Product Review: Turtle Wax Ice Clay Bar and Turtle Wax Black Box

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
product review turtle wax ice clay bar and turtle wax black box

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.

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  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Oct 02, 2009

    Monsoon Stereo? Why not say it has a small block Chevy under the hood too? Ford "Premium Sound" is proper Fordspeak for 1980s audio excellence. Sorry, I had to nitpick. :) I'm curious to know more about Black Box on your Cobra. If you have the car outside for large amounts of time in the sun, how long did the carnuba protection last?

  • Smylmakrr Smylmakrr on Apr 04, 2010

    Thanks for the comprehensive review of the TW Ice Clay application. It was recommended to me to clean my car to remove all of deposits that have accumulated over the years. When I bought it I didn't have a clue what it was or how to apply it. I searched for it on the web and your article came up in the search. Now it all makes sense. I'll let you know how it works when I'm finished.

  • Tassos those 90s pathetic orange pixels are inexcusably lame in a 2010.The interior is filled with Grey Rubbermaid plastic and the tiny sliver of real or fake wood is an utterly pathetic attempt to pretend it's upscale (don't even THINK of "Luxury")Merc SLs with similar metal retractable roofs look so much better inside and out.Regardless of what you paid for this way undepowered near-luxury pretend-sports car, you would have done so much better with a PORSCHE BOXSTER...
  • Dukeisduke That's a cool picture (the one under the bridge) - where was it taken? Google Image Search doesn't turn up any matches.
  • Dukeisduke Okay, yeah, they should fix this, but, "URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE"? I think we're reaching Peak Idiocracy.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a great review, and very accurate from my perspective as the owner of a closely related, but longer and taller, E93 335i convertible. So much in this review is familiar. Here are the things that are a bit different about the 335i:[list][*]My car is a manual. Shifter action is good, with positive engagement, although a bit more play and rubbery feeling in the shifter than you would get with, say, a six-speed Honda. The clutch is a bit disappointing. It has a "clutch dampening valve" intended to protect against the most abusive clutch dumps. The valve throws my timing off a bit and I have had a hard time learning to drive this car with perfect smoothness, especially in the 1-2 shift. I may remove the valve at some point.[/*][*]My car has the turbo (in single-turbo N55 form). On the plus side, you get what feels like significantly more power than the rated 300 hp once on the boost, and even in fully stock form you get entertaining whooshing noises from the blowoff valve. On the minus side, there is some turbo lag, more than you get in many modern turbo cars, and fuel economy is, well, not close to what Corey is getting. The turbo car also comes with an active exhaust system that is extremely quiet when puttering while making some nice inline-six noise at wide-open throttle.[/*][*]There are back seats! I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. The six-year-old fits perfectly. The nine-year-old still fits, but that will likely change within the next three years. These seats are not usable for adults unless the front-seat occupants squeeze forward more than normal. E92 coupes are slightly roomier in back, and E90 sedans are substantially roomier.[/*][*]My car has the M Sport suspension, which does not have variable dampers. It's firm enough that I have to be careful to avoid even small holes on city streets if I don't want to get jarred. But if you can avoid the holes it feels good, navigating expansion joints and such without uncomfortable impact, while maintaining impressive body control for a porky 3900-pound convertible.[/*][*]My car has iDrive and a screen, as well as parking sensors. But it does not have a backup camera. Graphics on the screen are pretty good by 2011 standards, which is to say not acceptable by modern standards, but the system is easy enough to navigate and works pretty well. I prefer the rotary controller to a touch screen for fingerprint reasons.[/*][*]The parking sensors are by far the best of any car I've ever owned, and they are so accurate I really don't need a camera. The sensors go to a solid beep when the appropriate end is about 4" from an object, and I can comfortably cover about half that distance with no fear of bumping. They also project legimately useful graphics on the iDrive screen showing where the object is. I park in tight city settings enough that I really appreciate the accuracy. Also in the city parking mold, my car has power folding mirrors, which I wish every car would.[/*][*]Like you, I have the mid-level "Hi-Fi Professional" stereo setup, but in the four-seat convertible there is not a dedicated subwoofer. Bass is a bit on the weak side. Sound quality is about comparable with the JBL system in my Toyota Highlander, which is to say it's good enough for listening in the car but is not going to impress anyone.[/*][*]There are small leaks from the joints between the top and the A-pillars in my car. They won't soak the interior, but they will result in a few drops of water on the front seats after a hard rain. I'm still experimenting to see if regular applications of rubber protectant can restore the seals enough to eliminate the leaks. There are no leaks from any other part of the top mechanism.[/*][*]I've only owned the car for about eight months and 1500 miles, but so far nothing has broken and every feature on the car works correctly. A purchase-time inspection found only an incorrectly secured fan shroud and no other problems, and there is a mostly complete service history, so this was a well-maintained car to start with.[/*][/list]
  • Lou_BC This offer reminds me of those plans where you get something free but if you fail to cancel prior to the expiry of the "Free" plan you end up on the hook for a lengthy contract. Tesla wants to attract people to their electrical company. It's smart. Make money selling the car, make money with subscription services on the car, and make money selling the fuel to power the car at home and at charging stations.