One of my favorite cars about 10 years ago was the Infinity G37S. I would do anything to have one. When the dealer called with an offer, I jumped. It was a beautiful and shiny black model. At the time I had no idea how to care for a black car. What the best wax for black cars was or how to deal with those pesky swirl marks. I wanted every drive to feel like the first time I picked it up from the dealership. Turns out it’s not only possible but much easier than you think if you follow these tips.
What Is Wax
Wax is the natural product extracted from plant leaves, and stems. The most common wax on the market, Carnauba, comes from a Brazilian Palm tree. It can be pure, or mixed with other waxes such as beeswax or turpentine amongst others. Pure wax has a yellow color while the latter is white and generally a little bit cheaper.
Natural wax works its magic by creating a thin layer to your vehicle. It protects it from the elements, sunlight, and road contaminants. Think of it as a layer of 3M film all over. Carnauba Wax will give you the best shine when applied correctly.
Products such as sealant and glaze are made from synthetic chemicals and polymers. These are engineered to last longer and generally require less frequent application. Although, they will yield less shine. The tradeoff is more than worth it if waxing twice a year is not something you plan on doing or have time for.
Difference Between Wax and Polish
I want to touch on the difference between wax and polish. I often hear people talk about them without a clear concept of what they do. These two products work in different ways and you should be aware of that.
Polish is an abrasive compound. It acts by thinning out and removing a layer of paint. This smoothing action will remove superficial scratches and small imperfections. Polish also leaves the paint unprotected if not sealed with a layer of wax afterward.
Washing Your Black Car
Before we get to the finishing touches and that gorgeous showroom finish we all crave, we must lay down a good foundation. Learning how to properly wash your vehicle is the most important part of the process. Almost all swirl marks are created by improper washing techniques.
When selecting wash soap, find out what type of black paint your vehicle has. The different types of paints used on automobiles are Acrylic Lacquer, Acrylic Enamel, and Urethane based paints. Always use a soap that is compatible with your paint.
Using a garden hose, remove all the dirt and dust from the vehicle before you even think about touching the paint. If you are using a pressure washer, keep the wand at least 3 to 4 feet away from the vehicle to start off. You don’t want to apply excessive pressure to the dirt and grit that is on your paint. You want the water to smoothly roll the contaminants off the vehicle.
Now it’s time to grab two buckets. One for rinsing your wash mitt. The other for the shampoo solution. Start washing the vehicle using the top to bottom technique. Roof, hood, and trunk followed by the sides. Do not apply pressure with your wash mitt or microtowel. There are still plenty of contaminants left to wreak havoc on your paint at this point. Let the towels do the work and clean using back and forth, straight-line motion. No figure 8s or other quirky methods here.
Rinse off the shampoo with clean water completely and inspect your work. If you notice swirl marks or other imperfections, consider using a polish before you wax.
If you really want to clean like a professional, please take a few minutes to watch this video. There are several little tips on how to get the most out of your wash.
A quick disclaimer about the videos I will be featuring in this post. I do not endorse the products used in them. I do not suggest you even need them. I want you to understand the techniques rather than showcase product manufacturers. I will be reviewing my favorite products for you in a separate post soon.
If you learned a few new tricks from that video, you’re well on your way to achieving a showroom finish for your vehicle. I also know some of you cringe at the thought of anything touching your paint. Even if it is softer than a lama. I must admit I am in this category as well.
Here is a video on how to wash your vehicle completely without touching it.
These are both awesome techniques for washing your car, but you might live in an apartment or condo. Access to water could be a challenge. If that’s the case, I’ve got you covered.
There is no reason for your car to be left behind. Here is a video on how to prep your car at your local coin wash.
Polish and Clay Bar
Your car is now spotless and you’ve closely inspected the paint. At this point, you must decide if you need to polish the paint. If your paint has swirls, light scratches or looks lifeless, you should consider a good polish.
Another consideration is whether to use a clay bar. This step may be optional for you. For me, it’s non-negotiable for removing invisible contaminants embedded in the paint.
Here is a video on how to do it properly.
Now you are finally ready to wax. Grab a clean applicator pad. Preferably the one that comes with your kit.
Start by working the wax on to the vehicle. Use light pressure and keep the layers thin. More is not better in this case. For a superior finish, I recommend you apply several thin layers of wax rather than one thick layer.
Follow the top to bottom method as you did when washing the vehicle. Roof, hood, and trunk first.
Allow the wax to dry for a few minutes before buffing. Using your clean index finger, perform a quick smudge test. If the wax smudges or feels sticky, it’s not ready.
The two most common mistakes when waxing a vehicle are applying the layers too thick and not allowing the wax time to dry.
You’ve made it to the last step. Always follow the recommendation of the wax manufacturer to remove it. A good rule of thumb is to use several microfiber towels and buff the surface at least twice. If you use a mechanical buffer, look at lamb’s wool as the preferred material.
You want to use medium pressure here and keep the motion slow. This should be the most satisfying part of the process so slow down. Enjoy it. It’s ok to admire your work as well.
How Long Does Wax Last
There isn’t a real definitive answer to this question. It depends on several factors. Most important are how often you wash your car and how much heat it’s exposed to. Wax by itself can last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Sealants are engineered to last longer but you can expect its protective qualities to decline after 6 months.
You should aim to wax your car twice a year, with more frequent waxing such as every 2 to 3 months being optimal. Using wax and sealant together will give you both the showroom shine and long-lasting protection.
Waxing a black car is no different than other colors. The key is to treat every step of the process like a professional as they all contribute to the end result. Choosing the right type of products will save you a lot of hassle and yield the top marks you are looking for. Setting up a routine for washing and waxing your car will help keep your paint looking fresh and require less effort each time you do it.