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Old 03-30-2014, 01:13 PM   #1
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How to properly wax a car?

Hi everyone, I have a question about waxing a car.

I bought a new mustang about a month ago, and this is my first time ever waxing a car. I want to keep it in great shape, and I have done a bit of research on proper exterior maintenance...but it seems like I am getting mixed advice, so I would like to get advice in one place from one source to make sure I do a good job.

So far I read that first you need to wash the car very very well with a car shampoo to get rid of any dirt or debris.

Now the next part is where I get confused...I have heard mixed advice in prepping for the wax. I have heard to polish it first then wax. I have heard you need to use a clay bar to rid the car from hidden dirt. Last I have heard that just a simple good wash then wax is more than enough.

I would like some proper input from ya'll on the matter for clarity.

So far I have purchased a bunch of microfiber cloths, Maguires car shampoo, microfiber mitt, and Maguires Ultimate wax.

What else do I need (I will worry about tires later since they are still pretty clean.)
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Old 03-30-2014, 01:24 PM   #2
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If the car is brand new, i wouldn't worry about polishing it, as much as getting a good wash, then touchless dry.

What i do is put down a glaze. Then maybe a sealant. Then a wax. But the glaze is just for a deep wet look. It's not needed. Nor is the sealant, really. But that really helps with paint protection.

If you want to claybar the car, it never hurts. But with a new car i wouldn't say it's essential. Just wash the car really well. Even twice, if you haven't washed it in awhile. Then dry with a blower, or microfiber towels. Never use dish towels, or bath towels. They will scratch the hell out of the paint.

Then apply the wax. Do not swirl it on in circles. If there is any debris left on the car, and you catch it in the pad, you will leave hard to remove swirls. Apply it in thin lines. Do one section at a time, and use a good Quality wax. Let it dry while you start working on a second section. Then by the time you're done applying on the second section, you're good to buff off the first section. After you're done with the whole car, go over it with a detailing spray. This ensures you wipe off any remaining wax you missed, and adds just a little more shine.
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Old 03-30-2014, 01:44 PM   #3
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Thank you!

Ok so I am gonna wash it very well then, twice. Then dry it with the microfiber cloth really well, then wax.

I was planning on applying the wax in lines because I have also heard that applying in circles can cause those ugly light scratches.

Last question I can apply the wax all over? Even on the plastic parts of the car?
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Old 03-30-2014, 02:15 PM   #4
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Thank you!



Ok so I am gonna wash it very well then, twice. Then dry it with the microfiber cloth really well, then wax.



I was planning on applying the wax in lines because I have also heard that applying in circles can cause those ugly light scratches.



Last question I can apply the wax all over? Even on the plastic parts of the car?

Yes. Wax in one direction. Because if there is any type of tiny dust or particles left on the paint you will swirl them around if you do circular waxing. It's easier to take them out of its straight lines.
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Old 03-30-2014, 03:27 PM   #5
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Yes. Wax in one direction. Because if there is any type of tiny dust or particles left on the paint you will swirl them around if you do circular waxing. It's easier to take them out of its straight lines.
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Old 03-30-2014, 05:20 PM   #6
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Thank you!



Ok so I am gonna wash it very well then, twice. Then dry it with the microfiber cloth really well, then wax.



I was planning on applying the wax in lines because I have also heard that applying in circles can cause those ugly light scratches.



Last question I can apply the wax all over? Even on the plastic parts of the car?

No, do not put wax on rubber or plastic trim. Just painted surfaces. It will leave a white chalky film over anything non painted.
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Old 03-31-2014, 11:17 AM   #7
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No, do not put wax on rubber or plastic trim. Just painted surfaces. It will leave a white chalky film over anything non painted.
Learned that the hard way, still trying to cover up the white marks.
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Old 03-31-2014, 09:12 PM   #8
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In reference to what was posted, if the car is new, then definitely clay the car. While sitting at the rail yard waiting to be shipped, the car gets rail dust in the fresh paint. Also, if the car was transported in an open trailer, it will have exhaust fallout and other airborne chemical fallout. Here's what you should do.

1. Wash the car with liquid dish soap to remove any wax from the dealer prep or pre delivery
2. While the car is still wet go over the paint with the clay bar. The paint needs to be very wet or the clay will stick. You can also rewash the car with car wash soap and run the clay thru the soapy water. Be sure to move the claybar in a back and forth or side to side motion, not both. If you drop the clay, throw it away! Do not reuse it
3. After you clay the car, wash it again with the car wash soap.
4. Dry the car with 100% cotton towels, chamois or waffle weave towel designed for vehicle drying.
5. A polish will fill in and hide minor scratches and swirls. lightly dampen the applicator and apply the polish in straight lines. Again, no circular motions. It should go on smoothly because you clayed the paint.
6. After the polish is removed, you can wax. A wax will seal in the shine of the polish and protect the finish. Most waxes have abrasives in them and will remove the polish you just applied so you will probably want something that doesn't have abrasives. Another item would be to use something like Meguiar's NXT 2.0. It's a synthetic polish that seals and protects like a wax, but because it's a polish, it hides swirls. You could apply that directly after drying to eliminate the polish and wax steps and just polish.

You will be very surprised at how easy it is to apply and remove the polish. When ypu are finished, the car will shine better than new. You can also clay the windows which will aid in cleaning them.

As for the tires, they should be a natural black, not a shiny, slimy black. To achieve that, spray Simple Green on a wet tire, let it sit about 20 seconds and use a tire brush to scrub the tires. Rinse everything very well as Simple Green will also remove wax so it's best to start washing the tires first before the rest of the car.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.
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Old 04-01-2014, 01:34 AM   #9
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This might help clear things up. Click image for larger version

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Old 04-01-2014, 01:53 AM   #10
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Wow, I'm in the same boat as the OP. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their input, I want to make sure my cars paint is protected and before my stang I never knew so much went into the protection process.
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Old 04-01-2014, 01:58 AM   #11
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I will never use dish soap on a car again. I am pretty sure it ishat messed up my paint on my truck I used to have.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:07 AM   #12
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If you want to see how a serious pro does it, check out ammonyc on YouTube. Larry knows his ****. Never use a dish detergent on a car...
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:07 AM   #13
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I will never use dish soap on a car again. I am pretty sure it ishat messed up my paint on my truck I used to have.
I don't even know where the idea came from about using dish soap. It's meant to eat oils away, and if any residue is left it will continue to break oils down.

With automotive soap their meant to clean and help "moisturize" the paint at least.

I'm no expert but if you take a minute to look at the intended purpose (and ingredients) of the two products you'll see it's just not a good idea to use dish soap.

Now, using dish soap for spot treatment, i.e bugs can be effective, but even at that I would recommend an automotive bug/tar remover.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:12 AM   #14
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If you want to see how a serious pro does it, check out ammonyc on YouTube. Larry knows his ****. Never use a dish detergent on a car...
Awesome share! I'll be checking out his video titled: How to Remove Water Spots and Calcium/Lime Deposits

Currently I think that's an issue I have from the previous owner.
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:51 AM   #15
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I don't even know where the idea came from about using dish soap. It's meant to eat oils away, and if any residue is left it will continue to break oils down.

With automotive soap their meant to clean and help "moisturize" the paint at least.

I'm no expert but if you take a minute to look at the intended purpose (and ingredients) of the two products you'll see it's just not a good idea to use dish soap.

Now, using dish soap for spot treatment, i.e bugs can be effective, but even at that I would recommend an automotive bug/tar remover.
The guy a few posts up recommended using it and I was just saying I would never do it again.
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:00 AM   #16
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Oh no, I didn't mean to come off brass about you using it, or anyone recommending it.

I just saw a guy using it on his truck today and so I actually thought about it then and just shared my thoughts I was having after seeing you post it about it.

I'm just surprised that it's recommended as frequently as it is, almost anyone who has gone that route it seem has said what you said, "never again."
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:09 PM   #17
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You use dish soap for your initial wash only. That squeaky clean you get on your dishes is because it removed all oils and residue. It will do the same to your car. It will strip all of the existing waxes, polishes tire shine that slung up on the paint, etc. It is not to be used for regular car washing. The first time you go through the entire detail process is the time to use it. It WILL strip all top coatings off the car leaving you with a blank canvas to start the clay and polishing.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:25 PM   #18
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If you have vinyl stripes on your car should you avoid getting any wax or polish on those?
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:48 PM   #19
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I've heard people say for years that you are to avoid getting wax on the vinyl graphics, but I would question why? I have a 2003 Monte Carlo SS Pace car that has graphics all over the car and I wax it from top to bottom. If the graphics are manufactured to last 7 years, and I have one that still looks new at 11 years and 110k miles, then I say wax 'em. It will protect the vinyl from UV damage as well.

One thing about the graphics is the edge. The wax WILL build up on the edge, so be sure that you carefully run along the edges with the towel or cloth you use to remove the wax. A fingernail or a toothpick can be used also, but you need to be careful not to apply pressure to the edge of the vinyl or you can get under it and lift it.

I have three vehicles that have graphics and all of them get waxed/polished. Also, not a single one of them has wax residue anywhere on the car.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:16 PM   #20
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If you keep a nice coat of wax on the car then it will be shiny and reflective even when a bit dirty. My car was actually pretty dirty in this picture.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:16 PM   #21
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Thanks for the feedback on waxing vinyl stripes. I haven't had my mustang long and was wanting to give it a good wash and wax. Just wasn't sure what the outcome would be if it got on the stripes.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:46 PM   #22
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No, do not put wax on rubber or plastic trim. Just painted surfaces. It will leave a white chalky film over anything non painted.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:58 PM   #23
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I'm still trying to get the wax of the black plastic pieces of my car
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:37 PM   #24
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What is the best product to use on the plastic, non-painted surfaces? A friend of mine just use Armor All spray but wasn't sure how good of an idea that is.
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:55 PM   #25
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What is the best product to use on the plastic, non-painted surfaces? A friend of mine just use Armor All spray but wasn't sure how good of an idea that is.

I use armor all on all of the black plastics on my car and haven't had a problem.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:24 PM   #26
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Thanks for all the good info in this thread, just waxed my car for the first time and I think it turned out good.
Thanks!
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:47 PM   #27
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BTW, DO NOT use normal wax on your matte/flat black vinyl stripes. I heard you can wax white, even shiny/gloss black vinyl stripes. Not the matte/flat black stripes because it will leave the white residue. Trust me, that's from personal experience.

Now I use Turtle Wax ICE Paste Wax on my flat black stripes, so far so good. Also these spray detailer works pretty good too.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:11 AM   #28
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If you want something super durable and that will last a while get a sealant.

For something that will give good protection and good looks use a wax

For when you want your car to look like a straight up mirror use a glaze.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:43 PM   #29
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If you want something super durable and that will last a while get a sealant.

For something that will give good protection and good looks use a wax

For when you want your car to look like a straight up mirror use a glaze.
Very well said...... If you want the best of both worlds, apply your sealant and then top it with a carnauba wax.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:07 PM   #30
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Opticoat + a layer of glaze and you are golden.
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Old 04-10-2014, 02:19 PM   #31
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I'm a zaino fan but to each his own just follow the steps up above..... I will use dawn just to strip old wax left on the car by previous owners or dealerships you definitely do not want to use it all the time it's really harsh on the clear coat with multiple uses because of the alkaline
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Old 04-10-2014, 02:46 PM   #32
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My recommendation to use Dawn was for the original poster that said this car is brand new and he wants to start off from the beginning. The dealer I bought my car from told me that they clay and wax every car before it goes out. I don't believe them on the clay, but they used a spray wax on the car after they washed it. I wanted to get all of their crap off the car, so dish soap it was! I now had a clean slate to begin MY detailing regimen.
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Old 04-10-2014, 04:04 PM   #33
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My recommendation to use Dawn was for the original poster that said this car is brand new and he wants to start off from the beginning. The dealer I bought my car from told me that they clay and wax every car before it goes out. I don't believe them on the clay, but they used a spray wax on the car after they washed it. I wanted to get all of their crap off the car, so dish soap it was! I now had a clean slate to begin MY detailing regimen.
Exactly +1 ⇧
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Old 04-10-2014, 04:10 PM   #34
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Clay bar will take off the wax. I highly recommend not using a dish soap if you like your paint.
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Old 04-10-2014, 04:25 PM   #35
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Yes a clay bar will remove most waxes and impurties. Your main concern is the clear coat when using a dish soap using it once won't hurt it but repeated uses will. I strip it all with dawn then clay and use meguiars 105 & 205 with the PC7424xp wash again and then the zaino but that's my preference
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