We discuss car waxing, polishing and sealants, and we also address why aluminium panels cannot be repaired when they are dented.

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We discuss car waxing, polishing and sealants, and we also address why aluminium panels cannot be repaired when they are dented.

Some brands of car wax claim to be able to last a year. Is this true? If not, how long does it usually last?

Also, what can I do to prolong the coat of wax that’s already on my car?Car wax is a hardy layer that protects your paint from contaminants and UV rays. Synthetic formulas can last for months at a time.

Generally speaking, however, waxes are not as durable as ceramic coatings, which can last up to 12 months.

For wax to last long, it must first bond with your paintwork. It also needs some time to cure after it is applied.

To ensure that the wax bonds properly, you need to correctly prep the surface. Wash your car thoroughly and dry it. Run your fingers over the paintwork. If you feel rough patches, you will need to clay it first.

When the paint surface is clean, the car wax will be able to form a strong bond with it. If not, the next car wash or thunderstorm will be enough to remove it!

Use dedicated car shampoos to wash your car, which clean without stripping wax. Don’t use dishwashing soap or other detergents, which are effective at removing wax.

One way to “boost” wax is to use a quick detailer. These are lubricating sprays that remove dirt and contaminants. They enhance the wax’s hydrophobic properties, thereby helping the surface better resist contamination.

You can also use a spray wax after washing your car. It is much quicker than applying a liquid or paste wax. And, if the formula can be sprayed onto wet surfaces, you’ll save time by waxing as you dry.

Obviously, the best way to prolong the coat of wax on your car is to add another layer. Apply thin and even coats for best results.

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I went to a car accessories shop to look for polishing products and the staff  told me to buy a “compound”.

What is a compound and how do I use it? My car is less than a year old.

A compound is actually a type of polish.

But while most polishes are gentle, a compound is more aggressive and has more “cutting” power.

When you polish your car, a bit of the clear coat is removed to even out the surface and remove scratches.

A compound is for paintwork in poor condition.

There should be clear signs of oxidation, marring, scratches or swirl marks.

After compounding your car, the next step is to use a fine polish. This is because abrasive compounds will actually scratch your car and you need a fine polish to even things out.

Paint condition matters more than your car’s age.

If your paintwork is still in good shape, we recommend proper washing and surface prep, followed by a good polish. Finish with a wax or sealant to “lock in” the shine. 


Are sealants and glazes the the same thing? If not, what purpose does each one serve when it comes to detailing?

Sealants are designed to seal or “lock in” your paint finish.

After washing, claying and polishing your paintwork, you would apply a sealant to preserve and protect the finish you achieved.

You should only apply them after the surface has been made as defect-free as possible.

A good example of a sealant is a ceramic coating.

Glazes are designed to fill in minor scratches and reduce the appearance of imperfections. So, after you apply a glaze to your car, you would then finish with (you guessed it) a sealant.

Alternately, some detailers prefer applying a coat of wax as the final step.

Nowadays, there are 2-in-1 products containing both glazes and sealants. Many car owners find this convenient as it saves them a lot of time.

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Unlike aluminium, dented steel panels can be hammered back into place.

My car’s aluminium front fenders were damaged in an accident. 

I thought the fenders could be easily repaired.

However, I was told that the fender had to be replaced.

Why can’t a panel beater repair it?

Most car body repair shops can’t remove dents from aluminium.

Aluminium has less than half the density of steel and therefore saves weight. Aluminium is also resistant to corrosion.

Technically, dented aluminium panels can be repaired, but the methods and skill sets required are vastly different from those for the traditional steel panels.

A dented steel section can be easily hammered back to its original shape and contour using simple tools.

More serious indentations can be mechanically pulled back.

But beating aluminium dents with a hammer can easily cause “stretching” of the metal, which cannot be rectified.

Even if there are minor dents, which can be panel-beaten to original form, the work requires a highly trained craftsman specialising in aluminium sheet-metal repairs to achieve an acceptable result.

With increasing popularity of aluminium, it may be a matter of time before specialist aluminium car body repair shops emerge.

Till then, there is no alternative but to replace damaged sections.