People often ask me how I keep my car in showroom condition. The question that comes up most is, “What wax do you use?” Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
Determining If You Are Ready Of course, everybody wants paint shine perfection. You can also have it… But, here’s the real facts: It requires a little work. Maintaining a perfect finish is part of that work. Take it from me… car detailing (AKA waxed perfection) is easily doable on a relatively new car that’s in excellent condition. What about a typical vehicle that’s 5 or more years old? Have heavy oxidation, a bunch of paint scratches “RDS” or other paint correction problems? The truth is more time will be needed before perfection is possible. Fear not I have you covered!
For those of you who think they already have a pretty good paint finish… Are you 100% sure? The requirements for the the perfect shine calls for a car’s paint finish that’s in outstanding condition. To be clear… You must strive for no surface contamination, fully polished, glazed, protected and waxed.
Let’s look at each of these individually. Tip-Top Paint Condition This means the paint is relatively oxidation-free. You do regular washing and protection.
Road debris (i.e., tar, oil, bugs, etc.) will attach to your car’s paint. The longer this stuff remains, the more difficult it is to remove. This is one reason why regular washing is so important.
That’s not all… While outside, your car will also collect various other kinds of contamination. You cannot wax over foreign contaminates and expect to get a true show room finish.
The easy way to remove any surface fallout? Clay Bar Or Chemical Removal.
Polishing is necessary to remove minor blemishes. This includes surface scratches, swirl marks, pitted areas (minor road stone chips) and scuffs. When polished, a paint finish will feel perfectly smooth. Your hand or polishing towel will literally glide over the surface.
Feeling a perfectly polished / waxed / coated car is something else! There’s nothing like the polished panels of a curvaceous Porsche, Ferrari, Viper or Corvette.
Glaze is a term that’s misused in detailing products. Let’s quickly clear up the confusion: Glazes are paint treatments that fill small surface scratches and swirl marks. In the looking for the perfect shine, ultra-fine polishes are used to refine a paint finish to achieve or restore full gloss.
Protected Paint is protected when it’s sealed from the elements. Synthetic paint sealants offer the best protection. They’re easily 5 to 10 times more durable than Carnauba waxes. You’ll get extended protection and also create a super-slick surface.
My perfect process calls for an acrylic sealant called Chemical Guys Jet Seal. This fantastic product also hides and minimizes fine swirl marks. Note: I actually haven’t found a polymer sealant that works this well yet!.
Waxing is the final step of the hunt for the perfect shine. We’re not talking just any wax here! You need a pure, natural Carnauba, like , DODO Juice, Wax Planet, Zymol, Swisvax, Angel Wax or P21S Carnauba Wax.
Real carnauba waxes don’t have cleaning properties or synthetic compounds. They’re made from a blend of carnauba waxes, beeswax and natural oils.
Only a quality wax will give your paint true depth and warmth. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m talking about a fine wine or something. Just don’t underestimate the value of a great show car wax!
Now that we got that mandatory checklist out of the way…
The Waxed Perfection – Revealed You’re ready to get the best paint shine possible and do it reliably. Follow these steps and recommendations:
Step 1: Wash & Dry Wash your car twice with a high concentration of car wash solution. Use a quality car wash soap. Don’t use a wash ‘n wax type product.
The goal is to get all of the dirt and wax off. Is your car is excessively dirty? You can use dish-washing liquid. If you do, be sure to rinse thoroughly.
NOTE: Don’t use dish washing detergent as your regular shampoo. It may eventually strip wax protection. However, it’s generally safe for thorough cleaning before you wax your car. Dry your car with a scratch-free microfiber towel. Be sure to use a proper car wash mitt. I must warn you. People are always doing damage to their paint using household wash cloths and sponges.
Dry your car thoroughly after washing. I recommend a satin-edged waffle weave microfiber towel. These are fantastic, and they absolutely won’t scratch. You need to stop using an old bath towel. They are scratching, swirling and causing your car’s finish to dull. Chamois are okay for glass, BUT they’re nowhere near as good as a quality microfiber drying towel.
Step 2: Clay bar’s removes surface contamination. Clay bar’s removes surface contamination that causes oxidation. It’s a safe alternative to liquid paint cleaners. Examine your car’s paint with your hand after washing and drying. Is the paint perfectly smooth? If not, use a clay bar and clay lubricant to remove any surface contamination. It’s very easy, fast and safe. In fact, you should be using a detailing clay 3 to 4 times a year BEFORE you apply car wax.
You can utilise it after washing and before drying. Just mix a bucket of car wash soap and the soapy water is your lubricant!
Step 3: At this point, your paint is clean and free of surface contamination. Examine again for minor surface damage. You may still find some heavy scuffs or surface scratches. Repair these flaws with a fine compound (DODo Juice LimePrime) or scratch remover car polish ( Meg’s 105 & 205).
It’s best to use a swirl remover car polish if the paint has swirl marks and/or minor micro-marring.
NOTE: The car polish industry’s technology had improved. It’s no longer necessary — or desirable — to use a heavy rubbing “T-CUT” compound to remove paint damage (like scratches, water spot etching or severe swirl marks).
The very best over-the-counter paint restoration car polish these days is Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound. Use it by hand or machine. It works!
2ND NOTE: Removing swirl marks, fine scratches, water spot etching and other paint damage by hand is difficult work. It can be done, but it isn’t easy. Clearcoat finishes on most new cars are very hard. I highly recommend that DIY car owners invest in a DA polisher. The DAS-6 PRO Dual Action Polisher remains #1 with detailing enthusiasts and Pro’s.
Step 4: Restore Finish Clarity Perfectly Clear after a good Polishing After polishing is complete, the paint finish should be perfectly clear. Now it’s time to bring out your car’s full shine and gloss potential. For this, go with an ultra-fine swirl remover polish. These specialised polishes are designed to remove fine swirl marks (not the heavy paint damage talked about in the previous step). You can skip this step if your paint is already in perfect condition. There are so many different swirl remover polishes. It can be difficult to choose. My favorite for more than ten years has remained the same: DODO Juice Lime Prime or 3M. I keep trying new products, but in the end I keep reaching for the Megs 205, Lime Prime or 3m. They just works.
Have a search for Meguiar’s M205 Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish.
Step 5: Seal and Protect
Jet Seal 109 by Machine Once perfectly polished, your paint is ready to be sealed. For this I use a product that’s been protecting my cars since 2005, Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal. The 109 acrylic formula has proven its quality to me again and again. Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal protects paint for months with a durable acrylic finish. The best way to apply Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal is with a microfiber applicator. The secret is to put it on as thin as possible. If you apply a heavy coat you will suffer through wiping it off. Apply it whisper thin and wipe off is a breeze. Better yet, do what I do and use a DA polisher! One of the most awesome things about Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal is that you can apply layer after layer to achieve a deeper, high-gloss shine. Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal does not contain cleaners to remove old wax. It’s a pure acrylic sealant. Additional layers of Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal increase the protection, too!.
Step 6: Make it Pop!
The final step, the literal icing on the cake, is waxing. You may be asking, “After polishing and sealing, why wax?” The answer lies in the richness of colour, depth and clarity that only a quality carnauba wax can bring out on a polished surface. For this job, I reach for Swissvax, Zymol or P21S Carnauba Wax. These are true show car waxes. Compared to other show car waxes of similar formula, for the money, these offers the best finish. It brings out a warmth and depth on all colours that I haven’t been able to duplicate.
Paint looks like a reflection in a pool of water on black and dark blue cars. On steps 4 – 6, I use a quality foam applicator to apply product. I use a quality Microfiber Buffing Towel for final buffing of the wax.
How to best maintain your car’s perfect shine You’ll need to do some light maintenance to keep your perfect shine, well, perfect.
Relax. It’s really easy! Just wash weekly and quick detail after each outing. I recommend OCD Si02 Shampoo car wash. The reason? It’s very gentle. It won’t remove the wax, and it smells great! Choosing a good detailing spray (for quick detailing) is also key. It doesn’t have to be a super expensive product, either. Detailed Online Quick Si02 Detailer won’t break the bank and it’s amazing. Quick detailing normally takes no more than 5 to 10 minutes. You can apply a fresh coat of wax as often as you like. I recommend reapplying every 6 month’s, or whenever you want your car to look its best. The Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal protection will last 5 to 6 months. Plan to repeat process twice yearly to keep your car’s paint in showroom condition.
How the waxed Perfection actually works, There’s no particular magic to my process, though two ingredients are essential. But, first I want to stress something… Finish preparation is the most significant function of the process.
The paint finish must be refined through a couple grades of polish. This is how jewelry makers create gems of radiant beauty. The key ingredients are Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal and a high quality Carnauba Wax. The reason these two products work together, where others do not, is pretty simple. Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal is an acrylic resin coating. It’s not a petroleum- or water-based product. Being an acrylic, it dries hard. Most synthetic sealants are polymers based on the element silicone. To my knowledge, all polymer sealants are based on an emulsion system containing petroleum distillates. As a result, even the mildest petroleum distillates remove polymer sealants. Zaino Show Car Polish is the only polymer sealant that I’m aware of that can be successfully layered (a new application of Zaino Show Car Polish does not remove previous applications).
More on Carnauba Waxes Likewise, carnauba waxes contain petroleum distillates. You see, in waxes, petroleum distillates are used to soften the carnauba (which is rock hard in raw form). This additive allows for better blending into a paste or cream. In particular, P21S Carnauba Wax formula uses a highly refined petroleum distillate. It’s similar to what’s used in cosmetics (i.e., lipstick).
Great news… The solvent content in P21S Carnauba Wax does not affect the cured Chemical Guys 109 Jet Seal sealant.