How to polish an aluminum intake manifold

Updated April 17, 2017

Aluminium intake manifolds can become dirty and dull after just a short time of use. Polishing an intake manifold makes it easier to keep it clean because, after polishing, the manifold is smoother, giving it an easier-to-clean surface. A polished aluminium intake manifold also brightens up the engine bay around the engine. Polishing an aluminium intake manifold to a mirror finish will take at least one hour to complete. It requires only a drill and some materials from your local auto parts store.

Sand the intake manifold with 180-grit sandpaper to remove all dirt and grit, and to smooth the surface. Make sure to sand all crevices and indentations on the intake manifold. Once it has been sanded with 180-grit sandpaper, sand over the manifold again using 400-grit sandpaper.

Use the 600-grit sandpaper on the intake manifold, but keep this sandpaper wet with water while sanding. This keeps the sandpaper free from build-up that can scratch the aluminium surface. Use water while sanding the manifold then with 1200-grit sandpaper. Rinse the manifold and allow it to dry completely.

Place the buffing pad on the drill. Pour aluminium polish onto the manifold and use the drill and buffing pad to apply the polish. Add more polish as needed. Buff the manifold until the finish is as shiny as you would like.

Things You'll Need

  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • 1200-grit sandpaper
  • Water
  • Drill
  • Buffing pad (to fit drill)
  • Aluminium polish
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About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.