Many people assume that polishing and waxing are the same. But, the two are different processes. Properly cleaning and polishing makes a world of difference to the outcome and gloss duration of the paint. Waxing over surfaces that need polishing or compounding will only create a temporary gloss.
Polishing actually deep cleans the paint by removing oxidation, scratches, spotting, old wax, swirl marks, and other minor paint defects. Polishes work with abrasives and/or chemical cleaners to flatten, or level, the surface. Waxing with waxes, polymers, and/or paint sealants provide an extra level of paint protection while yielding a high gloss finish.
Each vehicle may require a different process for compounding, polishing, and waxing. This process depends upon the condition of the paint. Some vehicles may only need a protective layer of wax while others may require compounding and polishing. Use the Paint Condition Chart to help determine your paint condition.