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Thread: Detailing: how to wax your car/ the wax debate

  1. #1
    Member NCZ13's Avatar
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    Detailing: how to wax your car/ the wax debate

    so basically here im gonna start writing some detailing how tos just in time for spring cleaning. i know alot of you are still pulling out of the winter season, and are getting ready to clean up your cars. in this thread here, ill be talking the basics of different waxes and sealants, as well as how to properly apply them.

    first the wax debate.

    which wax is the best? the only answer is what works best for you. waxes enhance your paints shine, reflection and gloss. so it really depends on your cars paint.

    another thing to keep in mind is the durability your looking for. is washing and waxing something you can do weekly or biweekly? or something that happens once in a blue moon.

    In the first post ill try to talk as much about OTC (over the counter) products, because i realize not everyone wants to get their products online.

    so heres the breakdown

    you have waxes, and you have sealants.

    majority of waxes are carnuba based products, however there are some synthetic waxes as well.

    sealants are a synthetic LSP (last step process), and are usually more durable than waxes...

    there are several types of waxes ill talk about. cleaner waxes have very fine abrasives, and also may contain fillers that will fill in some minor (and i mean minor) swirls and fine scratches. the cleaner wax will also remove extremely fine swirls, but not wont do the same amount of removal as a compound or a polish will by a mile. a cleaner wax will remove the previous layer of wax because of the abrasives in the wax, thus its impossible to layer a cleaner wax. so if you spent all weekend apply coats and coats of cleaner wax to your car, you were somewhat wasting your time.

    clearcoat waxes (like meguiars gold class) dont contain any cleaners (abrasives) and basically gives your finish a nice gloss, slick feel, and will enhance the wetness of the paint. a wax like this can be layered, and some detailers agree that certain waxes (like pinnacles souveran wax) get better as they are layered, and the gloss, and reflection is deepened with every coat (of course this depends on your paint color)

    then there are waxes that kind of do both. Megs NXT is a synthetic wax that leaves a nice finish, a very slick feel, and depending on your climate and wash habits is somewhat durable, however because it contains cleaners its impossible to layer. I recommend this wax to alot of people who want to do the basic things in keeping their car clean because 1) nxt is somewhat durable compared to OTC carnuba waxes and 2) it does a pretty good job of hiding minor defects.

    then there are sealants. i prefer sealants as an LSP ( the final step after washing, claying and polishing) because i like the durablity of the sealant (i use megs 21 synthetic sealant) and the awesome slickness it leaves as well.

    now ill take a minute to discuss durability.

    there are a couple ways to tell how your wax is doing on the car.
    1) if it rains, and there is even beadage across the horizontal panels, and almost no water on the vertical panels, the LSP is in great condition, and is still doing well.

    2) when spraying with the hose the water sheets off (this depends on the product used) some LSPs are so good, that it makes it hard for the paint to stay wet because the water just sheets off.

    3) the slickness. when you touch your paint, what does it feel like? soft? smooth? as you grow accustomed to waxing your car, youll feel the difference b/w waxed finished, and a non waxed finish.

    i find that synthetic sealants make the best LSPs. mainly for their durability. a properly applied and cured sealant can last 6 weeks or more if washed using a proper car wash. i find that carnubas tend not to last as long, and even NXT lasts at the most 3 weeks... NXT ive also found loses its slickness after one wash, but the durability is certainly still there.

    a synthetic sealant doesnt come in a paste, but a liquid only, and the best way to apply is in extremely thin layers, and let adamant time to cure. some sealants need only 20minutes, while others need to cure 12 hours or more to really adhere to the paint well. detailers debate on whether layering sealant adds to the durability or the shine of the car, and for certain products this is true, just ask any zaino user who has layered z5 and z2 on there car. the best way for a sealant to do its job, is to be applied to the bare paint. meaning there is no wax or residue from a previous wax job on the paint. so either a paint cleaner is in order, and claying beforehand will do the trick as well. a cleaner wax wouldnt work in this instance, because the cleaner wax will leave a coat of carnuba on the paint, making the seal adhere to the carnuba and only lasting as long as the carnuba...


    certain waxes will enhance your paint, while others will mute your paint. its alot of triall and error really. for instance. some detailers have found the megs gold class mutes metallic flakes in some finishes, however the paint has a much wetter and glossier look, while NXT makes flakes pop, but reduces the wetness at the same time.

    i like to use gold class on darker finishes, because i prefer the wet glossy look.

    heres the process i use when applying sealant. this isnt a maintaining process, its a layering one

    so ill wash
    clay
    dry and pull it into the garage
    apply the first layer of sealant and let it cure over night
    in the morning ill get up buff off that layer, apply another, let taht cure for a couple hours. and remove it. then ill apply a clearcoat wax just for looks, because i prefer taht wet glossy look.

    this process leaves me a finish thats pretty durable, and looks pretty good for a good month. however usually ill add a layer of carnuba every other week or so just for that satisfying slickness and added wetness that i like my paint to have.

    my next post will discuss wax applications
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  2. #2
    Member NCZ13's Avatar
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    so basically you want to make sure your car is completely clean and free of dirt.

    take your choice of wax be it liquid or paste and a foam applicator (megiuars foam applicators are just fine, and you can get them at your local kragen for pretty cheap)

    apply a very small amount of wax to the applicator. you want to apply the thinnest coat possible to the paint. you want to be able to barely see the wax when your applying to your paint surface. if you apply alot all at once, your just wasting it, and your not getting any extra protection out of it.

    i like to go panel by panel, starting with the roof. i got side to side and up and down making sure i get every square inch i can. if i have to do a tight area (like on our p5s the area b/w the moonroof and the roof rack rails) ill wipe some wax on my fingers, and spread it by hand over those areas so i dont get wax on my trim

    i do all the horizontal panels first so after that comes the hood... and well on my car thats it. ( if im doing a customers car ill do the roof, then trunklid, then hood) after the hood i do the drivers side fender. after taht i wrap my way around the car finishing on the front bumper.

    by then the roof should be dry (you can check this by swiping a finger on the waxed area. if the wax removes, and doesnt streak at all then its ready to come off) take a quality microfiber. and is stress this because a cheap MF or a bathtowel or a rag will just scratch your paint. as silly as it sounds, if you care about your paint, use quality microfibers

    if you applied a thin layer, the dried wax will come off super easy. however this depends on the wax you use. certain waxes remove much easier than others. youd be suprised to find out that all that fighting the wax trying to get it off your paint could have been solved by using a better wax. remove the wax in the same manner you applied it.

    also remember to pull your shirt over your zipper/ belt buckle area, because as your reaching over the roof to buff the wax off it could scratch the paint.

    remember not to get wax on the rubber trim surfaces, because once its on there it sticks out like a sore thumb, and its a complete bitch to remove.

    feel free to post your own advice and questions. ill post up pictures as well of what beading should look like and stuff like that.

    waxing your car is important, because it makes the car much easier to clean and dry, as well as offering protection from the elements, such as water etching, bird shit, dirt etc etc
    Last edited by NCZ13; 04-16-2008 at 02:33 AM.
    2002.5 22v Mazda Protege5
    Ebay CAI w/ K&N filter
    OBX header
    PG Catted midpipe
    RacingBeat CBE
    Tokico Blues
    Eibach Prokit
    KartBoy SS and bushing w/ Greddy Counterweight
    16x7 Rota Slipstreams w/ Hankook Ventus HR2 205/50/r16

    (burnout) ph34r teh 22v

  3. #3
    Member NCZ13's Avatar
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    pictures of some of the OTC stuff i have. the only thing that doesnt get used is the TW ice bottle. i didnt like that stuff at all. the sealant i use isnt in there either because the bottle is pretty big i keep it in the cabinets


    rain beading

    more beads

    this is what a car looks like that hasnt been waxed in a very long time

    believe it or not this car is wet. but you cant tell because its so filthy the water just sat tehre and pooled up on the paint

    water beads when the surface is extremely level, so wax is needed for water to bead per say.

    this is the post polish wash. with the clearcoat leveled the water beaded up pretty nicely. wax makes water bead, because its makes the surface level. so yes the water will bead on an unwaxed surface, but you will notice the difference in beading greatly b/w a waxed and an unwaxed surface.
    Last edited by NCZ13; 04-16-2008 at 02:31 AM.
    2002.5 22v Mazda Protege5
    Ebay CAI w/ K&N filter
    OBX header
    PG Catted midpipe
    RacingBeat CBE
    Tokico Blues
    Eibach Prokit
    KartBoy SS and bushing w/ Greddy Counterweight
    16x7 Rota Slipstreams w/ Hankook Ventus HR2 205/50/r16

    (burnout) ph34r teh 22v

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