It might be difficult to decide whether a car should be waxed or polished if you don't know which is which. Polishes tend to remove paint imperfections and polishing is typically used as a preparatory step for waxing.
The paint finish should be cleaned first by carwash and then polished further by polishing before the final step of waxing is attempted. The wax makes a car shiny but without cleaning and polishing it first, you're mostly adding a glossy finish to a dirty car that lessens its shine potential.
Polishing ensures that your wax has a deep shine that it protects from the elements like rain, sleet, snow, and other things that mailmen have to endure.
The Steps to Cleaning, Polishing, and Waxing Your Car
- Warnings on Car Washing: You need to properly wash your car before it can be polished and/or waxed. Modern car finishes since the Eighties feature a clearcoat on top of them, which can easily show scratches and swirlvmarks, especially in darker paint colors. Therefore, when cleaning your car for the sake of polishing and waxing it later, you should pick products like KevianClean Car Wash Shampoo or any other product that's specifically intended for use on clearcoat finishes.
- Polishing Your Car versus Waxing: Polishes tend to last longer than car waxes while providing better protection. However, they don't provide as much shine. More to the point, a high-quality polish is capable of eliminating swirls and minor surface scratches when used properly. Polishing products are slightly abrasive in order to strip the paint surface slightly but not too much. It's therefore recommended that you wax a freshly polished car to add the level of protection since the polish just smoothened the car finish raw.
- Like Sandpaper and Varnish: You can actually compare polishing and waxing a car finish with sandpapering and varnishing a wooden piece of furniture. The sandpaper smoothens out the rough edges the same way polish kinds of smoothen out scratches and swirls with its slight abrasiveness. Meanwhile, the wax or varnish seals in and protects that freshly smoothened surface. However, there are experts who suggest avoid the use of polish and instead stick to only using high-quality wax.
- Why Waxing Only Is Enough Nowadays: Remember the clearcoat paint used in modern cars? Thanks to that clearcoat, it's possible for cars to look shiny without polishing and waxing. Instead, they only need a good carwash and the clearcoat will provide the shininess afterwards. In turn, if you really want to go the extra mile, clearcoat finishes are better off waxed instead of polished then waxed unless your car is using an old-school non-clearcoat vintage paintjob.