Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Car Waxing: Elbow Grease Yields Protective Coat

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Car Waxing: Elbow Grease Yields Protective Coat

Article excerpt

Waxing a car is no frolic. It takes time - an hour or more for a mid-size car - and therefore requires a certain mindset.

"This sounds kind of corny, but it's almost got to be done with a little bit of romanticism," says John Paul, the Car Doctor for the American Automobile Association of Southern New England. "When you put the wax on you want to come away saying, 'Wow, my car looks great. That was worth it.' "

Today's car paint holds up well and resists oxidizing better than paint did 20 years ago, says Mike Pennington, director of training for Meguiar's, a leading maker of car-care products. There's still a problem, though, with airborne pollutants. Acid rain, for example, is no less an aggressor than tree sap or bird droppings, Mr. Pennington says.

When does a car need waxing? A good indicator is when water stops beading on the car's surface.

But beading doesn't necessarily mean the finish is protected, Pennington says. If a towel or chamois slides off the car or doesn't squeak when rubbed against the finish, or the surface just feels smooth, those are good signs, he notes.

Waxing is no panacea if the paint has begun to craze, crack, or check, but even then the wax can help forestall further deterioration. "With a terribly faded car," Pennington says, "putting on a coat of wax is still going to help prevent rust.

"The biggest mistake most people make," he adds, "is they don't get the car clean enough before they start. To get a good end product, you have to do some preparation." Without it, the finish may look cloudy.

The prep work begins with washing the car. Stay away from dishwashing liquids and household cleansers that tend to strip off existing wax. And since hot water softens wax, Larry Reynolds of Car Care Specialties (www.carcareonline. com) recommends cool water with only a little carwashing liquid.

After washing, more cleaning may be required with a tar, grime, and bug remover of some kind, or perhaps with a finely abrasive clay bar sold at auto supply stores that picks up grit.

Once the car is clean and dry, waxing should begin before airborne contaminants collect. …

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