Many novice motorists don't know that waxes and polishers are different products. Some go to the auto supply store with the mistaken belief that to polish a car, you need wax and nothing else.
However, these car maintenance newbies are more correct then they realize. This is because cleaner waxes actually exist. These waxes are essentially a car wax and car polish in one product.
This hybrid product essentially allows you to wax and polish at the same time, so those novices that don't know better are technically correct. Sometimes, waxing and polishing can mean the same thing and can be done simultaneously.
Disambiguation of Terms and Concepts
- Polishing versus Waxing versus Both: You should polish or deeply clean your car until you can see your reflection on the paint first. Then wax or cover the car with a protective layer to let its polish shine longer later. Not the other way around. Some products allow you to clean and protect your car at the same time, but it comes at a compromise.
- A Polisher with Wax on It: It's difficult to polish a car with polish that contains wax. Or to wax and polish your car at the same time. It's almost as difficult as trying to mop and broom at the same time. You should clean with the broom first then mop the dry and dirt-free floor. In the same vein, it's better to polish before waxing because doing both at the same time can result in a tug of war of effectiveness.
- Wax Acts as a Lubricant: You can't polish your car with lube and wax acts as a lubricant. Your polishing ability should be done on a dry rather than oily or slippery car to get a decent shine. Put that oil on after the car has been cleaned and polished. What's more, the wax has a hard time sticking to your car when you're scrubbing it off with polishers and cleaners. It's like one step forward and two steps back when you polish and wax simultaneously or wax before polishing.
- Respect the Order of Events: There's a reason why it all starts with washing then claying, polishing, and waxing. If you wax first, you're sealing in all the dirt. If you polish without claying or washing, you could scratch your car with the remaining dirt. Do everything in order so that you can spare yourself the grief of wasting wax and polishing cream or paying for an auto detailing company to fix your scratched up car. Use your common sense too.