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Detailing Services: Professional Guide on How to Wax Your Car

Updated on May 21, 2012

Waxing your car may be something you heard was so time consuming that you’ve just allowed the professional detailing services take on the burden for you. If so, it’s time to rethink waxing! Just as with anything, if it’s worth having, it’s worth working for-and an unmatched mirror shine is definitely worth having for your car, right? Armed with the proper tools, some spare time, a little shade, and the following professional tips, you’ll be able to wax your car yourself-So, first things first.

Get It Clean

These tips wouldn’t be professional detailing tips without the basics. You’ve got to thoroughly clean your vehicle. Sometimes that means washing and drying twice just to get all the damage causing dirt and debris off. The key things to remember when washing your car are, to use warm water and to use a car-grade sponge for washing and terry or microfiber cloths for drying. Also, always use a detergent or cleanser made specifically for car washing. Regular ol’ dishwashing liquid is far too abrasive and will cause more harm than good. So stick to these and your wash should leave your car especially clean.

Claying your car will help remove debris and contaminants that the washing couldn’t reach. To clay your car like the pros, use a clay bar or Ultima Paint Cleaning system spray and apply directly to the areas that are covered with the contaminant or stubborn debris. Remember claying is a technique best used sparingly-one or twice annually is recommended.

Detailed and complete drying is a key element of the detailing services you may have used before deciding to go the DIY direction. So, it should be a must for you too. Make sure you completely dry every inch of your vehicle that the wax will be applied to, every single inch. Why? Streaks will appear if you apply wax to a wet vehicle making it supremely difficult to buff the wax off. You don’t want to create more work than necessary so, make sure it’s absolutely dry. Once you’re sure you’ve accomplished a detailed wash and dry of your vehicle it’s time to wax!

Shade is your friend

Washing your car in bright un-shaded sunlight isn’t ideal, and waxing in this condition is downright futile. What you want is shade. Don’t worry about being able to see because you’ll be up close to your vehicle while waxing and shouldn’t miss a thing. Professional detailers know what direct sunlight can do to their efforts so they make sure to apply wax under optimal conditions. The wax cannot be allowed to sit too long or made to dry too quickly as it makes buffing a strenuous and frustrating feat. Any reputable professional detailer that includes wax will use one of two methods to apply the wax- the hand wax application or a mechanical buffer. Let’s explore both options.

Hand waxing requires attention to details

Whether this is your first time waxing or you’re looking for ways to improve your technique, you should know the proper steps that the pro detailing services are done to protect your cars finish.

1. Poly foam wax applicators are the best to use as they don’t leave flakes and residue behind.

2. Apply a THIN layer of wax (about the amount equal to a tablespoon) to the applicator and work in a clockwise motion to evenly spread the wax onto your vehicle.

3. Make sure you start in a location that is easily met by your end point so that you can begin buffing from your start area first-if you are using a wax that allows you to wax the entire car before buffing. Otherwise, after application to one area move on to the next step.

4. Use a microfiber towel and in a counterclockwise motion begin buffing away the wax beginning where you started the application. Microfiber towels buff away the wax residue and leave a stunning shine, minus lint and dust.

5. You may find uneven streaks or mistakes left behind. That’s okay because you’re not perfect or a professional detailing company. Get rid of the streaks by applying a detail spray to the areas affected and buff away the left over wax.

For DIY car waxing, the hand application method leaves less room for error and damage to your paint’s finish-especially utilizing the professional detailing tips above. For those with access to a mechanical buffer/polisher, or for those more ambitious car buffs-let’s get to it. Here’s how you can make waxing your car yourself produce results like the detailing services you used to use.

1. Use a foam finishing pad, and attach it to your polisher.

2. You can use traditional liquid waxes or paste waxes-each application has specific instruction. For liquid waxes, apply a few (typically 3) 3" lines across the finishing pad. For paste waxes, just spread it onto the applicator similar to spreading jelly on your morning whole grain toast.

3. Don’t make a mess! To prevent spills and splatter, press the polisher to the vehicle and spread the wax on the area before you turn it on (liquid wax forms). It’ll save you the clean-up headache!

4. There’s a bit of debate on which speed to set your polisher to for waxing purposes. We’ve found that speeds 2 or 3, at the most, are more than sufficient. So set your polisher and begin applying the wax evenly over the panel.

5. Time to buff. If your wax has to buffed after application to each panel, grab a microfiber cloth and use it to hand-buff the wax. If your wax allows for buffing after all-over application, use a microfiber cover over a cushioned pad (such as lambswool) and use the polisher to buff the wax away beginning with the area you began waxing.

Waxing your car as well as the professional detailing companies may take some practice. That’s why the hand wax application is offered first. Mastering the art of the mechanical polisher can take time and you can’t afford the costly mistakes using it wrongly can make. Either option comes with its own set of professional detailing tips to help your waxing experience be efficient and thorough, yielding beautiful immaculate results-every time. Do you have some of your own tips and tricks? Post them in the comments and share your experience.


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