The death of car wax, R.I.P. 1945-2014

“Never wax your car again!” has been the mantra for countless products marketed to car lovers for the last decade or so, but unfortunately, these things have never lived up to the hype. Granted, you really don’t NEED to keep your car waxed. But if you want depth in your paint and a nice shine, as well as protection against mother nature, a nice carnauba car wax and/or sealant every few months is the way to go. Or at least it was, up until the last few years.

As we all know, technology advances at a blisteringly fast rate these days, and the advancements in paint protecting nano technology are no exception.

Like every other really cool technology out there, nano-coatings found their way into the automobile world by way of NASA. You see, NASA’s scientists needed to protect their space equipment from lunar dust, which was causing an array of undesirable issues. They invented films and coatings that exhibited hydrophobic self-cleaning properties to keep the dust from compromising seals, clogging filters, and abrading visors. When applied to the surface of a car, these coatings form a hardened shell around the paint preventing contaminants such as acid rain, bird droppings, and sap from getting through. You’ll be hard pressed to find a substance that can penetrate that first coat.

On top of the base coating, a layer of an additional hydrophobic substance is added to really keep the dirt and water sheeting off. This layer takes a cue from nature, mimicking the structure of a lotus leaf, which is known for it’s ability to self clean thanks to its superhydrophobicity (yes, that’s really what it’s called). This is what creates the WOW factor you see in all of those video’s where water sheets off the car like it is super scared.

I began researching and then testing the different hydrophobic products on the market a few years ago, after seeing YouTube video’s out of Malaysia. Admittedly, I’m the first one to get excited about a new technology, and I’m all for trying out the latest or greatest gadget or gizmo. But Rob, my detailing partner-in-crime, is there to balance out my enthusiasm. He’s an old school detailer and has seen the thousands of products that have come and gone over the years. All promising the world and not delivering. But once we started testing hydrophobic coatings, BOTH of us were floored with the results.

After applying products (and getting through the hardest part: waiting for it to cure), we spent hours pouring water over our car watching it run away while mesmerized with the depth and clarity in the paint. This provided endless enjoyment and was super cool, but we have seen high end waxes produce almost similar results in the past. The real test would be the test of time.

Fast forward to today, one year after our test car was coated. To provide a comparison for the difference over time, we left one half of the rear trunk uncoated; just corrected and waxed, but otherwise untouched. The difference, is mind blowing. The first thing that stands out is how much the uncoated paint has oxidized. You don’t really notice it when the entire car is oxidizing, but when you have half the trunk left untreated, the difference is staggering. You can also see swirls, water spots, and a just plain dirty look to the untreated section.

As for the rest of the car? It’s still kind of hard to believe, especially for Rob, but the paint has the same depth and clarity as the day we treated it. Amazing. It has also carried the hydrophobic properties and is completely smooth to the touch, as if it were freshly clayed.

Now, just to be clear, we didn’t test the products on a fancy show car. Instead, we tested it on our workhorse 2003 Toyota Corolla. Since we’ve coated it, the car has traveled well over 16,000 miles. It’s taken 4 trips to Florida and back, as well as a road trip to NJ, CT, and Washington DC from Atlanta. And it’s never seen a garage in its life!

Coating technology continues to evolve rapidly and wax just can’t keep up. There is currently no better way to keep your car looking it’s best and to protect it from contaminants, than by using hydrophobic nano-coatings. So if you are serious about your car’s appearance, kiss car wax good bye and get your car into the salon for a free consultation on coating your car.