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Applying car wax is the finishing touch of a car wash or extensive detail. Regular waxing keeps your car looking good and protects your investment. A coat of wax is the first and last line of defense against paint damage that can reduce your car’s value. Learning how to wax a car begins with figuring out which type of wax to use, and that’s where this comprehensive guide comes in.
If you are looking for the best car wax for you and your ride, read on to learn all about some top car waxes and check out our video review for a hands-on test of our car wax contenders.
Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax
- Forgiving enough for beginners
- Straightforward application and removal
- Long-lasting shine and protection
- Polymer formula will not stain trim and can be applied in direct sunlight
- Some traditionalists consider modern synthetic polymer wax blends to be sealants rather than true car waxes
- Slightly more expensive than other liquid synthetic polymer waxes
Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Wax
- Spray bottle simplifies application
- High durability
- Quick dry time
- Polymer formula will not stain trim and can be applied in direct sunlight
- Difficult in comparison to other spray waxes
- Easily damaged in shipping
Ethos Ceramic Speed Wax
- Multiple layers of protection
- Long lasting coat
- Simple application
- Difficult to remove
- Streaks easily
This is one of those times when we got to do some hands-on testing of the product mentioned below. However, time has gone by since the original tests, and some products have been swapped out for others. That said, plenty of research went into this selection to ensure everything on the list is worthy of your consideration.
Best Best Car Waxes Reviews & Recommendations 2023
Again, Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax is our top pick, and Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Wax comes in for a close second. Either of these is sure to deliver the protection you're looking for, and it's by total coincidence that they come from the same manufacturer. That said, anything else on our list is well worth your consideration if these don't do it for you.
Q: What’s the difference between waxing and polishing a car?
A. Polishing a car can correct swirl marks, remove oxidation, and smooth out the paint surface. A hand or machine polish prepares the paint for its protective wax coating. Washing and polishing the vehicle before applying wax delivers the best results.
Q: How long does wax last?
A. This depends on the specific product, the environment where you live, and how frequently you drive. In general, natural waxes do not last as long as synthetic polymer blends or ceramic hybrids that can endure for up to six months or longer in ideal conditions.
Q: What are the key features of car wax?
A. Application method: Think about how much time and effort you want to put into the application of wax on your vehicle. If you enjoy spending time working on and detailing your car, then you’ll want to look for a paste wax made of natural carnauba wax. If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, then a liquid or spray will be a better option. You’ll also want to check for compatibility with a buffing machine since some waxes require you to apply them by hand.
Longevity: The longer your wax application lasts, the less often you’ll need to apply the wax. Natural waxes don’t last as long as synthetic formulas. However, this may not be an issue if you prefer the finished look of natural wax. Don’t blindly believe the manufacturer’s claims because these are timeframes in the most favorable of conditions. The more extreme your climate and the more often you wash your car will reduce the longevity of your wax application.
Container size: The larger the container of wax is, the longer it should last. However, this isn’t always true. Some waxes require more product for an even application, which reduces how many applications you can get out of a single container. You should also consider how stable the product is: natural wax formulas could melt and separate in heat, while synthetic formulas may begin to separate in the bottle. You’ll then be stuck buying a new container of wax before you’ve finished the last one.
Q: What should I expect to pay for a car wax?
A. There are car waxes that span the gamut of price, but they all top out at under $50. If you're just learning how to wax a car yourself, don't spend more than $15. If you're a professional detailer, well, why are you listening to us? You know how much you should spend. What you need to know is that you won't break the bank when purchasing a good-quality car wax.
Q: What are the different types of car wax?
A. Natural: The most popular type of wax is natural wax formulas. These waxes tend to be harder and are made from the Copernicia Cerifera palm tree, also known as carnauba. There are two quality grades of carnauba wax: white and yellow. The yellow kind is pure plant wax and is the most expensive option since it achieves a high shine and is very protective. True car enthusiasts and those who own dark-painted vehicles swear by it. The white kind is a slightly lower grade, making it more affordable. There are also carnauba-based synthetic waxes. These are even more affordable but aren’t purely natural wax and won’t achieve the same high-quality results. The downside of any natural wax is that it only lasts a few months before requiring reapplication.
Synthetic: Thanks to modern science, we have synthetic waxes that are artificial formulations. They typically contain chemicals that bond with your car’s paint and can last for up to a year. Some synthetic formulas will also contain cleaning agents, which strip away any contaminants or residues that could prevent bonding. Synthetic waxes are good because they are more affordable than all-natural carnauba wax and are easier to apply. Their downside is that they simply can’t achieve the same results as high-quality natural wax.
Paste: Car wax comes in three types of formulas. The oldest type is a paste, with textures that range from very hard to a soft buttery consistency. Typically, paste wax tends to be formulated from natural waxes, which helps it to achieve a higher shine and deep luster. Unfortunately, it tends to require more frequent applications than liquid or spray formulas. Because it’s typically made from natural wax, it also tends to be more expensive than the other formulas.
Liquid: You’ll like the smoother texture of liquid wax over paste versions. Liquid formulas are typically synthetic or a synthetic and wax formula, which helps them to be longer-lasting. You may also find this style of formula to be harder to apply. Liquid wax tends to dry faster than paste, so you’ll need to work in smaller sections or work faster. You also need to carefully read the labels because some liquid waxes are abrasive.
Spray: Spray waxes are fast and easy to use, making them popular among car owners. This type of wax is suitable for those who want to spot treat areas on their car. You will find many spray formulas have additives for special treatment needs, such as fixing swirl marks, hiding blemishes, or boosting shine. Unfortunately, spray waxes don’t last as long as the other options. However, it’s easy to get a consistent application, and they are usually non-abrasive.
Q: Is carnauba wax the best wax for a car’s exterior?
A. Not necessarily. Some prefer natural carnauba wax for its deep, warm shine that intensifies with each additional layer. It has some trade-offs, however; it doesn’t tend to last as long as synthetic waxes.
Q: Can I wax a new car?
A. Of course. Check with your dealer or manufacturer first, but as long as the new paint is fully cured, you can wax a new car just like any other vehicle. New cars are detailed before delivery, so developing your own car care routine helps keep your new ride looking showroom fresh.
Q: What kind of wax should I use on a white car?
A. Do not use wax specifically formulated or dyed for use on dark-painted vehicles. Choose a wax that’s safe for all paint types. Most car waxes are safe for single- and two-stage base coat and clear coat paint.
Q: How do I know when I should wax a car?
A. At least twice a year is the general recommendation but check the wax manufacturer's recommendations and take the vehicle's operating environment into account. Harsh environments demand more frequent applications.
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