Best Car Wax: Protect Your Car & Keep it Looking New With These Top Picks
Find the best car wax to make your vehicle shine like new.
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Waxing your car is an important process that helps repel dust, dirt, water, and debris and makes the car look oh so good. To give your car that showstopping luster, invest in the best car wax to get the job done. In this piece, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to give your car a shine that will turn heads.
Benefits of Car Wax
- Protect against scratches. A nice coat of wax will make your car more impervious to scratches caused by small debris or dirt. Wax acts as a shield, helping your paintwork stay pristine.
- Make your car easier to wash. Regular waxing makes it easier to remove tree sap, insect parts, bird feces, or other substances your car encounters on the road since these things will stick to the wax layer and not to the paint.
- Keep your paint chip-free. Road debris is a routine problem for many car owners. Even the smallest pebbles can cause an imperfection in the paintwork. Wax can help protect your car from this damage, which keeps the paintwork intact.
- Diminish the appearance of scratches. Scratches rank high among the most common paint defects out there. Although waxing won’t fix scratches already in the paintwork, it can make shallow scratches appear much less obvious.
Types of Car Wax
Natural wax is derived from the leaves of the carnauba palm tree combined with a substance like beeswax or turpentine. Carnauba gives a warm, deep, and stunning shine to a vehicle, especially dark-colored exteriors. It offers great water beading and paint protection. Compared to synthetic wax, however, it tends to wear off quickly.
Synthetic wax, also known as paint sealant, is made out of polymers that bond with the paint, protecting it up for to 12 months. It has supreme durability for tough debris and extreme weather but does not provide the same shine that carnauba wax offers.
Spray and colored waxes round out the most common types of wax available. Spray waxes are great for a quick detailing but won’t give you the same kind of protection as other options. Therefore, these are best used to touch up your wax coat. Colored waxes have pigments in them to match a variety of paint colors. Because most modern cars have a clear coat, these can be more of a marketing gimmick than a worthwhile option.
Around for more than 70 years, Turtle Wax is the largest automotive care company in the world. They’re based in Addison, Illinois, where they continue to develop market-leading products that deliver great results. Some of their all-time bestsellers include the T-223 Super Hard Shell Paste Wax and the Original Car Wax.
Founded in 1901, Meguiar’s makes premium products for every vehicle out there, from sealants to polishes and waxes. Currently based in Irvine, California, they continue to be a market leader thanks to their high-quality products. Their top sellers include the Ultra Polishing Wax and the Ultimate Liquid Wax.
Based in Maplewood, Minnesota, 3M has been around for more than a century. Their philosophy is to apply science to innovate leading formulations, a mindset that has kept them flourishing. Two of their most popular products are the Perfect-It Show Car Paste Wax and the Perfect-It Cutting Polish + Wax.
Car Wax Pricing
- Under $10: At this price, you’ll find a couple of good value products that get the job done. Most of these will be synthetic in a paste form, which makes working with them a bit of a pain.
- $10-$30: In the mid-range, you’ll find some natural carnauba and synthetic wax. A number of different wax forms are common, such as paste, liquid, and spray.
- Above $30: The high-quality carnauba waxes are in this range and can be well worth the cost if you’re looking to get that showroom shine. Liquid forms are common, but these contain a synthetic component to stabilize them.
Key Features to Look For
This varies with the type of wax you use. Synthetic waxes offer protection longer than natural carnauba wax but have inferior water shedding capabilities. Although carnauba wax lasts a shorter amount of time, it can deliver a higher level of protection with better weather resistance.
The ease of application depends on the wax. Liquid products are convenient and generally easy to apply, whereas paste waxes require a little more elbow grease. Working in/buffing out a paste takes more time than a liquid wax. If you’re using a spray wax, the process can go even faster at the expense of protection.
When a thin layer of wax is evenly and properly applied all over a car’s paintwork, the end result should be a showroom-ready, glossy shine. Just how shiny the car gets will depend on the product you use. For instance, liquid waxes mixed with carnauba and oils can nourish the paintwork more than synthetic wax so the overall look will be glossier.
- Paste Wax vs. liquid wax: Paste wax is the most traditional wax, but its hard texture makes applying it to paint a challenge. A warm surface accepts this wax more readily than a cold one, so some heat from the engine might be necessary. Compared to paste, liquid waxes have a smoother texture and are easier to apply. The waxing process is less time-consuming, and the results are similar. Both natural and synthetic waxes come in paste and liquid forms.
- Clean/wax: If you want a car wax that’s multipurpose, you should consider a clean/wax formulation. These can clean, wax, and buff your vehicle in one step with one product.
- Paint color: The color of your car matters when choosing a wax. Some waxes have added color to enhance the look of the paintwork, which can be convenient if you have a dark car. The darker color benefits from colored waxes because more depth and gloss are added.
- Compound formulations: Some products combine a wax and polish into one. These can help fix small imperfections in the paint but can also damage the paint if used too often.
Best Car Wax Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Car Wax Overall: Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax
This liquid wax comes from one of the top brands in automotive care. Its formulation delivers maximum synthetic protection, depth of color, durability, and reflectivity, all in one easy application. Since this is a liquid wax, it’s very easy to apply, something that is enhanced by the integrated Thin Film technology. This formulation is usable even in sunlight.
As a synthetic wax, this product offers long-lasting protection thanks to special cross-linking polymers. These form a protective barrier that amplifies the reflection for a better depth of color and a higher shine. Another benefit of this advanced protection is water rolls right off the paint, reducing water spots. This formulation is safe to use on all clear coats and glossy paints and can be applied by hand, a dual-action polisher, or an orbital buffer.
A great pick if you’re looking for a high-performance product in an easy-to-use form, this liquid wax is ideal if you’re a first-time car owner. A downside to this wax is the short shelf life. Since it’s a synthetic wax, it will offer about six months of protection. You can expect to get at least two uses out of it before the formulation starts to separate.
Best Value Car Wax: Turtle Wax T-223 Super Hard Shell Paste Wax
When it comes to great value, Turtle Wax can’t be beaten. This synthetic paste wax is a classic, and for a good reason: It offers great protection. The easy-on/easy-off wax will last you up to a full year, which makes waxing less of a chore.
Designed to protect your car’s paint from dirt, dust, grime, water, and harmful UV rays, this wax provides a high-gloss finish that can last for six months. It also comes in a liquid form for easier application but will only last for three months. This is best for areas of your car covered in a clear coat.
If you’re on the hunt for a great value wax that’ll get the job done, this Turtle Wax is a great pick. Since it’s a cheaper wax, it won’t give you the same results that a high-quality, natural carnauba wax will give you. Also, this one tends to smear unless applied correctly, so prepare for a little elbow grease.
Best Car Wax Honorable Mention: P21S 12700W Carnauba Wax
This one is a premium pick made from natural carnauba wax and buffered with beeswax. The formulation doesn’t leave a powder, is easy to apply and remove, and adds an intense and deep luster to your car’s paintwork. The protection is high as well, covering chips, UV rays, and water stains. Plus, if you’re worried about white stains, this wax is formulated to prevent them.
The wax is easy to work and can be applied by either hand or machine. Either option can give you showroom-ready results. As a blended natural wax, this one will last you at least two months before developing thin spots. It also performs really well in the rain and will help your car stay clean longer.
If only the best will do, give this carnauba wax a try. The major downside here is the price tag that is common with most high-quality carnauba waxes. You may also find the small bottle to be awkward to use if you apply the wax by hand using a microfiber cloth or towel.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Waxing Efforts
- Always use the thinnest coat of wax possible. This way, you can build up the layers as needed. When buffing away the wax haze, use a high-quality microfiber towel.
- When washing your car in preparation for waxing, it’s important to park in the shade. This helps to prevent any soap residue from drying into the paint. If this happens, it dulls down the paintwork and makes waxing more difficult.
- It’s important that your car is clean and dry before waxing. You might also consider doing a polish coat first to freshen up the paintwork and correct any imperfections.
Q: Is there a difference between waxing and polishing my car?
A: Yes, there is! Waxing helps protect the paint and enhances the overall luster and shine of the vehicle. In other words, waxing gives a car a glossy look and helps protect it from dust, dirt, and water. Car polishes, on the other hand, are made to fix small imperfections in the car’s paintwork, such as small scratches, marks, and lines. Polishing your car is the first step to a smooth and shiny surface. Therefore, polish your car first, then wax and seal it for a great look.
Q: How do I wax my car by hand?
A: Time and patience are key here. To start out, give your car a good wash and dry it completely. Try to work in the shade as many products don’t mesh well with direct sunlight. Then apply a thin layer to a two- to three-square-foot section of your car, using an up and down motion. Press gently to apply an even, smooth, and thin coat of wax. Buff the wax once dry using a high-quality microfiber buffing towel, then let the car cure for 12 hours.
Q: How long does it take to wax a car by hand?
A: Just the application of the wax can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the size of your car. Keep in mind that waxing should be done on a clean and dry paint surface, which may add some time to the entire process.
Q: Is it better to use natural carnauba wax or synthetic wax?
A: Carnauba wax is the preferred type for many avid car collectors and motorists because it gives the paint a rich, deep, and wet look that synthetic wax just can’t achieve. It also tends to blend well into the paint, making it look like there’s nothing on the car. The one downside to carnauba is it only lasts six to eight weeks—after that, it will wear down. Synthetic wax can stick around for about six months.
Q: How often should I wax my car?
A: That depends on the type of wax you’re using. Using synthetic wax, you only have to wax your car about twice a year. With natural waxes, you’re stuck doing it about once every two months.
Our top pick is Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax for its ease of use and glossy results. It works well and keeps your car protected for up to six months.
If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, check out the T-223 Paste Waxfrom Turtle Wax. It’s available in both paste and liquid forms.
Which waxes are your favorites and why? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!