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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    How many pads do I need to buff out my car?


    Some guys try to buff out entire cars with a single pad per product. That's usually due to inexperience. Thus when they make their initial purchase they don't know to get more pads versus less pads.

    Once a person gets into the middle of the correction step and their one or two foam pads are wet with product, (pad saturation), and if they're paying attention they notice it's taking longer to get the same work done than when they first started with a clean, dry pad, then it starts to sink in that more pads are better.

    The correction step is the most pad intensive step so get more correction pads, these would be cutting pads.

    Polishing goes faster as you're only cleaning up what the correction step left behind and maximizing gloss and clarity.

    If you machine apply your waxes and sealants then you really only need one pad for this step.


    For a 1965 Mustang or for a 2015 Honda Accord and the paint is trashed, that is filled with swirls, scratches, water spots and oxidation, then here's a good rule of thumb for the optimum number of pads to have on hand assuming you're using a Porter Cable type dual action polisher.


    NOTE the below recommendations are MINIMUMS - Let your budget be your guide.


    Porter Cable 7424XP
    Correction = Orange LC Flat Pad
    Polishing = White or Black LC Flat Pad
    Sealing = Blue LC Flat Pad

    Correction step = 6 pads
    1 for the hood
    1 for the roof and trunk lid
    2 for driver's side
    2 for passenger side


    Polishing step = 4 pads (You could probably get away with 3 if you use 1 for hood, roof and trunk lid)

    1 for the hood
    1 for the roof and trunk lid
    1 for driver's side
    1 for passenger side

    Sealing the paint step = 1 waxing pad
    Use over entire vehicle




    For a Flex 3401
    Correction = Orange Hybrid
    Polishing = White Hybrid
    Sealing = Black Hybrid

    From experience, you can push the orange hybrid pads further than most pads plus the Flex 3401 simply doesn't care if the pads are wet with product it's going to rotate them no matter what. Not that using a squishy wet pad is a good thing just saying...

    One thing for sure, a fresh, clean, dry orange hybrid pad with a top notch compound cuts fast on the Flex 3401.

    Correction step = 6 pads
    1 for the hood
    1 for the roof and trunk lid
    2 for driver's side
    2 for passenger side

    Polishing step = 4 pads (You could probably get away with 3 if you use 1 for hood, roof and trunk lid)

    1 for the hood
    1 for the roof and trunk lid
    1 for driver's side
    1 for passenger side

    Sealing the paint step = 1 waxing pad
    Use over entire vehicle



    For Rupes Bigfoot

    Same as pads for a Porter Cable. Basically, more is better and as soon as any pad starts to become wet with product it's going to be faster and more effective to switch to a clean, dry pad.




    Big picture...

    Being able to switch to a clean dry pad always trumps plowing through with a wet soggy pad. Foam pads become wet or saturated with product the longer you buff, that's just the nature of foam and liquids.

    A fresh, clean dry pad works better, whether it's for major correction work or minor polishing work.

    A fresh, clean dry pad make you and your time more effective and enables you to do any paint polishing process as fast as possible.

    Switching to a fresh clean, dry pad OFTEN means less wear-n-tear on pads in general and you'll get more use or extended life out of each pad overall. Pushing a pad to the point that it's completely saturated with product wears out the foam, the Velcro and the adhesive faster than stopping the use of the pad after a panel or two.

    Buffing with wet pads increases the heat retention inside the pad and to the backing plate and heat is never a good thing in any buffing process.

    There's only positive aspects to having more pads as compared to having less pads.



    Buffing Pads on Autogeek.net




    Mike Phillips
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  2. #2
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    Thank you Mike for this thread, I was just thinking about this as I am new to DA's. One question I have is, how do pad washers come into play? For example, can you wash your cutting pad, spin dry, re-prime and continue using it or is it recommended to still use a new dry pad since the washed pad will be damp?

  3. #3
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    For my Detailing Boot Camp Classes we go through a LOT of pads....






















    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  4. #4
    Senior Member dlc95's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    Great tutorial, Mike!

  5. #5
    Senior Member KMdef9's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    Sticky!

  6. #6
    Senior Member rbss's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    ^agree!
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Kamakaz1961's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    Thank you for your valued information! Have a wonderful day!!
    CJ
    2013 Mustang GT w/Track Pack 6-Speed Manual
    Save the Manual!

  8. #8
    Senior Member JSou's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    Such valuable information Mike. Thanks again for sharing.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Charleston's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    This is hugely helpful.

    1 thing that confused me

    "Correction step = 6 pads
    1 for the hood
    1 for the roof and trunk lid
    1 for driver's side
    1 for passenger side"

    Was it supposed to be just 4, or should it match the PC?

    Thanks Mike

  10. #10
    Senior Member PreludeVTEC01's Avatar
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    Re: How many pads do I need to buff out my car?

    VERY helpful information. I wish I had purchased more pads my first time around. Also I made the mistake of getting 6" pads when I really needed 5".

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