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The basics: Waxing and sealing

October 11, 2010
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Before you can begin the process of sealing and waxing a vehicle, you need to ensure that the paint surface is ready.

First and foremost, the vehicle should have been washed. However, the paint on the car may have some imperfections, embedded particles, tree sap, industrial fallout or overspray.

Surface preparation can be achieved by using a clay bar on the vehicle’s painted surface.

Tips on using clay

Clay bars have the ability to extract contaminants off the paint. Some points to remember when claying the vehicle:

  • Always use a surface lubricant when using clay; This allows the clay bar to glide across the surface and hence reduce surface friction;
  • Check the clay bar regularly for contaminants; While claying the surface of a vehicle you life contaminants from the surface. Should they appear, immediately fold over into a new section; and
  • Discard and replace the clay bar if it is ever dropped; Paint damage will occur from contaminants picked up when the bar lands on the ground.
Claying the right way

You will need two or three clean terry cloth towels, a spray bottle, a clay bar and lubricant spray for this procedure.

Step #1: Press the clay flat like a pancake and apply some lubricant to the area you are going to work on, which should be no larger than about 2’ x 2’.

Step #2: Glide the clay using only minimal pressure over the surface. The lubricant should allow movement over the surface with ease.

As you progress, you’ll note that the clay bar gets thinner. You’ll then need to rework the bar so that it is thick again by kneading it.

Step #3: When you are finished with a section, dry it using a clean terry towel. Continue this process until the rest of the vehicle is done.

Step #4: Rinse the vehicle after you have finished the claying and dry with a terry towel. The surface should now be ready for the next stage.

After claying the surface you will notice that the surface is cleaner, smoother and applying polishes and waxes is easier.

Sealing and glazing

If you checked the vehicle’s paint surface under a microscope you will notice that the clear coat is like a miniature mountain range. Because of the uneven surface, light gets reflected at different angles reducing the appearance of depth.

Sealers and glazes will enhance the painted exterior by smoothing out the uneven surfaces. They also renew the paint with oils that are lost because of the sun’s UV and oxidation damage.

Applying a sealant or glazer

You will need two or three microfiber towels, two clean applicator pads, a sealer or glazer product, and an optional orbital buffer.

Step #1: Apply the sealer/glazer evenly on a cotton terry applicator and apply on the vehicle surface in circular motions. Start with a 2’ x 2’ section.

Step #2: Let the sealer/glazer dry to a haze and buff off with a microfiber towel or a clean terry towel.

Follow the same procedure until you have applied the sealer/glazer on the entire vehicle surface. An orbital buffer will help speed up the job.

The vehicle is now ready to be waxed.


Wax is available in three forms:

  1. Liquid
  2. Paste
  3. Spray

Liquid wax goes on easily, but the durability is not as good as the paste products.

A wax with a high Carnauba content, a natural material taken from the leaves of Brazilian palm trees, is an optimal choice for many people.

When applying the wax, you will need two or three microfiber towels, two clean applicator pads, and wax for an effective wax job. Again, an orbital buffer is optional.

Step #1: Using a round terry wax pad, apply the wax evenly on the vehicle surface in circular motions. Start with a 2’ x 2’ section.

Don’t try to put on a thick application because you will end up with an excessive amount of wax residue to remove, making your job much more difficult.

Step #2: When the wax has dried, remove the residue using a microfiber towel or a clean cotton terry towel. An orbital buffer will help get the job done quickly.

You will find after you have waxed the vehicle, you will need to remove the wax residue from the various creases and edges.

Wax residue from fixed items such as side marker lights, badges, radio antennas, and windshield washer nozzles is easily removed using a soft bristled toothbrush.

However care should be taken because an aggressive approach could cause scratches.

Arrif Chaudry is the sales manager of Auto Shine Products, based in Sanford, FL, a manufacturer of car-care products and industrial cleaners since 1993. For more information, e-mail Arrif at