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by Paul Williams
Recently I had an opportunity to test drive a Chrysler Intrepid for a few days. While I can easily wash, polish and wax a compact car in less than an hour, the big Chrysler looked like real work.
I’d been saving my Wen 6010, six-inch random orbital waxer/polisher for a big job, and the Intrepid definitely qualified.
Literature for the Wen polisher describes it as, “Easy to use; ideal for the first time user. A professional quality shine in a fraction of the time.” Sounds good to me.
The polisher oscillates instead of simply spinning. This prevents the formation of swirl marks or burns that would be caused if the polishing head predictably repeated its action. The idea is to move it over painted surfaces in a figure-eight pattern, while the orbital head randomly rotates at 4000 orbits per minute.
First, though, you need to wash and dry the car. You’d do this when polishing by hand, as well, in order to remove dust and grit from the surface.
The Wen polisher is supplied with a selection of bonnets to complete the job. With the polisher plugged in, you invert it and apply a small amount of polish to the applicator bonnet. I used a Meguiar’s polish, but you can use
Be sure to place the loaded polisher on the painted surface before turning it on. If you don’t, it will fling polish all over you and anything else in its path. You may correctly infer that I have been there, and done that.
The polisher is quiet in operation, and hums obediently across the surface. Unlike bigger units, a six-inch polisher doesn’t pull and wander. It’s Very easy to handle.
I added more polish as required, but you only need a small amount. After a few minutes, this sets up to the familiar hazy layer.
You should know that bigger polishers used by professional detail shops will heat up painted surfaces if they stay in one place very long. Experienced detailers can actually move paint this way, and fill scratches. The six-inch Wen unit will also generate heat, but not as much. You can expect that this polisher will remove swirl marks and very fine scratches with a good quality polish.
However, if you’ve got deep scratches, and you’re not experienced with polishers, I’d recommend taking your vehicle to a detailing shop. I certainly wouldn’t recommend letting any power polisher operate in one spot for an extended period of time unless you’re really sure of what you’re doing.
But back to the Intrepid. After a short while, I had a very hazy Chrysler. But we all know that applying polish is not the issue. Removing it is. Unlike the applicator, the polishing bonnet is not rubber-backed. It’s a reversible, soft, terry cloth bonnet. You remove the applicator bonnet (which is washable and re-usable, by the way) and replace it with the terry cloth bonnet.
Following the same figure-eight pattern, you allow the polisher to glide over the hazy surface. You don’t need to press. The polish came off easily, leaving a good shine. There was no real work involved. Removed polish will build up on the bonnet after a while, though, so take it off the polisher and reverse it when this happens.
Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I used the polisher to apply a coat of wax on top of the polish. Unlike most polishes, wax contains no abrasives. It’s used to protect your shiny, polished finish.
Again I used a Meguiar’s product, this time a liquid wax. You apply and remove the wax using the same technique you used for the polish. As well as the terry cloth buffing bonnet, there’s also simulated lamb’s wool bonnet for a final buff.
Although a six-inch polisher is small by professional standards, it has several things to recommend it for the home-user. It’s light, fits pretty much in the palm of your hand, and is easy to manage. It’s also quiet, effective and will do the job more quickly and easily than doing it by hand.
Just remember not to press, and try to avoid polishing and waxing when it’s humid. Polishes and waxes don’t set up properly, and are difficult to remove in high humidity.
The Wen six-inch polisher is available at Canadian Tire for $39.99-$49.99. An extra bonnet kit, consisting of 5 bonnets is available for $7.99.
For a final touch, spray on some Mother’s Showtime instant detailer ($7.99 for 473 ml) and lightly buff.
Update: As of 2006, Wen polishers and accessories are no longer available from retailers in Canada. Wen products can be ordered directly, however, from their website at WenProducts.com.