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Dismissing Common Myths About Car Wax

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Image Courtesy of Flickr

Nothing improves the appearance of an automobile like a good paint job and a shiny coating of wax. Unfortunately, many owners believe that a coating of wax will act like the deflector shields seen on Star Trek when it comes to protecting their car’s expensive paint and body work. In an effort to rebuff such unreasonable expectations, here are a few of the more commonly-held misbeliefs regarding auto wax.

Myth: Wax is a sure-fire protection against paint or body damage from moisture and rust

While a good coat of wax can certainly help to protect paint, wax itself is not impervious to oxygen or to moisture in the form of water, water vapor and common roadside chemicals such as fuel or coolants. Furthermore, wax does very little to block the ultraviolet portion of the sun’s rays from reaching the underlying paint. Attention to keeping your car clean will go further toward protecting your car’s paint job than several coats of expensive auto wax.

Myth: Wax will protect your car from the harmful effects of detergents used in auto washing compounds

Automotive cleaning products work by dissolving the chemical bonds that bind compounds such as dirt and grease to your car’s paint. By and large, such bonds arise from organic compounds. Since auto wax is fundamentally an organic compound as well, and since auto detergents are unable to distinguish one organic compound from another, it is only logical that detergents will eventually wear down wax to the point that it loses any protective properties that it may have had.

Myth: Auto wax can repair damage to paint

Most coats of paint, whether factory-applied or done by a professional auto painter, are relatively thin in comparison with the parts that they are covering. Although many auto wax products will claim to repair “dings and scratches,” such products are mainly fillers and do nothing to restore the integrity of the underlying paint as a protection against body corrosion. As a general rule, any disruption of paint that is severe enough to be immediately noticeable to a casual observer should be repaired by an automotive paint professional.

Myth: A shiny coat of wax equals shiny paint underneath

The cosmetic appeal of a fresh coat of wax is mostly due to the fact wax reflects a good portion of any light that strikes it. Even a half-inch of wax can do nothing to improve a paint job that was improperly applied or has lost its luster over time.