Consider a pre-winter wax
While GEM is not endorsing painful cosmetic hair removal techniques, it is often not realised how helpful decent wax is to protect paintwork at this time of year.
Dirt (or fine grit) on smooth paintwork is abrasive. Therefore, should a passer-by brush past a dirty car innocently, the finish becomes scratched. The result dulls the paint. Polishing tends to be required, to restore the shine. Not respecting how much damage can be caused, by dragging dirt across the panel, is one reason why DIYers can inflict so much damage to vehicle paint during washing.
Why wax is useful
Wax has protected finishes long before the motorcar was invented. Automotive wax defends the finish and provides shine. If you have to clean your car regularly, a wax finish also makes it easier to rinse away dirt, because the contamination contacts the wax, rather than the paint beneath it.
Applying wax at home
Wax products tend to be easy to apply, although professional detailers recommend that the paintwork is decontaminated in advance. This process involves more than just washing and drying the paintwork and includes using a clay bar to remove any embedded contamination. Yet, owners of non-cherished vehicles might view this advice as superfluous.
Waxing a car tends to be recommended in slightly warmer conditions. Taking advantage of any remaining mild weather to prepare your paint, therefore, is not a bad idea, before the cold weather hits.
The downside to wax being so user-friendly is that it washes away surprisingly quickly. Should you use your car daily, prioritise a wax that lasts for months, rather than weeks. In addition, wax polishes tend to be compromised products. Therefore, seek out wax alone. Some products are tinted, to enhance the appearance of darker, or lighter, paint colours. Yet, do not be swayed either by claims of high Carnauba wax percentages.
Wax versus sealants
Hybrid/sealant waxes combine polymer sealants and waxes. They claim to provide longer protection periods than wax alone but retain ease of use. There is some debate about whether these claims are true, however.
Synthetic/polymer sealants provide an alternative to waxes and interact with the paint’s molecular structure. This attribute makes them more durable but harder to remove. They are also less DIY friendly to use.
Ceramic sealants are based on a silicon dioxide formulation. They tend to be applied by specialists but the protection lasts only between one and seven years.