What's The Difference Between Waxing, Polishing, and Paint Corrections?

Something that we get asked a lot by customers is whether or not we wax a car and if so will it remove swirl lines and scratches. The answer is yes and no, yes as there are some waxes that have filling agents in the chemical mixture that helps with filling in the scuffs and swirls. No, as it is not going to remove those from your paint.

Waxing a car is sorta an old-school method to get your vehicle shinning, looking good, and adding a bit of protection from the sun's UV rays, and there are even some that provide excellent water repellency properties that are similar to ceramic/graphene coatings.

Paste Waxing Car
Paste Wax Application By Hand

The biggest 2 drawbacks in my opinion about waxing a vehicle are 1. It's very time-consuming to apply a good quality paste wax. Requiring the time to prep the black plastic trim pieces around the car from staining it, and the amount of time it takes to apply the paste wax, with or without a machine to assist.

Wax options available at this local shop
Liquid Wax Application By Machine

2. The lack of scuff and scratch removal versus its ability to mask them by filling them in. Sure in some cases a vehicle's clear coat may not be thick enough to do polish or a paint correction and at that time you may be forced to do a wax or polymer paint sealant with filling capabilities. But they still are not removing the swirl lines and scuffs, they are just hiding them.

Polishing a car is where you begin with the removal of swirl lines, some scuffs, but no scratches. Polishing it's the method in which we use a machine to help smooth out or remove some of the haze in the clear coat.

The haze is typically caused by the washing methods of the vehicle's owner. These washing methods can range from hand washing to drive-through washes. And sometimes the haze can happen from rubbing or brushing up against the vehicle's paint while there is dirt or dust on the vehicle.

This haze is commonly referred to as swirls, love marks, spider webs, and angle hair. Which you normally would only see if the sun is shining directly onto the surface of the vehicle. It's more visible by sunlight as these fine lines cause the sun's light to reflect off them. It is why new vehicles always look so good to the eye of the passer-by.

With most polishing, you should expect a minor improvement to the paint's looks and depend on the person or shop that is doing it. They might even use a product similar to wax or paint sealant to help protect the vehicle's paint and increase the overall shine too.

Paint Corrections is when a person goes a bit further on the polishing side of the service. This is when a heavy cut polishing pad and a light cut polishing pad are used to remove a bit more of the clear coat off the vehicle to level the surface area. Effectively this removes the swirls, scuffs, and most times scratches.

The Sun's Light Reflecting Off The Vehicle Surface

Basically, the person is in a sense smoothing out the surface as if they were wet sanding it but on a nanoscale. Removing only the bare amount needed to make the surface of the vehicle look smooth and ultra-shiny and yet not too much to risk damaging the clear coat on the vehicle. By removal of the scuffs, the clear coat becomes smooth and more reflective, and when the sun hits the surface the lines will no longer be visible.

Most people don't realize that the clear coat on most vehicles is thinner than a post-it note, with mostly clear coats ranging between 2mm-4mm thick. Not leaving a lot of removes for detailers to work with.

1 Step Paint Correction (Cut & Polish In 1 Process)

There are many levels of paint corrections as well. There are detailers who will provide you with a 1 Step Paint Correction, which is a cut & polish in a 1 step system. That way the detailer can provide a client with a faster turnaround time. There is also a 2 step process that can sometimes involve wet sanding to remove deeper scratches.

Wet sanding a scratch out of a clear coat is personally my preferred method over using a rotary machine, it doesn't induce high heat temps to an area of the clear coat. Higher temps increase the risk of clear coat damage or paint damage. You also, in my own opinion, get better results in the end product.

Of course, there will be varying reasons for clients who want one solution over the other as not all vehicles are the same. Not all car owners treat their cars the same. It's why a majority of detailing shops and detailers offer more than 1 option for services for clients to choose from. Our shop is one of those types, as we offer an Enhancement service that includes a polish and paint sealant that should improve the vehicle's overall appearance by 25%, and then there is our Signature service. Our Signature service includes a 1 Step Paint Correction that aims to improve the overall appearance by 85%. We do this by removing and or filling in the paint defects, the process will depend on each vehicle since they will have varying degrees of clear coat thickness or single stage paint, and even the amount of paint defects within the vehicle's paint. Performing a 2 step service and or with or without wet sanding is also available and we suggest taking the time to stop by our shop first to discuss this option.

We invite anyone in our area to stop by our shop and allow us the time to provide you with a detailed breakdown of your vehicle's paint and what options you may take to provide you with the greatest result.

Wishing all vehicle owners a safe and pleasant time on the roads.

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