So, got a hot date this weekend? Or maybe you want to take a leisurely drive down the boulevard? There’s no doubt that a nice shiny-looking vehicle can turn heads and create that lasting first impression. You may be wondering why just running your car through a car wash doesn’t do the trick.
It’s because a car wash simply sprays a bunch of chemicals (who even knows what’s in there?) and then promptly rinses them off. Actually, the amount of pressure used in automatic car washes can do more harm than good to your car’s paintjob (Yikes!). No automatic car wash is enough if you want your car to really shine.
So, the real question should be how do you make your car look like you just drove it off the dealer’s showroom, especially if your car is not brand-new? You have a couple of ways you can achieve this.
One option would be to go and pay a detail shop $100 bucks or so to clean up the body of your vehicle, maybe even the inside, but the tools and chemicals that they’ll end up using on your car may not be the best for it. It’s also not the most cost-effective solution for those looking to maintain a shiny car all year round. Not to mention that nobody is going to care as much about your car and its appearance as you do.
You may have heard the old adage that says “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”, and this definitely applies here. This is one of those things to learn and understand yourself rather than trust somebody else to do it for you. Trust me, you’ll be glad once you learn how easy it is.
So where do you start when you want your car to look at its best? The answer lies in the products that you should be using for your particular automobile. The two main go-to products available on the market for shining up your automobile are car polish and wax. Let’s cover their purposes and what the differences are between them.
What Is Car Polish?
Many people wrongfully assume that car polish and wax are the same thing and that they perform the same job, but this is incorrect.
Car polish is an abrasive chemical compound that is designed to remove and smooth out minimal blemishes on the top layer of the car’s paint. It can easily take care of imperfections like small scratches, scrapes, and even stubborn bird gifts from above that have amassed during the normal wear and tear of your car’s paint job. Road debris definitely adds up over time!
One may compare using a good car polish on a car to using a piece of sandpaper on a wooden block. Polish can be applied by hand or with more advanced tools, like an orbital buffer. It’s easy to use: You simply apply the polish to the buffer or cloth that you will be polishing with and gently rub the compound over the area that you’re polishing until the imperfections have disappeared. It works like magic most times. You’ll see a huge difference almost instantly as the scratches start to disappear.
Polishing a car should not be done too often because it is abrasive and can lead to exposing the undercoat of your car. You can do small touch-ups here and there, so if you notice an ugly scratch go ahead and apply a little. However, a full polish job should only be done one to two times per year. You should also note that polish comes in many forms including liquid, paste, and even cream form.
Make sure that you do your research in order to decide which one will work best for your ride. The form that the polish comes in is designated by the amount of abrasiveness the chemical will offer. Therefore, if you have a lot of dirt and grime that will require extra attention, you will want to go with a polish that is a bit thicker so it comes off easier.
Now, you’re thinking: “You still haven’t mentioned anything about my car becoming new and shiny again.” That’s because car polish does not make your car shiny. Although a good car polish will make your car look a lot better, it’s ultimately designed to prepare your car for the wax coating that will be applied afterwards. That is what really brings the brilliance.
What Is Car Wax?
Car wax is what will make your car shiny, but only if applied correctly and after a good polish has been performed. A high-quality car wax will enhance the shine and luster of your automobile’s paint job. That is its main task. With that being said, it will also help to protect your paint job from mild damage, such as sun damage, oxidation of your paint job, and dirt debris to name a few.
With some research you will find that car waxes come in different forms just like the polish. These include a cream, spray, or liquid form. When deciding on a good wax, you should ensure that it comes with UVA as well as UVB absorbers as these will help to protect the paint from the harsh rays of the sun.
Unlike car polish, car wax does not contain abrasive materials. This will allow for you to wax more often than you polish. It’s recommended after you’ve applied a full round of polish and wax, that you continue to wax your car every few months. This will help keep your car shiny for a longer period of time.
So, Which One Should I Use?
The correct answer, if you want your car to look its best and increase the longevity of your paint job, is BOTH. This is especially true if your vehicle is in desperate need of some TLC and you have the time and energy to do so. This will ensure that you not only get the job done, but get it done right.
However, the overall process is time consuming so it may not always be possible to complete both tasks in one go. If you find that you’re short on time you may be able to get away with just a simple wax job, but don’t expect miracles as far as the shimmer and shine of your car fades if you decide to skip the polishing step. The polish is what creates the smooth surface for the wax, so skipping that might have some unintended consequences like sealing in excess grime, which may make the polishing job even more difficult and time consuming when you finally decide to go through the whole process.
What Do I Need And How Do I Do It Exactly?
Here is a simple rundown of the exact process you will need to do in order to get and maintain the shiniest automobile on the block. You will need a shaded area, multiple clean and soft rags or sponges, access to a hose, a finishing product, and the car polish and wax you’ve decided on.
Step One: Park your car in a shaded area and give it the best bath of its life. You don’t want to be out in the direct sun when detailing your car. A hand carwash will help remove the vast majority of any loose dirt and grime prior to the next step
Step Two: Apply a finishing product. While this is not a necessary step, applying a finishing product will help to eliminate any fingerprints or smears that may have been left behind from when you wash your car.
Step Three: Start polishing your vehicle. Make sure not to apply too much car polish as a little will go a long way. Make sure to apply it in a circular motion and try to keep the pressure consistent.
Step Four: When you’re finished polishing your car and have double checked for any missed spots, you will need to rinse your car again. You will want to allow time for your car to dry completely before moving on to the next step
Step Five: Once your car has dried completely, begin applying a coat of wax. Make sure that you use a new rag or sponge for the step. DO NOT use the same rag that you used to polish the car with. Remember the polish is abrasive so that would do more harm than good.
Once the wax has been applied over the entire vehicle, let it sit for a bit. You may want to take this time to work on cleaning the interior. You should consider vacuuming the rugs, wiping the dash, and cleaning the windows.
Step Six: Once you’ve finished working on the interior and have given the wax enough time to set in, you can begin removing it with a new rag. If you have a microfiber towel, you can and should use one for this step.
You’re all done now. Knowing the differences between car wax and polish, and when to use which, is one of the first steps to keeping a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing vehicle over the long run. Now, take a step back and bask in the glory of your shiny car!