How to Properly Remove Old Wax and Sealant from Your Vehicle

Nothing makes your vehicle shine more than a fresh coat of wax or sealant, but before you can get to applying anything, you first must remove the old layers of protectant. New wax or sealant should be applied when the old protectant coat begins to wear off. How often this is depends on the product (wax vs sealant) and how much time your vehicle spends exposed to the elements.

"Do I need to strip the old wax/ sealant off my vehicle? Why can't I just apply a new coat overtop?"

You can get away with applying new wax or sealant over top of the old coat for a while, but eventually you will need to strip the old protectant off completely in order to apply all new. Wax and sealant act like a barrier or protective coating. Old coats of wax and sealant can prevent the new coat from bonding to your vehicle's paint. This means the new wax and sealant won't be as effective of a protectant, and it also means you won't get the brilliant shine that you expect with a fresh coat of wax or sealant.

Finally, adding new wax or sealant over an old coat doesn't hide or fix any damage (like chips in the old protective coat). Instead, it simply makes these defects harder to remove.

Before we cover how to actually remove the wax and sealant, let's talk about an important question- how can you tell if there is any old coating remaining on the spot you've treated? Overtreating a panel trying to get wax off that is not there can be harmful to your vehicle, so you want to make sure you can recognize when to move on, and avoid spots that the coating has already worn off of.

About Us

Pour Water on The Panel

If the water beads and rolls off, there is still a protectant on the panel. The taller and tighter the water bead is, the more wax or sealant there is left.

About Us

Perform A Visual Inspection

If the vehicle's paint is shiny, it is likely that there is still wax or sealant remaining. When the colour appears dull, the wax or sealant is completely gone.

Listen for Squeaks

A coat of wax or sealant allows a towel to glide over the surface silently. To test for waxy spots, twist a balled-up microfiber cloth across the surface. If the cloth squeaks, there is no wax or sealant remaining.

So, how exactly do you remove old wax and sealant from your vehicle without damaging your vehicle's paint? The 3 best methods are:

1. Clay Bar

Clay bars work by pulling out and removing any debris and contaminants that have penetrated your vehicle's finish. These contaminates are usually invisible to the naked eye, and the panel may feel smooth to your bare hand.

You can test for these contaminates by placing your hand inside a plastic sandwich bag, and lightly running your fingers over a dry panel (you don't need to add any pressure! The weight of your hand is more than enough). You will likely feel small bumps and a grittiness when done before the clay bar treatment. After applying the clay bar, the panel should feel completely silky smooth.

To use, apply a automotive lubricant to a small area of your vehicle's waxed surface. Using light to medium pressure, rub the clay bar back and forth over the pre-lubricated surface. Add more lubricant if the vehicle's surface begins to dry out during the clay application.

Once the whole vehicle has been clayed, thoroughly rewash the vehicle's exterior with a soft microfiber cloth to remove any leftover residue.

Some Tips:

· Keep the clay bar from becoming too warm, as they become less effective the warmer they get.
· Check the bar frequently for small bits of debris. You don't want to accidently rub debris into your freshly unwaxed paint.
· If you happen to drop the clay bar on the ground or a similarly unclean surface, or it becomes contaminated, throw it out and get a new one.

About Us

2. Pre-Wax Cleaners

There are 2 types of cleaners, spray-on removers and non-abrasive polishes.

To use either product, spread the wax remover over the surface of your vehicle using an applicator. Strokes should be long and even, and you should avoid circular motions. If the first coat doesn't remove it all, apply another.

Be sure not to over-apply, as repeated applications on unprotected (wax/sealant-free) paint can damage the topcoat. Avoid getting on plastic trim and rubber as the wax remover can cause discolouration.

Spray-On Removers

"Do I need to strip the old wax/ sealant off my vehicle? Why can't I just apply a new coat overtop?"

Non-Abrasive Polishes

These polishes specialize in removing the dirt that settles below the paint's surface, eliminating the wax as a by-product of the deep clean to the surface of your vehicle. It is best to avoid using these polishes too frequently, as they can be harsh on the paint.

About Us

3. All-Purpose Vehicle Cleaner

A strong all-purpose cleaner can be a good substitute if you don't have a clay bar or pre-wax cleaner on hand. They are concentrated vehicle shampoos strong enough to dissolve wax and sealant while gentle enough to leave paint and plastic untouched.

They are also able to remove heavy dirt and grime from paint while stripping off wax and sealant residue.

First, wash the vehicle with water or a generic vehicle shampoo. This will remove any surface grime. Then apply the all-purpose cleaner with a microfiber cloth.

Depending on the amount of wax or sealant coating buildup, you may need to wash the vehicle surface twice to remove all of the contaminants.

About Us

Once Wax & Sealant are Gone, Rinse & Dry

Drying your vehicle with a microfiber cloth is the best way to get a clean finish and prevent waterspots from ruining all of your hard work. It also allows you to work efficiently, as you can move onto applying a fresh coat of wax or sealant significantly quicker.

Use a dry microfiber cloth to gently and thoroughly dry the vehicle. Avoid rubbing or applying too much pressure. Squeeze water from the cloth as you continue to dry until you've reached the end and you have a streak-free finish.

About Us

Methods of Drying to Avoid Include:

Driving around the block or highway
· Not only will this leave waterspots, but there is also a good chance that you'll end up with dirt stuck to the damp surface of your vehicle. Without any protectant on your vehicle, your chances of dirt in your clear coat significantly increases.

Parked in the sun/ air dry
· You will end up with waterspots from the water evaporating.

Want to Leave It to the Professionals?

Our Service Department is here to fulfill all your vehicle needs. Check out our vehicle detailing packages and select the one that best suits your needs.

"I don't have any of the above options on hand. Can I use ________________ instead?"

At Saunders Motors, we do NOT recommend using any product that is not specially and specifically formulated for automotive use. We recommend carefully reading all product packaging and inserts to confirm it is suitable for your vehicle, and safe for the surfaces it will be applied to, before using.

At Saunders Motors

We believe in customer service first, so you will never feel pushed or pressured into a purchase. Instead, we will provide you with all the options and information necessary for you to make an educated decision. We have a strong and committed sales staff that works diligently to guarantee that you enjoy your entire purchasing experience. Our knowledgeable business manager can assist you in the leasing or financing process, and keep you informed on warranties and insurance. The dealership is supported by a team of managers who work daily to ensure we a price leaders in the local market, and that customers near and far are satisfied.