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What Is the Difference Between Car Polish and Car Wax?

Due to everyday wear and tear, hauling kids and pets, driving through dusty roads, it is normal that your car starts to show imperfection. Luckily, you can get your vehicle to shine regardless of how old it is with polish and wax.

What is the difference between car polish and car wax? Car polish is a mild abrasive that removes the outer layers of protection on surfaces and replenishes them with oils. Oppositely, car waxes create a layer of protection against contaminants and UV rays. You can use wax after polishing for the perfect finish.

If you need a little more information to get your car to shine, read on! We are about to explore the best ways to use these products to obtain precisely the result you had in mind.

What is Car Polish?

If you have been spending the past couple of hours washing and detailing your car, it can be extremely frustrating to see some dirt containing the external surfaces. Here is when car polish comes in handy!

Car polishing products are mid abrasive materials that, when applied to the surface of your car, remove the outer layer of protection, also called “clear coat” or “clear paint.” It is a paint or resin layer that boasts no color and improves the look of your car, giving it a wet appearance. Manufacturers often apply it on top of colored paint to preserve it from damage and oxidation. 

While this layer has unique benefits, it is often the first one to show imperfection after the continuous use of your vehicle. Car polish, in this case, has the function to remove this layer and eliminate all the damages and scratches it shows. However, if the tear has penetrated this layer of protection, car polish will have limited positive effects.

Initially, you might have needed a range of polish abrasives to apply on your car’s surface in order of strength and abrasive power. This process was essential to preserve the wellbeing of the car paint. However, today, manufacturers have designed products that diminish in intensity as you spread them. Moreover, they have also added oils to the formula that gives your car a shiny finish.

Benefits of car polish

  • Keep the paint of your car in check and extend its lifespan – most car’s paintwork shows defects or little imperfections. Car polish can help you hide spots and uneven coating. Moreover, by eliminating oxidative damage and conditioning the paintwork, your car will look newer for longer.
  • You won’t need to wash your car as often – if you tend to treat your vehicle with polishing materials, as well as waxes, you can reduce the number of times you will need to wash it. Indeed, these substances help you keep dirt and dust off the surfaces of the vehicle.
  • Eliminate scratches and increase your vehicle’s value – we might all be too quick about judging a book by its cover, but many car buyers will not be happy to pay full price for a scratched vehicle! A well-maintained car with a glossy look can help you make the most out of it when you are thinking about selling it.

How to apply it

Thanks to the advancements in technology and ingredients, you can easily apply most car polish to your vehicle in four easy steps. However, since such products come under different forms, you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding with your project.

  • Wash your car – remove as much dirt and dust as you can from your car paint before polishing it. Make sure to dry your vehicle entirely, or the polish will not stick!
  • Apply the polish – pour some of the polish onto a clean and dry microfiber cloth and apply it to the vehicle’s surface. Keep rubbing the solution with circular movements until the polish becomes transparent. Continue until the whole external surface of your car is polished.
  • Time to wait – depending on the manufacturer’s guidelines, each polish requires different waiting times. To avoid causing damage to the paint, follow the suggested time frames. After the wait is over, run a finger on the surface: if the polish comes off easily, you are ready to remove it!
  • Remove the polish – using a clean microfiber cloth, wipe the entire surface to eliminate the polish in excess. Ensure that you are always using an unused part of the fabric!

What Is Car Wax?

While it is easy to confuse car polish with car wax, they are incredibly different substances! Car waxes are formulas that, when applied, leave behind a layer of protection on the paintwork. The most crucial fact you should know about car waxes is that they are sealants. So, as you are rubbing them on your car, you are effectively keeping all contaminants away from the car’s paint.

However, if there is any dust, dirt, or debris on the paint already, applying wax over them will seal them between this layer and the paintwork. That is why it is essential to properly wash and polish your car before proceeding to apply a coat of wax.

Benefits of car wax

  • Protection against contaminants – as the most outer layer of your car, the paint is the part that suffers damage and contamination first. Applying wax to it ensures that you are keeping off debris and dust. Moreover, waxes are highly efficient in fighting the damage that UV rays can cause to your vehicle.
  • Gives your car a great look – looking to obtain professional detailing results at home without paying a full price for it? Car waxes are the answer. These formulas prevent scratches and hurt from penetrating through the paint and offer your car that wet look that makes it so beautiful.
  • Avoid repainting – washing, polishing, and waxing can seem like a lot of work, especially if you are dealing with an older car. However, this simple process can save you a lot of money as you won’t need to repaint your car or wash it as often!

How to apply it

Something worth considering when selecting a wax is that there are two types of formulas on the market: natural (Carnauba) or synthetic. The second type is much more resistant and efficient than the first one, but it can end up ruining the paint if used too often. Alternatively, natural wax is safe to apply often, but it won’t last any longer than six weeks.

Car waxes also come in different formats such as:

  • Paste
  • Liquid
  • Spray
  • Rubbing 

When applying them to your car, ensure to follow the guidelines specified by the manufacturer for the best results.

When Should I Use Them?

Ideally, you should treat your car with car polish and wax only once every three months. Increased exposure to such chemicals can be extremely detrimental for your car paint. For best results, wash and dry your car before proceeding with the treatment. Then, once dried, apply the polish first and finish with the wax. However, if you prefer to always stay on the safe side, there are combo products on the market that combine wax and polish. 

Final Thoughts

All car owners want to see their car shiny and in the best shape throughout the years. However, the continuous use we subject a vehicle to can cause it to show signs of wear and tear in a matter of a few months. To get your car to shine, you should start by washing it and drying it. Then, by applying the polish, you will be removing the clear coat on the paintwork. Finally, the wax will add a layer of protection against natural elements, contaminants, and UV rays.

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