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How to Safely Buff Your Pickup Truck in 2018


Most people think that when you buff your pickup truck, or wax it, that you’re removing scratches in the paint. However, this is actually a common misconception. When you wax your truck, you’re adding a layer of protection on top of the paint. Polishing differs from waxing because you have to work polish in using a combination of heat, abrasives, and friction for it to be successful. The thought of using these tools on your paint can be intimidating, however, once you understand the process and learn it correctly, you can polish your truck quickly and safely to get that shine all on your own.

buff your pickup truck - orbital buffer When polish is correctly done, it prevents light from reflecting scratches and swirls by either softening their edges or removing small bits of paint around them. How much paint is removed depends on the aggressiveness of the pad, polish, and application.

Getting Started

Buffing is the process of removing a small layer of your vehicle’s paint. Once this happens, a fresh, clean layer of paint can be seen underneath it. Therefore, the process helps restore the car’s original look and shine. The general recommendation is to buff your car every 4-5 months to give it a fresh, new look. Buffering may be done more frequently depending on your environment and the amount of dings, dents and scratches your truck comes into contact with.

Avoid Common Issues While you Buff Your Pickup Truck

Among the most common issues people face when buffing their truck are using old, dirty rags and not using proper technique. “For you to emerge with a thoroughly clean automobile, ensure that the product finish is perfectly dry before buffing… failing to get this done could harm the finish, which makes the entire job very expensive.” (Repair Daily, 2017)

buff your pickup truck - Washing vehicle

Another frequent error people make is not fully working in the treatment they use. If you only apply polish and allow it to haze before buffing it off, you will not get effective results. In fact, it may give you a cloudy appearance causing your finish look worse than when you began. Polishing usually involves a few steps. First, an aggressive polish will remove blemishes. Next, a finishing polish will prevent cloudiness.

Buffing by Orbital Polisher

First, it’s important to use a good quality, high-speed buffer. “High speed buffers will eliminate surface scratches and blemishes completely, leaving behind a brilliant shine. However… improper use of a high-speed buffer can strip the paint and damage the finish permanently by leaving swirls and scratches.” (WikiHow, 2018)

Here are some simple tips and steps to getting the best shine:

• Tape off items such as trim, emblems, and other rubber and plastic pieces that may get scratched
• Use halogens or other bright lights- lighting is very important.
• Pick up a polish that is no more than medium-aggressive especially when working on dark colored vehicles. Do not use a polish that claims to remove scratches without the use of an abrasive. These just hide imperfections that show again after a few washes.
• You may need a range of types of pads to see which is right for your vehicle

How to Safely Buff Your Pickup Truck

  • In a 2ft square area, start with the least aggressive polish and pad.
  • Buff the polish in completely, wipe clean and check to see if you need to go more aggressive. If so this can be accomplished with one of the following: a more aggressive pad, a higher speed, or more pressure
  • After you are satisfied with the result, use a less aggressive polish and pad to remove hazing left behind. You may have to do this step more than once.
  • Once you are happy, you will know exactly which pad and polish combo to use for the rest of the truck.

Additional Info for Buffing & Polishing

Video Tutorials:

“How to Polish a Car – Scratch Removal” from Refinish Network

“How To: Use A Buffer On A Car Or Truck-Paint And Body Tech Tips” from D.I.Y. AUTO SCHOOL

“How To Car Polish & Buff a Car Automotive Tutorial Buffing Video” from Cereal Marshmallows


With time, your truck’s exterior may begin to appear more dull and loose it’s “new truck” look. When you buff your pickup truck, it’s a great way to chip away at the environmental elements that begin to diminish your vehicle’s appearance. “Acid rain, Aging, Bird droppings, Sand and dust wear on the clear coat or Sun’s UV rays all take a toll on your truck’s paint job.” (Your Mechanic, 2018) Learn how to properly buff your pickup truck and it will be in restored condition in no time. Looking for additional information? We’ve also outlined 10 tips below on how to detail your truck wheels like an expert >

Sources: WikiHow, Car And Driver, Repair Daily, Your Mechanic