Let’s face it, many of us take our cars for granted. We buy them for thousands of pounds, or spend hundreds on monthly payments, then we just leave them outside at the mercy of the elements.
But there is another way. For not very much money you can protect your car throughout the winter. Here we look at how you can protect the paint on your car over the winter months.
Are polishing and waxing the same thing?
Good question and the answer is no. When cars are painted they are covered in something called a clear coat. This is the equivalent of varnish on wood. It protects the paint from slight scratches while letting its colour shine through.
Applying wax to a car’s paintwork is giving the clear coat an extra durable layer of protection. Polish on the other hand is used to clean and restore paintwork. It does so by effectively removing a microscopic layer of the clear coat. This enables dirt such as tar and bird lime to be removed.
Once you’ve applied polish and taken it off, restoring the lustre to your car’s paintwork, you should then wax it for protection.
Think of wax as a winter coat
Wax creates a barrier between the paint’s ‘clear coat’ and the salt, dirt, and other nasties that will be thrown up as you drive along the road. But the most important thing about wax is that it creates a waterproof layer over your paintwork.
You must wash it first
Wax is like a seal. You want to use it to keep wet and dirt out, not seal it in. So before applying wax, give your car a good wash and dry it. Then you can apply the wax.
According to wax manufacturers it’s better to apply multiple layers of wax thinly than one layer of thick wax. But if the product is any good, a single layer should be enough. You simply apply it, leave it to dry, then buff it off. The result should be lovely, shiny looking paintwork.
What really is car wax?
Wax is actually a hydrocarbon when it’s at room temperature, hence why candles are solid. To enable us to spread it over our cars, oils and solvents are added to it.
How do you know when it’s time to wax?
Spray some water on your car. The droplets should bead and then if the surface is sloped, run off. If your car does this when you wash it, it probably doesn’t need waxing. However, if the water just sits on the paintwork, it’s time to warm your elbow up and get waxing.
How many times a year should you wax?
The experts at Autoglym say you should wax your car around three times a year. If that sounds too much for you, we’d suggest you do so at least twice. Once in the run up to winter; a second time towards the end of spring, but before summer. That’s because wax also protects paintwork from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.