A good quality automotive wax provides your paintwork with a protective coating that will help guard it against damage from airborne contaminants, road grime and UV rays.

Regular waxing will extend the life of your car’s paint and give it that head-turning, glossy showroom finish you always wanted.

Types of Wax

There are two types of wax that are generally used for protection and shine:

Carnauba wax – a natural wax derived from the Brazilian plant copernica cerifera. This wax gives a rich, glossy shine which lasts about a month and comes in both paste and liquid forms.

Synthetic polymer waxes – also known as paint sealers, these waxes last longer than carnauba wax and are quicker and less messy to apply. While they give a great shine, they are not quite as glossy as natural waxes. Synthetic waxes are almost always liquid in form.

Waxing Preparation

To get the best protection and shine from your wax, it is essential that your car’s paintwork be properly prepared before you start the waxing process.

Wash

Thoroughly wash your car using a car shampoo (not dishwashing liquid) and allow it to dry completely.

Polish

Check your paintwork for scuffs and areas of dullness. If any such defects are found they should be removed by polishing with either a rubbing compound (for scuffs) or a cutting polish (for dull paint) appropriate to your car’s paintwork. You’ll need different products depending on whether your car has a clear-coat finish or not, so check with staff at an automotive supplies shop.

While wax may temporarily improve the look of paint defects, it will not remove them. If you intend to skip the polishing step, be prepared for a result that is not entirely perfect.

The Waxing Process

Waxing must be done when the metal of your car is cool, otherwise the wax may dry too rapidly and become difficult to buff off. If possible, park your car in the shade and follow the steps below.

  • Work on one section of the car at a time (a fender, a door etc.)
  • Using either a sponge applicator or a soft cotton cloth (old 100% cotton t-shirts work well) dab the wax over the target area.
  • Spread the wax using straight horizontal or vertical strokes until complete coverage is achieved. Don’t use a circular motion as this can contribute to swirling in the finished wax job. There is no need to apply great pressure or to “rub the wax in”. All you need is coverage.
  • Avoid getting wax on rubber window seals and black plastic trim as it leaves white marks that are difficult to get off. If you do smear wax on these areas, try removing it with window cleaner.
  • Allow the wax to haze.
  • Buff off the dry wax. You can use a clean, soft cotton cloth for this, but a microfibre cloth is even better. Again, use straight strokes to avoid swirling.

Waxing a car requires time, energy and correct preparation, but the result is well worth the effort. The glass-like finish on your car will be a source of pride for weeks, provoking admiring comments from friends and envious glances from your neighbours. And while the other cars in your street suffer the paint-degrading effects of corrosive grime and ultraviolet radiation, you’ll be secure in the knowledge that, unlike their owners, you’ve gone the extra mile to protect your car.

Learn more about waxing your car with this video.

How to Wax Your Car to a Showroom Finish, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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