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May 23, 2017

Polishing and waxing your car - Part II
By Scott Roush
If you are like me, you love the look of your car after you have polished and waxed it. If you are also like me, you probably find yourself putting off this task until you can find the time to squeeze it into your busy schedule.

But waxing your car isn't the timely, labor-extensive chore you might think it is. A few hours spent a couple times a year will give your car a new look. Once you finish the job, you have the satisfaction of giving your car that showroom gleam that not only looks great but also will protect the vehicle's paint from the elements.

Starting the job

Before polishing and waxing, wash the car completely. Also, examine your car for any spots that need special attention. Bird droppings, dead bugs and other problem spots should be cleaned off before you start waxing.

Scratches can be removed before polishing and waxing with an abrasive cleaner that removes enough of the paint to make the scratch appear less deep. Deeper scratches may need to be removed with an orbital buffer, a dual-action polisher, a rotary polisher or even wet sanding. If the scratch is too deep, the area may have to be repainted.


Polishing is an important part of detailing your car's exterior. It not only gives the finish its gloss, but it feeds the paints with oils to prevent it from drying out and cracking.

Use a material like an old T-shirt or diaper to apply the polish. Apply the polish to the cloth and work it into the car in a linear fashion like front to rear or side to side. This will reduce the number of swirl marks left behind. Apply a second coat if necessary.

Applying the Wax

After polishing, it's time to wax. Several materials will work fine when applying the wax. A cotton terry-cloth towel, an old T-shirt or diaper are good choices. Apply the wax to the applicator, not the paint. If you drop the applicator and get it dirty, don't continue to use it. You may risk scratching the paint.

When applying the wax, use a circular motion for the most even coverage. Only do a small section at a time - about a two- or three-foot area. Move on to the next section. Avoid getting wax on rubber or plastic areas, door handles and emblems. Tape these areas before waxing.

Make sure to wax doorjambs, the areas beneath door hinges and behind bumpers. Plastic chrome can be treated like a painted surface and given a light coat of wax. If your car has taped pinstripes, work in the direction parallel to the tape. If you work across the tape, you may pull it up. Apply two coats of wax for more protection.


Once you are done, let the wax haze. When it is hazed, the wax will turn a white color and should not feel wet when touched. Use a new cloth (not the one you used to apply the wax) to buff the car. Just wipe the wax off the car, stopping periodically to shake the wax residue off the cloth. You may need two cloths to buff larger vehicles. Use a toothbrush or cotton swab to remove any wax residue from hard-to-reach crevices.

After you are done, take a step back, look at your work, and give yourself a pat on the back. Not only does your car have that showroom look again, but it also has a protective finish to help it withstand the harsh elements

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