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Slipstream - August 2017

The monthly newsletter of the Maverick Region of the Porsche Club of America

24

24 August

Detailing Tips: Traditional Wax vs Synthetic Polymers By Tony “Concorso” Image courtesy of the Author ast time we covered the basics of prep work L with the Surface Prep Mitt vs Clay Bar comparison, so this month we’ll take a look at the merit of the various finish layer products available, such as waxes and sealants. Almost all of these products are readily available at the auto parts and discount stores, as well as online. There are far too many products to list individually, so we’ll refer to each general category in this comparison: traditional wax or the newer synthetic polymer/sealant formulations. A little product history is in order here. Waxes have a long history of use in protecting automotive (and other) finishes, while synthetic polymer/sealers came along as a result of continued desire for improvement in application and removal of products (Ed. Note: IBM received the initial patent for a “synthetic wax substitute” on April 14, 1964). In addition, we always want our finishes to be deeper or wetter looking along with protection lasting as long as possible. Waxes of all types can offer up an absolutely beautiful finish, but contrary to our common thinking, waxes are actually very soft layers of protection. Traditional wax has gorgeous clarity and depth, but scratches every time you wipe off your vehicle with microfiber towels and your favorite instant detailer. Almost all waxes have some level of carnauba content, from a fraction of one percent to 20% or higher, and can range in price from $6.00 a can up to several thousand dollars per can. The percentage of carnauba content noted on the container refers to the purity of the carnauba used, not the percentage of volume of the can. Important determining factors in the longevity of the product include the amount of proper prep taken and the care the car gets between waxings, as well as where it is kept. In the end, most carnauba-based products last about 60 - 90 days. So, along come the synthetic polymer-based products to add to the comparisons. Polymer products are a man-made attempt to improve upon nature, with some success I might add. These products bring multiple advancements in molecular structure over waxes to boost the performance qualities. The end result is a harder-than-wax protective layer that can last up to six months, although “harder-than-wax” is a relative term. Polymer/sealers are still very soft and will also scratch when washed and wiped. Another big improvement over wax is the ease of application and removal. We’ve all suffered through the frustration of wax buffing and polishing. Most of the synthetic products wipe off easily. No matter which product you choose, the key to a great result is the prep work prior to application. Always make sure the surface is residue-free and squeaky clean before applying any products. During the application process, work in 2 x 2 foot sections and the end result will be a more uniform shine and consistent removal. A pro note here: do your best to get the car dry in all the cracks, crevices, mirrors, emblems, etc. A forced air dryer such as the Metrovac Master Blaster is a great help here. Just a few drops of water added to many of these products during application can make them exponentially harder to remove. Trust me. After the car is completely covered in product we find another advantage to the synthetic products. Most of the polymer products can be removed as soon as applied if desired, and as mentioned, wipe off easily. The waxes can take 20 minutes or more to dry out enough to remove. Humidity makes the biggest difference in cure time. Make sure you have a fresh, clean supply of microfiber towels on hand to remove either type of product and hand buff the car. New or very clean microfiber towels are essential. Work your way from the top down, turning your microfiber towel frequently. When your towel starts to leave little dust residue, change to a clean microfiber and carry on. You can easily use 10 microfiber towels or more in a single wax session. Keep a little instant detailing spray handy, as it can help in the removal of some of the more stubborn wax spots. Again, the synthetic polymer products distinguish themselves at this stage with ease of removal. Here’s a sidebar about product removal. Be patient! Work over the car slowly and review your work from many angles. Step back from the car 10 to 20 feet and survey your work. Go through the entire process repeatedly. The more time you spend walking around the car and spotting areas that need additional buffing, the better the results will be. If you have a little time the next day, repeat the walk around and you’ll probably still find some stray wax or residue. Many times, products continue to cure overnight and may also pick up a little moisture and by doing so, expose small areas easily overlooked. As for maintenance, treat both types of products similarly. Hand wash every couple of weeks and remove dust with an instant detailer product regularly. In the next detailing article, I’ll address what it takes to properly prepare the paint surface for any finish product, plus discuss ceramic coatings. Until then . . . “Polish On!”. 25

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