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WAX DEPOT » Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why shouldn't I use dish washing soap to wash my car?
  • What is the difference between a wax and a polish?
  • What is the difference between a paste and liquid wax?
  • How long does a car wax last?
  • Why do car finishes fade? How do you prevent it?
  • What is a clear coat?
  • How do I know if I have a clear coat?
  • How often should I wash my vehicle?
  • What is the best way to wash my vehicle?
  • What about automatic car washes?
  • What is acid rain, and how do I prevent it?
  • I just bought a new car. Now what?
  • What is the white spotting or streaking on my wheel and what causes it?
  • Do spray-on / hose-off wheel cleaners really work and are they safe?
  • Why do some wheel cleaners say to spray on dry wheels and others say to spray on pre-rinsed wheels?
  • Why are some metals harder to polish than others?
  • Why does the rag turn black when I use a metal polish?




  • Why shouldn't I use dish washing soap to wash my car?
    Dish washing detergents are designed to strip grease and grime and will actually strip off any wax protection your car has. Use a product which is pH balanced and specifically designed for cars.
     
  • What is the difference between a wax and a polish?
    There is a great deal of confusion today regarding this. Due to marketing efforts by some companies, the two terms have almost become interchangeable. A pure polish is just that, a polish, and most of the time contains abrasives, fine or coarse, to polish the paint to a smooth finish. Polishes will feed oils into the paint along with conditioners and will create a gloss that is not possible with waxes.

    Wax is designed to protect the area that has been polished. Waxes made with carnauba are recommended by paint manufacturers since they allow the paint to breathe and provide hard protection.
     
  • What is the difference between a paste and liquid wax?
    There really is no difference in the protection to your car's paint. The main difference is in the ease of use. A liquid wax will be much easier to apply and remove than a paste, but it might not last as long. A paste wax might last longer than a liquid, but it will take more effort to apply and remove.
     
  • How long does a car wax last?
    There is no standard answer to how long a car wax will last. There are many variables that influence the durability of wax such as: type and color of paint, condition of paint, environmental conditions, hours kept outdoors, quality of wax used, and how often the car is washed. We recommend using a quality wax every 4 to 6 weeks, or as needed. We recommend only using waxes which contain carnauba which comes from a species of palm trees in South America and is the hardest wax available.
     
  • Why do car finishes fade? How do you prevent it?
    Paint is designed to reflect light, which creates a shine. UV light affects paint and the way visible light is reflected. If your car is washed regularly and kept indoors most of the time the shine will last for many years since there would be minimal oxidation or element damage to the finish that would stain, spot or dull the finish. To help prevent this from occurring, we recommend weekly washing with a product designed for washing cars, monthly waxing with a carnauba wax and full paint polishing every 4-6 months with a good quality polish. With this simple maintenance program, your paint will always look its best.
     
  • What is a clear coat?
    Most modern car finishes consist of a primer, a base coating that contains the color, and a protective clear coat. Clear coats are simply clear paints applied over a color base coat. This outer clear coat adds UV protection that helps prevent the sun's rays from drying out the base paint.
     
  • How do I know if I have a clear coat?
    Most new vehicles today have clear coats. An easy way to tell is by looking at your cloth when applying a polish. If you see color on the rag, then the paint is not clear coated. If there is no color, then there probably is a clear coat.
     
  • How often should I wash my vehicle?
    Washing a vehicle is very important. You must keep dust, dirt and grime from adhering itself to your paint and possibly damaging your paint. Your car should be washed at least once a week to prevent any dirt buildup and paint damage.
     
  • What is the best way to wash my vehicle?
    First, do not use any household detergents. These detergents were designed to strip grease and grime and can strip off your car's wax protection. A good rule of thumb: If the product came from the kitchen, it is designed to stay in the kitchen. Use only a quality car wash shampoo specifically made for washing cars.

    Second, use a large bucket (at least 5 gallons) so that dirt particles sink to the bottom and the fresh suds and water you apply are free of major contamination. Some people use two buckets, one for rinsing and one for the suds.

    Third, make sure your car surface is cool (preferably in the shade) by hosing the entire vehicle down starting from the bottom. Apply suds to the upper areas first using a wash mitt and work your way down. Rinse the car clean by running a slow stream of water instead of a high pressure spray to reduce water spots and drying time.

    Fourth, once the entire vehicle is washed and rinsed, take a clean, dry towel or cloth and wipe the vehicle down, again starting at the top. We also recommend products like The Original California Water Blade or a synthetic chamois. Leather chamois tend to pull oils from the paint and may even take the wax off.
     
  • What about automatic car washes?
    Avoid car washes that use brushes to clean or use drying materials that can scratch your paint. Also, be careful about car washes with poor water recycling systems and ones that use harsh soaps.
     
  • What is acid rain, and how do I prevent it?
    Emissions from chemical plants, industrial fallout, surface contaminants and other organic and inorganic materials are all an integral part of acid rain. When these elements are deposited on your car's surface in a dry state it will appear as dust particles, but mix it with a little dew or rain and you have a mixture of sulfuric acid on your paint finish. This is why we recommend rinsing your vehicle from the bottom first. The dirt and contaminants will be rinsed off onto a cool surface, disallowing any chances for streaks or spotting. Left on your surface for any period of time (especially if placed in the direct sunlight) may cause you to have etching on your finish. Typical acid rain damage may first look like water droplets which have dried on paint and caused discoloration. In some cases, damage appears as a white ring with a dull center. Severe cases will show pitting. Depending on the level of defect, you will need a cleaner or polish to restore the finish.

    For the best protection, we recommend keeping your car under cover, washed and waxed frequently. Some people rinse their cars after driving in the rain to prevent any possible damage.
     
  • I just bought a new car. Now what?
    First, we recommend washing the car. Sure, the dealer washed it for you, but it will get dirty again very soon. Use a good car wash shampoo specifically designed for washing cars, not household detergents (see questions above).

    Second, polish the car with an ultrafine-abrasive polish, such as The Wax Shop Safe Cut. You aren't sure what the dealership used on your car before they turned the keys over, so the polish ensures a clean surface to wax.

    Third, use a quality carnauba wax on the car. This will protect the paint finish on the car.

    Fourth, follow a regular regimen of washing the car at least every two weeks, waxing it every 4 to 6 weeks, or as necessary, and polishing it at least every six months for optimum shine and protection.
     
  • What is the white spotting or streaking on my wheel and what causes it?
    It is called etching. Etching is evidence that a chemical reaction (either acidic or alkaline in nature) may have taken place on a metal surface.
     
  • Do spray-on / hose-off wheel cleaners really work and are they safe?
    Most types of spray-on / hose-off cleaners that are relatively safe to use are only 70-80% effective. Even the more aggressive wheel cleaners that are spray-on / hose-off formulas are still only 80-90% effective. The more effective that a spray-on / hose-off wheel cleaner is, the more cautious you must be. Not all damage to the wheel becomes noticeable immediately. Wheels that have a buildup of dirt, road grime and brake dust cannot be cleaned without light agitation. Wheels and painted surfaces have an electro-static charge that is inherent in their structure and act like magnets that cause grime and brake dust to adhere to their surfaces. Chemicals by themselves, even those formulated with more aggressive ingredients, at best, can only remove approximately 90% of the buildup. To get 100% effectiveness some agitation must be performed with a wheel and tire brush.
     
  • Why do some wheel cleaners say to spray on dry wheels and others say to spray on pre-rinsed wheels?
    It is always safer to apply or spray chemicals on a cooler wheel. It is NEVER recommended to apply or spray chemicals on a HOT, dry wheel! If a wheel is hot then it would be a recommended procedure to hose the hot wheel down with cool water before applying most wheel cleaner products. Product labels that say to apply "only to cool, dry wheels" are potentially reactive with metal, and are therefore potentially unsafe on certain types of wheels.
     
  • Why are some metals harder to polish than others?
    The reason that some metal pieces are easier or more difficult to polish depends on several factors. The hardness of the metal itself, how oxidized it has become, its quality of manufacturing, the finish of the wheel and impurities in the metal. However, the main factor is in the metal polish itself. There are some metal polishes strictly made for polishing softer metal surfaces and are ineffective on harder metals and vice versa.
     
  • Why does the rag turn black when I use a metal polish?
    The black is actually the oxidation that is being removed from the metal. Similarly, when you remove the oxidation from a non-clear coated paint you will find the rag will turn the color of the paint. Oxidation from metal acts in the same fashion. When the rag does not turn black, you either have a clear coated surface, or there is little or no oxidation left on the metal.
     


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