Even if the car is too old and the paint has deteriorated, everyone wants their old car to look like a new one. However, how can you make the car look like you just bought it?
The standard procedure to make a car shine is to give it a thorough cleaning, which includes washing and decontamination, eradicating swirl or scratch marks, and shielding the paintwork with wax, sealant, or coating.
Keep reading; we will discuss almost everything you need to know about giving your car a glossy finish without using wax.
”Waxing is the final step in the overall process to make your car shine that is intended to protect the paint. If you want to avoid wax, you can apply sealant or coating. Both are effective at protecting the clear coat.’’
What are the reasons your car isn’t shining?
Any car, especially those manufactured after 80, has multiple layers of paint, including a clear coat. The clear coat is the uppermost layer and comes after the base coat.
Car Body – Electrocoat – Primer – Base Coat – Clear Coat
When you buy a car, the clear coat remains intact since it is not yet exposed to the outer environment. As the car ages, the clear coat deteriorates and gets contaminated.
- Clear coat fails due to water spots, grime, and other hazards
What happens when the clear coat gets affected?
The glossy appearance of your car is also impacted once the coat is damaged because it no longer remains as flat and intact as it once did.
An un-flat clear coat is one of the most common reasons your car is not shining. Because the light is distributed unevenly, the paint looks dull. Therefore, to restore the car’s shine, you must repair the dull clear coat.
How To Fix Dull Paint and Make the Car Shine?
So, by now, you get the point of why your car has lost the glossy look. It all comes down to fixing the top layer (clear coat) therefore, the coat remains flat and clean. Here are the three important tasks to make a car shine.
#1- Wash/ Deep clean your car?
To make your car shine, start by thoroughly cleaning it. It may sound very easy, but most people make mistakes in carrying out this step properly. To get it right, you must do the following.
Collect all the necessary tools before starting cleaning
If you have the right tools, the chances of making unnecessary mistakes are quite less. For example, microfiber wash and car washing shampoo are the two important tools to properly carry out the washing process.
If you fail to arrange these tools before washing, there is a high chance that you will use soap instead of shampoo and sponge instead of microfiber mitts.
Using soap and sponge leaves swirl marks and scratches. Therefore, make sure you have the right tools to avoid inappropriate washing. Here is what you need.
- Car washing Shampoo but not any kind of bleaching powder or soap
- Microfiber wash mitts
- Microfiber towel
- Two large buckets
- Hose with nozzle
Once you have these tools, lubricate the surface with water and shampoo. The goal is to remove all or as much dirt as possible.
Here to mention, you can also use snow foam to remove the dirt. If you don’t know anything about snow foam, I suggest watching 2-3 good quality tutorials.
Now, apply gentle pressure on the surface using microfiber wash mitts. Applying the right pressure reduces friction. Since dirt and debris are abrasive, applying too much pressure on them might scratch the paint.
Remove any hard spots on the paint
Once you have successfully cleaned the car, you might have noticed at this point, some hard spots remain. We call them contaminants that cannot be removed through regular washing.
These contaminants include hard spots, tar, or water spots. They are also to blame for why your car does not shine. So, to remove all decontaminates, you have two options.
- Either apply chemical decontamination
- Or physical decontamination
Finally, dry everything. Use microfiber towels or dryers. Avoid using anything tough that might scratch the paint.
#2- Removing any scratches and swirl
The majority of the visible dirt and hard spots have probably been successfully eliminated once the cleaning has been done properly. However, if the paint has any scratch or swirl marks, they do not go away after the regular wash.
You have two choices for removing these blemishes and scratches that reduce your car’s shine:
- And glazing
Polishing involves removing the coat and repair, which is considered difficult to carry out on your own but is a permanent solution. Glazing, on the other hand, is a popular method that does not require removing any coat but rather fills the gap on the coat.
#3- Use wax, sealant, or coating to protect the Paint
This is the last step of our goal of making a car super shiny like a new car. All these options are meant to protect the final layer and increase the aesthetic. Their core differences lie in their durability and ability to increase aesthetics.
Can You Make a Car Shine Without Wax?
Now our discussion comes to the point that you are very much interested in. Regarding aesthetic ability, wax among them is the most popular one. It offers the shine that you are looking for in your car, but it is not as durable as sealant.
Therefore, wax should probably be your top priority if you are looking for aesthetic appeal. On the other hand, if durability is your concern, the ceramic coating should be number one on your list. It also offers glossiness but is not as good as wax.
The same goes for sealant as well. Unlike wax, sealant is more durable and easier to apply. But it does not offer the same level of aesthetic as wax does. The selling point of sealant is its application. It comes in a liquid foam and is easy to apply.
Hopefully, you get the answer to your question. Waxing your car should always come first if you want to make it shine more. If you want to compromise aesthetics but are looking for durability, ceramic coating is your best option. I will put sealant in the middle among the three.
Can I apply wax, ceramic coating, and sealant to make a car shine?
You can apply all three of them together but you must follow a few guidelines. You should apply ceramic coating first and then wax because the ceramic coating is more durable.
Wax has a shorter life span; putting it after the ceramic coating is more appropriate. On the other hand, applying wax after the sealant will increase glossiness because sealant has a lower aesthetic appeal than wax.
The best course of action is to experiment with various combinations and determine which one you prefer.
There you have it. Wax is natural, and it is made from carnauba. Applying wax is the only way to make your car incredibly glossy. However, ceramic coating and sealant are your other options if you want to stay away from the wax.
Although they don’t always make your car look as shiny as you’d like it to, they work quite well and last longer than wax. Finally, before wrapping up, ensure to keep your car shiny by taking good care of it.
Avoid having your car washed automatically. Make sure to regularly wash your car—ideally twice per week. Last but not least, use the right tool and use less pressure when washing to avoid scratches.
Ed Walker is an automotive cleaning expert with extensive automotive cleaning skills. I have been working in automotive cleaning plants with perfection for the past decade. In addition, I own my cleaning workshop, where we wash away firm dirt and grease out of vehicles and turn them into new ones. Sharing cleaning tips for automotive is my passion.