Car Wax

Let’s begin with what car wax is, and what it isn’t. Car wax is wax that you apply to the exterior of your car to protect the car’s paint, and color against both debris and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Most often, car wax is usually comprised of carnauba wax that is mixed with other proprietary waxes of the particular brand. Carnauba wax is the active ingredient, however.

Depending on the mixture, car wax provides different levels of protection. Some waxes are intended to maximize the “beading” of water, and thus allow for quick drying, and protection of the paint from rain and cleaning. Other waxes are designed for maximum shine, while a final category is a simple protective wax.

While every car wax does seek to maximize the three benefits of waxing—paint, UV and debris protection, as well as water beading and shine—each wax performs differently. More expensive show waxes, for example, might not hold up to normal wear and tear of every day driving, but they will provide for an excellent shine on show day.

When to Wax
Waxing your car is the best way to ensure that it remains in cosmetic tip-top shape. However, waxing your car requires a thorough wash and possibly up to one-hours’ time to achieve the maximum benefit. For some, the time constraints mean that they can wax their car only when it is absolutely needed.

The waxing schedule relies mostly on two factors: the distance your car is driven, and the elements to which it is exposed. A lightly used car stored in an air conditioned and heated garage is going to need far less waxing than a heavily used automobile that is stored in the heat of the desert or the cold of the artic.

In colder climates where snow and ice are normal weather occurrences, extra precaution should be taken as the chemicals and salt mixtures used to melt ice and clear roadways are very corrosive to your car and its paint.

You cannot over wax your car; however, you can waste your time and money applying wax when it isn’t needed. The average car and driver should be satisfied with two to four thorough cleanings and waxes once per year.

Wax is For Old Cars, Too
Many drivers falsely believe that car wax should be used only on expensive sports and show cars, not on everyday transportation vehicles. This is most certainly not the case.

While a show car owner may benefit most from the wax’s beautiful shine, a commuter can benefit equally from applying wax to their car. Not only will it protect the paint, and also the value of the car, but on spots where there is not paint the wax serves as a vital protective layer.

You could literally drive an unpainted, steel car that had been waxed and experience very little, if any, rusting. This is because the wax provides for a near perfect sealant, wicking water away from the exterior of the car and keeping the steel below perfectly dry.

Applying Car Wax
“Wax on, wax off!” Chances are high that you’ve heard this phrase before: “Wax on, wax off!” That phrase and accompanying hand gesture, though intended as a source of humor, is actually a very accurate depiction of the car waxing process.

Much like candle wax, car wax turns to liquid at high temperatures and becomes hard as a rock in cold temperatures. Due to these factors, drivers are best left to wax their car when the weather provides. You cannot wax your car in the rain, nor can you wax it at 20 degrees (too cold) or 80 degrees (too hot!) Fahrenheit. Ideally, choose a day when the temperature is roughly 60 degrees. If you have a climate controlled garage then you’ve plenty of options…every day is a fine day for waxing!

The first step to a good wax is a good clean. Thoroughly wash every inch of your vehicle, removing dirt and debris. If dirt is not removed, you will end up waxing over it, locking the dirt to the vehicle and making for a pretty ugly looking automobile! After washing, always dry completely, preferably with a microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths are unlikely to leave a trail of lint to be later locked in by the wax, or water spots that will be nearly impossible to remove after a wax application.

Next, work slowly to apply wax to a single piece of the automobile—the hood, for example; start at the top of the hood and with a circular motion slowly rub the wax to the car. By the time you reach the bottom of the hood you can then begin to remove the excess wax from the upper portion of the hood, again working down from top to bottom.

What Wax Isn’t
Car wax is not car polish, nor is it a paint sealant. Unfortunately, the distinction between the two is usually not immediately clear as they are often packaged to look similarly, are sold in the same aisles of car stores and body shops, and because they serve a very similar (but not the same!) purpose.

A paint sealant is to be applied directly to paint after painting. Car polish, though it may shine your car much like car wax, is actually a cleaning product. Use car polish only as a means to cover up small scratches around the keyhole or repair minor blemishes in the paint. Car polish is unlike car wax in that polish is not meant to be applied to the entire exterior of an automobile.

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