Q. I use a polish on my car, which comes complete with another product called Extra Gloss. Do I need to use a wax as well as these two treatments?
JB, Castle Cary, Somerset
A. Polish and wax perform different functions. Polish contains mild abrasives to remove dirt and debris from the bodywork and although it also contains some wax, this is mostly for ease of application.
Wax is a non-abrasive coating applied to a cleaned surface to provide protection, as well as to fill in any microscopic marks in the paint’s lacquer and add shine.
The Extra Gloss product you mention is a wax substitute made by Autoglym (£10.49 for 325ml at halfords.com). It works like a wax but is made solely from synthetic materials (regular automotive wax usually includes carnauba from the leaves of the carnauba palm). If you use Extra Gloss, there is no need to apply a wax as well.
If you’d prefer to use a different wax or wax substitute, Autoglym’s High-Definition Wax has performed well in independent tests. It is pricy at £44.99 for 150g (halfords.com) but a bottle could easily last 10 years. Other highly rated products include Bilt-Hamber Hydra-Wax (£24.95 for 500ml plus microfibre cloth from theultimatefinish.co.uk) and Halfords’ own-brand car polish at just £3.49 for 500ml.
How often to apply these products depends on the condition of your car, whether it is kept in a garage or outside, and other factors. Usually two to three times a year is sufficient. Apply the polish first and then the wax or wax substitute.
Always use soft microfibre cloths to apply the wax and buff the surface.
Dave Pollard has written several Haynes manuals and has tested just about every car-related accessory – read more from Dave here.
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