Polishing paintwork correctly
Gleaming paintwork is always a pleasure to see. But apart from looking great, well maintained paintwork is also a necessity to give the metal underneath lasting protection against corrosion.
How to restore the shine in old paintwork
Paintwork that has lost its shine no longer affords reliable protection against the elements – it is "porous". Together with minute stone chip damage to the surface, it allows corrosion to gain a foothold, invisible to the naked eye To prevent this, you need to seal the paint with a polishing wax after every wash.
After numerous quick washes, or long periods in storage, your paintwork will get dull. But don't panic – a good paint restorer will return your trusty steed to its former glory. Because paint restorers are slightly abrasive, you should only use them if you've been unable to restore the mirror finish with washing and polishing alone. They smooth out any surface roughness, fine scratches and the effects of weathering. Applied correctly, they not only restore your paintwork to a healthy all-over shine and reduce or even eliminate fine scratches, they also go a long way to maintaining the resale value of your bike and ensuring it is once again optimally protected.
However, polishing your paintwork does requires a methodical approach. Get it wrong and instead of an even mirror finish, you may end up with a surface covered in streaks and fine circular scratches.
Clean paint thoroughly
Before starting to polish, you must ensure that your bike's paintwork is as clean as you can possibly get it. If there are still traces of dirt, you may well end up with fine scratches all over. So don't start polishing until you have thoroughly cleaned and dried the paintwork. If your bike is really heavily soiled (like the "hibernated" bike shown here), you will need to carefully remove all the dirt first.
Use a liquid cleaner that dissolves dirt. Spray it on from the prescribed distance and leave a few minutes for it to work (check the instructions for use on your chosen cleaner).
Then wash off with water. Any residual dirt must be removed carefully with a clean sponge, or you may need to re-apply the cleaner – the less you have to scrub and rub, the better.
Applying the paint restorer
The washed and dried paintwork will appear slightly rough, matt and blotchy. Now apply the paint restorer with a soft, clean cloth using gentle circular strokes.
Important: Choose a paint restorer most suited to the degree of weathering on the surface you are treating – this will ensure that you achieve optimum results without rubbing off too much of the paint. Avoid applying the paint restorer to unpainted plastic and rubber parts, as it tends to leave ugly milky streaks that are really hard to get rid of. Don't apply the restorer in direct sunlight or to areas heated up by the sun.
Leave the paint restorer a few minutes to work. Then buff up with circular strokes using a clean, dry, soft cloth and applying gentle pressure. If cleaning larger surface areas, treat them in sections of approx. 50 x 50 cm. Don't apply too much pressure when polishing, as this may make the end result look a little "cloudy" or, worst case scenario, can even result in rub marks or "scorched" paintwork. Once you have finished polishing, the paintwork should feel uniformly smooth to your finger tips and already have quite a good shine – cotton wool no longer leaves behind fibres.
Once you have finished polishing, the paintwork should feel uniformly smooth to your finger tips and already have quite a good shine – cotton wool no longer leaves behind fibres.
Protective layer of wax
To increase the shine still further and, above all, to maximise protection against the elements, you should finish off by applying a polishing wax and leaving it to work for several minutes.
Spray on the gloss wax and leave for a few minutes.
Then buff again with a clean and dry soft cloth using circular strokes and applying slight pressure to "massage" the wax into the paint.
And the reward for all your hard work? A fantastic mirror finish – your machine is gleaming again, and a delight to look at!
Download this tip
For the garage: Simply download, print out and take it with you.
The Louis Technical Centre
Problems getting spare parts? Or maybe you've got a technical question about your motorcycle or an accessory The Louis Technical Centre can help! Remember to quote all the necessary details of your vehicle – better still, send us a copy of your registration document.
We will get back to you as quickly as possible!
So: send us your technical problem!
- by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- or by letter to Louis Technical Centre, 21027 Hamburg
These tips for DIY mechanics contain general recommendations that may not apply to all vehicles or all individual components. As local conditions may vary considerably, we are unable to guarantee the correctness of information in these tips for DIY mechanics.
Thank you for your understanding.
Louis DIY Mechanic Manual
The printed version
The big Louis DIY mechanic manual available in a printed version: in color and practical A4 format at cost price.