Hi guys – I was scouring the Pads section on ask-a-pro and didn’t see anything obviously similar to what I’m looking for, so I figured I’d send an email. How do you normally clean your pads? Is there anything specific to the Lake Country pads that you would recommend versus another pad? Also, how often do you replace your pads based on cutting/finishing levels? I noticed in one post, Todd mentioned he uses numerous orange/yellow cutting pads in each job sometimes because the pad can lose the cutting ability that quickly (I’m wondering if this is why originally, I noticed a fair amount of red paint imparted upon my yellow pad from my Acura, and on the third cutting run on a Boxster this weekend, very little cutting was done/very little blue paint was on the pad when finished). I would imagine finishing pads would last quite a bit longer than cutting pads, but wanted to hear your guys’ take on it. You guys present a wealth of knowledge and I love checking out your articles and ask-a-pro responses. Thanks for all of your time. – Phil
Thanks for taking the time to submit your question Phil. 🙂
In regards to pad cleaning, I’ve always found it best to clean pads right away after polishing as you want to avoid letting the polish dry up inside the pad. Since you will be using several pads throughout the correction process, actually taking time out from polishing to stop and clean a pad is a somewhat daunting task…so rather than cleaning them right away, I’d suggest filling a bucket of water mixed with some Lake Country Snappy Clean and simply tossing them in the bucket to soak while you work. The Snappy Clean is designed to break down and release polish residue from the pads. At the end of the day when you are all done you can clean them in a laundry sink by running them under water and agitating the face of the pad with your hands. For heavy stubborn build up, using the aid of an All Purpose Cleaner like Meguiars D103 can help as well. Once they are clean and rinsed well, squeeze the water out of them and place them in an area to dry. Something free of a lot of dust and good air movement is ideal. I place mine on a wire rack and have a fan set at a low speed to circulate air over them. Closed cell pads like the white LC and the Hydro Tech pads will take longer to dry. Always be sure they are fully dry before using them again. If you have a rotary polisher you can also use it to spin the pads at a high speed which removes a lot of water too.
If cared for properly, the pads should last you a pretty long time. Many detailers I know have some pads in use for well over a year, though I tend to replace mine a little more often than that. As long as they are not torn, shredding, contaminated, or have the Velcro backing falling off; there should be no real reason to replace them.
The reason we use 3-4 pads per product step when polishing a car is because they start to get saturated with product as you work your way around the car. This adds weight to the pads and will cause DA polishers to become less effective. On top of that, the pores in the face of the pad start to become clogged with paint transfer from your car’s finish. After all, we are abrading away small amounts of paint. This is also why we clean our pads after each section with a brush or towel.
As a little side note; the reason your pad turned red while you were polishing your Acura is because it either has single stage paint, or it has what’s known as a “tinted clear”, which my Milano Red TSX just happens to have. (Basically they add a small amount of base color to the clear coat.) On most newer cars, which have base coat/clear coat paint on them, you will not see color transfer to your pad like you saw with your Acura. I’m not sure about the paint your Boxster, but of the ones I’ve worked on, all have had BC/CC paint.
As far as which pads last longer I guess I do find my finishing pads to last a little longer than the cutting pads. I’m thinking this is probably because the abrasives commonly used with finishing pads are less aggressive and the amount of pressure applied during polishing is also less.
Hope this helps answer your questions.