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What is the Difference Between Car Polish vs Wax?

08 Apr 2024
What is the Difference Between Car Polish vs Wax?

Heads turn when a smart, shiny, polished car drives past. No matter the colour, make or age of the vehicle, if it is well maintained and looks good, then it is going to garner attention. 

Buffing up the paintwork is also an incredibly therapeutic activity. Bringing paintwork back up to showroom standards can place you in a state of mindfulness that is balm to the soul in this hectic 21st century world. Understanding whether to use car wax or polish will help you get into that state of flow, which is going to give your vehicle those ‘new car’ results that mirror those showroom-quality standards. 

Car Wax or Polish? Both are Important 

Once your car has been cleaned, what needs to be done next – do you polish or wax a car first? The answer is simple – you should always polish your car before you wax it. 

Choose your car wax or car polish here

Why You Should Polish Your Car Before Waxing it 

Both functions have different end games. Car polish is primarily used to remove imperfections from the surface of the paint. This can include scratches and abrasions that might even be nearly invisible to the human eye, yet if left untreated, can worsen over time and cause lasting damage to the paintwork, including oxidation, which is the onset of rusting. The polish itself contains abrasives that help to smooth out the paint by removing the thinnest layer of paint. 

Applying Car Polish 

Professional car polishers understand the requirement to give a good, level, and consistent application of polish across the entire bodywork for the best results. While hand polishing is more than adequate for private individuals working on their own vehicles, professional car valet companies often use an electric polisher and buffer that can guarantee amazing results, particularly if the car is older and may have been neglected. 

Check out our electric polisher and buffer here

Polishing revives and rejuvenates the paintwork, bringing it back to its original colour and gloss. What it does not do is provide any protection to the paint surface – its primary function is cosmetic enhancement and surface correction. This is where the waxing comes in. 

Polishing vs Waxing a Car – the Different Functions and Results 

When you wax your car, you are applying a protective surface to the paintwork that provides a barrier against environmental contaminants, such as road dirt and grime, dust and debris, and UV radiation.

Different types of wax can be used according to the make and model of your vehicle. These include natural waxes, such as carnauba wax, and synthetic, polymer-based waxes. Generally, the synthetic waxes give a longer lasting and superior finish. This is because they chemically bond to the paintwork, and you can expect it to last anything between three to six months. For a premium quality car wax, it can last for up to 12 months. 

Check out our full range of car polish and car wax products here

Applying Car Wax 

There’s a reason why so many people ask the question as to whether you should do the car wax or polish first. If you scrutinise the paintwork before starting and the surface is scruffy, scratched, or chipped, then this is a clear indication that polishing is required to smooth down the surface and revitalise the paintwork. Once this is done, it is time to bring out the waxing cloths. 

The best method is to add a few drops of the wax to a microfibre cloth, and then apply it to the bodywork in small, overlapping circular movements. Covering the car panel by panel, section by section, enables you to work consistently across the entire car without leaving any out.

Once you have got to the end, the wax will have dried to give a slightly hazy appearance to the paintwork. Now comes the best bit; take a clean, soft cloth and buff the paintwork back to its former glory. The result will be so satisfying, and really bring the paintwork back to life. 

We have mircofibre cloths for every occasion here

Car Polish or Car Wax – Which is Better? 

So, in answer to your question, car polish or car wax, which is better? The answer is that they both have an essential function in safeguarding your investment in the physical wellbeing of your vehicle.

In summary, the golden rules are as follows: 

  • Wash your car first, to get rid of all dirt and grime, pollutants and mud that has gathered on the surface of the car, and in hidden corners over time. 
  • Polish the paintwork using a dedicated polishing agent and microfibre polishing pad or electric buffer to smooth out any imperfections, scratches, and other surface blemishes. 
  • Apply wax to the clean and polished bodywork using a soft microfibre cloth. 
  • Stand back and admire your handiwork. 
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