Twice a year I’m the car guy who prefers to wax my BMWs. First in April and second one in October. The reasons behind this strategy has to do with the fact that it protects the paint right before the two toughest seasons on any paint. There are two types of wax I like to use. If I’m looking to give the car a “concourse-like” look I will use Griots Polish first then apply their “Best in Show” wax. If I am happy with the state of my paint (not too many swirls in it), I like to use Meguiar’s NXT Tech Wax. It’s easy to use and the job lasts for a long time.
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Polish and wax. What’s the difference and when to use them?
Polish is used to remove scratches and swirl marks that always seem to show up on my cars no matter how careful I am when washing them. Wax, on the other hand, is simply a protectant but can enhance the shine of the paint as well as protect it. My favorite reason though is how the BMW beads water and how smooth it feels to touch. A Griot’s saying that suck with me is “Polish is to perfect and Wax is to protect.”
My ritual starts with a cool paint surface. No doing any of this in direct sun! First up is a thorough wash and dry. I currently use Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash. I don’t think it matters which car wash soap you use as long as it is made for automotive finishes. Some guys use a soap like Dawn right before they wax the car to strip off as much as possible. Next I use Griot’s Paint squeegee to get the bulk of the water off and then a clean cloth to dry the rest.
Once the car is dry I move on to claying the car. Currently I use Griots Paint Clay with their detailing spray, Speed Shine. I like claying the car because it grabs the contaminants off of the paint and gets them off before you hit the car with any buffing motions which could potentially pick up the contaminant and then ground it into other areas of the paint surface. Surprisingly it doesn’t take much clay to do the car and a full clay bar last quite a while. Hit the car with detailing spray and rub the clay back and forth until it feels smooth. Do this in small sections and be sure to pinch off what you need.
I have to admit I am spoiled now. For a gift to myself, I bought a Griot’s Random Orbital to polish and wax cars. I was forever a firm believer it was a completely unnecessary device. However, now after using it for a couple years, I absolutely love it. It seems to be really good at getting a uniform coat of wax burnished over the entire surface. Sometimes when I hand wax some areas I would end up with uneven applications of wax. It’s not to say you cannot obtain perfection, just takes more work than I realized compared to a random orbital. Griots says you cannot burn your paint with their orbital and I haven’t noticed any issues even on six figure cars. The only bad thing about the orbital is that it’s loud! Using hearing protection can be useful.
There is a technique to using the orbital and it involves doing the car in sections and doing multiple passes in a methodical manner. Once you get it down it isn’t too bad. I will do about a 2 foot by 2 foot square and move the orbital top to bottom and from left to right. I then rotate this pattern 90 degrees and do it at least four times. The Random Orbital has two types of pads: a stiffer one for the polish that is a sherbet orange and a red one that is for waxing. It is very important to use the correct pad so the proper amount of force can be applied to your paint. I was told by a professional detailer if you have a clear bra you should tape it off with 3M blue painters tape to keep from piling up a bunch of wax at the edge of the clear bra. I use a fresh microfiber towel to buff the surface in order to remove the dried wax.
Here’s a short Griots video to give you an idea of using a random orbital.
Certain things will increase the frequency with which you need to wax and or polish your BMW, such as more outside exposure to dirt.
Click below to see the entire process in photos: