A lot of times I see people confusing wax with polish when talking about detailing their car. You always see a good debate on which WAX is better. For me, I could care less which wax is the best. simply put, you get what you pay for. Buy a cheap wax, and you will be cleaning the car more often, and I dont mean running through a car wash, I mean cleaning the old wax off the car.
When it comes to wax, use a good one, but dont be surprised that you have to redo it every few months, that is the nature of wax, it protects the paint from the elements by putting itself in harms way and slowly degrades over time with rain, wind and UV. Because of how it is used, every time you re-wax your car, you are adding a layer on top of a layer, and the problem then becomes, how many bad layers are under your good layer. You wont notice it right away, but in a few years time, your finish isnt all that shiny anymore.
To prevent this, you really should take a spray bottle with a few drops of Dawn dish soap in it, dont use an off brand, use Dawn, it works! Use a good clay bar, the ones from Mothers works well, but they do tend to absorb the liquid and turn to mush much quicker than the ones I get from Zaino. I get two in a container from Zaino, and I am still on my first one after doing at least 4 cars with it more than one time. The Mothers one will last maybe one or two times before its mush. Do this indoors so it doesn't bake into the paint and make it hard to clean up. Spray a small section and start rubbing the paint with the clay, do about a 2' x 2' area, back and forth and circular until the entire area is smooth, you will know as you can feel and hear it. Wipe down the surface and move to the next. Once done, hose down the car to get the soap and other residue off. then reapply your wax. this should be done at least once a year for you fanatics who wax every few weeks, or done every time you wax if you are the lazy type like me who do it once every blue moon.
That is, when I actually use Wax. I use Meguiars wax when I do, the Carnuba based ones. Carnuba is one of the best natural waxes to use as it holds up best to the elements. Synthetic waxes are ood too, as long as you use a good one. You will know by its price.
This is a known good product, many people swear by it, and for $19, the price isnt bad either. http://www.collinite.../insulator-wax/ For the Fanatics, there is always this, http://www.zymol.com...eamewax8oz.aspx
As far as Polish goes, I am not referring to the bottles of grit used to turn a dull paint onto a shiny one, but for the liquids that bond to the paint itself and have light refracting characteristics in them. They also seal the paint and protect it from chemicals and UV damage. There arent very many out there, and most that call themselves polish are just fancy waxes. Yep you guessed it, talking about Zaino here. There are other ones I ran across one called Klass, but they dont have their own website detailing the product, so I cant tell you if it truly is a polish or a fancy wax, and Glare. http://www.glare.com/ Looks promising, but never used it. Might try it some day, maybe when I get a HyTi. Then there are the professional ones that car dealers sell with warranties, but those are usually put on by certified professionals wearing hazmat suits and rebreathers.
The difference between a Wax and a Polish is simple, a Wax wears, a polish does not. The polish uses a chemical bond to attach itself to the paint molecules, Wax just lays on top. Once bonded, it takes a solvent to remove it. Using Dawn will not remove Zaino, but will take Wax right off. Application is no different, and in fact is now quicker than waxing. Paint prep is the same, but even more important that you claybar with dawn before applying as you do not want to seal the wax to the paint, and Zaino will do just that. When applying the polish you put in an extremely thin layer, you shouldnt even see it, if you doo you put on too much. Go over the surface in a circular motion, then go over it once more to ensure its covered, not with more product, just an extra rubbing, but this time in a straight line. For hood trunk and roof a line front to back, on fenders and doors, up/down. Think of how your eye sees the surface, if you look at a door, you will see lines if they are horizontal, but not vertical, so that is how you want to apply the polish. Start at the hood, and by the time you reach the tail, you can start wiping it all down with a soft terry cloth towel. For the towel, always use a 100% cotton towel, borderless if you can get it, make it if you cant. Wipe a section, flip the towel, in fact have several so you arent scattering the dust. Once the first coat is done, for most people they are done. But heres a trick I learned, if you really want it to glow, add a second coat, each coat enhances the finish, especially on dark colors.
In between coats Zaino has a gloss enhancer spray that you lightly mist and wipe down the surface, then apply the second coat. The next day, add two more. Its up to you. One bottle will last years.
OK, now that you polished your car, like it? go ahead and wax it. Use what you want, it will just make the car that much prettier! You can always take the wax off, but you cant take off the polish. Once you have a nice layer of polish bonded to that paint, waxing it is icing on the cake, you protect the polish, the paint and gives you an excuse to get out of the house and away from the honeydolist.
For those with brand new cars, like most who are now on the forum, you can skip the Dawn solution, instead use the Mothers, or Meguiars detail spray to clay the paint. You would think, Its brand new why should I clay it? Do it or you will regret it, especially those with white paint as in a few weeks or months you will start to see little tiny rust spots. Your car got to where it is on a rail car, trains as you all know run steel on steel, and those teeny tiny little bits of steel that wear off the rails and wheels are now stuck to your paint, get them off! Once you clay it like this, go right ahead and polish or wax it, no need to wash it down like you do when you strip the wax off.
Here is what I have been using for the past decade, and all my cars always look showroom new when I trade(maybe thats why my dealer give me top dollar).
Z2 Show car Polish for new paint
Z5 Show car polish and swirl remover, for older paint, or where there are light scratches.
Z6 Enhancer. Use it between washings, or whenever you are bored and want something to do.
Z7 Car wash, a capful does the whole car, one bottle lasts a long time.
Z8 Grande Finale. Holy S**T does it glow. Use very very little of this as it will streak. but man when done right, what a shine!
Z-PC This is a very mild abrasive for getting out light scratches, and works great on plastic too. Can be use with a machine for heavier scratches. Want a really slick surface, use it on the entire.
ZFX USE IT! This is the accelerator, with it you can do two coats in about an hour, without it you need to wait a day before you can recoat with Z2 or Z5. Just make sure you follow the directions, or you will be tossing the small bottles out. It does have a shelf life as I found out over the weekend, it will gel up and be useless after a few years, so use it.
These are just the product I personally have used, but you dont have to use them to get the shine or protection, Zaino has the AIO kit, with all you need. Get the triplets kit, $73 and can do several cars many times over. I have heard great things about Colinite too, so give it a try too. Just remember the difference, Colonite you have to strip off eventually as it will build up, its a WAX, Zaino(and other polishes) you dont strip off, it doesnt build up and degrade over time, it will wear off though over time.
One HUGE word of caution, what ever product you use, make sure it DOES NOT contain any Silcone!!! Very Very VERY important, Never use anything with Silicone in it on your paint. If ever comes a time that you need to have a repair done that involves painting your car, silicone will cause fisheye. It is extremely difficult to remove and no guarantee it will be removed with paint prep. If you use a Silicone based product on your car, like to wipe down the rubber seals, or anything of that nature, spray it on a rag, and away from the car, and use the rag to apply it. Very nasty stuff to get on paint.