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Getting The Job Done Right

8 Steps to Waxing A Car

By: Darion Robinson

Adding a clear coat for sealing the paint on the cars began way back in the 1890s, for giving a layer of protection to the vehicle against UV light, dirt, and debris. However, this was not the solution to all the issues. Given some time and usage, and the clear coat used to get all oxidized and dull to look at.

Then, the car waxes came like a blessing to the owners! Car wax is basically a sealant for the clear coat to protect the paint from accumulating dirt or getting easily scratched.

waxing car

So, why do you need to wax your car regularly?

Thanks to the long-term protection of the wax, the cars can now look all shiny and glossy for the longest time. Besides, when you skip the step of waxing after washing the car, it will start showing the dirt sooner than usual. 

Even the paint will start fading faster than usual because of the constant exposure to the sun that it gets. Of course, there are elements of UV protection in the clear coat, but even that needs replenishment from waxing.

So, now you know that car wax helps. But, what is the way to actually get the waxing done? Truth be told, there is no need to get professional help to wax your car as you can do it yourself easily. Here are the eight steps of car waxing that should make it even easier for you.

1. Let’s start with washing the car before anything else

Waxing is actually the last step of the process, and you need to wash the car properly to actually wax it right. Take a slightly damp cloth to wash the car because a dry cloth can scratch the paint or the clear coat.

You will have to make sure the weather is right when you wash your car. Hot metal of the car combined with cool water can make the paint crack and ruin the finish. And though it sounds very obvious, check to see if the sunroof and the windows are sealed and closed properly. 

Also, give a quick spray to the area around the windows and sunroofs to ensure that the weather stripping is absolutely watertight.

Wash the car properly to actually wax it right

Getting the washing technique right before knowing how to wax a car

After you have checked that everything is sealed tight, begin by hosing down your car to clear all the loose dirt and grit. This ensures that you will not have to worry about scratching the finish when you start wiping using a soft cloth. 

You can use soft rags, sponges, or old t-shirts for the purpose. Use cotton swabs or an old toothbrush for the fine detailing on the car. Rinse the soft cloth with a hose instead of a bucket. Otherwise, you will just keep wiping the dirt back on to the car.

Now in terms of the technique, you need to follow the surface contours of the car while wiping and avoid doing it in in circles to prevent cobweb scrapes. Keep rinsing the cloth often to remove dust and grease. 

Don’t make the very common mistake of applying too much elbow grease because you will either end up removing the paint or scratching the surface. It is best to use specialized car-washing products for the cleanup because dish or laundry soaps can strip off the protective coating from the surface of the car.

Take one section at a time while washing, and go from the top to the bottom. Hose an area, lather up the soap in that portion, wipe it with the cloth, and rinse using the hose. Wash the cloth thoroughly with the hose and start the next section. Easy does it, right? 

Once all the sections are cleaned, rinse the whole body of the car with water and let the car air dry completely before we move on to polishing.

2. Moving on to polishing the car for maximum shine

After your car is thoroughly clean, you can start polishing it. You can move on to waxing the car directly too, but it is best to polish it first.

Now, polishing and waxing are two different things, which many people get confused about. It is absolutely necessary to polish the car if you want to get maximum gloss and shine when you finally begin waxing.

The car polishes that you get in the market nowadays are basically abrasive substances which have a kind of particulate that are known as diminishing abrasives. Diminishing abrasives is the technical word for abrasive particles in the car polishes. These substances breakdown into fine particles as you begin polishing, which makes it unnecessary to go for multiple grades of polish.

Now, the nitty-gritty of polishing a car is a whole other topic, which is best kept for another day. Just keep in mind that polish needs to be applied annually to smoothen out the clean coat on the surface of the paint. It is also helpful in clearing uneven buildups or irregularities of wax on the coat of the paint’s finish.

car polisher

Oh yes, and don’t forget a glaze between the annual applications of polish!

Glazes don’t have the abrasive grits that you see in polishes. It is actually a blend of kaolin and oils that enhance the gloss. Its purpose is to fill in all the imperfections of the car surface and offer it an undistorted and even reflective body.

Regardless of whether you go for glazing or polishing the car, you will have to ensure that the wax coat is applied immediately after it. It will help in protecting the clear coat that has come up while you were polishing the car. Otherwise, you are just leaving your car to accumulate dirt on the clear coat that you were trying to avoid in the first place.

Time to wax the car by one of the given methods

By now, you have completed washing the car completely and applied a glaze or polish, and the surface of your car is all cleaned up and dry. It is finally time to seal off all that hard work with the proper application of car wax.

In terms of waxing the car, there are two ways to go about it. You can either apply the wax and buff it by hand or apply the wax and buff it a power buffer. So, here are the remaining steps for both these methods.

Method I: Buffing it by hand

1. Keep the car in a shaded area: The car wax must be applied in a shaded area. It will prevent the wax from drying out too fast while it sits on the car and becoming difficult to buff off later on.

2. Ensure that the car is absolutely dry: Water droplets on the car paint can lead to streak which you will find difficult to buff off later.

3. Apply a thin coat of car wax: Basically, the thinner the coat that you apply, the better results you will get. The shine should technically come from multiple layers of wax and not just one heavy layer of wax. Buff off the thin layer before applying another thin layer, and that’s how we go. 

Check the instructions on the label of the product to know the time gap you should leave between two layers. It should typically be somewhere between twelve to eighteen hours.

4. The use of a poly-foam applicator: The best thing about poly-foam applicators is that these help in coating the wax thinly and evenly. These are reusable, washable, durable, absorbent, and most importantly, inexpensive. So, no need to be in two minds about throwing one out when it is too filled with sealants to be of any use.

5. The microfiber cloth for polishing the haze: The high-end microfiber towels are great for buffing out the sealant and getting a mirror-like polish. The fibers in these towels are static-charged so they grab any waxy residue easily and don’t leave lint behind. So, there is nothing left behind to ruin the surface of the car wax.

Keep rotating the towel as you go by folding it to make sure that too much wax does not build up as you go on. Otherwise, it will just cake up and leave streaks.

6. The final detailing to remove unevenness: The finish needs a final spritz from detail spray and then some buffing with a clean microfiber cloth, and you are done!

Method II: Buffing it with a Power Buffer

1.Take a foam finishing pad for applying wax: The pad that you pick needs to be soft and absorbent, but firm enough to take the pressure which the power buffer is going to give it. Check the local hardware store, or auto parts outlet. Chances are that they will have the wax applicator pads for buffering.

2. Spread the wax paste on the applicator pad: It’s just as you spread butter over bread every morning! It is best to flip the jar of wax paste over a plastic bag for holding it as you spread a layer over your buffer pad. You can use putty knives for that matter, as well.

If you are using liquid wax, the best thing you can do is to squeeze out three lines of three-inch each on the edges of the buffer pad. The rest will be taken care of as you rotate the buffer

3. Spread the liquid wax with a power buffer: If working with liquid wax, spread the car wax around using the power buffer before you turn on the machine. It will help in reducing the chances of creating a mess as soon as you flick on the switch.

4. Keeping the settings right: Do not start using the liquid wax blindly without checking the directions regarding its use with power tools. As a rule of thumb, the dual-action polishers must be set at three or lower.

5. Spreading the wax evenly: You will have to spread the wax all over the panel that you are working on to make sure it is evenly covered. Make sure to turn the power buffer off before lifting it from the finish. Loads to people have learned this lesson the hard way. You surely would not want to be one of them.

6. Polishing it using a microfiber towel or polishing pad: There are sealants that allow you to wax the surface before buffing it out with a microfiber towel. But, you run the risk of having difficulties with buffing if you cure it out too quickly.

If the wax actually says that it can be applied to the whole body before buffing, just for some extra cover put a microfiber cloth over a lamb’s wool pad. Keep in mind that it is better to use microfiber because terry clothes leave lint.

Here’s a tip for added help

Want that shine on the car that really makes it pop? Put a layer of carnauba wax over the actual layer of wax.

The sealant offers a tough, hard gloss coat that protects the finish and the carnauba wax gives more depth and dimension to the paint. You can get these as combo kits in the auto parts outlets. So, if you are really looking for a professional appearance on your car, these kits are what you will need.

It will take you an afternoon each month or two months for the job, but in the end, it’s all worth it. You will pat on your back for all the hard work when you go ahead and sell the car in the future, more so, if your place mostly has cold weather.

If you have never applied wax after washing the car, start doing it now and the changes will impress you. After all, the car is a thing of pride, and who wouldn’t want to drive a vehicle that looks as good as new all through the year?