Posted March 18, 2014
Car polish and wax are among many products used to protect your vehicle and keep it looking its best. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception among car owners about these products and what they are used for. So what is the difference between a wax and a polish? And what’s right for your car?
A polish is used to give your vehicle a smooth, shiny surface. The primary purpose of polish is to remove imperfections from your vehicle’s paint or clear coat. Polish can clean off contaminants such as grease, dirt, and rust that normal washing cannot remove. It is also used to fix small scratches, scrapes, or swirls from the finish.
There are two primary types of car polish: chemical polishes and abrasive polishes. Chemical polishes are used to clean the exterior, removing rust, grease, and stains that normal washing cannot remove. Abrasive polishes are used to fix imperfections in your car’s paint job or clear coat and smooth out small scratches or scrapes. These polishes range from coarse to fine, with finer polishes ideal for detail work.
Polishes typically come in creams, sprays, or liquids and contain solvents to remove impurities (grease, rust). Polishing your vehicle fixes small imperfections in the finish and allows the paint to shine through. However, most polishes do not provide protection for your car’s finish.
Waxing is used to create a protective barrier on your vehicle. UV rays, pollution, dust, moisture, and corrosion can all harm your car’s paint and clear coat. Wax acts as a barrier between your car’s finish and the environment. Wax also can create the glossy look that many vehicle owners love.
Car waxes come in two varieties: natural or synthetic. Natural car waxes are usually made from caranauba wax and have great protection and shine. While both types of wax serve the same functions, synthetic waxes can last longer than natural wax.
You should always wash your car before applying wax. Wax acts as a paint sealant and will seal any dirt, grease, or rust to your car. Wax can provide protection from moisture, corrosion, and oxidation from the outside, but anything on your car when you apply the wax can still cause damage. If you find any damage after washing your car, you should use a polish to resolve any issues before waxing.
What is right for your car?
Because waxing and polishing your car serve different purposes, it is a good idea to do both. If you notice any problems with your car’s finish, you should get them fixed prior to waxing or polishing. Speedy action will help prevent scratches and nicks from causing further oxidation (rust) and damage.
Wash your car first before polishing or waxing. As you wash, you can inspect your car for any imperfections, rust, or scratches. Polish your vehicle as needed, anytime you find imperfections in the finish or when you want extra shine for your paint job. Always wax after polishing, since polish can remove the wax from your vehicle. Typically, cars should be waxed every 3 or 4 months. Follow the instructions for any products you use for the best results.