With proper maintenance and upkeep, car paint can look as good as new for many years to some. Last month, we explained how embedded contaminants like dirt particles, rail dust, brake dust etc can be easily lifted off the paint by a process called claying. Today, we’ll take a closer look at another car detailing essential: protection.
Car-owners are often confused by waxes and sealants. As both products promise paint protection and shine, how do you choose one over the other?
Here’s what you need to know, to decide which product is most suitable for your lifestyle and your vehicle.
• Wax has been around for ages, and a lot of car enthusiasts still swear by the old-school Carnuba wax pastes made from Brazilian palm tree extract. The depth and richness of the unique shine that Carnuba wax produces brings out the warmest tones in most paint colors, and you can buy the wax in a paste, liquid or hybrid form. Durability, however, is not why you would choose wax. The protective cover that wax lays on your car paint gets removed within a few weeks, and therefore they are best used on `pride’ cars that you don’t drive around much.
Waxing should be done away from direct sunlight and in moderate temperatures ranging from 55-85 degrees. Work in small sections with overlapping strokes and make sure the applicator is clean. Once applied, wait for the wax to bake and turn dull and hazy before wiping it off with a microfiber towel. Experts suggest 3-5 lbs of pressure, which means no hard rubbing or buffing is usually necessary.
Remove most of the product off the car (when the towel `drags’, it is already loaded with a lot of wax residue and you must now find a fresh section to work with). Come back with another microfiber towel to heighten and finish off the shine.
If you’re waxing for the first time, remember that the surface has to be thoroughly washed and dried before you apply any kind of protection product. It is always advisable to `clay’ the vehicle as well to remove tiny particles of contaminants that have lodged in the paint. They are not always visible to the naked eye, but you can do a quick test by putting a plastic baggie over you hand and then running it over the surface of the paint. You will notice the tiny bumps and abrasions that become more apparent when felt through plastic.
• Made of synthetic compounds with color enhancing technology, sealants bond with the paint to form a hard shell that lasts a lot longer than wax. Once you have applied a sealant, your car paint stays protected for 6-12 months as opposed to weeks, and therefore the best choice for busy car-owners who want a lasting defense against extreme temperatures, UV rays, salt, humidity and other environmental pollutants.
Sealants can be applied by hand or machine, and does a good job of shining up your car too. But die-hard fans of waxing will always tell you that the surface gloss you achieve from sealants will never have the same depth, warmth and vibrance as Carnuba. It’s a tradeoff between visual enhancement and durability at the end of the day, and entirely a matter of personal choice.