Protection, we all think about it for our vehicles in terms of car alarms and theft or insurance against accidents. Very rarely is it thought of in the sense of protecting the looks and aesthetics of the vehicle. For a lot of us If we purchase a vehicle from a dealership, new or pre-owned, most of the time it come with a nice detail job that has just been performed and it looks nice and shiny. Once we drive it off the lot most of us don't give it a second thought to do anything about maintaining it looking like that beyond an occasional car wash. That is where the detailing industry comes in, from the product makers for the do it yourself-er to professionals like my self that provide the service for reconditioning and restoring the vehicle to its former glory. One of the ways to provide said protection on the out side of the vehicle is through applying a type of paint protection on the car.
First ill bore you with a little history. One of the first types of protection for the paint was wax. Wax has been around since the 1800 when it was derived from animal fat. Wax in the modern sense is derived from the carnauba plant, and that was developed in the early 60s. It was found to have excellent "shine" capabilities when applied to paint and offered a layer of protection also. Now modern wax's infuse all the good things about carnauba wax with synthetic polymers to enhance the ability of what the waxes do. Now If you want to get into the nitty gritty of what waxes are the ingredients and different types there is a great article here ( https://avalonking.com/blog/the-truth-about-car-wax/ ) that goes in dept.
Here I'm going to inform you of not the "what" but the "why" you should use it. To me the most important part of wax is not the shine, but the protection it offers. by providing a layer of protection against UVA and UVB rays from the sun when used according to the manufactures recommendations, you can keep the vehicle looking good and the paint looking in pristine condition for years after the initial purchase. We have all seen, especially in places were the sun is really hot like Florida, Arizona, New Mexico ect. where fairly new vehicles (less than 8 years old) have the clear coat and some times actual paint of the vehicle pealing off. That comes from lack of protection on the clear coat. Remember the clear coat on the vehicle is there to protect the paint, but unfortunately you still need something to protect the clear coat. Embedded in this post are pictures of why wax and synthetic paint sealants are important and some examples of what happens when you neglect the exterior of your vehicle.
Now how you chose which one is the best or is going to work for you can be a very confusing task. There are literally hundreds of different waxes and synthetic paint sealants available, especially with in the reach of the internet, I can chose chemicals from every corner of the globe. Now it would be impossible for me to review all of them and tell you the best one to use. I myself as a professional tend to lean on more professional grade products from companies like Ardex, Auto Magic, Meguairs. I have also used products from chemical guys, Detail king, and mothers. All have there positives and negatives. I wont turn this into a product comparison post. Now I will tell you there are levels of protection provided by products that go beyond the brand itself.
Here are the most common types of products available to the general public. A spray on wax that is typically applied to the vehicle wet after a wash provides very little protection and "shine" that only last from about a couple hours to a couple days max. Carnauba wax on its own the liquid and paste typically can provide anywhere from 6 to 18 weeks worth of protection based on usage and how you store the vehicle. After waxes we get in to synthetic paint sealants and polymer infused waxes that can typically provide anywhere from 6 months to a year worth of protection. Then we get into the Ceramic coatings (non spray on kind) they typically provide anywhere from 1 to 5 years worth of protection depending on hardening level and brand claims. Now with ceramic coating there is a lot of information and miss information out there and unfortunately it is too new (less than 10 years of mass availability) for there to truly be unbiased and subjective reviews out there available for the consumer to be able to make a truly informed decision. With a claim of "3 to 5 years" worth of protection, its a little difficult to accurately test that claim repeatedly in a lab. Now with that said i'm not stating there isn't some good ceramic coatings out there that do what the manufacture claims. I'm just admitting I have not had enough experience with a diverse number of brands to give what would be considered an expert opinion. To be transparent I have performed ceramic coatings and after following the manufactures process to a tee. Even going as far as calling them to verify my process was correct, I was not impressed with the results on more than one customer vehicle. With that stated, It does not mean I will not perform a ceramic coating in the future it just means I tend to recommend and work with products I not only personally use, but that I have had results closer to what the manufacture claim.
In closing a vehicle purchase tends to be the second most expensive thing we purchase in our lifetime next to a home. So It's really sad when most people don't tend to treat it that way. Its bad enough we fill our garages with useless and worthless junk and leave our $30 to $70 thousand dollar vehicle out side to combat the elements. The least we could do is try to provide it with some level of protection against the elements. Personally I wash my vehicles every two to four weeks (I only drive my mini about 2 times a week, i'm mostly driving my work van) and do a clay/polish and paint sealant job about twice a year. Typically in the the spring and fall. That to me has provided the level of protection to keep my vehicle looking new even though its a 13 year old vehicle.