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Original Car Wax Test (July 2000)

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See also Wax Overview | Waxing Technique | Wax Product Recommendations

This is the original wax test result I concluded in July 2000. I've tested quite a few more waxes since then. See the updates on my main Car Wax page.

I've completed a 3 month test of waxes on my A6 2.7T. My friends think I've been obsessed (probably true), and my sister said she was surprised I wasn't interviewed in the recent Consumer Reports writeup on car waxes :-)

TESTED PRODUCTS

Eagle One Liquid
Effortless (available on Internet)
Meguiar's Gold Liquid
Meguiar's Yellow #26
Mother's Paste Wax
Zaino Z1
Zaino Z2
Zaino Z5
Zymol Creme Polish (cheap kind ~$15)
Zymol Liquid (cheap kind ~$15)

METHODOLOGY

I divided my car into 12 zones and applied different waxes to each zone (why did my friends think I was obsessed?). I mixed and matched waxes to different zones to compensate for different "weathering" of different parts of the car. I washed the car weekly with a lambswool mitt. I rotated shampoos between Zaino, Armour All, Mother's, and 10-year-old Simoniz Super Poly. When water stopped beading to any signficant degree, I considered the tested wax to have stopped working. (With the car divided into 10 adjacent panels, it was pretty easy to see when a section's beading had diminished.) As soon as a wax had "failed," I stripped that part of the car with dishwashing detergent and reapplied one of the waxes still in contention to achieve more coverage of different kinds of surfaces.

The car is parked outside during the day and garaged at night. It was parked outside about one week per month in airport parking. I'm based near Seattle. The wax test program ran from March 8 to July 1.

ASSUMPTIONS

I assumed that the horizontal surfaces would weather faster than the vertical surfaces, and that the forward edges (hood and front quarter panels) would weather faster than the trailing edges. I also thought that the hood would weather the fastest because of the heating and cooling cycles in addition to being a horizontal surface and a leading edge. My test results seemed to confirm all of these assumptions except that the horizontal part of the trunk seemed to weather *much* faster than the roof, which I can't explain. It didn't weather as fast as the hood.

GOALS

I wanted to find the highest gloss wax that would last the longest. I'm willing to wax my car a few times a year, but not every month.

RESULTS - GLOSS

From reading other people's wax posts, my impression is that gloss results vary quite a bit depending on the car's color. On my Melange A6, my subjective rating was as follows (best to worst, equals grouped):

1. Eagle One Liquid
1. Meguiar's Gold Liquid
2. Zaino Z2
3. Meguiar's Yellow #26
3. Zaino Z5
3. Mother's Paste Wax
4. Zymol Creme Polish
4. Zymol Liquid
5. Effortless

The only one that was really bad was the Effortless car wax, which hazed a lot. The rest were really pretty close, and I wouldn't swear that I could tell the difference in a controlled test.

I tried Zaino Z2 and Z5 in combination with Z1 (which is supposed to dramatically enhance the shine) and without Z1, and couldn't detect any visual difference. I also could not detect any difference between a single coat and multiple coats. I really wanted that "shine so deep you feel like you're going to fall in," but none of the products provided that (including up to 5 coats of Zaino Z2).

RESULTS - EASE OF APPLICATION

The waxes broke into three distinct groups. The following were super easy to apply and take off:

Eagle One Liquid
Effortless
Meguiar's Yellow #26
Zaino Z2 when applied by itself
Zaino Z5 when applied by itself

The following was slightly more difficult:

Meguiar's Gold Liquid - the wax is made up of a waxy part and a liquid yellow part. You have to shake the bottle constantly to keep the two mixed together.

The following were a pain to apply and/or take off:

Mother's Paste Wax - very hard to take off; requires significant elbow grease.

Zymol Creme Polish & Zymol Liquid - These both left lots of residue on the car. Took multiple buffings with damp towel to remove excess wax. Contrary to what other people have posted, I didn't find the Zymol to harden to "concrete," at least not compared to the Mother's paste. But this was the cheap version of Zymol, so maybe it's easier to apply than the versions that cost $50+.

Zaino Z1 - This was a real pain to remove when combined with Z2 according to the instructions. Zaino says that it can take "as long as 2 hours to dry." I let it dry overnight, and it still required several buffings with damp towels to remove completely. After doing all that work, the gloss wasn't any better than Z2 by itself. Z1 by itself dried quickly and was easy to remove.

RESULTS - DURABILITY (from worst to best)

Eagle One - I think the shine on this was so good because none of the wax actually stayed on the car. This wax lasted for one week while the car was parked at the airport plus two washings. Amazingly poor durability.

Effortless - This was almost as bad as Eagle One. It lasted only about 3 weeks. Its "Teflon formulation" didn't seem to help -- either that or the Teflon kept the wax from sticking to the car :-)

Zymol products - I didn't notice any difference between the liquid and the paste; both were relatively short-lived. After weeks they were doing noticeably worse than the remaining waxes, though at that point they were still doing better than Eagle One and Effortless. Consumer Reports thought the Zymol waxes did better than Meguiar's Gold (if I'm remembering right), but on my car, the Meguiar's Gold definitely lasted longer.

Meguiar's Yellow #26 - I tested this only on the roof. It was noticeably shorter lived in that location than the other 3 products. I couldn't tell whether it lasted longer or shorter than the Zymol products.

Mother's Paste Wax, Meguiar's Gold - These seemed to have similar durability. After 2 months, both were still beading some, but not as well as the Zaino products.

Zaino Z5 - This lasted easily 2 months, and was only marginally shorter lived than Z2. Combining with Z1 didn't seem to make any difference.

Zaino Z2 - This was the clear standout in durability and was still beading well on the vertical surfaces after 3 months. Combining with Z1 didn't seem to make any difference in durability. Z2 was still beading on the horizontal surfaces to some degree after 3 months (drops were getting to be quarter sized), but if I wasn't running a test, I would have rewaxed the horizontal surfaces earlier than I did. I tried sections with 2-4 coats of Z2. As far as I can tell, once you get beyond 2 coats you're not gaining anything, and the advantage of 2 coats compared to 1 is slight.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Zaino Z2 doesn't leave white film on rubber parts. Meguiar's two products both left white film on the sun roof seal and on the black underpart of the rear bumper.

CONCLUSIONS

For my purposes, one coat of straight Zaino Z2 (not combined with Z1) was the clear winner. It lasted the longest by quite a bit, and the shine is almost as good as Meguiar's Gold and Eagle One. It's super easy to apply and remove, and it doesn't leave a film on rubber trim.

If I really wanted maximum shine, I would use Meguiar's Gold. It looks just a tad better than Zaino on my car and lasts pretty well.

The whole car is now protected with Z2, and is beading great.

Email me at stevemcc@construx.com.