How To Properly Wax Your Car

Here at Show Finish we believe in keeping your car in as clean and pristine shape as you can, and one easy way to do so is by waxing your car. Waxing your car is an easy way to keep your car looking clean, as well as protect its paint. In this post, we will discuss the basics – how to properly wax your car, why car wax is important, and what it is. 

What Is Car Wax?
Let’s start at the beginning. What is car wax? Essentially car wax is an added layer to your cars paint that protects it from dirt and makes your car easier to clean. But, to go one step further to answer “what is wax?” well it is a mixture of various ingredients, with the base being… guessed it! Wax!

There are different types of waxes, but the front runner and most common type you will come across is carnauba wax. A carnauba wax is one that the compound is comprised of different solvents, chemicals, oils, etc, but starts off with a base of carnauba wax that comes from a type tree which is only found in northeastern Brazil. Specifically, it comes from the carnauba palm tree. Each manufacturer has their own “secret recipe” for how they make their waxes, but if it’s a carnauba wax, then it will contain wax from this tree. From there, there are several different oils and other waxes that are added to the mix. Other ingredients may include dyes, fragrances, silicone, polymers, and solvents. If you want to avoid a wax with chemicals in it then you can find a natural carnauba wax without any harsh ingredients like solvents.

All these ingredients are heated, mixed together, cooled, and so on, to arrive at the finished product. The wax’s consistency is determined by the ingredients which are used to put it together. The finished product is a spreadable wax (carnauba wax is very hard in its natural state and can not be used on its own) that is a necessity for anyone who wants to protect their car and keep it looking its best for years to come.

Why Do I Need Wax?
As mentioned, wax protects your cars paint. It adds an extra layer or protection, that works pretty much like a shield. Think of everything your car is exposed to – rain, UV rays, car exhaust, ice, and probably worst of all, groundwater. Whether you drive over a pothole that has liquid in it, or are driving during a storm and hit some puddles, think of everything you’re launching onto your car. Any filth that is on the road (car oil, antifreeze, other motorist’s garbage) will be sitting in those puddles and go all over your car. Wax, is a layer that helps protect against all of that.

Another reason to make sure you wax your car is that it means fewer car washes. We understand not all people are available to wash their car weekly, so this helps cut down on the amount of time and money that is needed to keep your car looking clean. When you properly apply wax, it keeps the dirt off the paint which allows your car to look better for longer in between washes.

How Do I Properly Wax My Car?
There are a few ways to properly wax your car or truck. The two main ways are by hand, or by using a buffer. Regardless of how you do it, it’s all about location, location, location. Make sure you’re waxing your vehicle in the shade if it’s warm out. A garage or even just under a tree will work, as long as you get it out of the direct sun. The reason you want to wax in the shade is that it prevents the wax from drying too quickly. If the wax dries on the car before you buff it off, it may make it much more difficult to get off. It may also affect the overall performance of the wax if applied to a hot surface.

Before we get into the two ways to wax your car, we need to start with the basics. So make sure that you have properly washed your car first. If you want some great tips on washing your car check out our car care 101 post. Once you have properly washed you car you will want to use a clay bar to remove any contaminants. This is an important step to acheive the best results and to properly care for your paint.

The clay bar process is easy. Simply spray the surface of your paint with a quick detailing spray or a clay bar lubricant and gently rub the clay back and forth on the surface of the paint. When you first start each area you will feel resistance from the contaminants. As the area becomes clean it will begin to easily glide across the surface. After you are done claying the surface of your paint should feel smooth.

Now you are close to being able to wax, but to really get the best results there is one final step before we can wax – wash your car again. This will just be a quick wash (even just a quick snow foam bath works great for this) and rinse to remove any remaining contaminants that the clay loosened but didn’t hold onto.

We can start with the more common way to wax your car, which is to do it by hand. Some people prefer to wax their cars by hand because it’s a more intimate feel and a more “controlled” feeling compared to using a buffer. Using a microfiber wax applicator pad, you’ll want to add a small amount of wax and apply the car in a circular motion. Make small overlapping circles and work on one panel at a time. Remember, less is more – you don’t need to add a large amount of wax or leave a thick coat on the car, so just put a thin layer across the section you’re working on. Each wax will have a different suggested time for it to sit on your car’s paint, usually around 5-20 minutes. Once that time is up, you’ll want to circle back to where you began and buff the wax off. What that means, is using a microfiber buffing towel such as our plush microfiber detailing towel to wipe off the excess wax. This will leave the protective layer over the paint and the added shine to the car.

The other way to apply wax to your car, is by using an orbital buffer. To use a buffer you will need a buffing pad. Apply the wax evenly on the pad. Put the pad against the car to get some of your wax onto the paint. Once the wax is on the surface you can turn on your buffer (set to a low speed) and gently glide it straight back and forth across the surface of your paint following the body lines. Once the drying time passes, you will use a microfiber buffing towel to remove the excess wax.

How Often Should I Wax My Car?
Another question we get a lot here at Show Finish is how often should someone wax their car. That is personal preference and also depends on the conditions and type of wax you use. Some waxes, like spray waxes, don’t last as long so you would need to apply it more often. Some experts say once a month, others say once every six months, but we think it all depends on how dirty your car gets and how much time and effort you want to put into your car care. That being said, we feel that waxing your car somewhere around once every three to four months is best for most people.

In summary, you can see how important it is to wax your car and how easy it is to do. If you’re not currently waxing your car you’re going to want to make it a new habit. Waxing your car is imperative to helping keep its paint in top condition and looking its best. It adds a layer of protection and gives it that shine that everyone can appreciate, especially you. Happy Waxing!

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