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Exterior Paint Question And Answer

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On: Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 5:20PM | By: Peter C Sessler

Exterior Paint Question And Answer

Q: How can you tell when you need to wax or polish your car? I know of the old water beading testif water beads then the wax is still good.
As all cars today use clear coat paints, it can be difficult to really tell when your car’s paint needs waxing. The danger here is that you can neglect your paint thinking all the while its fine. Here are a couple of quick tests you can use: 1) Wad a clean terry cloth and rub it along a clean area of your car. If you hear squeaking, then it’s wax time. 2) After washing your car run your fingertips along the surface of the hood or trunk. If you feel rough spots or your hand doesn’t glide easily, then it’s time to wax.

Q: What’s the difference between polish and wax?
A: Polish and wax have become almost interchangeable among certain manufacturers. However, there is quite a difference. Polish conditions the paint surface, restoring oils to the paint and eliminating fine scratches. It also creates a gloss that is much more intense than any wax. Waxing, on the other hand, creates a layer that protects your paint from the elements. So the wise thing to do is to first polish your car and then wax it. A lot of work to be sure, but worth it. You don’t have to polish every time you wax, but it should be done at least once a year.

Q: Which is better: paste wax or liquid?
A: Most manufacturers make both types. However, according to my research, there’s no difference. Liquid is just easier to apply.

Q: What about those “Miracle” polymer sealants that are typically offered at dealershipsare they any good?
A: Sealers are supposed to “seal” the paint, thereby protecting it from the environment. Typically, these are extremely expensive and many will even promise “lifetime” protection. A lot of these are pure junk. I’ve yet to see anything last a “lifetime” that is car-related. Save your money and stick to the traditional polish and wax.

Q: What about Carnauba wax? Is it any good?
A: Carnauba is the hardest natural wax available and it comes from palm trees—mostly from Brazil. Good waxes typically have some Carbauba content and so they are recommended over those that don’t.

Q: How about Teflon waxes?
A: Here’s another area where you can spend a lot of money for something that doesn’t do anything. The following is a statement from DuPont, who makes Teflon: "The addition of a Teflon fluoropolymer resin does nothing to enhance the properties of a car wax. We have no data that indicates the use of Teflon is beneficial in car waxes." (It also doesn’t do much as an oil additive either).

Q: What about colored waxes? Do they work?
A: Well, yes and no. Most of these colored waxes come in around 12 color gradations and one of these is supposed to match your car’s color. The problem is it can’t match it exactly. However, the real reason they are a waste of extra money is because most cars today have clear coat paint. Applying a wax that has color in it will create an unnatural effect—which might be good or bad-depending on your taste.

Q: How can you tell if your car has clear coat paint on it or not?
A: You can tell if your car has clear coat paint on it as you wax or polish it (with conventional wax or polish). If there is no colored residue on your applicator cloth or pad, then your car has a clear coat. If there is a colored residue, then you don’t. If your car’s surface has been neglected, the clear coat will eventually go away and so it too will leave a colored residue.


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