By on September 6, 2009

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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24 Comments on “Product Review: Turtle Wax Ice Clay Bar and Turtle Wax Black Box...”

  • avatar

    I guess ICE’ liquid clay bar wasn’t a big hit ? I am not surprised they came out with an actual clay bar system: the liquid clay bar was pretty much wasted effort.

    The clay bar process is the best. I’ve used the old 3 step Blu Coral,rubbing compound,liquid cleaners, etc over the years [I waxed my first car at age 11]and for ease of use and results, have found it the most effective.

    Thanks for the testimonal Sajeev. I may have to give ICE another chance. I hated it when I first used it, though I did like the no-chalking characteristic when it hit black surfaces.

    Btw: after the last Turtle Wax review I went out and got the old fashioned kind, the original, the kind I used to lose my car waxing cherry. They’ve changed the smell. I was disappointed.

    So I am glad you mentioned that part of the ritual.It’s part of the pleasure.

    But then: I like the smell of gasoline, old cars, lighter fluid and moth balls. What do I know?

  • avatar

    Your diss’ing the Zaino just sent Corvette owners
    into unprintable rants in their respective forums…

  • avatar

    Hmph. Perhaps my Zaino experience was more difficult because those C4 vettes sit too damn low. :)

    • 0 avatar

      I’m late on this one, but here goes from a long time Zaino user:
      Zaino is a great product, but it’s unforgiving on surfaces without almost perfect surface prep. Today, that means using Zaino All-In-One first to clean up most light swirl marks, and clean almost all contaminants prior to applying one of Zaino’s sealants (Z2-Pro or Z5-Pro).
      When I detail other people’s cars, I like Meguiar’s No. 20. Last a long time, looks decent,  and is realtivly easy to find. I like Meguiars clay bar. Works good enough.

  • avatar

    Good review — thanks! I’ve been using Mothers clay bar system for years with great results. Once in the spring and once in the fall.

    Use only clean water when you wash your car. Never use car wash soap as it strips off the wax you worked so hard to apply. After I wash the car, I put a few drops of car wash soap in the bucket and switch from a cotton mitt to a sponge to wash the wheels and tires. But no soap on the painted car surfaces.


  • avatar

    Are those two photos trying to show a comparison of something? The lighting conditions are entirely different, so…they’re misleading at best.

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    I wonder how ordinary black Kiwi tinned boot polish might do at addressing the fade/chalk below the quarter glass. For that matter, I imagine it’d probably do a pretty good job on the vinyl roof, too.

  • avatar

    They’re still hawking their crappy carnuba-based wax? This is the reason people buy Zaino and other botique brands–you can pick up anything with the Zaino name on it, and know it’s good, and it’s as technologically advanced and durable as it can be.

    If I look at Turtle Wax’s products, how do I know which ones are engineered to a higher standard (like the Ice polymer wax), and which ones are made to the crap standard of the green-bottle stuff?

    Turtle Wax is all over the board here. They need to look at the liquor market for guidance. One brand connotes one single standard of quality and refinement. One company may own multiple brands, but you don’t see whisky labeled “Early Times by Woodford Reserve,” even though both brands have the same parent company.

  • avatar

    Polymers really are better. I first went to ReJex over traditional wax and still use it for my daily driver. However I do use Zaino on my weekend Jeep and the wife’s ride. But with owning a Zaino kit, it lasts so long that it will be several years yet before I’ll have to consider another option. Turtle Wax is just late to the party, and shouldn’t they remove the “Wax” from their name?

    Oh, and here is my Jeep after Zaino… I’ve noticed now easily mud rinses off!

  • avatar

    Jason : Are those two photos trying to show a comparison of something? The lighting conditions are entirely different, so…they’re misleading at best.

    Compare the lack of haze in the after picture.

    If you consider one picture was taken at noon and the other was at 12:20 to be different lighting conditions (and the car wasn’t moved) then yes…there were two totally different lighting conditions. I am not enough of a photographer to consider them being different. They are untouched, and I took the picture as soon as I could…in the best lighting to show the hazy paint.

  • avatar

    Last year, I won a door prize. It was a bottle of Turtle Wax Liquid Clay. My experience with Clay bar is using a Griot’s Claybar. So earlier this year, I thought I would use the liquid clay as directed to see if it was even close to an actual clay bar. It was the most useless product I’ve ever used on my car…though I don’t think it did any damage. Thankfully, Turtle Wax has seen fit to sell a proper claybar. Thanks for the review.

  • avatar

    Lazy folks just cop-out and use the combo car wash soap with wax stuff.

    Good enough for me but then I am not driving out to Warren Buffet’s or the Kennedy compound for bridge or driving off a bridge so no need to appear high-falutin’.

    Did you know Buffet and Bill Gates play bridge together?

  • avatar

    We’ve for years used Zaino as a zesty salad dressing for summer gatherings. Friends and family alike rave about it.

  • avatar

    tscurt : We’ve for years used Zaino as a zesty salad dressing for summer gatherings. Friends and family alike rave about it.

    Try that with a Seafoam Mojito for a great automotive summer treat. You can thank me later.

  • avatar

    My experience with Turtle Wax Ice has been very positive. It has a bright shine like most polymer waxes, and it’s not deep like a carnauba. It’s very easy to apply and generally easy to remove.

    It easy outlasts NuFinish and Black Magic synthetic polishes. Using Ice Paste, I usually get 6-10 months out of Edmonton Canada’s climate.

    The liquid claybar is disappointing, it doesn’t clean as well as an all-in-one wax, though it’s good for removing bugs and grunge.

    Once I run out, I’ll probably go back to an all-in-one cleaner/polish, I simply want a polish with cleaning power built in.

  • avatar

    Seafoam mojitos should be the drink of choice prior to a colonoscopy. ;-)

  • avatar

    The Turtle Wax kit I bought came with “liquid clay bar”, an actual claybar, lubricant, and wax.

    The liquid claybar is really just a cleaner before you actually use the clay.

    The whole process takes all morning and part of the afternoon. I guess it’s a sort of meditation. :D

  • avatar

    thanks for the review, I can’t stand the white residue on my black plastic, will definitely give this a look

  • avatar
    Johnson Schwanz


    That’s simply incorrect. Car wash solution PRESERVES your wax, while strong household detergent cleaners such as Dawn strip the wax, as they act as a mild degreaser, which, in essence, is all that wax is.

    Washing your car with a dedicated car wash solution conditions the paint and preserves the hard work that you’ve invested in waxing your car. If you wash your car with no soap, you’re not washing it at all; instead, you’re throwing around dirt on the surface of your car with no lubrication provided by a car wash solution.

    In addition, you should use two buckets: one with car wash solution, and one with clean water for rinsing purposes. However, you’re right about using separate media for painted surfaces and wheels.

  • avatar

    The test vehicle is my daily-driven Lincoln Mark VIII with mostly original paint that’s gone several years since last slathered with carnauba

    I hate to dither defensively, but isn’t the car in the photo a Mark VI, not a Mark VIII? The Mark8 was the Thunderbird clone with the 5.0L then 4.6L and definitely did not come with an Opera Window or Landau roof.

  • avatar

    Two cars for two products: Mark IV for The Black Box, Mark VIII for Turtle Wax ICE.

  • avatar

    Sajeev, I stand corrected. I had meant to type Mark IV. I had a Mark VI once, digital readouts, 351 Windsor and Ford Monsoon Stereo with 8 track. Inherited from my GPA, just in time for the early 90’s fuel hikes.

    Also have used the Black Box for my 95 Cobra. Works very well, but leaves some residue if you don’t follow directions well. However, the Black Detail spray is amazing in bringing back the glossy wax shine without having to reapply the Black carnuba.

  • avatar

    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?

  • avatar

    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.

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