Can you burn through clear coat with DA polisher?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

It is possible to burn through the clear coat of your paint when using a dual action (DA) polisher. While the risk is lower compared to using a rotary polisher, it is still important to exercise caution and follow proper techniques to minimize the chances of damaging your paint.

When polishing a car’s paint, the goal is to remove imperfections such as scratches, swirl marks, and oxidation. This process involves gently abrading the clear coat to level out the surface and reveal a smooth, glossy finish. However, if too much pressure or incorrect techniques are used, it is possible to remove more clear coat than intended, resulting in a burned-through or thin spot on the paint.

Here are some factors that can contribute to burning through the clear coat with a DA polisher:

1. Aggressive Pad and Compound Combination: Using a heavy-cutting compound with an aggressive foam pad can increase the chances of burning through the clear coat. These products are designed for more severe paint correction and should be used with caution, especially on thin or delicate clear coats.

2. Applying Excessive Pressure: Applying too much pressure while polishing can generate excessive heat and friction, which can lead to burning through the clear coat. It is important to let the weight of the polisher do the work and allow the pad to glide smoothly over the surface.

3. Improper Speed Setting: Most DA polishers offer variable speed settings, allowing you to adjust the speed to suit the task at hand. Using a high speed setting can generate excess heat and increase the risk of burning through the clear coat. Start at a lower speed and gradually increase as needed, while monitoring the paint’s condition.

4. Extended Polishing on a Single Spot: Overworking a particular area for too long can generate excessive heat and friction, potentially leading to burned-through clear coat. It is essential to keep the polisher moving in overlapping passes and avoid dwelling on any one spot.

To minimize the risk of burning through the clear coat with a DA polisher, here are some tips:

1. Use a less aggressive pad and compound combination: Opt for a softer foam pad and a milder polishing compound, especially if you are new to machine polishing or working on a delicate paint finish.

2. Start with a test spot: Before tackling the entire car, perform a test spot on a small, inconspicuous area to assess the effectiveness of your pad and compound combination. This will help you determine the level of correction needed and avoid potential damage.

3. Practice proper technique: Use light to moderate pressure, maintain consistent and overlapping passes, and keep the polisher moving at all times. This helps distribute heat evenly and reduces the chances of burning through the clear coat.

4. Monitor paint temperature: Touch the paint surface periodically during polishing to check for excessive heat buildup. If the surface feels too hot to touch comfortably, it is a sign to decrease pressure, speed, or take a break to allow the paint to cool down.

5. Regularly inspect your progress: Stop periodically to check your work and assess the level of correction achieved. This will help you avoid over-polishing and reduce the risk of burning through the clear coat.

While using a DA polisher reduces the risk of burning through the clear coat compared to a rotary polisher, it is still possible to damage the paint if proper precautions and techniques are not followed. Paying close attention to pad and compound selection, pressure application, speed settings, and overall technique will help minimize the risk and achieve the desired results without compromising the clear coat.