How to Protect Your Car’s Paint and Make It Shine: Wax or Polish?

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Car wax vs car polish

Caring for your car’s exterior requires more than just a quick wash every now and then. To maintain its deep, rich shine, you must adequately protect the paint from the elements. Not only will this keep your car looking great, but it will also help to preserve its resale value.

The best way to care for your car’s paint is by regularly waxing and/or polishing your car’s paint. Contrary to popular belief, car wax and car polish is not the same.

So, what’s the difference? This post will explore the key distinctions between car wax and car polish – and when to use each to get the best results.

What is Car Polish?

Car polishing products
Sources: www. Turtlewax. Com, www. Meguiarsdirect. Com

Car polish contains abrasives that help remove surface imperfections from paint, like swirl marks, scratches, and watermarks. Polishing also adds shine and depth of color to dull, weathered paint. 

Most polishes are made of fine abrasives suspended in a liquid or cream base. These abrasives remove a thin layer of clear coat or paint, revealing the fresh, new layer beneath. The amount of material removed during the polishing process is very minimal, and it’s virtually impossible to see the difference with the naked eye.

Some polishes will have more abrasives than others. For example, heavy car polishes can cut more paint imperfections but should only be used on cars with hard paint. Conversely, soft paint (found on Hondas, Nissans, and similar makes) will scratch more easily. In this case, you should opt for a lighter polish.

How to Use Car Polish

Apply car polish by hand on applicator pad

You can apply car polish by hand or with an orbital buffer after a good cleaning and drying. If you’re polishing by hand, start with a small amount of polish on your applicator pad. 

  1. Apply the polish to one small section at a time in a circular motion.
  2. Once you’ve gone over the entire section, remove any excess polish with a clean, dry microfiber towel. 
  3. Repeat this process until you’ve polished the whole car.
Remove excess polish using clean dry microfiber cloth

If you’re using an orbital buffer, start with a lower speed setting and gradually increase the speed as needed. Be sure to apply a few small drops of polish to your buffer pad directly and work on one section at a time.

  1. Move the buffer in a consistent pattern to avoid damaging the paint. 
  2. Be sure to buff each section until the car polish disappears.

You can always call a trusted car detailer if you’re not comfortable polishing your car by hand or with an orbital buffer. These professionals have the experience and knowledge to get the job done right – without damaging your car’s paint.

What is Car Wax?

Car wax products
Sources: www. Turtlewax. Com, www. Meguiarsdirect. Com

Car wax is a product that creates a clear coat between the paint and outside elements, like UV rays, water, and dirt. Waxing also adds shine to the paint and makes it easier to keep clean. Car wax comes in liquid and solid forms and is usually made of natural or synthetic ingredients like beeswax, carnauba wax, or polymer resins.

When choosing a car wax, read the label carefully. Some waxes will be specifically designed for clear coats, while others may be better suited for single-stage paint.

How to Use Car Wax

Applying car wax by hand

Car wax can be applied by hand with a foam applicator or an orbital buffer. Whichever method you choose, always start with a clean car. Dirt, dust, and other debris will cause the wax to streak and even scratch the paint.

If you’re applying car wax by hand, start with a small amount of product on your applicator. 

  1. Apply the wax in a thin, even layer to one small section at a time with gentle overlapping strokes. 
  2. Once you’ve gone over the entire vehicle, allow the wax to dry for the recommended amount of time.

Using an orbital buffer may speed up the process, but be careful. As with polishing, move the buffer in a consistent pattern to avoid damaging the paint.

Car wax with orbital buffer

Again, if you’re not comfortable waxing your car, you can always call a professional. A car detailer may even wax your windows for you – providing an added layer of protection against the elements.

When to Use Car Polish vs. Wax

When to use car polish vs wax

Now that you know the key differences between car wax and car polish, it’s time to explore when you should use each.

Car Polish

You should only need to polish your vehicle once or twice a year maximum. Be careful not to over-polish. Polishing too often can damage the paint, so it’s best to stick to a schedule.

Car Wax

You should wax your vehicle at least once every three months. Yet, if your car is regularly exposed to the sun, salt, or other harsh conditions, you’ll need to wax it more often to protect the paint.

Wrap Up

As you can see, waxing and polishing your car are essential steps in the car care process. By taking the time to wax or polish your car on a regular basis, you’ll keep the paint looking shiny and new – and help it last for years to come.

If you’re interested in scheduling a mobile car detailing appointment, Big’s Mobile offers a wide range of services to meet your needs. We’ll come to you, so you can sit back and relax while we take care of your car.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment.

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