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Black Magic and Turtle Wax car waxes rated best overall in Consumer Reports tests

Posted Monday, June 26, 2006

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Inexpensive products outperform some more costly brands in CR’s tests

Yonkers, NY — Consumer Reports tested more than two dozen liquid, paste, and spray car waxes for the July issue and found two products, from Black Magic and Turtle Wax, that outperformed all the others.

Black Magic Wet Shine Liquid Wax and Turtle Wax Carnauba Car Wax T-6 tied with “Excellent” overall scores. Both products, which sell nationally for around $7 apiece, were also named as CR Best Buys because of their combination of performance and comparatively low cost.

A total of 28 different brands of car wax were tested, including 16 liquid waxes, five pastes, and seven spray-on, wipe-off products. The waxes ranged in price from about $5 to $32.

Full tests and ratings of the car waxes appear in the July issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale June 6. The complete report is also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org .

Consumer Reports found that the liquid waxes generally provide the best combination of cleaning and protection. But contrary to conventional wisdom, they required more effort than paste waxes to apply and remove. As a group, liquids were the hardest to apply evenly, and they took the most time to buff out.

In addition, some left a powdery residue that had to be wiped off. Even the top-rated Black Magic Liquid Wet Shine Liquid Wax (BM48016) required an extra bit of buffing to eliminate any streaking. And CR’s other best all-around choice, the Turtle Wax Carnauba Car Wax T-6, can cause slight scratching or hazing on newer dark-colored finishes.

Consumer Reports’ tests found that pricier waxes favored by auto enthusiasts do not necessarily work better than some less-expensive brands. The two top performers cost just $7, while a product selling for $32, P21S Concours-Look Carnauba Wax, ranked no better than mid-pack.

Among the four paste waxes tested, the Nu Finish NFP-80 ($8) outscored its competitors with a “Very Good” score. Eagle One Wax-As-You-Dry ($6) and Turtle Wax 1 Step Wax & Dry T-9 ($6), tied as the best spray products with “Good” scores. Turtle Wax Platinum Series Ultra Gloss T-413R came in just behind the two top-rated sprays.

How to Select the Right Car Wax

In its tests, Consumer Reports found that:

  • Liquid waxes are good for cleaning, gloss, and durability. But they can be more difficult to apply evenly and buff out. Most dry to a haze within about a minute, but this varies with wind, sunlight, and thickness of application.
  • Paste waxes are good for ease of application. But overall performance is not as good as with liquids, and it can be difficult to remove wax from the container as you near the bottom. Paste waxes usually dry to a haze within 30 seconds.
  • Spray waxes are good for new cars with excellent finishes since new paint is still shiny and shouldn’t be oxidized. They are also good for consumers looking for convenience, plastic compatibility, and spot waxing. They are quick to apply and many can be wiped off without drying. But they are not as good for cleaning and are the worst for durability.
How CR tested car waxes

Overall scores for the waxes are based primarily on gloss; durability; ease of use; cleaning; resistance to scratching, swirls and hazing; and plastic compatibility.

Consumer Reports tested using sample panels uniformly finished with white or black automotive paint, both with and without clear coat. Some were left to weather for 12 months on the roof of CR’s National Test Center in Yonkers, NY and others were put into a device that simulates extreme weather conditions. The panels were brought into a lab weekly, where technicians washed and dried them, and applied drops of water to measure beading effect. How well a wax causes water to bead, or repel water, is one way to determine whether wax still provides protection from acid rain and contaminants. To test for ease of use and how well products worked to clean and improve gloss on fading paint, CR used real vehicles, some of which had rarely or never been waxed.

To assess gloss, CR did side-by-side visual comparisons. For durability, CR tracked how water beaded to show how quickly the wax wore away. Cleaning and scratching/hazing tests also relied on side-by-side visual comparisons. For ease of use, CR used cars owned by staffers.

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Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine’s auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at www.ConsumerReports.org .

 
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Black Magic and Turtle Wax car waxes rated best overall in Consumer Reports tests
Black Magic Wet Shine Liquid Wax and Turtle Wax Carnauba Car Wax T-6 tied with “Excellent” overall scores.
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