Regularly using car wax is a staple of good vehicle maintenance, right?
Well, yes – with certain provisos. The thing is, not all car wax products are made equal. Using an inferior product won’t simply provide a poor finish, it can actively damage your paintwork. Plus, there’s the issue of application. Get it right and, indeed, you’ll get many benefits. But if not, then the picture isn’t quite so rosy…
As car detailing experts, and with a passion for seeing beautifully maintained cars cruising our lanes and roads, Radical Autoworks explain the pros and cons regarding the grubby secrets of the humble car wax…
Car Wax – the benefits
- Can protect the paintwork from wear and tear: The paint on a car is covered by a thin, clear coat of lacquer. A quality car wax actively protects this layer from being eroded by the elements, thereby protecting the integrity of the paint beneath. Think of the wax as a sacrificial film on top of your paint.
- Can help smooth out minor imperfections: On a microscopic level, wax will fill imperfections in the paint, thus reducing how noticeable scratches are in the paint.
- Helps your car remain cleaner for longer: Because of the aforementioned microscopic filling of scratches, dirt has fewer places to cling to and so your car stays cleaner looking for longer..
- Makes your car shine: Because it makes the surface of the car more uniform, so the light reflects better. And this equals that gorgeous just-waxed shine.
- Creates a hydrophobic layer: Or, to put it in plain English, it makes water bead and roll off the paintwork. Not only does this look pretty cool, it’s also an important defence against rust and corrosion.
- Helps prevent colour fade: This can be more noticeable on certain colours – mainly darker tones or those leaning towards red on the colour spectrum. We’ve all seen poor old red cars that have gone pink with age. Car wax can help slow this process.
Car Wax – the drawbacks
- Cheap car wax can be abrasive: Some car waxes, especially the cheaper ones and combination cleaner-waxes, contain strong chemicals. Such abrasive materials are not good for the paintwork and can, in some cases, actually cause damage.
- Proper application of car wax takes time and effort: Let’s be clear about this – waxing your car isn’t a 10 minute job. The car needs to be properly prepared, meaning an intense clean and full dry before commencing the waxing process. If you don’t have at least a day to dedicate to the whole job, then don’t consider it an option. A large part of that is waiting for the car to dry 100%. Even after you use a blower to speed the process. Any moisture in cracks will be pulled out and mess up your finish.
- Good car wax is expensive: Sure, there’s cheap versions on the market. But, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. That bargain buy is cheap for a reason. Not only will it be less effective but it will cause you arm ache when applying. Something like Bilt Hambers Double Speed Wax is a good DIY choice.
- There’s an art to applying car wax: Not too much, not too little, plus ensuring you cover every bit of paintwork evenly. Make sure to read the instructions, as different waxes are designed to be applied differently.
- You need to understand the type of car wax you’re buying/applying: Is it a simple wax? A cleaner wax? A sealant? Paste wax, liquid wax, spray wax, coloured wax… And this topic is a whole new blog article entirely!
Car Wax – the conclusion
Car wax can be just what your car needs to keep it in good condition, as long as:
- You have the time (and patience)
- The vehicle paintwork is in generally good condition without any deeper scratches or marks
- You choose the right wax for the job
If you tick those boxes, then self-application of car wax will help ensure the longevity of your car’s paintwork.
The alternative is to get a professional application done by a car detailing company. Not only will this ensure the correct wax type is used, but you gain back your valuable free time to do something more enjoyable. Or you might want to go a step further and have a sealant or ceramic coating applied.
Whatever option you choose, adding a high quality protective layer to the paintwork in the form of car wax goes a long way towards maintaining your vehicle’s good looks. If you go down the DIY route, just make sure there’s a beverage of your choice chilling in the fridge for when you’ve finished to toast a job well done….
To get started, we’ve written about our top tips for cleaning your daily driver supercar here. Follow that before you get to any Waxing.