Car Mechanics (UK)
Coating the paint with a sacrificial layer makes cleaning easier and can protect the finish against minor scratching. It may also help reduce the porosity of the paint for older cars, potentially reducing the risk of blistering and corrosion.
E-commerce especially has made professional products more accessible to Diyers. By their very nature, professional chemicals are less tolerant to user error, which is why you must not only read the application instructions but also research and conduct all the preparation work properly. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money. At best, you will seal contaminations into the finish.
Consider also that most forms of paint protection do so only by creating a slicker surface. The additional UV filters they provide are the main advantages, particularly on single stage paint, which slows oxidation and consequential colour fading. The following basic product groups give an idea of what is available and their benefits.
COMBINED WAX/GLAZES might also be promoted as combined wax and polishes, which are especially popular with DIY users. They tend to be compromised products, however. The glaze content fills imperfections, while the wax provides protection and shine. Yet, the effect does not last for long, although some products contain semipermanent fillers that do not wash off as readily.
WAX has been employed to coat and preserve finishes for many years before the motorcar was invented. You can select an automotive wax to bias protection, or lustre. Some waxes are tinted to provide extra enhancement for darker, or lighter colours. You may hear boasts about waxes containing carnauba, which offers a high gloss and repels water. As this Brazilian-sourced product is rock hard in its pure form, claims of a 100% carnauba wax content might reference the natural content and not the whole content of the pot. A 250g pot of ‘100% Carnauba Wax’ may only contain 2.5 grams of it. So, when you are selecting products, consider that a wax claiming carnauba wax content alone does not mean very much in isolation.
Wax is very user-friendly and can be removed with solvents, or by polishing. It is easy to apply and is more tolerant to poor preparation. Yet, it can last between only a few weeks or months and needs frequent reapplication.
Some waxes can be extremely expensive and are hard to test, making it very difficult to make recommendations. From its detailed testing during 2016/17, PRO Detailer Magazine recommends you seek out Vintage Wax by Scholl Concepts for the best gloss, Soft 99’s Fusso Coat for the greatest durability, 1000P by Finishkare for the best value and Autoglym’s High Definition Wax for the best userfriendliness, Note that some of these products have now been superseded, or updated.
HYBRID/SEALANT WAX are a mix of polymer sealants
(see below) and organic wax. They can also include various silicon-based compounds (including silicones) in their ingredients. Some of them also boast carnauba wax content for glossier finishes. Claims include similar user-friendliness as wax products but with some longevity advantages of a ceramic coating, or a sealant. The jury is out whether they last longer than a decent-quality wax, however.
SYNTHETIC/POLYMER SEALANTS interact with the molecular structure of the paint. These are difficult to strip with chemicals and it is worth advising a bodyshop, should any rectification be required. As an alternative to wax, they can provide better durability and ease of use, although some users believe that they sacrifice ultimate shine.
CERAMIC SEALANTS comprise ultra-fine 3D matrix molecules, based on a silicon dioxide formula. Yet, adding silicon dioxide to a product does not make it a ceramic, the issue is far more complex. In a similar vein to carnauba with wax, beware of being drawn-in by marketing hype. Dependent on the version, the protection offered lasts between one and seven years. Inexperienced owners should obtain specialist advice about removing ceramic coatings.