Many, many people confuse wax with polish and the 2 perform completely different functions - a POLISH is in short an abrasive, which will either 1) remove old, dead paint, revealing fresh paint beneath or 2) fill in scratches and swirl marks/holograms using a combination of oils and chemicals to fill the scratch and also to round off the edges, muting the defects appearance.
WAX is a generic term, and can refer to both carnauba and synthetic waxes. These products are usually non-abrasive and do not clean your paint, they simply protect it against the elements.
To confuse you further still, there are also glazes and cleaner waxes more on this in a sec.
As most people opt for hand polishing (and lets face it, nowt beats a good hand job..), Ill concentrate on how to achieve the best results using easy to obtain products and simple to learn methods. Ive provided an appendix later on listing the right products for the job)
There are 2 absolute rules to remember here so pay attention 007.
1. ALWAYS start with the least aggressive product remember, you can always remove more paint, but
once its gone, its gone and you cant replace it without repainting.
2. 99% technique, 1% product if you simply slap an expensive product onto the car without any real
knowledge, youll achieve very little improvement. Prepare the paint properly and concentrate on your
technique this will give you the right results!
its not what youve got, its the way that you use it (been my excuse for years now)
Firstly, you need to know how to evaluate your paint and determine what the problem is, otherwise youll spend a lot of blood & sweat for nothing not to mention your other halfs tears when youre spending a lot of time in the garage engaging in rapid hand movements!
You also need the right tools for the job Id suggest a few microfibre towels & applicators and some foam applicators.
Heres how to determine what the problem is and the best route to rectify it.
Oxidisation this is caused usually by exposure to sunlight and extreme conditions. Most modern paint finishes have UV blockers built in to minimize the effects of exposure to the elements, but older paints tend not to.
Features colour fading, spots appearing, milkiness to paintwork
Remedy the dead paint on the surface needs to be removed and the fresh paint beneath. Use a mild polish initially such as Poorboys Professional Polish or Meguiars Deep Crystal Stage 1.
(You can use either a foam or microfibre applicator for applying the polish. I find that the microfibre ones work better as theyre slightly more aggressive and give the product a bit more bite).
ALWAYS follow the product instructions youll usually need to use a bit of elbow grease to work the polish into the paint and remove the defect. Remove with the microfibre towel and then protect with wax or sealant.
Swirl Marks look at your car in either direct sunlight (you know, that bright, hot thing which occasionally appears in the sky over here) or use a halogen worklight youll see lots of tiny circular scratches. These are caused by either 1) car washes (think nylon bristles rotating around and around on your paint), 2) incorrect use of a buffer (think apprentice with a big heavy rotary mop) or 3) poor washing techniques (think you, grubby yellow sponge etc etc..)
If swirls are mechanically present (i.e. buffer or carwash) then its unlikely you can remove them by hand and Id usually suggest you find a friendly and professional valeter who will machine polish your car TIP; always use someone recommended by a friend as there are a few bad valeters out there!
Features tiny scratches usually only visible in bright sunlight or artificial lighting. Appearance is similar to cobwebs or long swirly scratches/scuffs.
Remedy the swirl either needs to be removed (usually buffer only) or filled in. to achieve this, you need to use a product that will fill the swirl and also round off the edges to stop light reflecting and enhancing the defect. Again, use a mild polish specifically for swirl marks, such as Meguiars Scratch.
Scratches can come from a variety of sources really! Poor parking (by you or the idiot who thought a Discovery would fit in that space next to you), psychotic ex and a key and so on the list is endless.
Features errr, how long have you got?! Can be anything from a small scuff to a deep scratch.
Remedy firstly, rub the scratch with your fingernail. If you can feel it, then even machine polishing may not remove and you need to look at wetsanding or repainting. If not, then you may be able to do something to improve matters. Start by cleaning as much of the area as you can use paint cleaning clay, tar remover even meths to clean up the scratch as in many cases whatever had contact with the paint will leave residue on the paint, making the damage appear a lot worse.
Use any of the products previously listed to remove as much of the scratch as you can.
Now that you hopefully have paintwork mintier than a Polo (come on, this is a long guide!), you need to protect it. Polishing will improve your paint and remove/hide defects but it wont protect so you need either a wax or sealant or both if youre a bit strange and obsessive like me.
Firstly wax when I say wax, Im talking about paste waxes in tins/tubs and made from carnauba. This is a natural wax (grows on trees, dunnit?!) and is refined from its natural state (solid and dense) to a workable paste form, using in most cases a variety of chemicals and solvents to soften it.
The general thinking is that the higher carnauba content, the greater protection the wax will offer theres a Zymol/Swissol school of thought which I dont (and wont) subscribe to, which tells you all about how their waxes contain natural ingredients Jeez, I want to wax my car with the stuff, not serve it as part of a 5 course dinner!!!! Id suggest you Google your way to either company to read more just please, please dont get taken in!
Examples of good carnauba waxes include P21S, Pinnacle Signature & Souveran (the most expensive Ive bought at around £40 a tub but well worth it), Poorboys Nattys & Collinite (the latter being the exception to the durability rule this stuff lasts for bloody ever!)
Apply using a foam applicator pad and remove with a microfibre towel. A good tip is to have a spray bottle filled with distilled water handy. If your wax goes streaky, simply spritz and wipe. If you want to get a bit silly, chill the distilled water in the fridge gives an even deeper shine!
In my experience, MOST carnauba waxes simply add a bit of bling to your paint and some protection most last maybe 8 weeks and then theyre finished, which is where synthetic sealants come in..
Basically, these are manufactured waxes no natural ingredients and usually created by a bunch of clever blokes in white coats in a secret underground laboratory guarded by Page 3 Girls wearing Nurses uni..hang on, getting a bit carried away (thats what sniffing wax does to you)
They are manufactured to provide much longer lasting protection for your paintwork and can be both acrylic or polymer based. Theres a lot of fancy science involved here (and maybe a few Page 3 Girls.s*it, off I go again, sorry) which I dont claim to understand but virtually all of these products will last 6 months plus. Some of them also use chemical cleaners to remove/reduce defects and also protect and I class these as cleaner waxes (clever, innit?!)
Examples of pure sealants are Poorboys EX-P, Menzerna FMJ, Wolfgang, Zaino Bros
Examples of cleaner waxes are Autoglym Super Resin & Klasse All In One/Carlack 68. you can then add a pure sealant on top Autoglym Extra Gloss or Klasse Sealant Glaze in layers to build up ever more protection
In terms of application, simply use a foam applicator and wipe the sealant on, again following instructions. The main rule here is keep it thin thick coats are a bugger to remove and have never been proven to add any durability, if anything youre just wasting money and effort!
Some sealants work a panel at a time, others half or whole car. Some work in sunshine but generally most are better applied out of direct sunlight. Wipe with a microfibre towel and youre done.
You CAN use both to give you both durability and looks simply apply your synthetic sealant first, buff off and then apply a wax over the top. Klasse All in One with a couple of layers of Sealant Glaze and a couple of coats of P21S works really nicely and will stay looking good too.
If you cars a second car and usually garaged, then you dont need to worry so much about sealing as you can concentrate on looks alone and thats where glazes come into their own
A glaze is, to me, a VERY mild polish and usually very rich in oils which give gloss & depth to your paint. It will not remove defects but will hide anything minor. If used after polishing, it will add a huge amount of glossiness and reflection to the paint. Waxing simply enhances this.
Paint Cleaners also fall into the same category again, mild chemical cleaners that can be used as a final step during polishing, prior to sealing/waxing. I dont use these that often as they tend to be used more by the concours brigade.
Glazing is painfully easy my easy favourite is Clearkote Vanilla Moose Wax hand Glaze (can be applied by hand or machine) that can be applied via a microfibre pad and buffed with a microfibre towel in minutes.
So there you go, a brief guide to perfect paintwork!
Id emphasise that perfecting my technique has taken some years and lots of reading and experimenting. This is NOT something youll learn overnight and it should really come with a Health Warning as it can get unhealthily obsessive (as anyone whos seen my 205 will probably agree.)
Heres an appendix of whats what to help you.
Poorboys Professional Polish & Super Swirl Remover range*
Meguiars Deep Crystal Stage 1 & Professional range*
Menzerna Intensive/Final & PO85RD
Poorboys Nattys/Nattys Blue
Autoglym Super Resin
Klasse All in One
Poorboys Polish with Carnauba
Meguiars Gold Class/NXT** & pro range
GLAZES & PAINT CLEANERS
Clearkote Vanilla Moose Wax Hand Glaze
P21S Gloss Enhancing Paint Cleaner
Meguiars Deep Crystal Stage 2
* Most professional ranges are better suited to machine application including the SSR line-up
** NXT & Gold Class both have very mild cleaners present
Edited by Andy_C, 25 October 2005 - 01:46 PM.