Car Waxing Guide

Before using wax

Car wax is a product which you apply to the paintwork which forms a thin layer on top of the paint's surface. The wax can disguise very minor surface damage such as scratches, and also acts as a protective barrier, protecting the paint from dirt, water, and ultra-violet light and minimising the effects of the weather. The wax will give your paintwork a nice shiny finish, and also makes it easier to clean!

Waxing your car is a more important step than polishing it, because while both can give your car a shinier finish, only waxing adds a protective layer on top of the paint. There is often some crossover between polishes and waxes, so that products may contain both. If you use a pure car wax with no abrasives in it, then you cannot over-wax your car.

After using wax

Car waxes generally come in two types - natural carnauba, or synthetic polymer. Carnauba wax comes from the leaves of the carnauba palm, a species of palm tree native to north-east Brazil. Pure carnauba wax is solid, and so to make it easier to use as a car wax it must have things like oils or solvents added to it.

Polymer waxes (sometimes called paint sealants), on the other hand, are made from a range of acrylic resins or other synthetic compounds. They provide excellent durability, and are easy to use. While not as durable, carnauba wax gives a deeper richer shine where polymer waxes can look a bit sterile. It's best to try a few different waxes and see which you like. Some people even use both, using a paint sealant for protection, with carnauba wax on top for a more attractive finish.

Like every other step in the auto-detailing process, your car should be out of direct sunlight. Also, it must be clean and dry.

If you're using a liquid wax, shake the bottle before use. Apply a small amount of wax to a sponge or foam applicator and spread it thinly and evenly on one section of the car. You want the to get the thinnest coat possible - a thicker coat doesn't give a better result. Give the wax a minute or two to haze, and then buff it to a shine with a clean microfibre towel. Rotate the towel frequently so you're always using a clean side.

You can use an electric dual action polisher to put the wax on and buff it, but the technique is essentially the same. Spreading the wax over the panel a bit before you turn the polisher on will prevent it splattering.