Car Wax Vs Polish: The Difference

Car Wax Vs Polish: The Difference

“Car wax vs polish … same thing, right?” Wrong! Unless you are happy to pay extra bills for your car, then you should really tune in here. Failure to recognise the difference, will not only burn through your wallet, but accelerate the deterioration of your paint.

Having a clean, polished car is something that many of us strive for. Not only does it make your car look great, but it can also help to protect the paint job and keep your car in great condition for years to come. But what is the difference between car wax and car polish? While both can help enhance the appearance of your car, there are some key differences between the two products that you should be aware of. In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of understanding the difference of a car wax vs polish and how to make the best decision.


Wax vs Polish: What is Car Wax?

Waxes can come in various forms, spray, liquid and paste. Although they all essentially strive to achieve the same thing. The main difference between these waxes is how long they last. The primary purpose of using wax for your vehicle is to provide paint protection. It is spread as a protective coating on top of your car’s painted surface, but not to be confused with a ceramic coating or graphene coating.

How Do Car Waxes Work?

Car waxes work by forming a layer of protection between your car’s paint and the surrounding environment. The wax acts like a barrier, repelling dirt, dust, road grime, and other contaminants from the paint. The wax also helps to fill in small scratches, swirls, and other imperfections in the paint, giving the finish a glossy, smooth look (but only temporarily of course, until the wax deteriorates – typically weeks). Furthermore, when it comes to the wax vs polish debate, the wax assists in protecting the paint from UV rays, which can cause fading and discolouration – unlike polish. Last but not least, the wax helps ease your washing and drying process as it can be used as a drying aid and ultimately reduce the appearance of water spots.

Wax vs Polish: What is Car Polish?

A car polish on the other hand is not the same thing as a wax and should not be used interchangeably in the wax vs polish debate. Unlike a wax, a polish contains abrasive content, meaning it’s main purpose is to remove some of the top layer of your car’s clear coat. That is right, it can shed off layers off the clear coat, but in return for smoothness and gloss – it comes at a cost. This is why it is super important to understand their differences and ensure that you select the right option when booking a car detail.

A car’s clear coat is a transparent layer of protective paint that is applied to the car’s body after the base coat. It is important because it provides a barrier that helps to protect the paint underneath from damage, such as fading and chipping, caused by UV rays, moisture, and other environmental elements. Additionally, it helps to maintain the glossy shine of the paint, giving the car a more attractive, vibrant look. It is within every car owner’s best interest to maintain the clear coat in order to sustain its lustre and shine.

How does it work?

The car polish is designed to improve the appearance of a car’s exterior by removing minor scratches, blemishes, oxidation, and swirls (not temporary like wax, but permanently, until damaged again). It is applied to a clean car surface using a machine buffer or polisher, and then buffed off with a clean microfiber cloth to reveal a corrected paintwork. The polish contains abrasives that help to remove the imperfections, while oils and waxes help to protect the paint and leave a glossy finish. The term paint correction, to address minor blemishes on the surface, is coined towards the polish itself due to its corrective properties during the process.

Wax vs Polish: Important Tip

Given the friendly nature of wax, without its abrasiveness, it’s okay to apply it regularly to restore  protection. However the same can’t be said for car polish. You should only polish your car perhaps once or twice a year due to its ‘exfoliating’ property, but this will depend on the aggressiveness of that polishing stage. 

Obviously with all this being said, the polishing itself can vary in aggressiveness. This can depend on the pad you use, the time you spend, the polishing product itself and pressure applied. Please do your research before considering a car polish, or otherwise, speak to a automotive expert.

Generally, you should often polish the car more often if you drive the car frequently, park outdoors and so on.

wax vs polish

Wax vs Polish: The Verdict

In summary:

A car wax has no abrasives and is used to complete the finish of a car after a polish or wash has been performed without affecting the clear coat. It involves not paint correction.

A polish, is a rather more aggressive technique, which contains abrasives to remove layers of the clear coat. It does involve some paint correction. 

You should be applying a wax coating after every time you polish the car to seal and protect that finish achieved from the paint correction (polish). Hopefully now, we can put the wax vs polish debate to rest.

Want Results - But No Time?

If you are in need of a wax vs polish, for optimal shine and protection, place a booking with Schmicko today – SydneyMelbourne. A car wax is included in all of our packages as a bare minimum, we recognise your pride and joy as our top priority. A polish is available in the Pre Sale Detail, perfect for anyone looking to sell their vehicle or simply want to achieve that high-gloss flawless finish. Nonetheless, either option of paint protection can be included as an add on to any car detailing package.

Here are some before and after footage of vehicles that have experienced our car detailing services.

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