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Car Care Myths

Car Care Tips: Separating Fact from Fiction Eliminates Misconceptions and Mistakes

Unfortunately there are many myths when it comes to car care products and activities. Below are twelve common practices that can cause all of your hard work trying to maintain your car's appearance a waste of time.

1. Dishwashing detergent is safe to use as car wash

Absolutely not! Detergents are formulated to strip everything off of the surface, leaving it squeaky clean. A squeaky paint finish tells you that it has no protection. With repeated use, dishwashing detergents remove everything from your paint finish including waxes, silicones and polymers. Once this is accomplished, they then proceed to remove the life giving oils in your paint finish, actually accelerating the oxidation process. For best results, use a pH balanced car wash product, like Meguiar's NXT Generation® Car Wash, with conditioners specifically formulated to enhance the appearance and protection of automotive paint finishes.

2. Washing and cleaning are the same

While they sound similar, they are vastly different procedures. A car wash removes loose contaminants from your finish like dust, road grime, and fresh bird droppings. A clear coat-safe paint cleaner, such as Deep Crystal® Paint Cleaner removes stubborn, bonded contaminants, stains, blemishes and oxidation. A clay bar is the perfect choice for removing bonded contaminants like overspray and tree sap mist that won't flush off with washing.

3. If a car looks shiny, the cleaning process can be skipped

Not until you complete a thorough physical and visual evaluation of your paint finish. Rub the face of your hand over the paint after it has been completely washed and dried. The surface should be as smooth as glass. If it isn't, you will feel bonded contaminants that can be easily removed with a clay bar allowing easier application and wipe off of polishes and waxes with dazzling results. To detect below-surface defects like blemishes and fine scratches, examine the finish from different angles and light sources.

4. Clay bars should only be used by professionals

If you have ever played with Silly Putty, you can use clay. Mold a non-abrasive, synthetic clay bar into a pancake-looking wafer. Working on a washed and dried car, simply rub the clay bar back and forth over the surfaces using a mist and wipe detailer for lubrication. The bar will grab and gently remove all bonded contaminants, leaving the surface as smooth as glass. Meguiar's Quik Clay Detailing System includes everything that you need. No experience necessary!

5. Waxing can remove swirl marks
Unfortunately, applying car wax over swirl marks does not remove them. The only way to remove a scratch from a paint finish is to reduce the thickness of the paint finish down to the bottom of the scratch. Micro-fine, hairline scratches can often be removed by hand using a non-abrasive paint cleaner, or Scratch, Meguiar's scratch and swirl remover. Moderate scratches may require an electric dual action polisher, and deeper swirl marks caused by the improper use of rotary buffers and rubbing compounds may well require professional color sanding and buffing.
6. There is no difference between polishing and waxing

While some modern-day marketers have caused confusion by naively misusing the terms, the definitions are clear. As in polishing a diamond, the sole purpose of polishing is to create brilliant high gloss. For car show enthusiasts who are obsessed with having perfectly clear reflections, a pure polish, like Meguiar's Deep Crystal Polish, is the perfect choice. Waxing a car falls under the larger heading of protecting the paint finish from the elements by coating it with waxes, polymers, resins and silicones. Meguiar's Gold Class Clear Coat Car Wax, provides superior protection with its blend of rich nutrients and tough polymers.

7. Machine polishers damage the paint finish

Even novices can quickly master the use of a dual action polisher or orbital buffer without any risk of burning the paint finish. These buffers oscillate back and forth while spinning and will yield a more even application of cleaners, polishes and waxes, provide deeper cleaning and safely remove swirls. Rotary buffers, which operate at much higher RPM's, are best left to trained professionals.

8. Diapers, t-shirts and flannel make good cleaning cloths

To avoid scratching your paint finish, you need to avoid using these types of cloths for polishing. The problem is that when small particulates are trapped between a smooth cloth and the smoothness of the paint, they are forced into and skid across the finish, causing the very scratches that you are working so hard to avoid. Always use 100% cotton, terrycloth toweling, like Meguiar's new Ultra Plush Super Terry or premium microfiber toweling, like the Supreme Shine Microfiber to eliminate this problem and to reduce the time and effort required for wipe off.

9. Wax protection can be guaranteed to last up to 5 years

There is no integrity in guaranteeing the protective qualities of any car wax product for a specific period of time on all cars. Every car and every car owner is different, along with the environments in which they live, whether or not the car is garaged or whether it is washed with dishwashing detergent.

10. Paste wax offers greater protection than liquid wax

Originally, paste waxes lasted longer, and liquid waxes were easier to use. While this is still a commonly held belief, there are now car waxes on the market that are available in both liquid and paste forms with equal ease of use and performance qualities. Two examples are Meguiar's NXT Generation Tech Wax Liquid and NXT Generation Tech Wax Paste, that redefine quality and performance with their next generation of technology.

11. Lighting a hood on fire, without damaging the paint finish, proves the protective qualities of a car wax

While the theatrical ploy has sold millions of cans of car wax over the years, it is a misrepresentation of the fact that heat rises. Regardless of whether or not the paint finish is protected with a coat of some magic formulation, it is unaffected by flaming alcohol. When you place your hand directly on where the flame has been, the moment the flame goes out, you discover that the surface is barely warm. It is simply a demonstration of physics.

12. Once a car is waxed, regularly protecting the paint finish becomes unnecessary

Unfortunately, the best protection for your car's finish is regular attention. Whenever your car is outside, regardless of whether it is parked or being driven, it is in a hostile environment. To begin with, everything that flies, from a gnat to a 747, expels contaminants that are determined to bond to and then etch into your car's finish. Then there is acid rain and industrial fallout, not to mention UV rays, which are the No. 1 cause of paint degradation. The more your car is exposed to the elements, and the harsher the environment is where you live, the more attention your paint finish will require. Generally speaking, the best long-term protection for your paint finish is to continually remove contaminants with a mist and wipe detailer before they have time to bond to your paint finish. By doing so, you will greatly extend the protective qualities of your car wax.