Car Care Tips

Polishing and Waxing: What’s the Difference?

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If you are a car owner, your car will experience wear and tear as you drive it. Not all of this wear and tear will be in the engine or the drivetrain. Even the surface of your car can experience wear and tear. These can range from paint scratches to oxidation, more commonly known as rust. This is where polishing and waxing come in. Although most people don’t know what they are tend to mix them up, they are in fact different.


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What polishing does is abrading (scrape) a small portion of the clear coat to remove surface blemishes like swirl marks (caused by wiping with a cloth), scratches, and oxidation with polishing compounds containing abrasives, polishing powder, and waxes/fat .

Polishing a car is time consuming, tedious, and requires finesse. As you are quite literally sanding down the clear coat to level the surface, it’s irreversible.

Paint correction usually follows these steps:

  • The car is washed and wiped down with microfibre cloth. Any difficult dirt/grime should be removed with a clay detailing bar.
  • Then coarse gritting and sanding compounds are used to level the surface of the paint. Less coarse compounds are then used in order to finish/blend the surface so that the clear coat isn’t entirely removed.
  • Due to the paint correction above, polishing helps to restore the shine that’s lost from the sanding the clear coat.
  • After which, wax or paint sealant is applied.


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Wax is the protective layer as part of a finish, adding shine and depth to the colour of the car. There are, in general, three types of wax: spray, liquid, and paste, each with their own attributes.

Spray-on Wax

Spray-on wax is the most affordable of the three, made from synthetic and natural ingredients. As the name suggests, it is also easy to apply, though it is the least durable.


Liquid was is also easy to apply and provides good protection and durability. That is why it is universally used.


The highest quality of all the waxes, it is thicker and supposedly all natural. One downside is that it usually requires a car buffer to apply. The shine it provides may be unmatched but it does not last long.

All in all, polishing and waxing have different purposes. Polishing removes any blemishes and imperfections, while waxing protects the paint and makes it shine. So always polish before waxing, to ensure the best look for your car.

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