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Car Care - Waxing
Waxing - It's a Protection Racket!
Washing your car will take care of dirt build up on your car, but to be effective in the long term, you need to do it almost everyday. Who has the time or inclination to do that though! One of the kindest things you can do for your car is waxing it on a frequent basis. But how many of you know why you should wax your car?
Well, waxing does more than just give a shine to your four-wheeled baby. It gives a layer of protection against a lot of the attacks your car is susceptible to every hour of the day, every day of the year.
It will help you appreciate how important waxing is when you have a better understanding of your car's paintwork, the contaminants that damage it, and how it is damaged. Briefly explaining the paint, your car is protected and decorated by a couple of thin layers, including primer, the actual paint and then usually a protective clearcoat on top of it all. The clearcoat is effectively a colourless layer of paint which helps prevent scratches or flying chips from breaking the surface of the paint and getting down to the metal, thus allowing rust to form.
The paint contains important oils which need to be present so your car can look shiny and new. It is when these oils start to disappear that your car starts to look old and surface degradation sets in (and you start to love it less because its not so nice to look at anymore!). What do you want to do then? Sell it, of course. For most of us, our car is one of the biggest investments in our life. If you plan to keep for two, three, six or even ten years, it is important to keep its surfaces in good condition. Its easy and inexpensive and all you need is a little time, knowledge and effort to get the best return on this investment.
So what stops our car from looking good? We can all see the dirt and mud after some wet weather - we live in Ireland after all. But what else affects the surface of the car? Other obvious factors are insect guts, tar and oil from the road, bird droppings, etc.
There are other less visible threats though and they can be even more damaging than the above. As you drive to work, to the shops or wherever, exhaust pipes around you are emitting tiny particles of carbon which unfortunately lands on our cars. Now this is harmless enough in itself, but into all our lives a little rain must fall. When the carbon and rain mixes, this forms an acid. Inevitably it attacks and does a little bit of damage each time it happens.
When I wrote about washing in an earlier article, I mentioned how important it is to avoid using kitchen detergents. They are way too harsh for paint and will also strip the car of protective oils and wax coatings. Damage caused by environmental factors and incorrect washing methods is known as oxidation and you can recognise it by sight and touch. The paint can look dry and cracked, perhaps even flaky. Sometimes it takes on an "orange-peel" look. The next time you wash your car, have a closer look at the paint than you usually do. Even better than just looking, if you put a thin plastic bag (eg. Sandwich bag) over your fingers and run them over the surface of the car. It should be really smooth and flat. If it isn't, you are feeling either oxidation or contaminants (ingrained dirt).
Believe it or not, sunshine can also harm the paint on your car. Car-paint manufacturers mix an Ultra-Violet light blocking agent into paint (thankfully). It works just like sun-tan lotion, except that after time it will start to deteriorate unless you take proper care of the paint.
You must be starting to draw some conclusions already. Now that you know what is potentially detrimental to your car's appearance, what can you do to prevent it? Well, waxing one of the easiest things you can do for your car and it will provide a protective barrier between your car's delicate paint and the harmful environment.
The most difficult element of waxing is choosing which product to use. Its tough when you are faced with what is available out there. Waxes have a come a long way since those Coach makers of yesteryear applied animal fats to enhance the shine of their horse-drawn carriages. These days, waxes can be either natural or synthetic. I find the best wax is a polymer-blended wax. It's the appliance of science, folks. Advances in scientific research have meant tougher, longer-lasting waxes are now available to us all. Polymer waxes are what I would recommend to use on your car, provided that its an average car that you use everyday - there are other recommendations for show-cars and classics.
When you have a look at the range of products available off-the-shelf, don't be blinded by advertising, marketing or catchy slogans. One of the dangers in choosing the product that's right for your car and your pocket is the hard-sell approach by manufacturers. These people are battling for market positions and I sometimes find that the harder they try in selling the product, the less trust I have in it. You don't need to buy the most expensive product in the shop, but then you probably don't want the cheapest. Avoid products that claim to do more than one job, such as wax and shampoo. You don't want a polish unless you know what the difference is between wax and polish (later) and you won't need glaze for the same reasons.
Some people believe there is no reason to wax silver or metallic grey cars as the shine doesn't improve that much. Even if you believe that about the shine, if you don't protect the car with wax then the natural shine of the paint won't last too long. Personally, I have noticed huge improvements in the appearance of Silver cars after a good coat of wax. So whether you have black, white, yellow or pink, all you need to do is follow these tips for a noticeably improved shine.
Firstly wash the car as instructed in the previous article and dry it off, preferably with a 100% cotton terry towel. Next, take your bottle of wax and shake it well. Read the instructions on the back of the bottle anyway, but usually they will say the same thing. Apply with a clean cotton cloth, leave to haze and then buff of with a separate clean cotton cloth. That's fine and simple, however here are a few extra tips for you.
The paint must be clean and free of dust or dirt. Apply the wax in sections and let it haze however don't be in a hurry to remove it. Leave it for about 10 to 15 minutes to "cure." This allows the wax to bond much better to the surface of the paint giving superior protection to a simple wipe on, wipe off method. Buffing off the hazed wax will reveal a nice shine. You should do this with a back and forth motion in the direction of front to back of the car on the top surfaces, and on the side panels you should use an up and down motion. The reason for this is to avoid swirl marks, either in your paint if any pieces of grit are present, or in the wax itself as it dries.
Here's a good trick for you. Double up on the protection and reflection from your car. Wait 12 to 24 hours after waxing and then, providing the car is absolutely clean, apply another layer of wax in the same manner as above. If you don't wait this long for it to dry, you will only be making one thick layer of wax and this won't give the same effect at all. When you apply the second coat, it will give a much deeper shine, especially if you have a dark or black car. If you are willing, give it another coat a few days later and you will soon begin to get a thoroughly admirable shine on the car.
The layers of paint on your car amount to the same thickness of a cheap plastic bag, about .008 of an inch. That's not much for us to work with so when we wax we are applying an extra transparent barrier. Unlike the paint, the wax is an easily renewable layer of protection and it makes your car look great. It minimises the occurrence of oxidation and reduces the need to polish. The difference between wax and polish is that polish contains tiny abrasive particles and cleaning compounds which will take off the top layer of paint and any oxidation that may be there. This is quite a harsh measure and is also used to reduce or fix swirl marks and scratches. However, used incorrectly it adds marring further to that which you are trying to remove. I try to avoid polishing as much as possible. Prevention is better than cure, hence I share these waxing tips with you!
To conclude, these are the basics of what damages your car-paint and how waxing will protect and beautify the car. Its best to set a loose schedule to do it about every ten to fourteen weeks. It's easy to do it at home so why not give it a try? Waxing gives new life to a tired looking car, it protects a new vehicle from the day you buy it, and when the day comes to sell your car just watch the buyer's face light up when they see how much care you've taken of it. Its money in the bank!
Brian is an
expert in the field of Car Care. If you'd like to ask him a questions of your own,
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Content as of Thursday 20th of June 2013 11:17:18 AM
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