Knowing how to wax a car is an essential part of vehicle maintenance and is key to ensuring cars don’t lose their lustre years before they should - but how does car wax protect your car and what is the best car wax to use? We explain everything in this guide to car wax.
What Is Car Wax & What Does Car Wax Do?
Car wax is a protective coating that acts as a barrier between your car’s paintwork and the outside elements.
Car paint is applied in layers, with a primer on the bottom, then a coloured base coat, then a protective clear coat on top that’s designed to protect the coloured paint underneath. This clear coat, however, can break down and fade away with time, which is why it’s important to protect it with wax.
Car Wax Benefits: Why Wax a Car?
Car wax protects your paint and bodywork from harmful corrosives like the sun’s UV rays, salt, water, acid rain, tar, and other elements that can cause colour fading and rusting if they get through to your paintwork. Waxing helps to maintain your paint colour and prevent rusting in the long-term.
Nothing makes your paintwork shine like car wax! Waxing will keep your car in showroom condition and make your car the envy of the car park.
By leaving a protective coat on your car, bugs, dirt and grime will struggle to stick to the surface. They’ll also be easier to remove from a layer of wax than your car’s paintwork.
Car Wax or Polish: What’s the Difference?
You might think that choosing between car wax or polish is an either/or decision, but the two products are actually completely different.
- Car wax is a clear protectant that stops outside materials from damaging your paint and leaves a glossy finish with an added beading effect.
- Car polish, on the other hand, is a mild abrasive used to smooth out scratches and restore your paint to a smooth finish.
Usually, you’d use a polish to remove any imperfections from your paintwork before leaving a layer of wax on top. Some products, like our Iris range, have both a polish and wax to save your arms from too much buffing!
What Is the Best Car Wax to Use on Your Car?
Car wax can come in several forms and is made up of different ingredients, including Carnauba Wax, Beeswax, oils (such as Linseed), synthetic wax, and synthetic polymers.
Best Car Wax for a Premium, Glossy Finish: Carnauba Wax
Most premium waxes contain a higher concentration of Carnauba Wax, which provides an enviable, glossy shine.
Carnauba Wax comes from Brazil and is sometimes called palm wax or the Queen of waxes.
What makes Carnauba special is its hardness, allowing it to last longer than other wax types. Its hardness also means that when it’s buffed, it creates a high gloss shine that dulls with time, rather than flaking off (as is the case with other types of waxes).
The issue with Carnauba Wax is that it’s very expensive and can lack the durability of synthetic waxes and polymers. That's why most car waxes tend to be a blend of wax types.
Easiest Car Wax to Apply: Liquid Wax
Waxes can also come in several forms, the most common is as a liquid. Unlike traditional paste waxes that provide the most shine but require a bit of elbow grease, liquid wax is extremely easy to apply as it’s loose and doesn’t have an optimum temperature that it needs to be stored under. This means it’s effective regardless of the season.
Our popular Wax of The Gods is a liquid wax but also has the ability to remove small surface defects.
Best Car Wax for On the Go: Car Wax Spray
Car wax spray is a fairly new development. It’s designed for a quick and easy application, ideal for those who are time-poor. As a light spray, it easily covers large areas of your car and can be wiped rather than buffed. It's best used as a top-up between more thorough waxing as, although they are quick to apply, they can lack the robustness of more traditional waxes.
Our Ceramic SIO2 Spray Wax is an example of a car wax spray and is the fastest way to protect your vehicle from the elements.
How Long Does Car Wax Last on a Car?
The ideal car wax is easy to apply, provides long-lasting protection and leaves your car with a glossy shine. As mentioned above, most waxes are a compromise of two out of three of these elements. The highest quality waxes, however, will have a high concentration of Carnauba Wax and should provide protection for around 6 months!
How To Wax Your Car?
Step 1: Clean Your Car
The most important part of waxing your car is (as with most detailing) preparation. In this case, give your car a thorough clean to remove all dirt and paint imperfections. Decontaminate your vehicle at this stage and then polish to provide the perfect surface for wax adhesion.
A clean car surface will mean that the wax will stick to the paintwork better, allowing it to last longer. Not only that, after you’ve applied a layer of wax, everything beneath is stuck. So, there’s no point waxing over existing dirt as this will make the dirt harder to remove.
Step 2: Apply Car Wax
When waxing, it’s important to work in small sections. This will help to evenly coat the vehicle and prevent the wax from becoming too hard and difficult to buff.
Here’s a quick step-by-step on how to apply car wax:
- Add your wax to a clean applicator pad.
- Apply onto the bodywork using a circular, overlapping motion
- Allow the car wax to dry to a haze (usually around 5 minutes)
- Buff to a deep, high gloss shine with a clean microfibre cloth
How Often Should You Wax Your Car?
As high-quality wax should last around 6 months, you should apply a new coating about twice a year.
Of course, this can depend on how the wax was applied and the conditions your vehicle is subjected to. To help keep your wax coating for longer, use a pH neutral snow foam and shampoo when washing your car. This will help prevent your wash from reacting with the wax and damaging the protective layer.
Another way to increase the life of your wax coating is to apply a quick protectant, like our Aphrodite Speed Shine Detailer or our Holy Water Paint Sealant. These are easy to apply, saving you any strenuous buffing, and only require a couple of sprays (one bottle lasts a long time!). These sprays will stick to your wax, providing a thin layer of additional protection.