Friday, May 25, 2012

Car care: waxing and polishing

[Article copyright by Ewe Paik Leong]

No thanks to one-step polish-and wax products, many motorists don’t know the difference between a polish and a wax, often using the term “polishing” interchangeably with “waxing”. Compounding the confusion is the availability of cleaner (or deoxidizer) and glaze. Knowing the differences is important in selecting the right products for your car.

A polish contains abrasive compounds to remove scratches from the surface of the paint. It is generally applied after the wash and before the waxing.

A wax is a clear, hard coating that provides protection and shine to the paint. A wax can be either natural or synthetic. The best natural wax is carnauba wax which comes from Brazilian palm trees. A synthetic wax can contain ingredients to repel dirt and solvents and filter the damaging effects of sunlight. It is easier to apply compared to natural wax and is often equally as good.

A cleaner (or deoxidizer) rejuvenates old paint by using fine abrasives to remove a thin layer of oxidized paint.

A glaze helps hide minor scratches, spider webbing (caused by the brush of an automatic car wash), swirl marks and other surface imperfections. It enhances clarity and shine, while giving darker paints that deep, wet look. For a lasting effect, apply a glaze before waxing.

How often you need to polish or wax your car depends on how much it is exposed to the weather. If your car is kept in a sheltered car park every day, you need to polish and wax it only once every six months. If it is exposed to the elements every day, it may need a wax as often as once every month.

Generally, a light-coloured car needs a polish and wax at least once every two or three months but a dark-coloured car needs more frequent attention. The waxing your car should be done out of direct sunlight. When the paint finish is hot, it bakes the wax, hardening it to a point where it can be difficult to remove. The best time for polishing and waxing is early morning. Alternatively, park the car under the shade of a building or a tree. Always use circular motions to apply and remove wax so that it seals microscopic scratches.


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