Waxing and polishing are essentially the same, so I can select one or the other – This is perhaps the most damaging misconception that many car enthusiasts have about two of the most important auto detailing procedures. Here’s a detailed explanation on the difference between car wax and polish and why both products are equally important for car paint maintenance.
What is Car Polish?
Car polish is a product that contains mild abrasives. Using it on a vehicle’s surface removes a microscopic layer of paint along with scratches, swirl marks, paint chips, water spots, and etchings caused by bird droppings, acid rain, etc. It creates a very even, smooth surface in preparation for waxing. Be aware that car polish is only ideal for getting rid of mild surface defects. It won’t fix paint defects that have penetrated the clear coat and subsequent layers.
Polishing intimidates a lot of people. Even some professional auto detailers are wary of using polishing machines. So if you are a novice to this procedure, we suggest polishing by hand or a dual action polisher. More experienced detailers use rotary buffers which are ideal for removing more complicated paint defects.
What is Car Wax?
Car wax is used to enhance the shine of the paint and protect it from airborne contaminants, minimize sun damage and prevent oxidation. There are two types of wax, natural carnauba wax and synthetic paint sealant. Each type has its own merits and demerits. For example, Carnauba wax gives a deeper, showroom shine finish but does not last very long. Paint sealant lasts longer due to the advanced technology that goes into designing the formula, but it does not give as rich a shine as carnauba wax. You can apply either one of the products depending on your preference, or both – carnauba wax first followed by sealant.
Difference Between Car Wax and Polish
- Car polish is used before car wax. Unless this step is completed, waxing won’t result in the desired shine and will accentuate the appearance of paint defects.
- Polish contains abrasives but wax does not.
- If you polish the surface but don’t wax it, the clear coat is open to many forms of damage by external elements.
How often should you polish and wax your car? The answer to this question depends on the state of your paint. Once you wash your car and you don’t see a smooth surface, then it is in need of polishing. If there are no scratches and swirl marks, then waxing is sufficient. Frequent polishing is not recommended as it contains abrasive compounds. Waxing is needed depending on many factors such as what type of wax was used and how often you wash your car – wax wears off every time you do.
Beware of hybrid products that are marketed these days – products that claim to contain both polish and wax. These products are neither polishes nor waxes, and fail to do either job properly.
Now that you know the difference between car wax and polish, you should be able to understand the importance of both procedures. Always use products from reputed brands to avoid disappointment.