Photo Credit: Nor Gal / Shutterstock.com
Any professional detailer will tell you that it’s not enough to just wash your car with soap and call it a day. Your car’s paint deals with a lot of wear and tear, whether it be damage from UV rays, bird droppings, tree sap, and just rocks flying at you while you drive. Wax acts as a barrier between your paint and all the nasty things that can damage it.
After washing, you need to use wax a few times a year to protect your paint and make your car look shiny and brand new. Using a car wax will smooth your car’s paint surface by filling in small scratches and imperfections, meaning some debris and water will just slide off instead of damaging it. Regularly waxing your car will also make it easier to clean.
We find that spending a lot of money on a car wax doesn’t mean you’ll get a better product. A more affordable car wax can often give you similar results to a luxury one, so keep that in mind when shopping around.
Here are the best car waxes you can buy that will give you great results and help protect your paint. Scroll down past the list to get a step by step breakdown of how to wax your car the right way.
Table of contents
1. Editor’s Pick: Meguiar’s G18216 Ultimate Liquid Wax
Meguiar’s is a leading brand in car care and has many waxes in its lineup. Its Ultimate Liquid Wax is arguably the brand’s most popular offering and it’s one of our personal favorites. Seasoned auto detailers swear by this car wax for its ease of application/removal, affordable price, and durability.
The package comes with a special foam applicator and a microfiber cloth for buffing. Made with a long-lasting synthetic hydrophobic polymer, users report that it keeps water beading off longer than other products on the market, even after a few months after it was used. The company says it will give cars a deep and mirror-like shine, and it won’t leave a white residue on trim pieces that aren’t painted.
- Pros/Easy to apply and remove, lasts for months, affordable, rave reviews
- Cons/Some users report consistency is too thin
2. CarGuys Liquid Wax
CarGuys Liquid Wax is a made-in-the-USA product that is marketed as a luxury car wax. The company says it leaves a long-lasting, slick hydrophobic finish with a deep shine and you only have to use it once or twice a year. They’ve also made it easier to apply and buff out. This liquid wax is a bestseller and got rave reviews, earning a 4.8 stars out of 5 rating. This wax is a favorite among professional car detailers.
This fully synthetic sealant can also be used on your car’s glass, on boats, RVs, or motorcycles and provides UV protection. The kit comes with a foam applicator and a high-quality microfiber towel. Users confirm that it’s easy to apply and wipe off and that it lasts as long as advertised — one user’s car was still shining even after 2 hurricanes!
- Pros/Long-lasting, money-back guarantee, rave reviews
- Cons/Pricier than other waxes
3. Meguiar’s G17516 Ultimate Quik Wax
Another product from the trusted Meguiar’s lineup, this spray wax also has a hydrophobic formula like its other waxes. The company says it won’t leave residue on plastic or rubber trim and offers protection that lasts for weeks. This is a one-step process and it doesn’t come with any applicators or cloths. This is a bestseller on Amazon and gets pretty solid reviews — 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Again, spray waxes save time and require less effort than liquid or paste waxes, but aren’t as long-lasting. You just spray it on and wipe it off immediately, where other waxes require you to wait up to 20 minutes before buffing.
Still, the company says the shine is as deep as what you’d get with pastes or liquid waxes and can even be applied in the direct sun. This is a great product to maintain a wax job, but perhaps not replace it.
- Pros/Lasts for weeks, quick and easy results, one-step process
- Cons/Other products last longer, doesn’t come with applicators
4. Meguiar’s G18211 Ultimate Paste Wax
Another product from industry leader Meguiar’s, this hydrophobic paste wax offers full synthetic protection for your paint, meaning water will just bead and roll right off. The company says application and removal are easy and is a one-step process, even if you’re using it in the sun. This wax is also a bestseller on Amazon and has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars with more than 1,800 reviews.
Detailers swear by this paste wax because it’s easy to apply and remove and lasts longer than expected. Users report that it smells nice, gets rid of paint swirls, leaves a great shine, and a smooth finish. Some also claim this paste wax lasts longer than Meguiar’s liquid wax, but it leaves residue on non-painted surfaces. This wax comes with an applicator and microfiber cloth.
- Pros/Easy application and removal, smooth finish, shiny finish, long-lasting
- Cons/Leaves residue on non-painted trim pirces
5. Turtle Wax Spray Wax Kit
Turtle Wax has been known in the car care industry for providing decent products at a low price. This three-piece kit includes a spray wax, a foam applicator, and a microfiber towel, and can be used with paint, and exterior plastic and rubber trim without leaving residue. It also includes water-repellency and UV protection to shield your paint from the damaging sunlight.
Spray waxes are generally not as good as liquid or paste waxes, but the company says this spray will give your car a professional-looking mirror-like shine and will even fill in swirl marks and small scratches. Spray waxes generally require less time and effort, but the results might not be as long-lasting — users are reporting that this lasts about a month, where other waxes can last a few months. This might be a good product to use when you don’t have time for a full wax, but perhaps shouldn’t be used to fully replace it.
- Pros/Easy and quick application, affordable, shiny finish, UV protection, no streaking or residue
- Cons/Doesn’t last as long
6. Collinite No. 476 Super Doublecoat Auto Wax
Collinite’s detergent-proof wax is made of a high concentration of carnauba wax and synthetic wax and the company claims it can last a whole year. This easy-to-apply wax requires no hard rubbing or buffing, and it doesn’t need a special applicator. You can use this on your car, but also fine furniture, wood paneling, and fiberglass. This wax has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating and is a bestseller on Amazon.
Users stress that you follow the instructions because this wax isn’t like other waxes, but as long as you read the instructions carefully and prepare the car correctly, the results will be amazing. A lot of reviews point out that this wax it harder to remove than others and requires more work.
- Pros/Detergent proof, long-lasting, glossy finish
- Cons/More expensive than other waxes, more difficult to remove, car needs to be properly prepped and cleaned
7. Griot’s Garage Best of Show Wax
Griot’s Garage is a smooth wax that is easy to use and comes from a reputable company. It’s 100% carnauba wax content with no silicone and is used on the world’s most renowned vehicles at Concours events like Pebble Beach, where the toughest judges are there to scrutinize small details like a car’s paint finish. The company says this wax will restore a paint’s finish, remove swirls, and make it look like new with a deep and clear shine that will last for months.
Because of the high carnauba content, a little goes a long way, so you don’t have to slather on this product to get the best results. You can even leave it on overnight and buff it out easily in the morning. It’s important to note that this wax doesn’t come with applicators or microfiber cloths, so you’ll have to buy them separately. Some users report that it isn’t as easy to buff out as other products, but the results are great.
- Pros/Professional quality, high carnauba content, great reviews, deep shine
- Cons/Doesn’t come with applicators, tougher to remove/buff out
8. Formula 1 Carnauba Paste Car Wax High-Gloss Shine
Formula 1 has been serving the car care market for more than three decades and this paste wax is made from all-natural and high-grade carnauba wax, a hard natural wax. The company says it will give you car a high-gloss shine and water beading that can last for up to 12 months. The key is “micro-polishers” that can almost erase minor scratches in a car’s paint and remove small contaminants while you wipe it away. This affordable product comes with a foam applicator but not a microfiber towel for buffing.
Some users report that it made small scratches and swirls in their car’s clear coat disappear, but that it takes a bit more effort to use than liquid waxes.
- Pros/Affordable, long-lasting, easy application and removal
- Cons/Product is very think and can be hard to apply, small applicator, smells bad
9. Cherry Wax
This type of car wax is best suited for the darker-colored cars. The company says this all-natural wax will give your car a wet look finish and a deep gloss. It also smells like, you guessed it, cherry. It’s not a bestseller, but it did get OK reviews: 4.1 stars out of 5. Many users say this product is nothing special, but it gets the job done.
Users report that it takes more elbow grease than the Editor’s Pick Meguiar’s wax, but they have similar results in the end. Cherry Wax takes longer to dry and haze as well. It’s important to note that this product doesn’t ship with applicators, so you’ll have to buy them separately.
- Pros/Smells good, made in the U.S, all natural, affordable, great shine
- Cons/Not recommended for lighter colored vehicles, takes longer to dry/haze, doesn’t come with applicators
10. Mothers Ultimate Wax System
Mothers is a trusted name in car care and offers a three-step system for getting a professional-looking finish for your car’s paint: a pre-wax cleaner, a sealer and glaze, and finally, a pure carnauba wax to finish. It might seem like a lot of work, but most waxes require you to fully wash and clay your car before waxing, so this kit takes the guesswork out.
Users are reporting great results with this kit, saying it’s easy to apply and wipe off, leaving a deep and long-lasting shine.
- Pros/Long lasting, deep shine, comprehensive product kit
- Cons/Price, not everyone wants to go through an entire 3-step process
How To Wax A Car: A Breakdown by Kshitij Sharma
You can choose between three different car wax that are available: paste, liquid or the spray-on variety. Many veteran detailing experts would probably laugh at the spray-on wax. In all fairness, the spray-on was not the best solution about 5-7 years ago, but since then technology has come a long way, and you can find effective options. Also, it’s ideal for people who are looking for a quick and easy fix and are not interested in the labor process.
The paste is for the old school gearhead for whom waxing their car is a hobby and not a chore. For them, spending a day getting that sheen on is as worth it as spending the day with their children. The liquid wax is for the professional because you have to have a motorized buffer to wax the car properly.
Good applicators are essential to the waxing process. There are two types of applicators available in the market. You can either go for the foam or for the microfiber. In our opinion, the foam pad works better on the outside and microfiber on interior surfaces. Whichever you choose, the point to note is that you will be going through at least one piece per step in the application process. So make sure you have plenty of spares.
SEE ALSO: How To Keep Your Car Contagion Free
Secondly, you will also need to ensure that the applicators are clean before you start, to avoid getting those fine scratches. It is also advisable that you don’t reuse the applicator once it is off the metal surface.
The microfiber cloth is the best hand buffer out there. You can, however, use a motorized buffer as well. If you’re using the liquid wax, the electric buffer is the only one that will provide the desired results.
Before you start
Clean your car thoroughly
Before you get down to actually rendering some TLC on your car and make it nice and shiny, make sure that all surfaces are clean, dirt-free and dry. You don’t want debris stuck under the applicator which can in turn scratch your beloved ride.
Polish for minor scratches
Here’s a myth buster. Waxing your car, no matter how vigorously you do it, does not eliminate minor paint scratches. Yes, the cleaner wax can “hide” the blemishes on the paint of your car, but they reappear as soon as the sheen of the wax starts to wane. So the proper way to do it is to apply polish on the scratches you want to eliminate. The polish, unlike the wax, contains abrasives that basically gently remove the clear coat on the paint and with it the surface scratches and shallow rub marks. Please note that if scratches are deeper than the clear coat, you will need to get your car repainted.
The perfect waxing day is a fine balance between sun and cloud. You don’t want it too bright and sunny, and definitely not too damp either. Keep your car away from direct sunlight if at all possible.
Wax on wax off
So you’re done with polishing the blemishes, now it’s time to get on with the waxing. Whatever wax you choose make sure you apply it in small amounts. You will also need to take your time and be patient. Wax can dry fairly quickly in summer days so refrain from applying all the wax at once. Work in small areas and apply the wax first, then buff and move on to the next area. You can start with the doors first. Complete each one individually. Divide the hood and the trunk in two halves and so on and so forth.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best Car Waxes
Another thing to note, if you are using the wax that you need to let dry before you remove it—it will say on the label—we still recommend you use the area by area approach.
If you’re using the spray wax you pretty much treat it like Windex. Spray, distribute evenly, flip the cloth and buff. It’s pretty straight forward. But make sure you change your buffing cloth often and don’t let any dirt settle on it.
Oh no, it’s streaking
Don’t worry if you get streaks after you’re done waxing your car; it’s a completely normal phenomenon. All you need to do it park the car in the sun for about 15 minutes, no more. This will help soften the wax that was refusing to buff out.
Next, take the car back in to the garage and buff the streaks out with detailing spray. And your car paint will be as good as new.
So there you have it, one step by step breakdown of giving your beloved ride some tender loving care.