How to Wax a Car
It can be easier than you think!
When most people ask how to wax a car, experience has shown me that this overly simplified question is really a start to more comprehensive understanding of proper car paint care.
The car care industry has overwhelmed us with thousands of choices in car paint protection, all claiming to be the best auto wax or the best rated car wax. Any trip down the car care aisle at the local retailer will cause an anxiety induced head spin that will cause your eyes to roll back! Before you can even begin to wax your car, you first must become informed enough to choose the best car wax for your particular needs.
What You Are Going To Learn
- The basics of proper paint care
- Selecting the right wax
- Darren's simplified tips
The Basics of Car Paint Care
Understanding the basics is not only a great place to start, but will also be helpful in all areas of proper paint care for your car. After all, how many of you have actually been taught what your car paint actually requires?
- Understanding your car paint and clear coat.
- You might think washing your car is purely superficial and just for show, but did you know it really matters?
- You have heard of car wax, but do you know why you need to wax your car?
Clear Coat and Your Paint
Most people by now have heard of clear coat when talking car paint.
Unfortunately there is an overabundance of bad information that
circulates around clear coat and what it is or isn't. The picture below shows the dramatic damage of clear coat failure. Let's also lay out some foundational understanding when it comes to clear coats.
- Clear coat is essentially paint with no color to it.
- It requires the same care as car paint from days of past; washing, waxing, etc.
- Any original car paint is what is called 2-stage paint: 1st-stage is the base coat or color coat. The 2nd-stage is the clear coat.
- Clear coat is designed as the protective layer for the base, color coat. Clear coat protects from UV rays, weather elements, dirt, pollution, etc., etc.
- Every manufacturer has their own automotive paints made by leading manufacturers. This means that no set rule applies to whether clear coat is either hard or soft as you will often hear the so-called experts talk about with regards to paint polishing. Both exist and is a case by case judgement call that can change from manufacturer and from model year; no absolute rule exists.
- "Clear Coat Safe" waxes are nothing more than marketing tactics aimed at the ignorant public; any car wax or sealant will be clear coat safe as this is all that exists nowadays with car paint.
Washing Your Car is Mandatory
Yes, the bad news is that like anything else in this world, your car needs to be washed. Car washing is a requirement not an option and should be thought of this way instead of the other way around; the additional benefit is that you also get a clean car in the process.
- Unless you are a plant, dirt is harmful to most things including your cars clear coat.
- The superficial dirt and dust that collects on your car should be removed at a minimum of every (2) weeks; preferably once a week.
- Dish washing soap is not recommended unless you don't care about your clear coat and simply want to wash the dirt off. Dish washing soap is a grease cutter which also means it is a wax cutter. (remember wax is good. We like wax on our paint and want it sticking around as long as possible!)
Yes You Have to Wax Your Car
I realize there exist the select few zealots who actually look for excuses to wax their cars, but for most people, learning how to wax a car is at the bottom of the list right there along with visits to the dentist:
- Waxing serves (2) purposes: protection and visual enhancement.
- As the saying goes, "Protect it or loose it".
- Virtually any car wax product on the shelves today will be acceptable, and is by far the better choice than doing nothing at all. So if you want to use the excuse that you can't find the perfect or best car wax, and therefore choose to do nothing, then go for it. But any wax is better than no wax.
Car Waxing Made Simple
I could drone on for hours further complicating and overwhelming, but as we have already noted, most people are looking for short-cuts not long-cuts. So with that said, let me show you my favorites that will make your life simpler. Before we get into specifics, let me add these (2) additional points:
- Eventually, every car will require use of detailing clay. Air-borne pollutants are a part of life and these pollutants will need to be removed from the exterior of your car, eg. paint, glass, chrome; any hard surface of your car. Even that brand-new car of yours will likely need it after sitting on the dealers lot for who knows how long before you came a long. Don't underestimate the importance of this critical step. You can read all about it at clay bar car.
- If you love researching the best in automotive waxes, then you can go to my more comprehensive wax review.
Choosing the Best Car Wax
You could spend an entire day searching for the best car wax online and still come away not being able to make a decision... and actually more confused than ever! Not only is there an endless list of car wax choices from hundreds of manufacturers, but how do you decide between the many types of car waxes; from paste to liquid to spray?
Let me simplify....
- 99% of you can make due with the following (2) car waxes.
- The paste wax will form a great foundation.
- The spray wax will be a great and easy way to enhance, extend, and maintain the base coat of wax.
CSi Q-7 Spray Wax
CSI Q-7 Wax 16oz 62-204-P
- My "go-to" wax of choice
- Waterborne technology allows you to use in direct sunlight on hot paint
- Non-staining formulation (won't stain black trim)
- As easy as easy gets
- I actually use this on the interior as a form of conditioner (plastic door panels, coated car leather, rubber door gaskets, dashboard, etc)
- What I consider the winning combination of features and benefits
- My "go-to" car wax for over 15 years now
Meguiar's Ultimate Paste wax
MEGUIAR'S G18211 11 Ounce Ultimate Paste Wax
- Easy on, easy off.
- Can be used in direct sunlight.
- Very low dusting; if any at all!
- Deep shine! One of the car waxes I use professionally.
- Ideal on any colored car with exceptional hiding capabilities on dark's and blacks.
- Very economical.
- Use as your foundational base coat after prepping the surface first with use of detailing clay.
- Apply every 4-6 months based on your personal demands and conditions in which your car is subjected to.
Meguiar's G17516 Ultimate Quik Wax
- Easy on, easy off.
- Use as often as you are motivated to use; I use weekly on my black cars.
- An easy and effective way to extend your base coat.
- One of the car waxes I use professionally.
- Can be used in direct sunlight.
- Non-staining formulation; can be used directly on black trim pieces.
- Very economical!
- Excellent hiding capabilities that compare to that of paste waxes.
If you are still wiping car wax off with baby diapers you need to abandon that outdated thinking. Nothing performs better and delivers better results than the latest in micro-fiber towels!
Chemical Guys MIC_506_12 Professional Grade Premium Microfiber Towels, Gold (16 in. x 16 in.) (Pack of 12)
How to Wax a Car Summary
Waxing your car does not have to be as miserable as you might have been
lead to believe; the days of spending the entire weekend just washing
and waxing are gone with these critical pointers:
Use the local car wash to gain back an hour or more of your time. While car washing for many is considered therapeutic, the problem is that many people run out of steam during the washing process. Many people use up all their time and energy washing their car and never find enough time and energy to actually perform the other additional steps of care like polishing or waxing; so outsource:
- Go during off hours when there is no line.
- Go straight home and spend the time you would normally use to wash your car and do the more critical steps of car care like waxing and detailing.
By following my recommendations from above, taking care of your car paint can be as simple as this:
- Wash weekly
- Use the clay bar as needed (before you wax the first time, even if your car is brand new, prepare the surface first with detailing clay. Then use the clay bar occasionally as needed; this might be once a month, or once a year. The clay bar will strip some of the wax off during use, so either apply an additional coat of the paste, or a quick layer of the spray wax... or do nothing, it's your car)
- Apply a base coat of the Meguiar's Ultimate Paste Wax every 4-6 months.
- Use the Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Wax as often as you like for that freshly waxed look in minutes of time!
- Wax right over all those black trim pieces to protect and add a level of shine. (This will add a very subtle shine; nothing compared to overly glossy dressings)
Car Waxing Made Simple
I hope these "How to wax a car" tips has shown you a more simplified approach to an area of car care that is neck deep in hype and bad information! If you have ever had the misfortune of venturing into any one of the endless car forums or detail forums, most likely you have found yourself chasing your tail....
an endless stream of opinions!
Mostly from the misinformed and inexperienced. The good news is that even the misinformed and inexperienced can offer a good choice in a car wax as this area of car care is filled with many excellent choices. One of the benefits of modern day chemical engineering!
I simply offer one of many solutions and do so in a simplified way!