you still want to work in those small areas, although you can probably expand the size just a bit. Again, apply a small amount of product to the pad, gently work it against the paint and wipe off while still wet. Remember, you are no longer correcting defects here so you don't need to be aggressive at all.
Small amount of product.
Work it in for a couple of minutes or until it looks very thin on the surface.
Wipe off before it dries.
If you choose to use M205 rather than a pure polish your application process is going to be a bit different:
- Stay with the W9207 finishing pad
- Stay with speed 3 to start but feel free to experiment a bit with other speeds
- Stay with the small to slightly larger work areas
- Increase pressure a bit - not as much as you used during the defect correction stage, but a bit more than the light pressure you'd use with a pure polish
- M205 has a light cutting action but it can add a lot of clarity to the finish. If you experienced some hazing from your defect correction process, this is the perfect product to remove that haze and greatly refine the finish.
- Remember to wipe off before it dries!
At this point the paint should be looking better than it probably ever has - even better than the day the vehicle left the dealership! And you haven't even waxed it yet. The G110v2 is the perfect way to quickly apply a very thin and uniform coat of your favorite wax.
Using a fresh finishing pad (not the same one you used for the polish above) and keep the tool set to speed 3. Start out by applying a small amount of liquid wax to the pad and then working it lightly against the paint. We are now going to deviate from our earlier routine in a few ways:
- You can move the tool much more quickly over the paint than you did for the processes above. Don't go crazy here, but definitely pick up the pace.
- Keep light to moderate pressure on the pad, and keep the pad flat to the paint
- Cover all the painted surfaces of the vehicle now, do NOT wipe off each section as you go.
- Let the wax dry fully before wiping off. Cover all the painted surfaces and then wait another 15 to 20 minutes before wiping off.
Initial product application is similar to earlier steps.
Quickly spread it over a large area.
Continue adding fresh product as you go, but ease up on the amount you use. Remember, you want a very thin and uniform coat, that's all. You should be able to cover an entire full sized car with just an ounce or less of product. Don't let your pad become saturated with wax. When you're about half done with the car, after having added wax just a couple of times, you can actually squeeze the excess wax out of the pad and continue working with it.
This pad doesn't look too loaded up, does it?
But even at this point we can squeeze product back out of it by pressing it against the paint with the tool switched off.
This might not look like much, but it was enough to cover the entire rear hatch of this car!
Yes, what you see on the hatch is from spreading out the blob above - we added nothing more to the pad!
Now we add just a few more drops of wax and finished the entire side of the car.
This is the final coat of wax drying on the car. After 15 to 20 minutes wipeoff is incredibly simple!
At this point all that's left to do is clean up your garage, pull the masking tape off the trim and emblems, and then wipe off the dried wax with a clean microfiber towel.
The whole process really is that easy and safe. The most important thing you can do is to take your time. Rushing through the process leads to mistakes and incomplete removal of the defects. It is faster overall to be methodical and careful than to hustle your way through, only to have to go back and correct mistakes. Selecting a very aggressive product won't always get you a faster result. If it's too aggressive for the paint you'll have to go back and do your correction step a second time to correct the defects you put in the paint. If a less aggressive product gets rid of the defects without causing other issues, then that is a far better choice. Of course, sometimes you're faced with very severe defects and/or very hard paint. In that case, you may have no choice but to use a couple of steps to achieve a show car shine, but at least with a proper test spot you'll know that going in.
Again, this is just an introduction to using the G110v2 or other, similar D/A polishers. There are all kinds of little tips and tricks that can be found all over this forum and others. Now that you know how to use the tool properly to begin with, you can better apply those tips when needed, or as you develop and advance your own skills with this tool. Remember, all of the above is really just a starting point. There are so many variables when it comes to polishing paint that we can't address them all in a single article. But of all the tools available to you when polishing paint, the single greatest is your brain. Use it. Observe, pay attention, think. And above all, take your time.