Washing and waxing your car is part of basic maintenance and TLC. Looking after your vehicle means it’ll last longer, look better, and be worth more.
Waxing is a fundamental part of all this.
In this guide, I’ll explain why you should wax your car and the benefits it brings.
- It protects your car’s paint against fading (from UV rays), rust, and other damage.
- Car wax means your vehicle will shine like new when you finish cleaning it.
- Car wax is usually either carnauba wax, a synthetic polymer, or a blend of the two.
- Carnauba wax is the best option for a high-quality, long-lasting coat.
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What Is Car Wax?
Car wax is pretty much what it sounds like: wax for coating your vehicle.
It’s a liquid or paste-like wax that comes in a tub, tube, or spray bottle. You then apply it to your paint and other metal surfaces that want protection.
Car wax is usually from the Brazilian carnauba palm (Copernicia prunifera/cerifera). It might also be synthetic or a blend of natural and synthetic polymers.
You’ll find carnauba wax in all sorts of things. Alongside car waxes, these include makeup, candy (sweets), waterproof linings, and dental floss.
The carnauba palm produces many ingredients essential in today’s world, including wax. Sustainability questions have been raised a few times, especially concerning pesticides and the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.
What Is Car Waxing?
Car waxing is the process of polishing wax into its paint surfaces.
After washing your car and removing all the dirt deposits (use a clay bar but don’t scratch the paint!), apply the wax by hand.
Like the cleaning part of your car wash, this should be done in the shade and at a moderate ambient temperature if possible.
Waxing your car involves applying the wax using a foam applicator. This should come with the product.
Rub it in and, if you like, buff it. Finish it off with a microfibre cloth to remove any excess deposits.
That’s it! Your car will shine like it’s new and be protected from the elements and rust.
What Does Waxing Do For A Car?
Waxing your car is vital. I’d go as far as to say it’s not even worth washing your car if you don’t wax it.
It protects your paintwork from the sun’s UV rays, the weather, dirt, salt, and rust.
Alongside this, you’ll have a gleaming, showroom-like finish.
What’s not to love?
Follow the advice on your product of choice. In general, pure carnauba wax products are the best – they last longer and thus offer more protection.
Is Waxing Your Car Worth It?
Waxing your car is absolutely worth it. It’s crucial, actually.
Your paint will be exposed to the elements without a protective wax covering. This leaves it susceptible to fading, rusting, and getting damaged.
Waxing not only protects against these, but it also makes your car look fantastic. Sure, that’s just aesthetics and perhaps a little vain, but it’s true!
Waxing your car takes quite some time, but it’s essential to car maintenance.
How Often Should You Wax Your Car?
This doesn’t have a straightforward answer.
At a fundamental level, you should apply more wax to your car when the previous application has almost worn off. But it’s pretty tricky to tell exactly when that is.
It depends on the wax and the specific brand and product you use. Other impacting factors include how often you drive, your local climate, and where you park.
You’ll find precise instructions regarding how often you should use it on the wax you buy. It’s best to err on the side of caution if you’re given an approximate range.
Here are some very general base marks to work off:
- Premium carnauba wax products: three or four times per year
- Liquid waxes (in bottles): every month or two
- Spray-on wax products: every couple of weeks
Note that you don’t have to wax your car every time you wash it.
Remember, using dish soap will strip all the wax off your car. That’s why you mustn’t ever use it on your vehicle. It does more harm than good.
Should You Use An Automatic Car Wash Wax Cycle?
Using it now and again probably doesn’t hurt much, but a weekly trip? That’s not the best.
The issue doesn’t lie with the wax itself. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem is that it’s hot and sprayed over the car in a generally imprecise manner.
It’s perfectly fine for your paint but not so good for rubber components like windshield wiper blades.
There are other niggles too. The ‘spray and pray’ approach that these machines naturally use means they never remove 100% of the dirt on your car. Sure, most of the dust will come off, but anything more stuck on will remain where it is.
When the wax cycle starts, all this particulate matter is trapped underneath it. Thus, it’ll damage the paint and cause rust anyway.
In brief, an automatic car wash can’t do nearly as good a job as cleaning and waxing your car at home. It might be faster and more convenient, but the trade-off is an inferior wash.
Do You Need To Wax The Undercarriage?
Some classic cars will also get their undercarriage waxed. Provided it’s completely rust-free in advance, this protects the chassis from rusting.
You don’t need to wax your car’s undercarriage unless you really want to. Even then, it should only be done if there’s absolutely no rust there already – which is unlikely.
While waxing the undercarriage might not be necessary, washing it is absolutely crucial.
You’ll see varied advice across the internet as to how often you should wash the undercarriage. I’ve seen anywhere from every two weeks to once a year suggested.
I think you should wash the undercarriage at least once per season. It also makes sense to clean it more often in winter because of the salt on the roads.
Be careful if you decide to wash your car’s undercarriage at home. You need a very low-pressure pressure washer or, ideally, a plain and simple garden hose. If you don’t do this, you risk damaging electronics or rupturing high-pressure lines.
Take care when getting underneath the car, too, as you might need to raise it on axle stands.
Conclusion: Is Car Wax Worth It?
It’ll take you quite some time, but I recommend the good stuff: carnauba products.
Your paintwork will hold up much better than that on other people’s cars. It’ll also protect against penetrating rust and generally look good.
Liquid and spray-on waxes aren’t as good, but they’re better than nothing. Many car shampoos also have a small amount of wax mixed in as part of their formulas.
Finally, automated car washes. I advise only using these if you absolutely have to. The hot wax cycles are imprecise and thus more cosmetic than anything. Still, again, it’s better than no wax at all!