“Wax On Wax Off” is a Recipe for Swirls Galore
Many of us remember the scene in the now classic original “Karate Kid” move. Danielsan learns to build his strength and skills by waxing Mr. Miagi’s classic cars. He has him use circles, which may be great for Karate, but are awful for your paint.
Let’s walk you through a little car paint education and then explain the best way to wash and dry your car.
Modern car paint is made-up of a very thin layer of primer, another very thin layer of color, and then a thicker layer of clear coat. To give you an idea of how thin, all three layers are just under the depth of two human hairs (60-80 microns). This approach is used on most cars post 1995.
Your car’s clear coat layer is porous – meaning it has tiny little holes in it (that we cannot see with our eyes).
Over time, little pieces of debris can get lodged in these holes. While there are techniques like clay bar and products like IronX that remove this debris, most paint surfaces still have some small debris that remains. For noting, this will even remain after washing.
Now, imagine a towel “grabbing” this debris and then scratching your paint with it. This is exactly what happens with circle motions are used when washing or drying. You’ll notice in bright light, at an angle, a pattern of circular scratches. Your paint overall will look duller, and water will appear to “stick” to it a bit more. Over time, this does damage this tiny layer of clear coat on your vehicle.
In fact, poor washing and drying techniques are known to be the cause for 90+% of scratches in your vehicles’ paint.
Want to know how to avoid this?
Here are seven pro tips to maintain a great paint finish:
- Always hand wash your car. Yes, this is not always the most convenient. However, it’s the best way to ensure the best result.
- Use a separate bucket for rinse water, wash water, and wheel washing. We’ll talk about this more in a future post.
- Only touch your paint’s surface if it has some sort of lubricant on it – water, soap, detail spray – but never dry.
- Apply only very slight pressure. If you are scrubbing, you need a different product to loosen the dirt. Your scrubbing will move the debris that scratches paint. You can use an APC mentioned in a previous post.
- Always start from the top of your vehicle, and go front to back, in straight lines. Slowly progress from top of the vehicle to the bottom.
- When washing, rinse your mitt about 8-10 times for every car.
- When drying, flip over your towels – about every 1/8th of your car, so it receives a clean surface. You may want to consider a drying aid like a detail spray too. We’ll talk about using air blowing to dry your car in a future post.
If you apply this approach to your washing regimen, your paint will have less scratches and more shine.
If you need a new mantra or song, instead of “wax on wax off”, maybe change the lyrics of “blurred lines” to straight lines (hey, hey, hey, hey). It’s important to have fun.
Smile and enjoy your ride!
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