How Long Does It Take To Polish A Car [Explained]

You just wet your feet into polishing a car and wonder how long does it take to polish a car. It takes around 3-4 hours to polish the car alone. Therefore, experience level, car size, and other works associated with polishing will also determine how long it takes to polish your vehicle.

On top of this, what method you will use (hand-polishing and machine-polishing) also impacts the duration. 

Below, we will break down everything that will affect the time you need to complete the polishing workflow. So, let’s get started right here. 

How Long Does It Take To Polish A Car [Know A-Z]

It depends on how you polish the car (by hand or machine) and other works associated with polishing like washing, claying, and compounding. In general, it will take 3-4 hours to polish your car only depending on the size of your vehicle, its age & color. 

Before heading over to polish your car, you must wash & clay your car. And polishing is the third step. Generally, it requires about an hour to rinse the vehicle evenly. 

Once you wash the car, you should perform claying. It may take 30 minutes. However, it will take more time if there is a heavy layer of contaminants & pollutants on the surface of your car’s paint, glass, door, metal, and fiberglass. 

You can now polish the car, which will take at least three hours if you use a machine like G9 Orbital Polisher. Keep in mind, you need this amount of time for 1 step correction detail. If your car needs 2 step car detailing, you need to spend 6 hours polishing your vehicle. 

On the other hand, hand-polishing your car will require more time (double) than machine-polishing. 

When compounding and polishing your car, you need to spend at least 8 hours. Generally, compounding a car will take 5 hours to even the uneven paint surface. 

And lastly, it requires you to spend another 20-30 minutes if you want to wax your car after polishing it. 

In short, it takes about 8-10 hours for more correction-focused work, including washing, claying, polishing, and waxing the vehicle. 

Is It Hard To Polish A Car?

No, it’s not hard to polish a car if you know how to do it. Generally, the polishing workflow involves removing the paint that gets scratched and swirled. 

Generally, you can find a lot of polisher machines in the market to polish a car. Just slip a pad into the polisher and turn on the machine. The pad of the polisher works by cutting paste. 

Typically, you can find two grades of cutting paste- coarse and ultra-fine. The coarse cutting paste will remove the paint quickly. But, it leaves a swirl. On the other hand, the ultra-fine cutting paste will remove the paint slowly without leaving any swirls.  

Indeed, polishing a car is not as difficult as a newbie thinks. 

Is Polishing A Car Worth It?

Yes, it’s worth thousands of times to polish your car. It helps maintain the flawless appearance of your vehicle’s paint finish. However, most car owners neglect the polish by waxing & sealants. 

Here are some benefits of polishing a vehicle: 

Eliminate Scratches

Your car is prone to scratches while it plies on the road. And car polish will help you remove scratches from the paint surface if it’s not deep enough. On top of this, it gives a smooth look to your car paint. 

Shield Against Sun Damages

Direct sun exposure will damage your car paint by fading, discoloring, and oxidizing. If you coat a layer of polish over the paint, it works like a protective shield and protects your car color from the sun’s rays. 

Hide Paint Defects

You never like the botchy paint marks on your car, right? Then, polishing your car is a must to cover the paint flaws. The car polish doesn’t only hide the defects of the paint but also even & smoothen the paint finish. 

Besides, polishing a car will also make the spot invisible, add a brighter and shinier look to the vehicle, and enhance resale value. 

What Are The Steps To Polish A Car?

The steps to polish a car will vary depending on the polishing method (hand-polish and machine-polish). Below, we will break down both. 

1. Steps To Polish A Car By Hand:

  • Remove any dirt, debris, and damaged paint from your car. Don’t forget to rinse your car evenly to drop off every single speck of impurity. Otherwise, the polish will not work effectively.
  • Once you wash your car, use a soft microfiber cloth to dry the vehicle. 
  • Next, pour a small amount of polish on the applicator cloth or foam pad. 
  • Now, start spreading the polish in circular motions. You can divide the paint surface into sections to quicken the polishing workflow. 
  • Finally, buff the polish using a soft microfiber pad. 

2. Steps To Polish A Car By Machine:

  • Start with washing your car evenly.
  • Slip a polishing pad into the polisher. Then, apply a little amount of polish to the pad. Also, spread a small amount of polish on your car. 
  • Now, turn on your polisher machine and set its speed to slow or medium. 
  • Make sure you keep the pressure light and the pad is level. 
  • Finally, spread the polish across the area of your car using the polisher machine. 

How Much Does It Cost To Polish A Car?

It will cost you between $175-$200, depending on the color and the condition of your car paint. 

However, the price may vary based on the type of polish you choose like single-stage correction and multi-step correction. Generally, you should spend $40/Hr for single-stage correction. On the other hand, it may cost you around $50/Hr for multi-step correction. 

On the other hand, you don’t need to spend up to $100 if you do it yourself. It requires you to get some accessories like the polish and polishing pad. 


When should you polish a car?

You may polish your car one or two times per year if you take good care of your car. On the other hand, you can polish your vehicle more frequently if you find spots or cracks often. 

Should I polish or wax my new car?

Waxing a new car will be ok. However, if the paint gets damaged by scratches or discolorations, you should polish your new car.

How often should I polish my car?

We recommend you polish your car after every 3-4 months. It will help you hold the pristine appearance of your vehicle. 

Do you wax after polishing?

Polishing will remove all the old layers of waxes from your car leaving an unprotected paint surface. So, you should wax your car after polishing to shield the paint.

How long does polishing a car last?

The protective coating you use will determine how long the polishing will last on a car. Generally, the carnauba wax will last around 2-3 months based on environmental conditions and how frequently you wash the car.


Polishing involves a lot of prior work like washing, claying, and compounding the car. Once you perform these workflows, you are ready to polish your vehicle. It requires at least 4 hours to do a single-stage correction.

However, the time car polish requires may vary from person to person because each person doesn’t have the same level of expertise. 

Note: You can also read how to clean brake fluid easily.

About John M

John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just 2 years after his post-graduation in Automobile Engineering. He loves to lead a free life, so he left his job & started blogging. Now, he does research on every automotive problem, part & product and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.

Leave a Comment