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John Williamson

Waxing your vehicle properly!   
Part 1  |  Part 2

A properly waxed vehicle is both much easier to clean (before you wash it see Part 1 first!) and it is protected from the elements. It also stays cleaner longer as all the rain and spray and muck just runs off it. 

Paint is rough and porous under the microscope. Yes even your new shiny paint!  You want to keep a layer of wax on to fill these little pits and craters so that the thing wont rust and also so it is smooth to stop dirt sticking to it! It looks better too of course. 

A thoroughly clean waxed and shiny car is easy to wash with just plain water. Nothing sticks. Not even the rain. It can be washed and dried and shine like new in a matter of a few minutes. 

If you look at this picture below (or one of the bigger versions of it) you will see that the paint has some droplets on it as its raining. But its not really wet!  The wax keeps the paint dry and the surface tension holds the water into a drop as it runs or is blown off the car. 

Now if it looks like this picture below when it rains then its already waxed well and can be washed with just plain rainwater and as little an amount of "wash and wax" detergent as possible very easily and will blow dry clean and very shiny. No need to re wax yet.

Click image of a CLEAN car

Click image for a larger view! 
Or click
here for an even bigger image.

The secret is to NOT wash off the wax with detergent. That's why we use only just enough to allow just a few visible bubbles only. Enough to clean without scratching and to break the surface tension. The less you can get away with the better it will dry.

If you have already washed and dried your car or van as per the previous page - part one - then you are ready to wax it again only if the wax has been washed off. Hose pipes, car washes, heavy rain all takes its toll on your cars wax coating.

And here is  a little known fact.  The easier and better the wax can be polished off the easier it is for the elements to do it!  Waxes that are very easy to apply and can be polished off really easily do not last as long as harder waxes.

Use whatever wax you prefer but I personally use Autoglym products. They seem to be about the best at a sensible price. And if you wash your vehicle only in plain rainwater it lasts about 6 months - saving me a lot of work, and the vehicles paint a lot of fine scratches caused by you applying and removing the polish. But remember. Most waxes look great when first applied. But the ones that are hard to remove, the ones that are more solid once the solvent has evaporated away will also last longer and still look good after a long time.

To polish your car correctly do the following, it will result in less overall effort and a faster better finish and will best protect your paint finish from all those swirl marks and deterioration than anything else.

Don't do it if it does not need it!  Every time you touch your paint with a rag or polishing cloth you DO produce many fine scratches. If you follow the washing procedure in the previous page then the wax coating should still be intact and just drying it as described will leave it as good as can be!

Needs WAX now!

If your paint looks like this after a rain then you should be shot for neglect!

This looks like it has seen no wax for years.  It would need careful washing, t-cutting or compounding and then re-waxing to try to recover its original shine. If its not rusty and flaking already... 

Click image for a larger view! 
Or click
here for an even bigger image.

Just needs a coat of wax.If it looks like this image after a rain then you can get away with just waxing it properly again!   It shows slight signs of some wax remaining.

Both of these vehicles were sat outside of my house while I was photographing my own black Chrysler.

Click image for a larger view!  Or click here for an even bigger image


  • Only ever wax your car on a cool very dry day.  Preferably just after washing and drying as per part one. At dusk, or early morning. High temperatures (worse on dark cars as they get hotter in the sun) mean that the wax is runny and liquid even though it appears to be dry.  And it smears and leaves greasy looking marks...  Its MUCH easier and faster and gets better results when cool with every wax I ever tried. Including the ones that claim to be ok in sun...

  • ALWAYS use towels (ordinary cheap hand towels) bought specifically for this purpose straight from the washing machine. I buy cheap ones from eBay as "dog towels" they are brown or black which is good.  They leave dark coloured fibres that is harder to see!

  • Make sure that the cloth (small towel) you use to apply the wax is very slightly damp. NOT wet! Damp and only slightly! It removes any marks that are left over from washing and drying as you wax.  Keep turning the towel because if there's a bit of dust or grit collected as you wax you don't want to sandpaper your car with it! This is another good reason NOT to wax too often and to wash it in rainwater with very little detergent!

  • Wax the glass including the windscreen. Many people will advise you against this but I have done it for years and they stay clean without wipers even in a massive downpour!  And they shine and stay cleaner longer. No need for wipers!

  • Wax one panel at a time making sure you do not miss any. DON'T get it in or on any plastic, rubber parts because once its there you are buggered! You cannot get it off and it goes white in time or after being wet. BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU PUT IT!  Painted areas, wheels, (wheels are painted) and glass. Do the accessible edges of doors etc too, Do the lights and indicators.

  • Leave it at least as long as you can! The longer the better.  If its cool it takes a long time for the solvents (normally petroleum based) to leave. But cool is better as you have a harder wax that stays in these pores and crevasses in the paint as you polish. If you take the wax off too quickly and it isn't completely dry then the wax sat in all the microscopic pores and pits may be removed too and you wasted your time! You want it to leave a hard shell of hard to remove wax. This is why those "fast waxes" are always pretty crap. If they wipe off really easily then they are too soft! Old fashioned style wax that is hard work always lasts the longest but then it IS hard work!

  • When removing the white dry wax from the vehicle use your freshly washed and dried towels turn and shake out regularly and do one panel at a time. Start at the top!  Pay special attention to the edges and body lines and grooves make sure you got ALL of the wax before shaking the cloth and move to the next panel.

  • Open doors and clean and polish where all the doors close! On mine this is as polished and clean as the rest of the vehicle.

  • Wheels should have been washed and cleaned in part one so these also need waxing. They are painted and lacquered just like the rest of the car and clean waxed wheels don't collect brake dust as badly and it washes straight off with plain rain water!

  • By now the outside should look like brand new or in most cases a bit better. But you still need to do your tyres! I use a spray tyre foam (there are many on the shelves) and allow it to soak. It protects the rubber from drying out too so helps protect the sidewalls as well as making the tyres look new.

If you drop a towel or rag then throw it away or at least wash it thoroughly before you touch your paint with it. If you don't your car will have those horrible swirl marks just like your neighbours...

Part 1  |  Part 2


Part 1  |  Part 2



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