Originally Posted by 2002guy
but you have to be carefull cause u can burn the clear right off if you dont know how to use the buffer
If you get yourself a Porter Cable DA Polisher (7424/ 7336) it's a Double Action polisher and won't do damage to the clearcoat with normal use. It's almost foolproof provided the user arms himself with proper information on what pads and products to use and at what speed. Your main concerns mainly are for compounds and the aggressive ones that do correct the spiderweb swirls and marring are the ones you should be careful with. With polishes and waxes that are non-abrasive, using the DA at low speed, there is no concern at all. Besides getting very tangible results, you can save lots of time working on the car and more time staring at it and admiring your work.
The device that you definitely should be careful with is a rotary polisher/ buffer. These should only be used by professionals or detailers with good experience. Severe damage (the burning that you are talking about) can be achieved if you use these without proper guidance.
If you're looking at the wal-mart or home depot specials, I would suggest that you save your money and go for a DA polisher which is very versatile and can outlast the life of your car. The cheap 'random-orbit' polishers simply do not have the power to correct scratches and do nothing more than 'buff'. These you do have to careful with, since they use 'bonnets', some which are made from terry-cloth and can be very abrasive.
as far as your steps:
1. soak car (ie, get the grit and dirt off)
You need to 'Rinse' the car to lift surface dirt off. Use nothing more than a garden hose nozzle.
2. wash car, using a 1700psi washer, with *car* soap
I would be very careful with using a powerful pressure washer. 1700psi is quite powerful (DIY car washes use only 1200psi). The washer CAN take your paint off especially on plastic areas like bumpers and mirrors. The only areas I would pressure wash are the wheels wells. Use a 2 bucket system and get a Microfiber wash mitt, 2 if you can afford it. First bucket (clean water with car wash soap) to get the suds and soap to the car. Second bucket (dirty) with water only to rinse mitt after applying suds to a panel (like a door, fender, etc..) If you have an older mitt, use it on the lower part (below the rubber moulding) this is THE dirtiest part of the car beside the rear bumper.
3. dry car, what would you recommend that's cheap?
I 'sheet' the water first using the hose at lowest possible pressure to move water off. I then use a silicon drying blade called a California Water Blade ($16 from CT) to remove most of the water off then pat dry with a full-sized Microfiber towel ($14 from CT)
4. apply wax with cotton cloth
Actually, use a foam or MF applicator. Cloth towels, especially terry towels are VERY abrasive and can introduce lots of micro scratches.
5. buff clean with clean cotton cloth
Again cotton cloth can be avoided. Use Microfiber instead.
Most of the stuff you need to properly care for your BMW can be bought cheap from wally-mart or crappy-tire. The polisher can be ordered locally via the web without any duties.