Disclaimer, these are my opinions only. There are other options out there and your mileage may vary
1. When can I polish my new paint?
You can polish it at any time but you don't want to apply any kind of wax or sealant for 3 mths. The paint takes that long to fully cure and you don't want anything sealing the outer skin of the paint until it's fully cured.
2. I'm confused, polish, glaz, wax, sealant, ceramic, what do I need?
Well, it's very complicated but basically there's three types of products.
1. Polishes or compounds, these are abrasives and remove the top surface of the paint. They're for removal of scratches and oxidisation. They come in different grades from coarse to ultra fine. Use with care!
2. Glazes. These are a coating that sit on top of the paint and fill scratches and swirl marks. They can be a good option as they increase gloss without removing paint. However they are just covering up issues and they don't last all that long.
3. Waxes or sealant. These put a protective coat on top of the paint. They are not a polish and they do not remove paint imperfections. You can use carnauba wax, synthetic sealant or ceramic protection. They all have different qualities and it comes down to your personal preferences as to the look you want, the time you're prepared to spend applying and maintaining it and your budget.
Oh, and there's also hybrids, that claim to do several of these things at once... Stick to dedicated products.
3. What kind of polisher should I use?
The days of polishing your car by hand are pretty much gone. Modern paints and products need to be worked by machine for best results. Glazes and waxes can be successfully applied by hand but polishing a whole car by hand will make you miserable!
I recommend that you use a dual action or DA polisher. These are much safer than a rotary machine. The rotary is very fast and aggressive and you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble very quickly! A DA machine is a much better choice. Plenty of polishing ability with less risk.
I use Rupes machines but at nearly $1000 each (and I have 4 of them for different jobs...) they're probably a bit of overkill for weekend use. You can buy very good machines for hobby use around the $400 mark or your favourite cheap auto store usually have adequate machines for around $100. As with everything you get what you pay for.
4. What type and brands of pads and products should I use?
There are thousands of pads available, have fun choosing! Stick to foam, it'll do all you need, lambswool is too aggressive and not needed on a DA machine.You'll need 2 medium or coarse ones, 2 soft ones and maybe 1 for applying wax.
As for products I use and sell Mothers products. They have a great range of microfibre cloths and washing products in addition to their liquids, polishes etc. They're excellent products, they give great results and I'm able to sell them for very good prices. There are lots of brands out there if you want to experiment. The days of the good old turtle wax are probably over though...
5. How do I wash my car?
This could be an entire website on it's own!.. I'll try and keep it simple. The thing to keep in mind is that anything you rub on the paint will scratch it unless you're very very careful. You might not notice it straight away but over time these will build up and the paint will lose a lot of its shine.
1. Throw away the plastic brush that fits on the end of the hose, your paint hates it! While you're at it, lets relegate that crusty old chamois to wheel and interior cleaning duties only.
2. You need a grit guard to put in the bottom of your bucket so that your cloths aren't picking up dirt from the bottom of the bucket.
3. You need a microfibre noodle mitt to wash with and you need a microfibre drying towel to dry the car with.
4. You need a good quality car shampoo (not dishwashing liquid, it's way too harsh)
5. Wash in the shade if you can.
Hose the car off first to remove loose debris and dirt, then start with the wheels and tires. If you splash wheel cleaners or dirt onto your vehicle, you can simply wash it off as you wash your vehicle. Use a cleaner that is appropriate for the wheels on your car.
Then begin washing the vehicle. Wash from the top down. Remember that the lower panels are dirtiest. You don't want to transfer grit to the top half of the vehicle. Rinse your sponge often to prevent cross-contamination. Rinse your vehicle frequently as you work, especially in hot weather.
Never skip drying! Drying your vehicle after washing is necessary to prevent water spots. Microfibre drying towels are the best way to dry without putting swirl marks in.
And yes, because I know you're wondering, I have all these products available for sale (at much better prices than your local cheap auto store)