Car Care Myths:
I wish I could take credit for this but I can't. It's from a detail forum that I post on, but thought it was worth posting to clear up some myths that some think are true in detailing.
Dawn Strips Wax
While it is true that dawn removes grease from plates, pans, and silverware it is not the most effective solution from removing durable waxes or paint sealants from paint. While it will weaken them, and with enough exposure could eventually eliminate them, most modern car waxes and sealants (yes both) have durable cross linking polymers that are barely effected by grease removers.
The flat water beading experienced after washing your car with dish soap is usually a byproduct of a sheeting agent found to eliminate waterspots when dishes are air drying. There is some evidence that repeated exposure to dish washing soaps will reduce the wax coating and could dry out trim, accelerating oxidation.
Conclusion: Leave dish soap to dishes. There are plenty of high quality car soaps that clean just as well and leave behind polymers, waxes, or gloss enhancers to give your paint more shine. If you want to strip the wax on your paint, use a dedicated cleaning spray like Griot's Wax Remover or Gtechniq Panel Wipe, or use a paint cleansing lotion like BLACKFIRE Gloss Enhancing Polish or Ultimate Paint Prep Plus.
Applying Wax/Sealant In Straight Lines Will Increase Shine or Prevent Swirl Marks
To the first, No it won't- Waxes and sealants don't really care which direction they are applied. To the second, kinda- if you are creating scratches when you are applying wax or sealant then you really should really try a new technique. You can still create marring, but if the scratches are running in one direction, then technically they aren't swirl marks (which must run in many directions to create the swirled illusion)
Conclusion: Scratching your car in one direction will hide the scratches from sight when viewed at certain angles. My advice, don't scratch your car to begin with.
Paint Sealants Need Bare Paint To Bond With
The myth that you must completely remove all product, oils, waxes, or polymers from the paint was likely started because some (rare) manufacturers recommend this as SOP (standard operating procedure). Many paint sealants (protectants that use primarly synthetic ingredients) will bond well over different materials, including some oils, waxes, sealants and more. This is because the bonding action of the polymers can actually displace the chemically on the paint.
Dr. Ghoudassi, from Optimum, explained to me that Opti-Seal will actually displace carnauba waxes and oils due to the solvents, which is why it can be applied directly on paint.
Conclusion: Follow the manufacturer's recommended procedure. Believe me, they want their products to last as long as possible and look good as well.
I Have Swirl Marks, I Just Need A Good Coat Of Wax
This is more common on the show car scene, where people wax their cars over and over (usually with a stiff towel and put more swirl marks into the paint). Some old school cleaner/waxes where quite abrasive, and it is possible that they did remove some scratches when applied with enough friction. Since the advent of scratch sensitive clear-coat paints the abrasive waxes have fallen by the way side. What you are really seeing is the wax (or sealant) by function of leaving itself behind, masking or hiding some swirl marks, like make-up hides wrinkles and blemishes.
Conclusion: Waxes and sealants (and glazes) can reduce of the appearance of swirl marks but they are not removing the scratches that create them.
If You Apply A Thick Layer Of Wax You Will Get More Protection
This another common a myth regulated to car shows is the belief that if you slather your paint in a thick layer of wax you will create a thicker, more durable layer of protection and a higher level of shine. You paint is only going to accept so much product, and waxes/sealants lay incredibly thin. By over applying the product you usually increase the effort require to remove it, and the increase in scrubbing action can actually have the opposite effect.
Conclusion: Apply your product as thin as possible to achieve even coverage. It is far better to apply two thin coats then one thick coat for a number of reasons.
Clear Coats Do Not Need To Be Waxed
Modern clear coats are quite durable, provide UV protection for the paint underneath the clear coat, and keep the paint underneath the clear coat safe. Clear coat, however, is simply paint without color, and the question becomes, what it is protecting it? In the old days of single stage paints, the solid colors would tend to oxidize quickly, and require some waxing (with an abrasive wax). Since clear coats oxidize at a much slower rate, many have begun to believe that it is no longer necessary to wax them, which is why we have many cars 3-to-5 years old, driving on our highways, looking terrible.
Conclusion: Clear Coats are simply clear paints, they still require care and maintenance.
When You Polish Paint You Heat It Up. You Need Heat For Good Polishing
If we keep in mind that polishing is a matter of science then we can dissect it. Let look at how heat affects the polishing process. Heat is a byproduct of the friction that occurs between the pad, the abrasive, and the paint. Heat is actually the energy lost according the The Law of Consevation of Energy.
So let’s look at what effects heat has on the process.
What effect does an increase in temperature effect the breakdown of the abrasive, or the rate of its break down? Like most metals, aluminum oxide (common abrasive) will become more malleable with an increase in temperature. However it would have to reach temperatures that are likely high enough to damage the paint before any real difference in application are noticeable.
In fact this can be proven by heating the abrasives with a heat gun. Aluminum oxide has a melting temperature of 3761 degrees F! While it will distort prior to reaching this temperature, it will not with any temperature we are capable of inducing with foam or wools pads on a painted surface. Simply put, the heat we are capable of producing while we polish is going to have no noticeable impact on the abrasive.
What effects does an increase in temperature have on the paint? Modern, catalyzed clear coat paints are chemically cross linked. You cannot heat them up and cause them to reflow. Drastic increases in temperature will damage the affected area permantely. Also, as the temperature of the paint increases, the paint will expand or ‘swell’.
This is unwanted because as the paint expands the sharp sides that form the sharp edge pull apart, which can round the edge. For example, place your hands together like you praying. Now, keeping your finger tips touching spread your wrists so your fingers intersect at 90 degrees. Your finger tips represent a sharp edge. To represent the paint swell, spread your hands apart. The gap between your fingers represents what is left of the sharp edge. The gap will be bridged by a rounded edge. This happens at the microscopic level, which can make defects literally disappear until the paint returns to its normal shape.
How does heat affect the pad? There is some evidence to suggest that polyester becomes softer with an increase in temperature. At first this seems like a step in the right direction, but this can easily be compensated with the huge variety polishing foams available on the market. Softer is not always better, so it could even be worded that if excessive heat is used, you might have to step up in aggressiveness to compensate. Of course the amount of change in the foam is going to be very dependent on the particular formula of that foam.
How does heat affect the lubricants in the polish? While I could see the argument that an increase in temperature increases the flow ability of the lubricant (which may or may not be a good thing de pending on the design of the polish) the increase in temperature will cause the lubricant to evaporate quicker. This could cause the polish to dry prematurely.
If we look at the areas we examined: The paint, the abrasive, the foam, and the lubricant, we have one case where the result is negligible and three where the result is negative. The abrasive will not break down faster or more evenly because of a temperature increase, nor will the paint reflow or become more workable. To me it is pretty evident that increase in temperature serves no functional benefit and several drawbacks
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