AutomobileDearest Mr. Ole Mechanic;

When I took delivery of my new car the nice salesperson told me that I would never need to wax the outside finish of it as it has a “Clear Coat” finish on it.  Is this a true statement?

Thank you very much for your answer.

Miss Prim Ann Proper;

Technically the finish is called a “base coat - clear coat” Miss Prim.  After a lot of preparation, the base or color coat of paint is applied to the car first and that coat of paint does not have much if any shine to it at all, it is just the color.  Then a very shinny coat of clear paint is applied over the base color coat of paint.  Since the clear coat paint completely covers the base color coat it protects the color from fading and being oxidized by the Sun.  A good cleaner wax removes the oxidized or faded paint and that uncovers shinny paint and protects the paint on an older car.  Waxing a clear coat of paint will not brighten up the color so the salespersons statement is basically correct and only washing is needed to bring out the color of the finish.

However, I hope that you noticed that I said the clear coat was paint also.  A light coat of wax will help protect the clear coat from tree sap, bird droppings and Harper grasshoppers.  At times it seems that grasshopper juice will take the chrome off of a trailer hitch ball so any help that you can give the clear paint will prolong the shinny finish of the car.  Also a light coat of wax will make it easier to wash off any road grime, mud and deer hide.

Miss Prim, you may have noticed that I said a light coat of wax.  The clear coat is a film of paint and too much rubbing or buffing with rubbing compound or an aggressive cleaner wax can remove paint.  If you or the person waxing the car goes too far the clear coat can be rubbed through and removed.  At that point no amount of wax will make the color base coat shinny.  Worse yet it may rub through  the clear coat only in spots leaving you with a spotty appearing car.  My suggestion is that once or twice a year, after a good washing, a light coat of a good carnauba based car wax be applied and buffed lightly to a beautiful shine.

Herr Professor Nuzanbolts