Meguiars -- Paint care products

Capt. Mike

Meguairs started as a paint products supplier for the auto paint & body industry and is still probably the leader. Their products are relatively easy to find and can handle most of the paint and body tasks you're likely to need.

Unfortunatly, Meguiars has gotten into the marketing and glitz arenas, which makes buying and understanding their products quite difficult.

Start with a Don't -- DON'T waste your time and money on the stuff in the purple containers. It's a 'watered-down' economy version meant for the discount auto parts stores. It does not work that well and certainly not well enough to justify the price savings.

Meguiars in the brown bottles whose label includes a large, prominent number is the route to take. i.e. #2 is a heavy-cut cleaner and #26 is a pure final wax. And there's another couple dozen for various purposes.

Meguiars web site is NOT very good; it is glitzy and pushes their high-priced yuppie products and miscellaneous accessories without giving a real good description of paint needs and products. I'd do my initial purchases from a paint & body supply store where they will have the appropriate catalogs and product applications, plus some good advice until you get a handle on it. You may find some of the more common products at discount or mail-order and that's fine once you understand the products & numbering.

There are many kinds of paint and each will require a specific type of product. Add in how it will be applied -- hand or buffer -- and you have a lot to learn. VW's use two primary paint systems -- the early VW's through the Type II's used a resin based enamel. With the Vanagons, they started using a high-tech paint, urethane acrylic with clear-coats. They require some different products that should not be mixed.

First, let's look at some basic paint needs. Paint damage may require sanding, rubbing compounds and procedures beyond the scope of this topic. For the average owner, we are looking at getting it back slick & shiney, then protecting it. There are 4 basic steps for home use. Use of the random orbital buffers makes large areas easier, but there will still be a lot of hand work.

For paint that is dull, oxidized, very dirty or has small scartches, you will need a cleaner. Cleaners contain mild abrasives like the diatoms in toothpaste. They cut through ground in dirt and will remove minor imperfections. This is an area where the type of paint requires different products. Meguiars has separate products depending on type. Cleaners of this type are NOT required each use -- just to restore aged or damaged paint.

The next step is polish. Paint gets its 'shine' from smoothness. The paint surface is in reality a series of microscopic hills & valleys -- how smooth and small determines the amount of shine. Picture reflections off smooth glass versus etched. Same glass, one shines. Polish will remove swirl marks and some minor stains. It's an intermediate step and it won't do you much good if you haven't done the earlier paint damage repairs and cleaning. However, it will usually take care of the fine scratches you pick up over time with car washing.

The third step -- and the least understood -- is glazing. Glazing is a way to fill those hills & valleys with a transparent surface. THIS is what makes paint really gleam -- have that slick feel where water just rolls off. This is the step to give it that glassy look, feel and slickness! Mequiars has a couple of versions, #5 & #7 depending on application. #7 is tough to apply but very good, #5 is supposedly more for hand application. However, once glazed and with that show-room shine you still have no paint protection.

This is the stage where you need a wax. There are dozens of choices. Personally, if I've done the preliminary steps, I do not want any sort of cleaner-wax. I consider these for temporary, small repair use like a spill on the paint, bird droppings, etc. Liquid or paste is personal -- there's not much difference. When all is said and done, there's just a microscopic thin layer of wax on the car. The new liquids do well; Meguiar's #26 is a pure wax product. There are other sealers, polymer sealers, etc. Not to cut them down, but the ads are hype -- the shine is getting the paint right before the wax. Some are rediculously priced. I use Meguiars #20 only on the rough-textured Westy roof because cream waxes sometimes leave a white residue in the nooks & crannies that a clear sealer may not. I've played with other company's colored paint scratch fix waxes and find they don't work.

In the ideal world, you will have your paint, clean, polished and glazed so if you keep it that way, you can get by with rewaxing and an occassional reglaze most of the time. Wax no less often than every 6 months -- and that stuff about water beading is NOT the test; that is more likely to reflect the glaze and or film on the paint.

A final note on Meguiars is that they have started and are pushing a line of premium (priced) products called the Medallian or Gold line. These are good enough products but tend to do what the professional numbered line does. Some may be more home-use friendly, but they seem aimed at the new car luxury market. When you go to the high-end paint people like antique restorers, you'll find they stick to the professional line.

Meguiars also makes other products that meet Westy needs. They have a boat line for fiberglass that is good for the Westy roofs, including cleaners. I like ONE of their car washes, #00. They have two rubber/vinyl products that are good, #40 the best alternative to Armor-All, and #42, a cream dressing meant for the rubberized bumpers. I find this later to be the best for tires because you are rubbing it in and it doesn't turn the tires chalky brown like Armor-All does.

I final product that may be of some interest is Final Finish, #34. This is a spray and wipe exterior touch-up, primarily for an already cleaned and waxed car that has picked up some water-spots, light dust or maybe finger prints and smudges. Use properly on well waxed paint, it does not scratch and acts much like a glaze at restoring that final shine. It is NOT for replacing a good wash or proper paint sealing & waxing. It acts like a liquid 'floater' to remove loose contaminates without grinding them into the paint. It's common amongst the antique crowd doing a final touch up on the show field.

Capt. Mike

:( I regret to report that Meguiars had discontinued #42, the cream rubber & vinyl protectant. Figures! Every time someone comes up with a good product that works, they discontinue it. They still have their #40.

The seem to be expanding their Yuppie lines of 'deluxe' packaging, but I suspect they will prove out like the Medallian & Gold lines . . . hype, glitzy pacakge and high-$ without any significant advantage over their commercial numbered line.
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