In the Karate Kid, Mr Myagi gets Danny to wax his collection of old cars. Wax on, wax off. Was he teaching Danny basic karate moves, or was he tricking the boy to wax his cars? Danny won at the end of the movie, so it was probably the teaching thing. But what is the deal with waxing your car?
Try a quick experiment. Take a pic of your best pair of leather shoes. Shine one with that stuff in the tube with the foam rubber tip. Shine the other the old fashioned way, with Nugget or Kiwi and a brush and a cloth. Now take another pic. Which shoe looks best? You know the answer, but please do this anyway.
If you own property, that is probably the most valuable thing you have. If not, it is most likely your car. The thing is, you can keep a property forever and it will keep getting more valuable. Your car will be worth less than you paid for the moment you leave the showroom and that value will keep dipping. At some stage, after two to five years, you will have to sell your car to keep ahead of the curve.
There are a few things that can make or break the price you can get for your car: the service record, the mileage, accident damage or lack thereof, and of course, the first impression. Imagine yourself buying your car. You look at it. The paint on the roof and bonnet starting to go matt, mottling on the corners, some rust showing at the door handle. A third off the price right there.
This is where waxing your car makes the difference. It is more art than science, but like good art, it will create beauty in the eye of the beholder and put money in your pocket.
As Mr Myagi knew, waxing is a zen thing. You do it for the here and now and you will reap the rewards later, when you are not expecting it. Zen.
Car paint has improved so much over the years that most people don’t believe in wax anymore. They see it in the same light as those aftermarket additives you add to your oil. But your car’s paint, advanced as it may be now, is still the final barrier between selling your car for what it’s worth and what the customer sees.
As you drive, friction attacks your paint. Speck of dust, sand, small road debris kicked up by other cars, all these cause microscopic scratches in the paint. These little scratches, if left, will be attacked by the UV rays of the sun, or little pieces of corrosive salts will lodge there to do their dirty work over the years. Don’t even get me started on the bugs banging into your pride and joy – those little suckers are flying bags of acid just waiting to sacrifice themselves to the detriment of your paint job.
So, to wax. Wash your car and enjoy a cold beverage of your choice while it dries. Then do the wax on, wax off thing and watch the magic happen. Like your shoes, the waxing and polishing will bring the shine out. But it will do so much more. The wax and the act of applying it will remove impurities better than and wash. It will fill in the little scratches and create a barrier to keep out the nasties and the rays of the sun. On a zen level, you will feel good about it, not least because your car will look better and you will have learned to fight while standing on a boat. (If this makes no sense, watch the movie.)
Then, when your car gets to that stage when you have to trade it in, you will win just for the sake of appearances. And your next car will be a blank canvas to wax to the brilliant shine it deserves. Zen.