What You Need to Know About Car Wax: The Complete Guide

gorgeous black car with high shine from the best car wax

Keeping your car serviced and maintained is the ultimate means to extend its lifespan. You have to take care of your car’s exterior to keep your car in awesome shape. So what you need to know about car wax is crucial for a long and healthy relationship with your vehicle.

While many people think that the modern paints used by car manufacturers are sufficient protection for your car, failing to wax your car undermine the protection of the vehicle’s paint. This mistake can expose the paint on your car to road salt and oxidation.

Disclosure: We receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

Whether you want your car wax professionally applied or do a DIY project, the best car wax in the industry can do wonders for your vehicle. The added protection of waxing provides many compelling reasons to ensure your car is constantly gleaming with wax.

What Is Car Wax?

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If you regularly use car washes in your community, you are probably aware that car wax enhances the shine of your car. Waxing is a must in car detailing and will help keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.

Wax is a substance comprised of chemical compounds that show solidity and plasticity depending on temperature. Waxes derive from various sources.

Since it is impossible to spread hard material over your car, oils and other solvents are added to it to make it more malleable. To understand it, you have to know its various types and forms.

Car Wax vs. Car Polish

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Although car wax and car polish may sound the same, they are two vastly different things. Car polish is a remedy to remove grease, dirt, and scratches on your car. Solvents in the polish remove unwanted dirt easily and reduce the impurities on the surface of your vehicle to make it shine even more.

Car wax is a coat of protection that shields the car from grease, salt, and other substances that react adversely with metals that make up your car. So it is a preventative measure to avoid rust and weakening of the exterior of your car.

Types of Car Wax

Car waxes include two major types, both of which come in different forms. Overall, these variations provide effective protection for your car. But some waxes specialize in providing differing benefits.

Carnauba wax

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Carnauba wax is a hard natural wax. A palm tree in Brazil covers its leaves in this wax to protect it from the sun.

Carnauba wax is harvested each year and is graded based on its color and the area where it was grown. Its purity is also a component of the grading system. Only the highest quality carnauba wax is used.

The preferred choice of many car owners, carnauba wax gives your car a multi-faceted glow. Although this wax is not as easy to apply compared to a sealant and does not last as long as its other competitors, it’s incredible shine makes it a top choice for protecting your car.

This type of wax works best on black and other dark-colored cars. It works great for protecting your vehicle from contaminants and also features fantastic water beading. Carnauba wax comes in both yellow and white carnauba wax. But the yellow variety is more expensive because it is made of pure carnauba.

Synthetic wax

Also known as paint sealant, this type of car wax consists of polymers that can bond with paint. Unlike carnauba wax, which only lasts for a short time, synthetic wax stands out because of its durability. But the length of protection for your car depends on the weather conditions in your area.

This type does a great job of protecting your car’s paint from the elements. However, the shine of synthetic wax pales in comparison to the glow from carnauba wax.

Forms of Wax

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The various types of wax affect how the wax works. Whether you are getting paint sealant or carnauba wax, expect it to come in one of these forms.

Paste

Paste wax has a hard texture that makes it hard to apply on all surfaces. To make it easier to spread on the surface of your car, you may need to warm it up by keeping your engine on for a while.

Natural carnauba paste wax facilitates an amazingly glossy shine that will make your car stand out. Check out the Turtle Wax Super Hard Shell Paste Wax.

Liquid

Probably the most common type of wax, the main draw of liquid wax is its versatility. Liquid wax lets you tailor your protection based on your desired level of shine or your car color. The Car Guys Liquid Wax is a favorite among car owners.

Spray

Because of its practical packaging, spray wax is one of the most popular choices among car owners. Its nozzle allows for precise application.

This form of wax is non-abrasive and is an excellent option if you want to treat specific problem areas of your car or touch up an intense shine while on the go. Spray wax is also the top choice for intensifying the shine of your vehicle. And spray wax gives your car an additional coat of protection.

Despite this, spray wax won’t guarantee lasting results. Spray wax gives your car the shortest period of shine and is commonly only used as a temporary fix. If you want to try this form of wax, The Wax Shop is an excellent choice.

Rubbing compound

This car wax is one of the oldest forms of wax. It is made of yellow-brown flakes and can significantly improve the appearance of your car and can cover minor flaws in the paintwork. This feature makes it a favorite among classic car enthusiasts.

Colored

Colored car wax is meant to decrease superficial scratches in your car. This wax also provides your vehicle a remarkable shine.

Why Do You Need Car Wax?

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Every car on the market has a layer of clear coat paint, which helps seal in its base layer. For some car owners, this clear coat eliminates the need for getting a wax. However, this clear coat won’t be enough.

There are numerous benefits that you receive from adding waxing to your car maintenance routine.

Protect your car from scratches

Although many car owners think that the primary benefit you get from a waxing your car is the shine, this is not true. The single biggest advantage is the added protection it gives. When you add waxing you are applying a thin layer of protection to your vehicle’s clear coat on top of the car’s body.

When you wash the vehicle using a car wash or by hand, the scrubbing motions grind small particles into the body and can leave scratches. It causes dirt to slide off the body instead of disrupting the paint.

Save money

All car owners know that the maintenance and repair of your car can be expensive. But with regular waxing your expenses can significantly be reduced.

Through properly taking care of your car’s exterior, you can lower the cost of repairs caused by oxidation and scratch damages. Your car’s paint also lasts longer so you won’t have to get the car painted repeatedly.

Protection of paint from exposure

Whether you have a luxury car, truck, or SUV, it faces exposure to elements such as ultraviolet rays, road salt, tree sap, snow, bird droppings, among many more.

These potential dangers can damage the paint of your car due to oxidation, which slowly eats chemicals found in the paint of your car. In time, you may notice that the paint will begin to separate from the body.

A coat of wax applied regularly will protect the body of your car from all these harmful elements, so its color lasts for a longer period.

Helps increase the resale value

Whether you plan to sell your car or trade it in for a newer model, you need to determine its resale value. Apart from service records, mileage, and the interior’s condition, potential buyers will also look at the quality of the paint.

If the paint has chipped or faded, you will get a lesser value for your car. However, if your vehicle lacks signs of age, its resale value will be much higher.

Adding car wax prevents damage and scratches caused by road debris so you won’t have to factor in those minor problems when determining your resale value.

Shinier appearance

If you have an older model car that does not come with the factory-applied coating, you may find it challenging to achieve a shiny exterior.

One of the primary reasons why it’s so in demand is because it can make your car sparkle. Many automotive waxes are very easy to do yourself. So wax is easy to apply and can improve the luster of your car’s paint and make it look brand new.

How Often Should You Wax Your Car?

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Many guides recommend varying times on how often you should wax your car. What’s important is you check with your car manufacturer and know how to assess whether your car needs a fresh coat of wax or not.

Regular treatment

Every car needs a seasonal wax applied throughout the entire year. Carnauba wax is a substance that will diminish over time, and even synthetic waxes also lose their effect. If you don’t keep applying it every three months or so, you will start to notice various problems develop.

Dry paint

You know its time to focus on the upkeep of your car when the exterior looks dull. You should treat your car like how you treat your hands, or else moisture will escape, and the surface of your vehicle will look dry.

Paint dryness causes minor cracking and light fracturing. Usually, the cracks reflect the light in numerous directions, which results in the crack becoming visible.

You can easily solve this problem by applying it in a similar fashion to how you use lotion on your hands. Aside from protecting your vehicle, waxing also replenishes the lost oils in the paintwork caused by UV rays.

You can see light scratches

Believe it or not, your car already comes with clear coat scratches when you purchased it. You can get rid of this problem using waxing and sealers. If you notice light scratches and swirls starting to pop up, wax your car immediately. Wax can fill all the imperfections and save you from future problems.

How to Wax Your Car

By applying it yourself, you save a great deal of time and money. Here’s how to do it right.

Asses your car

Before you start hauling out your equipment, determine the condition of your vehicle. How dirty is it? Where are its minor and major scratches?

Also, consider the type of car you have. For example, an older model will need a whole cleaning regimen, which involves waxes, clays, and polishes to protect its paint. On the other hand, a new car may still have an effective coat of protection.

Read the label before you apply it to your car. That way, you are sure it’s compatible. Reading the directions also ensures that you are using an appropriate amount of product.

Wash your car

Now that you’ve assessed your car, it’s time to get it as clean as you can. Give your car a much-deserved deep cleaning to get rid of any contaminants, especially on the surface. Be careful not to wash your car with dirty water since it would only reintroduce unwanted dirt you are trying to remove.

To help you, have three buckets ready. One bucket should contain clean soapy water, another bucket with clean water only, and the third bucket should contain water for your tires.

Now, start washing your car to remove mud, dirt, and other contaminants. Before you use a mitt, rinse the car first to get rid of the larger dirt pieces. Only then can you introduce the soapy water to your car. Make sure to use appropriate soap since dish cleaners and even liquid detergents can damage your car.

Prepare your car

Now that your car is thoroughly clean, it’s time to prepare its exterior. Now is the time when you spot blemishes, oxidation issues, and swirls on your car.

To help you, run your hand on the surface of your car. You can quickly feel the contaminants using your hands. If there are stubborn impurities, use a clay bar to remove them.

Apply wax

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Before you wax your car, make sure that the temperature is between 33 degrees and 86 degrees. Car wax dries in hot conditions. And this fact makes buffing difficult.

It is crucial to apply wax out of direct sunlight, preferably in a garage. That way, sun rays won’t interfere with the wax. Sunlight heats your car and leaves a waxy residue that can be very challenging to remove.

If you don’t have a garage, find a building to work in or choose an overcast day to do it. You can also wax your car in the evening.

To start, place the appropriate amount of wax on a foam applicator or a damp sponge. Applying too much wax causes waste and buildup. And a thin amount of wax will bond better with your car.

Using gentle and overlapping circular motions, apply the car wax on the surface of your vehicle evenly. Divide your car into sections to make this job more manageable.

After applying the wax, buff your vehicle using a high speed random orbital buffer on low speed. Apply more wax if your car needs more coverage.

Wait

After you finish waxing and buffing, let the wax sit for a few minutes. To determine whether your car is ready, swipe the wax with your finger. If the wax smears, it’s not ready yet.

Remove wax

To give your car the perfect polish, use a microfiber cloth to remove the unwanted wax. When you feel the cloth dragging, replace it. Do this step until you achieve a smooth finish.

Ready to Wax Your Car?

Taking care of your car requires you to be proactive with its maintenance. Think of how much time and money you are willing to invest in your vehicle. While it’s important to take care of its interior, a meticulously clean car on the outside will increase your satisfaction even more.

With car wax, you can easily make your car look brand new as you roll along streets in your community.

Have some car wax tips? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

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