Oh No! The horror stories of polishing black cars. GMC and Tesla black cars might have some detailers waking up in a cold sweat dreading the terror. Although the concerns and frustrations do have some merit, they are generally overrated. Black paint inherently reveals the shortcomings in our efforts that are not as easily visible with other colors. I will go over some common issues I see from people who have struggled polishing black cars.
Are you overworking your pads?
I have never done a light paint correction using less than 4 pads. It is not uncommon for me to use 10 or more pads with a multi-stage paint correction. I also brush or blow my pads out often. When you run your polisher over the paint through a polish cycle, think about what is left on your pad. You primarily have a combination of used up polish and abraded paint. You can scrub or blow out the debris on your pad for only so long before it loses its effectiveness. Over time your ability to correct and refine will be diminished and the debris left will reintroduce defects back on to the paint.
Is the surface clean? (Decontamination)
If you skip the clay bar treatment and go to straight to polishing, that is asking for trouble. If you are polishing with a dual-action polisher the bonded contaminants are going to create somewhat of a barrier against you. Your paint correction is going to be inconsistent and overall less aggressive. If you are using a rotary, it may be strong enough to power through the contaminants but will leave worse holograms in consequence.
Are you using the wrong pad and polish combination?
You use a microfiber or wool pad with your favorite compound, and it leaves marring. That is supposed to happen! Often the steps skipped (refinement polishing) because you may have been able to justify an acceptable result with your eyes on not only harder but less noticeable paints. That last 10% percent of clarity that you overlooked is more obvious looking at a black car.
Those cheap big box store microfibers towels
Let me start by saying, I believe they have their place (interiors, wheels, etc.), but not if you spent hours or days polishing a car. Does not make sense to potentially damage the paint with a final wipe down using a cheap microfiber towel? I don’t think so. Gyeon Polish Wipe towels, Carpro 2 Face, and the Rag Company Eagle Edgeless towels are some of the high-quality microfiber towels I have enjoyed using.
IPA vs an actual panel prep
Products like Carpro Eraser, Gyeon Prep, Gtechniq Panel Wipe, and Optimum Paint Prep are products created with the intention of removing polish residue from a scratch sensitive painted surface. I understand professionals and enthusiasts have enjoyed success mixing rubbing alcohol and distilled water. I personally rather spend a little more and feel more comfortable about the outcome of my work.
Know your polishes!
What is one thing these brands of polishers have in common? They have liquid abrasives. Beyond that, they all are unique in certain areas. From working time (polish cycle), effectiveness with a polisher or pad, cutting/finishing ability, and wipe off challenges they are not exactly alike. They provide can provide unique results. Do you grab any mild polish and a compound that is popular without reading the instructions and getting a feel for how the abrasives work? I have a enjoyed good results with all of the polishes listed in the above photo.