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Review – Autoglym Polar Wash System

6 min read

After all the daily driving and visits to car shows over the summer, the BX has been getting a lot more baths than it usually would. Last years bath time was done using a Karcher K4 and its ‘snow lance’, but frankly, it was a little hopeless. However, after a bit of research, the Autoglym Polar system gets excellent reviews, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Expectations of the Autoglym Polar System

Alright, the car doesn’t get too dirty from day to day usage. The picture below was taken just after the Festival of The Unexceptional, a 250-mile journey with some rain, spray and road film. I guess some of this is the benefit of occasionally spending a day laying on some Autoglym Super Resin Polish. But a full polish is incredibly time-consuming.

The BX post Festival of the Unexceptional and pre Autoglym Polar wash
The BX post-Festival of the Unexceptional and pre Autoglym Polar wash

So what do I want from the Polar wash system?

Contactless washing

The 30-year-old paint can readily be described as delicate, even thin in some places. I’m always worried that washing is scratching. I have to confess I’m not keen to spend too long washing. Tripple bucket is right out, and while I’ll usually double bucket, I’ll definitely be picking up some filth on the sponge. So the idea of some decent contactless washing really appeals to me.

Low input cleaning

I’ve got a million things going on. Yes, I want the car to look less abandoned, but I’m pretty keen to keep what’s left of the paint protected. To do it justice will take hours, possibly days, which I simply don’t have. So I want something that is reasonably swift but also low input. The less sponging, the better. I’m hoping the multi-stage approach will limit the physical effort I have to put in.

Lasting Results

I’ve used various products over the years. Mainstream products like Autoglym and Meguirs and some old hats like Turtle and many other less heard of brands. Most of the products have given a good finish with a modicum of effort. Some are frankly hopeless. The critical performance characteristic is how long the finish lasts. I’ll consider beading and gloss appearance over time as a benchmark.

What makes up the Autoglym Polar system?

The Autoglym Polar system comprises of two parts, the applicator and the stuff for application. And like so many Autoglym systems, the parts have ridiculous names. In fact, why do they call it a system? After all, it is just a collection of bottles with different stickers? Well, I guess it helps you pick the products that work with each other. Or to sell you more things. Either way, it certainly helps me when faced with a wall of products, and one of the things that draws me to Autoglym, they make it simple!

The Autoglym Polar Blaster

Critical to the system is the applicator. This thing uses the power of the water flow from the pressure washer to pick up the fluid, mix it with water, then force it through a nozzle. The mixture of detergent and the quality of the nozzle determines how good the snow foam really is. Why Autoglym call it a Polar Blaster, I’ll never know. What I can tell you is the nozzle, valve, and adjuster are all sturdy solid things. Compared to the flimsy plastic rubbish that came with the pressure washer, the Autoglym snowmaker feels like a decent piece of kit made to last.

The complete Autoglym Polar system
The complete Autoglym Polar system

The Autoglym Polar Collection

While the Polar Blaster will be creating the foam, nothing will happen without the right determent. The Polar Collection consists of the chemical steps in the Polar process, each in the recognisable Autoglym bottle. The names on the bottles, in this case, do an excellent job of describing what the fluids do. Blast off the worst of the built-up dirt, wash the care, then seal it a little to stop it from being filthy in ten minutes. The instructions are straightforward until it comes to the mixing. Each step requires a vastly different concentration of fluid, quite why Autoglym didn’t make the dilution ratios the same or even similar, I can’t tell you, but they should have! This is the only thing I don’t like about the Polar system. I’ve now emptied one bottle while the others are half full!

The three stages of the Autoglym Polar wash system
The three stages of the Autoglym Polar wash system

Autoglym Polar system in action

Polar Blaster – Snow Foam Applicator

It’s all pretty idiot-proof to use. Plug the applicator directly into the pressure washer. I’m using a Karcher K4 because it’s cheap, even if it does break down a LOT. Dilute the Polar Blast as required and put it into the bottle on the applicator, then fire away. The thickness of the foam can be improved by allowing the right amount of water and detergent mix using the valve on the applicator.

Polar Blast – High Density Foam Blanket

Snow foam you could do snow angels in
Snow foam that you could make snow angels in

I’ve used a few different (cheap and common) snow foam chemicals and applicators over the years. They’ve created something white and wet, but not what I would call ‘snow’ or ‘foam’, more like throwing cream on a car. But the Polar Blast fluid and the Polar Blaster combine to a spectacular result. The picture above shows the foam a good 5 minutes after application, and I can confirm it still has very thick peaks! Absolutely brilliant. And you can see the more significant bits of crud getting swept away.

Polar Wash – Safe and Effective Cleaner

Polar Wash gets the rest of the dirt of the car with the minimum of effort
Polar Wash gets the rest of the dirt off the car with the minimum of effort.

After the snow foam has been left to do its magic, it gets pressure washed off with plain water. The difference is already notable, and so far, all I’ve done is walk around the car a few times and get my legs wet. For absolutely no agitation or touching of the paintwork, this is working rather well! Next, it gets hit with Polar Wash which still gives good white coverage, but it’s nowhere near as foamy. It also takes a bit of agitation in the nooks and crannies from a detailing brush. Once washed off, there is a notable improvement in cleanliness and shine.

Polar Seal – Protective Coating

Possibly the easiest way to get the car shiny. Polar on, Polar off!
Possibly the easiest way to get the car shiny. Polar on, Polar off!

This step makes a big difference to both the final finish and how long the finish lasts. Spray on, leave, spray off. It’s pretty much that simple. It needs to be hand dried, and I’m using an Autoglym synthetic chamois to dry the paint panels. This stops spotting appearing and takes about 10 minutes to do the whole car. And I think you’ll agree from the picture above that it works very well indeed.

The overall verdict on the Autoglym Polar system

I’m impressed. For something so simple, it works so well. It’s perhaps obvious that the car wasn’t filthy before I started cleaning it, but the improvement is still chalk and cheese. The three steps probably took an hour and a half to complete, and this is likely to be less as I get used to the mixing ratios. It’s not entirely contactless cleaning, but it’s pretty close. I’m certainly not having to spend hours with the polish while still getting a decent shine. In fact, that last step, the Polar Seal is probably my favourite.

All stages of the Polar wash system complete and the BX is looking lovely
All stages of the Polar wash system are complete, and the BX is looking lovely.

I’ve been using the system for nearly six months and the car at least once a week. So the car does get the chance to get dirty. However, the finish stays for about three months before it noticeably loses its shine, not just because it’s covered in road filth again. And if I give it a once over at about three months, it doesn’t take much effort to get it back to shiny again. I have to confess I enjoy making the foam too much, so I’ll probably wash the car more than twice a year in future. Cost-wise, it’s comparable to some other common brands you might see in Halfords. That’s not to say it’s cheap, but it’s better than taking to a scratch-n-shine then spending months polishing it back up.

I’m obviously a fan of Autoglym products and love using the Polar system on my car. It’s not giving an all-day detailing finish, but then I don’t want that. And there are likely other products that will provide an equally good finish for the same sort of effort. But if you want a quick and straightforward way to give your car a once over, then this is worth considering.

M

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