Best Car Waxes: Protect Your Car and Keep It Looking New

Find the best car wax to make your vehicle shine like new.

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For any vehicle owner who is dedicated to caring for their own ride, waxing can be the finishing touch of a long car detailing process; one that is worth every bit of effort it takes to get right. Learning how to wax a car requires the proper wax itself, and that’s where this comprehensive guide comes in. If you are looking for the best car wax that fits your needs, read on to learn all about the top car waxes and why we like them.

Best Synthetic Car Wax

Synthetic car waxes are some of the most common waxing products available. Made out of polymers and varying ingredients, synthetic waxes tend to be the preferable choice if you want something that will last as long as possible before deteriorating. 

  • Best Overall
    Aero Cosmetics Car Wash Wax Kit
    Summary
    Summary
    The best synthetic wax that can almost do it all when it comes to offering a thorough wash, clean shine, and a protective coat.
    Pros
    Pros
    Easy to apply and work with on most vehicle surfaces. Blemish-free results with the proper application.
    Cons
    Cons
    Doesn't offer showroom-worthy results. Can be difficult to apply in large areas at one time.
  • Best Value
    CarGuys Hybrid Wax Sealant
    Summary
    Summary
    A great blended, hybrid wax that combines some of the best properties of natural and synthetic solutions.
    Pros
    Pros
    Great for hand application. Doesn't take much wax to get noticeable results. Can be applied to windshields.
    Cons
    Cons
    Doesn't offer a lot of wax for multiple vehicles. Lifespan is only one or two weeks instead of months.
  • Honorable Mention
    Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    A wax that actually delivers on producing a protective, long-lasting layer that resists deterioration more than other options.
    Pros
    Pros
    Can last for three months or more with the right application and periodic touchups. Easy to control the application amount.
    Cons
    Cons
    Slight learning curve is involved with the drying time and the amount of wax required. Drying time is shorter than other traditional waxes.

Best Synthetic Car Wax Overall: Aero Cosmetics Car Wash Wax Kit

Aero Cosmetics Car Wash Wax Kit
Amazon

Best used for: general use - This wash and wax can handle virtually any typical detailing job, as long as you don't expect amazing results. The liquid cleaning solution really shines (literally and figuratively) when you are in a pinch and need a simple wax that will do a good job quickly. As a wet or waterless wax, it's also good when you want something that will work with your cleaning setup.

There are relatively few car waxes that can manage to do it all when it comes to washing a vehicle. While Aero Cosmetic's car wash kit is far from perfect compared to a comprehensive car detailing, it offers better performance than most other wash-and-wax solutions available. Coming with both a bottle and jug of the liquid wash-and-wax, it's also a smart bulk purchase.

The liquid solution has a heavy, almost gelatinous feel that mixes well in water if you decide to take the wet wash route. For waterless washes, the liquid is easy to apply with hand and power applicators. With a water-based formula, the solution is safe for a number of surfaces, including body panels, metal, and plastics. The finished results include a blemish-free surface with a noticeable shine.

As a bulk buy, don't expect too much in terms of outstanding, showroom-worthy results when it comes to the overall shine. While it's noticeable, it doesn't have the mirror-like quality some vehicle owners seek. The wax can also be difficult to apply in large areas at one time. The solution requires some time to work in and buff, even with a power applicator. This can make it more difficult to apply in direct sunlight than other options. 

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Best Value Synthetic Car Wax: CarGuys Hybrid Wax Sealant

CarGuys Hybrid Wax Sealant
Amazon

Best used for: quick application - This car wax is all about getting a protective sealant layer on quickly without spending too much time with power applicators. While you can take the powered approach, it's best used by hand where you can hold the bottle in one hand, microfiber cloth in the other, and just go to town on the surface of your vehicle.

CarGuys is well-known for making different waxing solutions that tend to offer something to everyone. The same holds true for its Hybrix Wax Sealant. Coming with a synthetic base infused with liquid carnauba, this wax does a pretty good job of offering the benefits of both natural and synthetic waxes, all in the convenient form of a liquid spray bottle. For the most part, this wax is all about a quick application and decent results.

The spray bottle makes hand application simple and quick if you like to take a "run and gun" approach to your car detailing process. Despite the liquid-based solution, a little goes a long way in the application as well. Once the wax is on, the results offer a noticeable improvement in the shine and water beading properties of the surface. It can go on other surfaces like windshields as well.

The bottle has enough solution for a single normal-size vehicle, so this isn't the best bulk buy if you want to maximize your dollar. As a value product, longevity and durability are also decent at best for this quick-spray. In fact, the general lifespan of a proper coat is only around one or two weeks under normal driving conditions. 

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Best Synthetic Car Wax Honorable Mention: Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax

Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax
Amazon

Best used for: long-lasting results - If you need a wax layer that will actually last longer than typical sprays and value waxes, this one is hard to beat. The longevity of the wax makes it ideal for maintaining a once- or twice-a-year waxing schedule for your vehicle. Application takes longer, but the long-lasting results are worth it. 

There is a lot of potential hype when it comes to a product with the term "Ultimate Liquid Wax" right in its name. Despite this, Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax does a good job of earning this moniker with a synthetic solution that maximizes the protective properties of the wax. In other words, durability and longevity are two highlights of this wax, even more so than with other traditional liquid-based options.

The lifespan of the wax is easily three months, with the potential for longer if you apply it properly and touch up the protective layer periodically with a good washing. The liquid solution is easy to apply in controlled amounts and to work in with hand or power applicators. While working it in can be a bit finicky, it doesn't take too much effort or skill to get a good shine and protective coating onto the surface of the vehicle.

The only challenging part to the application that has a slight learning curve is the amount you need and the drying time required. The wax benefits from a "less is more" approach, meaning you'll need to apply just a thin layer to start to notice results right away. The drying time is also much quicker than other typical waxes. If you let it dry too long, it can reach a point where it's difficult to get off without a decent amount of muscle.

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Best Natural Car Wax

The “real” stuff is basically carnauba wax, made from the leaves of the carnauba palm tree. Combined with other ingredients like beeswax, the best carnauba waxes are preferred for a quality finish. Deep shine and mirror-like reflections are possible with carnauba if the surface underneath is prepared properly. 

  • Best Overall
    P21S Carnauba Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    The best true carnauba wax that comes in a form that is perfect for hand application.
    Pros
    Pros
    Comes with a buttery consistency. Includes its own sponge applicator.
    Cons
    Cons
    More expensive than other carnauba waxes. Coat only lasts a few weeks before needing attention.
  • Best Value
    Mothers California Gold Brazilian Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    One natural car wax that gives you the option to buy small or buy in bulk.
    Pros
    Pros
    The formula does a good job of cleaning and sealing a car's surface. Removing the wax is quick and largely residue-free.
    Cons
    Cons
    Some proper muscle and force are required to get the wax onto the surface. Some time, skill, and patience are all required.
  • Honorable Mention
    Mothers Gold Pure Carnauba Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    A good carnauba-based wax that doesn't take as much time or effort to apply as for other options.
    Pros
    Pros
    Works well with other Mothers products. Offers great protection with noticeable water beading properties.
    Cons
    Cons
    Doesn't play well with other cleaning products from different brands.

Best Natural Car Wax Overall: P21S Carnauba Wax

P21S Carnauba Wax
Amazon

Best used for shiny results - It's hard to beat the finished carnauba look when it comes to gloss and shine. This wax has a great look when everything is said and done, and even though it doesn't last as long as some liquid waxes, the results will last long enough to keep that wet look fresh on your vehicle for a couple of weeks.

It's hard to beat the results of a true carnauba wax if you prefer a deep shine. Hybrid waxes that "infuse carnauba" into the formula rarely offer the same results. The P21S carnauba option proves this point by offering a finish that is hard to beat when it comes to the shine and protective qualities. The gloss alone is worth a consideration if you want a showroom-worthy look.

The wax has a buttery consistency that melts quickly onto an applicator. While it comes with a sponge applicator, the formula works well for virtually any kind of hand or power applicator, making it easy to integrate into your existing car detailing setup. The finished results offer a wet look that has a striking balance of gloss and shine that really stands out in direct sunlight. It's also user-friendly since it can be reapplied as needed.

The few pitfalls of the wax include the expense and longevity of the coat. As a carnauba wax, its price tag is greater than usual sprays and liquid synthetic options that are meant to be applied quickly. The wax itself goes on quickly, but the results deteriorate just as quickly, meaning you'll be reapplying the wax every two or three weeks. 

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Best Value Natural Car Wax: Mothers California Gold Brazilian Wax

Mothers California Gold Brazilian Wax
Amazon

Best used for: general-purpose - This is a great wax for general use when you aren't too concerned about extreme looks, durability, or quick application. In other words, this is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type of wax that doesn't stand out in any notable way, other than the lower price tag it has compared to more traditional carnauba waxes.

Coming in a 12-ounce container, Mother's Carnauba Cleaner Wax is large enough to get a good looking, protective coat onto a few cars (or a single-car several times). Throw in Mother's pack of six 12-ounce containers, and you will have a decent supply of high-quality paste wax to last for several months, depending on your waxing frequency. 

This wax uses a formula that is balanced to clean and protect a vehicle's surface in one application. While the cleaning results aren't as good as a proper car wash, it's good enough to get most large spots and debris off if you are in a pinch. The application of the paste takes some muscle (or a proper power applicator), but taking it off is fairly straightforward, and normal streaks and leftover residue are minimal.

As mentioned above, this wax isn't the easiest to work into the surface of the vehicle. Beyond the proper force and application, it can also be somewhat finicky to figure out what the right amount is for a given surface area. As a result, this is definitely a wax that requires some time, patience, and skill to get applied correctly, especially if you are new to paste or carnauba waxes that aren't as user-friendly as sprays.

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Best Natural Car Wax Honorable Mention: Mothers Gold Pure Carnauba Wax

Mothers Gold Pure Carnauba Wax
Amazon

Best used for: waxing with other Mothers products - This wax may not play well with other brands all that much, but it does a great job of finishing off a freshly detailed car if you are using mostly Mothers cleaning solutions. The wax is designed to be a part of a multi-step cleaning and finishing process, so choose this wax if you want to simplify the experience with a single brand.

Mother's Pure Carnauba Wax is one of the more user-friendly carnauba waxes that doesn't take as much time or skill to apply as paste waxes. It uses a liquid-based formula that can be layered and worked in a variety of hand and powered ways. Better still, extra steps like buffing usually aren't required if you can apply it properly with enough drying time.

The wax is designed to work with Mother's three-step process that includes a polisher and micro polisher for the best results. The wax itself seals everything for a high level of protection with good water beading properties. The thing we like the most about the wax is how resistant it is to stains and streaks, immediately after application and throughout its lifespan. You can even apply the wax onto other metal surfaces like bronze and chrome.

The main drawback we experienced with the wax is its limited usefulness with other cleaning products. The waxworks well with other products in Mother's car detailing lineup, especially with the helpful tutorials and documentation the company offers, but it can be difficult to find the right application process to work each product incorrectly when the brands are different. 

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Best Liquid Car Wax

This is the type of wax that just flows out of the bottle. Good for quick and convenient waxing, liquid waxes tend to be easy to apply to applicators and can last months if it has the right synthetic formula.

  • Best Overall
    Collinite 845 Insulator Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    A wax that only requires a little bit of solution to start to see a shine on the vehicle.
    Pros
    Pros
    Creates a reflective finish that hides swirls and scratches well.
    Cons
    Cons
    Doesn't clean the surface of the vehicle. Will require proper surface preparation before application.
  • Best Value
    Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    A wax that dries like a paste but applies like a liquid, offering a good mix of both wax types.
    Pros
    Pros
    Very simple to apply by hand if desired. Good results on dark vehicles.
    Cons
    Cons
    Doesn't last as long as other waxes. Not suitable for once- or twice-a-year applications.
  • Honorable Mention
    3M Perfect-It Show Car Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    A good show car wax that can actually be used for general use as well.
    Pros
    Pros
    Good shine with just one layer. Only requires a little wax to produce results.
    Cons
    Cons
    Proper application is required for good results. White residue is common.

Best Liquid Car Wax Overall: Collinite 845 Insulator Wax

Collinite 845 Insulator Wax
Amazon

Best used for: pure wax - Many waxes take the hybrid approach of washing, polishing, and waxing all in one application. This wax is not one. If you need a product that is good at one thing and one thing only, this is the one to choose. It produces the best results after the vehicle's surface has been prepared properly, so make sure you get other cleaning products to complete the process.

On the surface, this wax seems to promise it all: a great shine, quick application, and long-lasting durability. While there is no doubt some unfounded hype in this promise, Collinite's 845 Insulator Wax does hit a lot of marks on the head when it comes to the overall results you can expect after application. Better still, the wax is one of those "a little goes a long way" type of waxes that make it easy to make a single bottle last.

The finished wax layer is very reflective and effectively hides and fills in swirls and scratches. Application-wise, it's easy to control the amount of wax you apply to the applicator of your choice. Multiple coats work well for delivering an even greater shine. Overall, the wax coat lasts about three months before you'll start to see any noticeable signs of deterioration.

Although it's impressive that the application is simple for a pure topcoat, it's important to remember that this wax isn't a cleaner wax. This means there will be a large amount of prep work to clean and polish the surface before there is anything worth sealing in with a wax. As a result, this should only be a single step in a greater detailing process if you want the best look and protective results. 

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Best Value Liquid Car Wax: Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax

Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax
Amazon

Best used for: general use - This wax takes a balanced approach between application and results. Since it doesn't take too long to apply and lasts longer than other similar waxes, it is perfect for general use if you don't mind reapplying it every few months. This is also a good option if you actually want a noticeable shine on your vehicle.

It can be hard to find the right balance between different wax types. Pastes can offer better looks but take longer to apply. Sprays are convenient but are limited in performance and longevity. Chemical Guys' Butter Wet Wax tries to strike a balance with a wax that promises to leave an excellent shine without taking the usual amount of time other high-end, high-quality waxes tend to demand for proper application.

For the most part, the Butter Wet Wax actually delivers on these promises. Although it's no match for the waxes you'll normally find on the showroom floor, the shine offers a slight wet look that is good enough in most cases. The application process only requires a simple wax-on/wax-off process that doesn't require any waiting time for drying or hazing. Better still, the results are noticeable on darker colored vehicles. 

The one area where Chemical Guys don't quite deliver is on longevity. While it lasts longer than other quick waxes that tend to last only a few weeks to a month, this isn't the wax to consider if you want something that will last six months to a year. Instead, you can reasonably expect about two months of a shiny, protective finish before the coat starts to deteriorate from bad weather or extreme temperatures. 

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Best Liquid Car Wax Honorable Mention: 3M Perfect-It Show Car Wax

3M Perfect-It Show Car Wax
Amazon

Best used for: higher-quality applications - This wax probably isn't the first choice of professional car detailers wanting the best showroom-quality finish for their vehicles, but it's a great value purchase that doesn't skimp on the shine. You can think of this wax as the budget-friendly version of high-quality waxes that take longer to apply for the best results.

This wax is about as close as you can get to a showroom-worthy wax without spending a lot of money on a single bottle of wax. This show car wax uses a polymer finish that tries to prevent dirt from attaching to the vehicle. Combined with some great water beading capabilities, the formula is actually useful as a general wax in addition to anything you just want to show off more than actually drive.

In general, this wax is good enough to leave a noticeable shine without requiring more than one layer. In fact, one of the things we're most impressed about with this wax is how little wax you actually need to get results. Longevity wise, you can expect a few months of a protective, shiny coat before it starts to deteriorate from normal use. 

Like some high-quality waxes, the trick for getting the best results is proper application. There is a certain amount of haze that is required before wiping it off. Even when done correctly, some white residue and staining on other materials like black trim are common if you aren't careful and patient with the application process. 

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Best Spray Car Wax

There is nothing quite as convenient as a spray wax. Notable for “run-and-gun” waxing operations, a spray bottle is comfortable to hold and use with one hand. While the longevity isn’t as long as other waxes, the use of a nozzle makes it easy to touch up and spot wax protective layers before they deteriorate. 

  • Best Overall
    Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat
    Summary
    Summary
    A unique 3-in-1 wax that combines a ceramic coating and general wash for quick car detailing. 
    Pros
    Pros
    Offers a good shine with darker and black vehicles. Good beading properties.
    Cons
    Cons
    More expensive than other options. Small bottle that is easy to go through quickly.
  • Best Value
    Meguiar's Ultimate Waterless Wash and Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    One of the best options for a true wash-and-wax kit in a single spray bottle.
    Pros
    Pros
    A large bottle that works great on slightly dirty vehicles. Easy to apply by hand.
    Cons
    Cons
    Not good for major amounts of dirt. May require an actual car wash to deal with higher amounts of dirt.
  • Honorable Mention
    Ice Spray Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    A good wax that exists as a part of Ice's larger washing and waxing ecosystem.
    Pros
    Pros
    Good results that rival more expensive options. Easy application. Plays well with other cleaning products.
    Cons
    Cons
    Doesn't work well on all exterior surfaces. Not suitable for windows and reflective surfaces.

Best Spray Car Wax Overall: Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat

Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat
Amazon

Best used for: in-depth detailing - It doesn't rival the results of a true multi-step car detailing process, but this 3-in-1 wax gets close to offering a deep shine and protective coat quickly from a single bottle. Compared to other spray waxes, the results of this one are closer to what hardcore detailers look for when it comes to a deep shine and unique "wet" look on the surface of a vehicle. 

Shine Armor's Fortify Quick Coat tries to combine three important steps in the typical car detailing process: a wash, a ceramic coating, and a wax. On paper, this means you can cut down on the amount of work and time required to get a nice-looking, highly protective coat on your vehicle that will keep dirt and grime from clinging to the surface.

In practice, the spray bottle actually delivers in the most important ways. The shine, for example, is easy to see and stands out on most car surfaces, including darker and black finishes. The beading properties of the wax are even better than the finished look. Water effectively drips off, and the protective coat is durable enough to stick around for several weeks before needing reapplication.

While the wax delivers a good, protective finish, it's difficult to see how it stands out among the rest to justify its price. In other words, it's a pricey option, perhaps unnecessarily so. It's also easy to go through the 8-ounce bottle quickly if you are working with a larger vehicle or truck and need to apply several coatings in order to get the finished look that you want.

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Best Value Spray Car Wax: Meguiar's Ultimate Waterless Wash and Wax

Meguiar's Ultimate Waterless Wash and Wax
Amazon

Best used for: quick cleaning - It's no secret that some vehicle owners just hate cleaning the surface of their ride. While a car wash is always an option, a wax-like this one is a good alternative for anyone wanting to get things done quickly. Water conservationists should also consider this waterless wax for obvious reasons.

Meguiar would like you to think they've developed the ultimate quick-wash solution for any vehicle owner wanting to get their vehicle clean without too much time or effort. The good news is, its Ultimate Waterless Wash and Wax get pretty close to this "ultimate solution" status as long as you don't mind making some trade-offs in performance for the convenience of using a waterless spray wax from a bottle.

The 26-ounce supply of wax works best on vehicles that are only slightly dirty on the surface. The spray bottle makes it easy to take a run-and-gun approach to your car washing and waxing routine: Just take the bottle and a towel in each hand and have at it. The finished results include minor dirt and grime disappearing with a slight shine and protective coating staying behind for a few weeks.

As mentioned above, the main drawback of this spray wax is the amount of dirt it can realistically handle compared to a traditional wash. If your vehicle is really dirty or has major spots of filth, you will probably need to bring in the hose so you aren't sealing in anything undesirable. The solution is also prone to leaving marks and streaks when applied in direct sunlight instead of in a garage or shade. 

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Best Spray Car Wax Honorable Mention: Ice Spray Wax

Ice Spray Wax
Amazon

Best used for: multiple wax layers - With a good amount of compatibility with other Ice waxes, this spray wax simply plays well with others. We recommend this wax as a way to put down several coats, potentially with different waxes, to develop a personalized car detailing process to achieve the desired results single waxes can't offer. 

Ice has developed an entire ecosystem of washes and waxes you can use on your vehicle for different purposes. The Ice Spray Wax, for example, is designed to be the routine type of wax you apply after every wash, meaning its small 20-ounce bottle will be useful for getting a protective coat on quickly if you have a consistent and frequent waxing schedule.

When done right, this spray wax offers results you'd expect of higher-priced options. Application is easy, and the finished result cures into a slick coat that has some good water beading properties. The major highlight with Ice's spray wax, however, is that it plays well with other wax types in the company's lineup. If you want to take advantage of the benefits of multiple wax types, this is one of the best options to consider.

This wax is definitely on the lower end of quick sprays. While it's marketed as being compatible on any exterior surface, we found that the results were lacking when applied to windows and highly reflective surfaces. The applied surface also needs some preparation ahead of time to make sure it's dry enough to keep the wax layer on without streaking or breaking down prematurely. 

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Best Paste Car Wax

For some people, good paste wax is the only way to get the desired level of shine. Paste waxes require more physical effort than other types, but the results tend to be worth it. More importantly, paste waxes give you a lot of control over the application process, even if there is more time and skill required to get it on right. 

  • Best Overall
    Meguiar's Ultimate Paste Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    A good choice if you like Meguiar products but want something in a paste form.
    Pros
    Pros
    Works well with many applicator types. Long-lasting finish.
    Cons
    Cons
    Removing the wax can be difficult to remove. Multiple coats may be required.
  • Best Value
    3M Perfect-It Show Car Paste Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    Producing a great shine, this is one of the best waxes for getting a higher-quality finish.
    Pros
    Pros
    Deep shine with noticeable reflection definition. Good depth and clarity.
    Cons
    Cons
    Time-consuming process. May require other 3M products to get through the whole process.
  • Honorable Mention
    Turtle Wax Carnauba Cleaner
    Summary
    Summary
    An easy-to-remove paste wax that's perfect for an old-school approach to car detailing.
    Pros
    Pros
    Easy application that only requires a little bit of elbow grease. Works with power applicator or hand application.
    Cons
    Cons
    Not a true carnauba wax. Can attract dust and dirt on the protective finish.

Best Paste Car Wax Overall: Meguiar's Ultimate Paste Wax

Meguiar's Ultimate Paste Wax
Amazon

Best used for: general use - This wax makes a great general-purpose solution that works well with many different cleaning solutions. Given Meguiar's different wax types that fall into the "Ultimate" line, this one is also a good pick if you just prefer the benefits of a true paste wax over other forms that offer more convenience.

Falling in line with Meguiar's other "ultimate" waxes, the Ultimate Paste Wax offers many of the benefits of any paste in the form of control over the finished results. In fact, the wax is designed to maximize the ease of application onto the surface of a vehicle while delivering a mirror-like shine once it has cured.

On the application front, the wax is easy to get onto the surface. The waxworks well with many types of applicators. Once everything is said and done, the finished coat will stay around for several months and protect the surface, especially if you apply two or three coats at a single time for the best results in longevity.

Unfortunately, the wax isn't the easiest to work with. Removing the wax after the first coat, for example, takes some time and effort. Applying multiple coats also requires extra time since each layer requires one or two days to fully cure. This can be challenging since a deep shine requires at least two coats.

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Best Value Paste Car Wax: 3M Perfect-It Show Car Paste Wax

3M Perfect-It Show Car Paste Wax
Amazon

Best used for: higher-quality applications - While not the best for professional detailing results, this wax is a step above general-use and value paste waxes that just leave a slight shine on the surface. This makes it a great choice to try out if you want to see what kind of shine you may get on your vehicle without spending too much money.

3M's Perfect-It paste wax is a good option for a wax that will give you a deeper shine than most budget sprays with the benefits of a true paste. The Perfect-It wax exists within 3M's larger Perfect-It Finishing System that is designed to reduce the challenges of getting a complete detailed coat onto a vehicle.

The wax goes on smoothly with most applicators and wipes off quickly. With the right (and lengthy) application process, the Perfect-It paste wax produces a finished look that has a lot of clarity and depth in the shine. We also noticed the reflection tends to be more pronounced than the usual results spray waxes can produce. 

Because the paste wax is meant to be a part of a greater car detailing process, be prepared to take your time working it onto the surface of your vehicle. You will likely need to set some time aside to get through the whole process, especially if you are following 3M's complete Perfect-It finishing routine. The wax also doesn't play too well with mechanical applicators that can heat it and dry it quickly.

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Best Paste Car Wax Honorable Mention: Turtle Wax Carnauba Cleaner

Turtle Wax Carnauba Cleaner
Amazon

Best used for: general use - There isn't much that stands out with this wax, other than its a good carnauba blend that is fairly good at getting onto the surface. With that said, it's a great option for a general-purpose wax that isn't too expensive or difficult to use in a pinch without being a true spray wax.

If you are looking for a good carnauba wax that is easier to remove than most paste options, Turtle Wax's Carnauba Cleaner is a good option to consider. Coming in paste and liquid options, we prefer the paste version when taking an old-school approach to our car detailing routine. This tends to make it easier to get the most from the protective coat once it has cured.

While it's not a pure carnauba wax, it does offer enough of the carnauba benefits to warrant a look if you want the real thing. More than anything, application is easy for a paste. A little elbow grease is required to get sufficient force onto the surface of a vehicle, but the right microfiber towel or a power applicator is all that's required to get a good coat on.

The finished results aren't without some flaws. Once the coat has fully cured, dust and dirt seem to attract and cling to the surface fairly quickly. The longevity of the protective coat is also on the short end. Finally, if you are used to hard pastes, it's easy to miss the label warning not to tilt the wax to avoid dumping the wax all over the floor.

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Best Black Car Wax

The best black car waxes are a form of specialty wax that many manufacturers offer for darker colored vehicles. While some consider this category to be nothing more than marketing hype, it may be worth a look if you want something formulated specifically for the challenges of darker paints.

  • Best Overall
    Turtle Wax Jet Black Kit
    Summary
    Summary
    A great complete kit for black cars that isn't too expensive for budget-minded individuals.
    Pros
    Pros
    A great finish that hides surface blemishes. Useful cleaning products included with the wax.
    Cons
    Cons
    Requires a lot of preparation time.
  • Best Value
    Meguiar's Black Wax
    Summary
    Summary
    One of the best standalone black cars waxes to buy if you don't need a whole kit.
    Pros
    Pros
    Good results only require just a little bit of wax from the 7-ounce bottle to work.
    Cons
    Cons
    The finished wax surface can show small swirl marks and a grainy texture if not done properly.
  • Honorable Mention
    Chemical Guys Black Car Kit
    Summary
    Summary
    The only major option for a high-end (and expensive) black car detailing kit with good wax.
    Pros
    Pros
    Good documentation and tutorials to follow the complete process that utilizes all of the included cleaning products.
    Cons
    Cons
    Reports of missing accessories, like microfiber cloths and applicator pads, are common.

Best Black Car Wax Overall: Turtle Wax Jet Black Kit

Turtle Wax Jet Black Kit
Amazon

Best used for: complete car detailing - If you need help getting your car clean from start to finish, a complete kit like this one is a good place to start. This black car kit is particularly useful for darker colors on vehicles that prove to be somewhat troublesome with general waxes. This makes the kit perfect for first-time DIY detailers.

One of the best waxes for black cars, Turtle Wax's Jet Black wax actually comes as a complete kit filled with pre-cleaners and conditioners. As a result, you get virtually everything that you need to give a black vehicle the best surface shine for the money. Used in combination with the other products, the wax will offer more than just standalone waxes.

The finished protective coat does a good job of hiding surface blemishes that stand out in direct sunlight. There is also a good amount of UV protection and a mirror-like reflection that has good definition. The pre-wax cleaner makes it easier to get the surface free from dirt and debris that can ruin a good wax coat. 

Because it comes as a complete kit, it's important to recognize that the best results will take a lot of time to get. The preparation time alone is more intensive than standalone waxes. Many of the products in the kit, including the wax, are also messy. This can be particularly problematic if you have any allergies to the dyes used within the solution.

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Best Value Car Wax: Meguiar's Black Wax

Meguiar's Black Wax
Amazon

Best used for: general use - As a standalone black car wax, this one is perfect if you just want to get a simple protective coat on your dark vehicle without investing in an entire kit. The wax is easy to integrate into an existing car detailing setup or to start from scratch if you are personally detailing your vehicle for the first time. 

Meguiar's Black Wax is a good standalone product to check out if you just need a simple wax solution for your black vehicle. The wax is designed to work with a number of dark hues, but it really makes a noticeable difference on black coats that offer a challenge for other waxing solutions. More importantly, the wax also promises a high degree of longevity.

The 7-ounce bottle is small but goes a long way since only a small amount of wax is required to get good results. The solution is easy to apply and remove, especially by hand when you just want to wax your vehicle by hand. The end result hides most blemishes and minor surface marks well, although you may still notice imperfections with the coat in direct sunlight. 

The major downside with this wax is the inconsistent results you may encounter depending on how long you let the wax cure. It's possible, for example, to get a grainy consistency or fine swirl marks in places where you wipe the wax on and off. The bottle is also fairly expensive for something that only offers 7 ounces of wax.

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Best Black Car Wax Honorable Mention: Chemical Guys Black Car Kit

Chemical Guys Black Car Kit
Amazon

Best used for: high-quality detailing - For a steeper price than most budget options, this kit comes with everything you need for a high-quality detailing. As a result, we recommend this kit for anyone wanting to get close to a professional level of detailing without busting out the professional-grade standalone cleaning products.

Most people don't need to spend a ton of money on wax (or wax kit), but for anyone who feels like they want to make the investment for a high-quality black car detailing kit, the Chemical Guys Black Car Kit is about as good as it gets for the money. Coming with six different cleaning solutions, including high-quality black car wax, this kit offers everything you need.

As a kit, you should expect a fairly lengthy and detailed process to get the best results from the exterior of your vehicle. Thankfully, Chemical Guys make the task easier between the included and online documentation. If you follow the steps, you can expect to have a surface that is free of dirt with a protective coat that effectively hides blemishes under a deep shine.

The consistency of the kit is somewhat lacking in terms of the included items. Some have reported missing smaller items and accessories like microfiber cloths and applicator pads. These are easy to replace, but for the price you'd be paying for this kit, it's important to maximize the complete value of the entire kit so you aren't spending extra on items you should have in the first place. 

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A buffer on a car
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Different waxes work better with different applicators like buffers

Best Car Waxes for Different Uses

There are so many car wax options, it can be difficult to figure out what wax is best for your needs. Things get even more complicated when you start to think about all the different types of vehicles and occasions you can use car wax. Yes, car waxes go on cars, but car wax manufacturers actually make so many different kinds for different purposes. 

If you find yourself looking for a car wax for a specific use, we’ve done some work to pick the best waxes for different uses. 

General Use

Almost any car wax can be used for nearly any vehicle. General use car wax makes up the bulk of waxes available on the market. They tend to be affordable and relatively quick and easy to use. More importantly, they offer a good balance between a noticeable shine, easy application, and a durable protective layer that should last more than a few weeks.

Keep in mind, however, that general car waxes don’t offer the best results in terms of looks. Some are better than others, but you will likely find the shine and reflection of these waxes to be lacking if you compared them side-by-side with waxes that really enhance underlying paints and polishes.

Quick Use

A proper wax takes time; more time than the average vehicle owner may have outside of the weekend. If you don’t want to spend your precious off time slaving away over your car, a quick car wax is the way to go. Quick waxing solutions skip the extensive elbow grease some wax products require. Instead, you will find most quick-use waxes to be either convenient sprays or liquids.

As long as you manage your expectations with quick-use waxes, they can do a decent job of protecting your vehicle. The shine won’t be as noticeable, and the longevity is measured in weeks instead of months, but it’s hard to beat the time you’ll save on the final step of a routine car detailing.

Showroom Use

There is a lot that goes into getting a showroom-like finish on a vehicle. While a thorough washing and polishing do the major heavy lifting, showroom-quality car wax can enhance the results with a deep shine and defined reflection. This is where higher-quality (and more expensive) waxes have the advantage.

They take more time, skills, and attention to get right, but the results are worth it. You will typically find that showroom waxes also make a tradeoff in terms of longevity. Since carnauba waxes are extremely popular for a deeper shine, wax layers tend to last a few weeks or even a month or two with some brands.

RV Use

The key to getting wax on an RV is to just have a lot of it (in addition to the usual amount of preparation). In other words, the surface area is the greatest challenge when waxing an RV. The more surface area you have, the more wax you will need. This is where bulk car waxes, large liquid waxes, and even complete waxing kits have the advantage. 

Another key to the best RV wax is abrasiveness. Smooth waxes with less abrasion are better for delicate RV surfaces. If the wax is too abrasive, you will risk marking and scratching the surface, then sealing those new blemishes over with the wax layer, making any attempt to fill or fix the issue even more challenging. 

Motorcycle Use

Motorcycles tend to be similar to vehicles in what waxes you can use and what results you can expect. This isn’t always the case since motorcycles use a variety of body materials, but most general waxes will work just fine. If you want to play it safe, however, going with one of the best motorcycle waxes is the superior option.

The main issue with motorcycle waxes is material compatibility. Unlike cars, there are many different exposed materials on the outside of a motorcycle, meaning you will have to be careful where you wax. Some waxes can be used on delicate surfaces like glass and leather, but others may tarnish or ruin the surface if you aren’t careful.

Car Wax Basics

Compared to some automotive products and accessories, car wax is fairly straightforward in concept. Its purpose is to create a protective layer over a car’s exterior paint that temporarily blocks harmful environmental factors like dirt, UV rays, and water. Without a wax layer, these factors will likely damage and alter the paint.

A car’s paintwork isn’t a highly durable thing. In fact, it’s easy to mark it with scratches and pits just with a slight-but-sharp touch. This means even small things like rocks and dust can mark the paint if there is enough force involved. 

Other elements like sunlight can also change the color of the paint. Over time, UV rays can fade the color until it is closer to an off-white than its original hue. Not only will it alter the look, but this damage can also allow the elements to damage the exterior body panels and underlying frame as well.

Wax creates a sacrificial and strong barrier to prevent environmental factors from having these effects. Once it has been dried and buffed, it sits over the paint so the elements hit it instead of the actual surface of the vehicle. The wax layer will start to degrade eventually and will need to be replaced, but the paint underneath should be fine.

Finally, it’s important to note that car wax isn’t the same as a car polish. While these two are often confused and used interchangeably, car polish removes old wax layers, dirt, and grime since it is abrasive like fine sandpaper. 

It’s normally used in the preparation work leading up to the waxing process. After washing the car, you can add polish to remove harder, more resistant containments. After the surface is smooth, the wax can cover just the pure paint instead of effectively trapping in the dirt and blemishes.

Water beading on the surface of a vehicle
Gettyimages

Good waxes keep water off of a vehicle as much as possible

What Makes a Good Car Wax?

There are a lot of things that make a car wax “good.” Ultimately, it depends on your particular protection needs and your vehicle, but when picking a car wax to try, it’s helpful to look for the following properties:

  • Durability: Since the main job of wax is to keep the elements off of the paintwork, it needs to be durable enough to resist. Some waxes are more durable than others when it comes to how well they can resist impacts, scratches, acidic elements, and so on. You will find different types of waxes are more durable than others as well.
  • Results: The final look of the car’s surface after you have waxed it will vary with different products. First and foremost, the final appearance depends on your preparation process, including the quality of the washing and polishing you have done. Some wax types are also geared to produce a deeper shine and reflection.
  • Longevity: No car wax will last forever. Some waxes have lifespans that are just a few weeks longs, while others can last for several months. This is usually a tradeoff with the resulting look of the wax and how much shine or reflection it offers on the surface of the vehicle. 
  • Workability: For wax to work effectively, you will need to actually get it onto the surface of your vehicle. The type and form of the wax partly influence how easy or hard it is to work onto the surface of a car. Its compatibility with applicators like microfiber cloths and buffers will also determine how quickly you can get it onto the surface and how much effort will be necessary.

Car Wax Alternatives

The basic job of protecting car paint from wear and tear isn’t something only car wax can achieve. While a good layer of wax is often the most straightforward and affordable way to protect the paint from dirt, scratches, and UV damage, other solutions have some advantages that may be worth considering.

The main difference between wax and these alternatives is how they combat the elements. Waxing alternatives tend to be more expensive and require more prep work because they actually bond to the paint instead of just drying on top of it like wax. 

Sealants

You may have come across the term “sealant” when looking at different car waxing options. In fact, many manufacturers use the terms interchangeably: When you have a sealant, you probably have a car wax that has a synthetic formula instead of natural, carnauba-based products. With that said, there are some products marketed as “paint sealants” that actually differ from typical natural and synthetic car waxes.

In general, sealants are much more durable than wax. Wax generally just sits on top of the car’s surface. Modern sealants, on the other hand, use silica in the formula that cures and bonds to the car’s paint. The effect is a protective layer that is resistant to water and deals with environmental factors like heat and UV rays better than typical waxes.

Most paint sealants use a spray bottle that works just like spray waxes. This makes the application process similar to waxes where you can even use a microfiber towel to wipe and buff it with one hand.

Ceramic Coating

Ceramic coatings are the high-end version of a protective, long-lasting coat over the car’s paint. Much like silica-based paint sealants, a ceramic coating uses a silica liquid-polymer that bonds to the surface of a vehicle. The particles in a ceramic coating are small enough to fit into the pores of the paint, sealing everything in instead of just covering it up.

The result is a high-quality layer that can last for years. The surface has a high degree of resistance to dirt, mud, water, acid rain, bug splatters, and other things that can damage the paint. It can also make cleaning your vehicle much quicker since water spots are less likely to form as the car dries.

While plenty of DIY ceramic coating products exist, the best results are achieved by a professional. Commercial ceramic coatings require a lot of preparation and the right clean environment. There is also a slow curing process that can last up to five days in a temperature-controlled environment. 

Common Pricing

  • Under $10: Many standalone waxes sit in this price range, especially ones that are advertised as “budget” or “value” options. In general, this price range is all about convenience: quick waxes that don’t take too long to get on and off of the vehicle’s surface. Spray waxes are very common in addition to some low-end liquid options.
  • $10-$30: In the mid-range, there is a good blend of synthetic and carnauba waxes that come in spray, paste, and liquid forms. Standalone waxes are the most popular option here, but you can find some basic and low-end kits that include other cleaning products for car detailing as well.
  • Above $30: On the high end of car waxes, carnauba options are the most popular. Coming in pure and blended formulas, these waxes try to create the natural “carnauba shine” as much as possible. Kit waxes are also more common in this price range.

Top Brands

Turtle Wax

Based in Addison, Illinois, Turtle Wax is one of the best, most well-known car product manufacturers around. The company is particularly one to look at if you are in the market for a quality paste wax.

Options we like:

Meguiar’s

Founded in 1901, Meguiar’s is a common sight in many professional auto shops. The company offers a large variety of cleaning products. Check out some of the company’s waxing kits if you are starting from scratch with your car detailing setup.

Options we like:

Chemical Guys

Chemical Guys may seem just like another car product manufacturer, but the company has gone to great lengths to distinguish itself from the competition by creating an entire automotive culture and community. Beyond quality products, we like Chemical Guys for the number of helpful tutorials and tips the company’s experts offer all around the web.

Options we like:

CarGuys

The name pretty much says it all: This company is all about the automotive experience that ties car enthusiasts together. The company offers a line of different car waxes that create a good range to consider when trying to find the right wax for the job. 

Options we like:

3M

This company dabbles in a number of automotive products and doesn’t get as much recognition as a car wax manufacturer as some competitors, but its line of quality waxes isn’t one to ignore. We particularly like the options in its Perfect-It lineup.

Options we like:

How to Find the Right Car Wax

It doesn’t take much to find a car wax that will suit your needs. In fact, most general-purpose waxes can be applied to many vehicles for different purposes. If you need the perfect wax for your ride, however, there are a few things to consider.

The Most Important Features

  • Ingredients: All car wax manufacturers have different formulas they use in their products. Some even have different formulas for different wax options. For example, traditional wax formulas have a blend of synthetic ingredients like resin, polymers, and silicones. Carnauba waxes, even so-called “pure” blends, tend to use a combination of carnauba and beeswax for better protection. You may also find some that include natural oils for a better shine.
  • Wax Form: The choice between sprays, pastes, and liquid car waxes comes down to personal preference and the desired shine, protection level, and the time you have to spend waxing. Sprays and liquid waxes are often the most convenient in terms of time. Some are formulated for better protection or a deeper shine. Pastes, some of the most common waxes available, take longer to apply but can offer more control over the application process. Many paste formulas also use the most carnauba wax for the deepest shine.

Other Considerations

  • Vehicle: General-use waxes can be applied to nearly any vehicle, but it’s still worth taking your car into account before choosing a wax. Many waxes are formulated for specific paint types or colors to meet the demands of unique paint jobs. Even the vehicle’s size will dictate how much wax you will need to put down one or two coats on the entire surface area.
  • Application: Some waxes are better suited for different application processes, which will influence what tools and how much time you’ll need. Do you prefer a long and slow waxing? If so, a simple sponge or microfiber cloth is all you need to get down a proper wax coat. Short on time? Consider using a power applicator like a buffer instead. 
  • Desired Finish: There isn't any car wax that does it all when it comes to the protective coat. The best results depend on the final look, the level of protection, and how long the coat lasts. It’s important to consider what you need from the coat. In general, natural waxes that enhance the look don’t last long, while synthetic waxes offer more protection and longevity.
  • Environmental Factors: Car wax needs to resist the things around your car that can harm the paintwork. Some of these elements are common to most cars: weather, sunlight, debris, etc. Depending on your location, you may find other elements like road salt, excessive mud, large rocks, or other things that require more durability from the wax layer. 

Other Things You May Need

Finding the right car wax is only half of the battle when it comes to getting a nice-looking protective layer onto the vehicle. Actually, getting it onto the vehicle requires a few additional tools. 

Like different car waxes, different applicators have benefits and disadvantages you should consider. There are also a few additional tools and products you can use in the greater car detailing process.

A hand holding a sponge while waxing
gettyimages

For most waxes, a simple sponge or towel is all you need to get a car protected

Things Needed to Use Car Wax

Applying car wax can be done in any number of ways. In general, people either prefer to take a hands-on approach or to use power applicators that take less time. If you are new to waxing your own vehicle, we generally recommend trying a hands-on approach at first. This makes it easier to manipulate the wax and control the amount you use.

Power applicators are great for quick waxes or when you need the extra power to buff the wax onto the surface. This option can also be tricky to use since there’s a steeper learning curve since power applicators have different speeds and modes that may damage the vehicle’s surface.

Hand Applicators

  • Sponge: Sponges make it easy to move a lot of wax around at once. Since they have a larger surface area, they are great for pastes and creams on larger vehicles to speed up the application process. At the same time, sponges can also absorb more wax and water, requiring you to use even more wax to get the proper amount onto the vehicle. Some sponges also use different patterns and shapes, like hex grids, to distribute the wax more evenly.
  • Pad: Pads tend to use a smaller surface area compared to sponges to move wax around. When used with liquid waxes, the shape and size make it easier to push the wax around more consistently, creating a more even layer. Compared to other applicators, however, pads often take longer to use because of the smaller size. 
  • Towel: Towels, especially ones made of microfiber cloth, are the best choice for removing dried wax. They can cover a lot of surface area and are easier to shrink by folding in half. Microfiber is better than other towel materials, like terry cloth, since it won’t damage the paint or glass as you wipe it across a surface. 
  • Specialty: Some applications fall outside the normal look and shape of hand waxing tools. Instead, these specialty applicators look different and are usually brand-specific. Microfiber car wash mitts are a good example of this type. 

Power Applicators

  • Buffer: A powered car buffer essentially spins around on the surface of the vehicle. This motion helps distribute the wax as much as possible without creating any uneven spots. While they are convenient and often small, they can present a challenge at first. Most buffers can damage the paint if you don’t have the skills to control the speed and forces the buffer can generate.
  • Polisher: Polishers (sometimes called dual-action or random orbital polishers) spin around like buffers, but they also wobble to dissipate heat. This is the preferred choice for power waxing a car since the motion helps to shine the surface by removing dried and old wax without damaging the head. 

Tips

  • Avoid waxing in direct sunlight if possible. Shade or inside a garage is better to keep water spots and soap residue from ruining the final look.
  • Preparation is key to effectively waxing your car. Remember: Wax just covers everything that is underneath. If you don’t wash and polish the car beforehand, the wax will only seal in the things you don’t want to protect.
  • Wax regularly. A good waxing routine will make it easier to keep a protective coat over your paint at all times.
  • Good waxing is usually all about layers. You can start with thin coats and build up as you wipe off and buff out the residue and haze. The number of layers is up to you, but more coats can increase the shine and durability of the wax.
  • Apply wax in small sections of the vehicle, working on different body panels at a time. This will help you focus on getting the waxing job done right as you work your way around the vehicle. 

FAQs

Q. What’s the difference between waxing and polishing a car?

A. Polishing a car involves removing layers of dirt, debris, and old wax from the surface of a vehicle. The process does nothing to protect the paint like wax. Therefore, you usually polish the vehicle first after a wash, then apply the wax to protect the smooth surface. 

Q. How long does wax last?

A. This depends on the specific product, the environmental conditions around you, and how frequently you drive. In general, most waxes last a few weeks to a month or two. More durable waxes can last up to six months.

Q. Is carnauba wax the best?

A. Not necessarily. Most people associate natural carnauba waxes with the deep shine they can produce; a shine that intensifies with more carnauba layers. It has some tradeoffs, however, like its longevity since it doesn’t tend to last as long as synthetic waxes. 

Q. Can I wax a new car?

A. Of course. As long as the paint has been cured properly, you can wax a new car just like any other vehicle. This can be a good first step and routine to develop since it will prolong the looks of the car from day one. 

Q. How often should I wax a car?

A. This depends on your preferred waxing product and how long they last. In general, once every three to six months is normal if the wax lasts that long. For waxes with shorter lifespans, once every few weeks is the better routine. 

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of car waxes that will get the job done, but finding the right one will give you the best results on your vehicle. If you are just starting out and don’t know where to look, we recommend these top overall picks: