Anti-Audi furor notwithstanding, automotive paint protection and women’s cosmetic products are a lot alike. But wanting your skin/sheetmetal looking good isn’t a crime, so let’s examine two of Turtle Wax’s premium offerings: the ICE clay bar and wax kit, and the Black Box treatment system. Because I hate reading product reviews that regurgitate the manufacturer’s instructions, I’ll assume you can read a box. More to the point, here’s why you should.
Turtle Wax ICE: ICE puts Turtle Wax in the polymer-based protection game, leaving their green bottles of carnauba for traditional buyers. ICE’s claim to fame is easy application, even in direct sunlight, and a residue-free surface on matte plastic and rubber parts. The test vehicle is my daily-driven Lincoln Mark VIII with mostly original paint that’s gone several years since last slathered with carnauba; given the intensity of Houston summers, ICE had an uphill battle.
Granted, the wind tunnel-friendly Lincoln was once proclaimed “The Easiest Car to Wash,” so perhaps I made it too easy. But the steps are simple: wash the car, use the ICE clay bar, wash again and apply a protective layer of ICE polymer wax.
The ICE clay bar feels and moves better than cheaper offerings, with easily-kneaded clay for effortless action. More importantly, it left a smooth finish after one run on each panel. The sheer volume of brownish oxidation removed required a re-wash to prep for application of ICE’s wax. And what about the Internet’s controversial opinions on this polymer wax?
Yes, there is truth in advertising: ICE can be applied in direct sunlight, even in 100°+ Texas heat when nobody in his or her right mind should wax a car. Indeed, ICE leaves no residue on unpainted surfaces: I purposely gooped the flat black wiper arms and plastic windshield panels, and there was absolutely no chalky residue left behind. The extra ICE disappeared into thin air. Wow.
ICE works well at its primary job too: protecting your paintwork. I’m used to the carnauba routine, so applying ICE felt like baby oil on the car’s skin. Applying conservative amounts of ICE in three-foot square spaces ensures full coverage in a short time period. The action was smooth, flawless, and as olfactorily pleasing as a unisex-marketed perfume.
Removing the polymer isn’t as effortless, but it’s still nicer than anything else I’ve tried, including Zaino. The supplied microfiber cloth took the ICE off with no problems, zero drama. Even the plastic lights, chrome trim and rubber weatherstrip got an added boost in shine after a shot of ICE.
Aside from ICE wax’s impossible to open, heavy-gauge plastic packaging scratching my overly-anxious hands, Turtle Wax far exceeded my expectations. After three months of abuse in a Houston summer with no shade, the Mark VIII still has smooth, brilliant metallic-flecked paint. But the water beading action when the car is washed is far from the perfect globes associated with a new wax job. Turtle Wax suggests ICE lasts no more than six months in my climate, and my time with ICE seems to back that up. It’s better than the two or three months of protection that carnauba wax previously gave my ride.
Turtle Wax Black Box: The Turtle Wax junket used a black Cherokee for this demonstration. Fine, but the triple-black Continental Mark IV that saved my ass from Hurricane Ike is better. In appreciation, shortly after the storm I gave it a wash/polish/wax, which lasted about a month before large portions of hazy and scarred paint resurfaced. Paint professionals suggested a color-matched wax, as color sanding 37-year-old paintwork is not an especially bright idea.
Turtle Wax’s Black Box includes several bottles of black tinted polish, carnauba wax, spray detailer and a pair of foam applicators. Material quality was excellent and ease of application brought butter to mind, though the black tint means that work clothes and manicure-saving gloves are mandatory.
Peep that “before” picture, taken in the afternoon sun: the paint below the Opera window is hazed by white stuff, ruining the Lincoln’s coiffure like dandruff on pitch mistress Jill Wagner’s gorgeous locks.
The “after” picture, taken 20 minutes later, shows the Black Box System has masked the scratches, removing a substantial portion of the haze. Three months later, the de-hazed paint job looks much like the first day, after a month sitting under a cover. The black tinted wax worked, sort of; decades of deterioration won’t disappear without a (paint) gun.
But said imperfections are barely visible outside of high noon sunlight: a huge improvement for a $2500 estate-sale purchase, turning heads at late afternoon cruise spots like a vehicle costing far, far more. And considering its $22 asking price, if the Black Box works this well on the Stinkin’ Lincoln, it will work magic on newer, less abused black paint jobs.