Which comes first? A car wash, polish or wax?

Home / Which comes first? A car wash, polish or wax?

There are varying levels of intervention when it comes to keeping your car clean and well protected so here’s a quick breakdown for you to get a good idea of what to expect – and not to expect – when commissioning one of these services…

No two car washes or car waxes are the same and they’re certainly not all the same quality or standard. For example, a basic car wash is a short-term fix to remove dirt from the surface of your car but does not have any car polishing properties to restore your paintwork in any way. In fact discount car washes will instill more scratches onto your paintwork every time you use it. It also can not lift the embedded dirt, industrial fall-out bug staining or tar from the surface of your car.

Many people think that a step up from a plain wash is car polishing. Let me quickly explain what car polishing actually is. Car polishing or paint correction is a treatment to remove  scratches by smoothing the car’s surface so that it is level again. This is done by removing a very thin layer of paint normally (1 to 2 microns), using polishing pads and compounds to achive this. The smooth surface of the paint makes your car look shinier and new and should only be nessessary when the paint work is damaged. If you care for your paint correctly from the beginning you needn’t ever polish your car, hence the term paint correction.

If, however, your car has micro scratches and you want a polished result, it is necessary to prepare the surface by “deep cleaning” the paint. “Detailing clay-bars” clean paint better than washing alone and is the only way to safely remove embedded dirt and contaminates that grip or even penitrate the clear coat, known as below surface contamination. While a full car polish will help remove heavy oxidisation and scratches, if the paint has not been decontaminated beforehand, all the embedded grit will reintroduce scratches and swirls to the paint as the polishing pad runs over the contaminates.  Therefore to prevent working backwards, detailing clay-bar will save you lots of time as a step before car polishing.

After a polish your car might look miles ahead of where it was, but the surface is not yet protectected against the elements. High quality waxes and sealants will not only achieve a deeper level of shine to your  freshly polished car but it protects the paint with UV inhibitors, hydrophobic (water repellent) properties and other key components that extends  and protects the lifespan of the paintwork.

Another key factor to consider are the products used to carry out detailing services. Over the years we have realised that we can have world-class skills when it comes to car detailing but that means nothing if we don’t use the right products. For that reason we are a certified Zymöl Licensed Detailer; an association we’ve found has made a huge difference to the end result for our clients and is perfectly in line with our commitment to precision detailing on every car we service.

Top Tip :

Hold a ruler perpendicular to the surface of a car to see how far the reflection of the ruler stretches. The higher the numbers that can be read in the paint, the glossier the paintwork!

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