In the world of proverbs and phrases, practice gets all the glory. The fact is, it takes more than practice to make perfect – it takes preparation. And both, along with a heaping of patience and the help of quality automotive wax, give your car a gorgeous sheen. Grab some towels, buy some wax, and prepare to start cleaning.
A quality wax job is prefaced by an exhaustive exterior cleaning. First, remove any previous wax with a wax/grease remover. Thoroughly douse and wash the car with nonabrasive shampoo – and then do it again. All dirt, grime, bugs and other filth should be stripped from the surface. Cleaning is an understatement – think spotless. Leave no water spots or material residue.
After cleaning, cover unprotected surfaces. Use automotive tape to safeguard all cracks and seams, including the doors, hood and trunk. Dry the car with a microfiber towel or another material that will not leave stray threads. If the weather is humid or hot, park the vehicle in an open, airy garage or beneath a tree that will not shed leaves. If the weather is extremely cold or hot, wait for a better day.
The next step is to wax, but such is easier said than done. Not all products billed and marketed as “waxes” are actually waxes – some are polish/wax combinations – and not all genuine waxes are equal.
Auto detailing wax is a rheopexic material used to protect a car’s polyurethane lacquer coating and paint from the harsh elements. Chemical abilities aside, wax adds sheen and shine to an otherwise flat and banal surface. Waxes may be organic or synthetic.
Organic waxes are usually derived from the oil-laden fronds from the Brazilian Carnauba tree, termed the “Tree of Life.” Auto aficionados typically prefer Carnauba waxes to their synthetic counterparts, as Carnauba waxes create a deep, rich shine that synthetic waxes cannot rival. However, without special application, Carnauba wax is likely to leave white streaks and residue. It comes as a thick paste and is applied using a microfiber cloth, automotive squeegee or terry towel.
Synthetic waxes are crafted using acrylic resins as binding agents. They are designed for consumer ease and comfort, and require less buffing than organic waxes. While organic waxes typically require re-waxing after thirty days and are completely gone by ninety, synthetic waxes may last as long as a year, due to their higher abrasion resistance. However, their gleam is not a rich, as it tends to look superficially shiny. Man-made waxes may also contain special additives for UV-resistance, shine enhancement or emulsion agents. Synthetic waxes are usually liquids and are applied using a microfiber cloth, chamois or terry towel.
Approximately 1-3 tablespoons of wax should be applied with a cloth or towel to a particular area of the vehicle. Rub the wax in small circular motions into a thin and event coat, and then continue with the remainder of the vehicle. Do not let wax sit for more than an hour, and it is best removed right after hazing (white chalk streaks) occurs, which is about 1-2 minutes.
Some waxing application systems, usually those with polishing agents added, use a spray system to apply the wax. If using a spray system, position the nozzle roughly 6-8 inches away from the surface and slowly and evenly spray a coat right to left, top to bottom. Spray wax systems are not recommended, however, as they typically contain a high level of VOCs.
After waxing, thoroughly buff the vehicle. Most DIYs choose to buff the vehicle by hand, although many professionals use a mechanical oscillating buffer to create a smoother shine.
Most experts recommend 2-3 waxes, but no more. After the waxing is completed, wash the vehicle with a special automotive cleaner. Do not use dish soap, as it will completely strip the wax from the vehicle.
Preparation and practice concluded. Waxing perfect? Thought so.