The Top 7 Car Detailing Myths — Debunked!

Have you been to a large car show lately and visited the vendor area?

There always seems to be a guy lighting a car hood on fire to prove his car wax can protect any paint finish.

I love this trick. It gets so many gullible people!

Myth Busting
Setting the record straight so you can detail your car the right way!

How can we honor car show carnival barkers everywhere?

I know…

A Top 7 list of Car Detailing Myths

Myth #1: Dish washing detergent is the best car wash

Well, I guess this would be true if you want to wax and dress your tires and trim after every wash.

You see, dish washing liquids (like Dawn dish detergent) are designed to remove oils, grease, food, etc.

They actually do a great job.

They can also remove waxes, polymers and silicone. That’s why this myth is debunked.

Want the best results possible?

Always use a pH balanced car wash soap or shampoo with glossing conditioners.

Here are 2 of my favorites:

Myth 2: Detail clay is for professionals; you can ruin your paint

This is pure nonsense.

Guys, simply follow the instructions. Using paint cleaning clay is no more difficult than washing a car.

Take it from me…

You are more likely to scratch or swirl your car’s paint with bad drying towels or a dirty wash sponge.

Detail clay is super easy to use!

You can’t go wrong with these brands:

Myth 3: If a car looks shiny, it does not need to be cleaned

First a lesson in terminology…

Cleaning is not the same as washing.

Here’s the deal!

Paint cleaning is the process of removing oxidation and bonded contamination. Your car’s paint can look shiny and be very dirty.

The best inspection is with your hands, not your eyes.

Feel the paint with your finger tips AFTER you wash and dry the car. Is it smooth like satin, or do your fingers drag on the rough, bumpy surface?

Any roughness needs to come off.

This is the purpose of detailing clay and pre-wax polishing. Detail clay removes surface contamination without damaging or thinning clearcoat.

Detailing Myth 4: Waxing removes swirl marks

Don’t we all wish!

No, unfortunately swirl marks are actually paint damage — scratches to be exact. The only remedy is to polish them away.

Here’s the bad news:

It’s very difficult to remove swirl marks by hand, especially on clearcoat finishes.

A good car polisher is essential.

It used to be that you could wax your car with a decent cleaner wax.

Remember Simoniz and Turtle Wax? The polishing abrasives would clean, polish and protect your car in a single step.

This type of treatment no longer works. In fact, some of the older wax products will scour a modern clearcoat.

Do this instead: A simple two step process:

  1. Polish to remove swirl marks and;
  2. Wax to protect.

You just need a foolproof system.

Griots Garage Orbital Correcting & Wax Kit. This is a perfect starter kit.

Myth 5: Machine polishers easily damage the paint finish

This is misleading.

A dual-action car polisher is a very safe tool ASSUMING basic precautions are followed.

Use a polisher like an idiot? You will do some serious damage!

Even a novice can quickly master a dual-action polisher (also called an orbital) with no risk of paint finish damage.

FYI: I’ve created a complete Car Polisher Buyer’s Guide. Be sure to check it out.

Myth 6: Diapers, old t-shirts and flannel cloths are best for detailing

Will this ever go away?

I’ve been trying to debunk this for the better part of 20 years!

Never use diapers, old t-shirts, or old bath towels on your car. They may feel soft, but they are stitched with polyester thread.

I promise you this:

Polyester will scratch and swirl your car’s clearcoat.

Use microfiber towels designed for car detailing, like Meguiar’s Supreme Shine Microfiber or the high quality Cobra Microfiber Detailing Cloths.

Myth 7: Wax protection can be guaranteed to last up to 5 years

Oh, boy, don’t get me started on this one.

Sure, car waxes and paint sealants are getting much better.

BUT our environment is getting much worse. There is no way to guarantee the protective time of a car wax.

Every car, every car owner and every location is is different.

The best advice is to wax your car every season with a quality paint sealant, like Meguiar’s NXT Generation Tech Wax 2.0 (#1 selling car wax!).

There’s also no truth to the rumor that paste wax offers better protection than liquid wax.

It all depends on the product. Some paste waxes shine like the sun, but won’t last a month.

Bonus Debunking

What the heck. Here’s some more…

The Price Myth

Let’s address the cost factor. I’ve been asked about this a million times…

Some folks believe that the more a wax costs, the better it is.

Not necessarily true!

Frankly, it’s beyond comprehension to pay some of the ridiculous prices being charged for boutique car wax products.

However, if you enjoy the product, go ahead and pay the price.

Just do so knowing this:

A $100+ jar of car wax is likely not going to perform better than a product costing $30, or even $15.

Ask questions before you buy. Don’t assume that an expensive car wax will give you the results you desire.

Add-On Protection Packages

Now, a word about car dealer “protection packages”.

You know the drill. A finance manager tries to sell a so-called package when they’re putting together your new car deal.

Those contracts are just that, a contract. They are, in essence, a warranty that states…

“If you come and have your car serviced regularly, the contract will cover the cost to repair any damage.”

Most buyers assume they’re buying a 5-year protection plan (interior, exterior, or both).

Guess what? It often doesn’t exist!

You must take the time to carefully read any fine print. Most folks are too lazy to go over all the details or they simply forget about it.

The result?

The protection agreement becomes null and void.

Head over to our car detailing FAQ center for more myth-busting information!