What Do I Use to Detail, Wax, Or Polish My Vehicle?

By: Jim Stapert

When applying a protective coating to your vehicle, the first thing to do is determine exactly what you are trying to achieve. For example a polish is usually a more thorough application than a wax and shine product. A polish or a wax in liquid or paste form is usually applied on a quarterly or semiannual basis, and this can vary with how and where a vehicle is used. A wax and shine product generally in spray form is typically used between polish/wax jobs to keep a vehicle looking good. For example, many automobile enthusiasts will use a spray wax and shine product before and during car shows. Depending on the product, wax and shine products are generally not as durable as a proper polish/wax application. It should be noted; however, that there are some very durable wax and shine products. Typically, polish/wax products require more time and "elbow grease" to apply than the wax and shine products.

The application process for most polish/wax products is to clean the surface of the vehicle, apply the polish/wax with a damp soft cloth, wait for the polish/wax to dry to a haze, and then buff the wax off with a soft dry cloth. There can be variations to the application processes, and it is best to follow manufacturers' directions for each product.

The typical application process for most wax and shine products is to spray the wax and shine product onto the vehicle surface, rub the product into the finish with a soft dry cloth, and buff the surface with a second soft dry cloth.

Choosing the right product for your particular vehicle is very important. Some products cannot be used on some surfaces. It is best to thoroughly understand the product specifications. This can be done by reading the label on the container in a store, or by looking up the specification information when ordering on line. Some products cannot be applied in direct sunlight. Some products are abrasive and contain solvents that can damage a surface. Some products can remove dirt and oxidation as a one-step process. A good consumer will understand exactly what a wax or polish will claim to do prior to purchasing it.

The saying goes: "The proof is in the pudding", so once you make an informed wax or polish purchase, it is best to try the product in an inconspicuous area of your vehicle. Once you know that you have chosen the correct product for your vehicle, stick with it. A little wax and polish research, can get you on your way to a "Show Room" shine.

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