Your paint will have taken a battering this winter, so now is the time to make it sparkle again. First it needs cleaning, which involves rinsing with a hose or a blast with a pressure washer to shift as much heavy grime as possible, then remove the remainder with a shampoo. Our latest test winner is Bilt Hamber auto-wash, which leaves precious little water to wipe away.
Washing your car is likely to remove plenty of grit, so take care not to drag it back on to the bodywork. The best way to prevent this is to use a bucket with a grid in the bottom; any grit from your mitt or sponge passes through this, and can’t be picked up again.
If the paint is in good condition, use a clay to remove the final particles; our current favourite is Bilt Hamber’s auto-clay regular. You can check if it’s necessary by slipping a finger inside a plastic bag and running it over the bodywork. If it feels like sandpaper, it’s time to clay.
The final step is to add some shine and protection. This test focuses on durability; as waxing isn’t a quick job, you want that water-repellent coat to last. We took 24 waxes and applied them to a sectioned-off panel and left it outside for five of the wettest winter weeks. Beading was rated throughout, plus we took into account ease of application and price, from various online sources as we went to press, bearing in mind the fact that hard waxes last longer than liquid versions.