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What is the Best Way to Wax a Car?

Washing the dirt off the surface of a car is necessary before waxing.
Wax can be applied to a car with a microfiber cloth.
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  • Written By: A.E. Jaquith
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2014
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All automobiles require maintenance from time to time, but many individuals don't realize the importance of waxing. By waxing your car, you can not only improve it aesthetically but you can help protect it from the elements. The best way to wax a car is to wait for a cool, cloudy day; wash the car first; and use a clean, lint-free cloth or applicator. Working on one panel at a time, apply the wax in a circular motion, and once it's dry, remove it in the same fashion.

The first and foremost factor when preparing to wax a car is the weather. It's pretty obvious that you can't wax a car in the rain, but many don't realize the best time to do it is during a cool, preferably cloudy day. The reason for this is simple — if it is too hot (above 75°F, or 24°C) the wax will remain too warm to harden. If you try to apply the wax on a cold day, it will become too hard, making it difficult to remove.

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Before you attempt to wax a car, it is very important to wash off all of the dirt. If there is dirt on the car when the wax is applied or removed, it will leave ugly streaks and damage the paint. Wash the car thoroughly and several times if necessary. After washing, use a micro fiber cloth, or any cloth that won't leave lint on the paint, to dry the car. Drying the car properly will prevent water spots.

Some people will recommend that a polish be applied before waxing. Do this only if the paint is extremely worn, since automotive polish is an abrasive and will wear down the paint if used too often. A professional can tell you that a clay bar will work just as well. The clay will remove dirt, impurities, and even hardened tar from porous paint without damage.

The next step is applying the wax. Again, use a towel or commercial applicator that will not leave lint on the paint. If you drop the applicator, get a new one to avoid spreading dirt in with the wax.

Apply the wax in a circular motion to one panel at a time, working from top to bottom. Then, apply the wax to another panel in the same manner. Once you have finished applying the wax to the second panel, the first panel should be dry and ready for removal. Avoid getting wax on plastic or trim because it will leave an ugly white stain.

A hand-held buffer is a common tool used to remove wax, but since buffers can be difficult to keep clean, you may want to use a soft towel or washcloth instead. Remove the wax with slow, circular motions. When you're finished, use another towel to buff the car, which will remove any leftover wax residue.

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Discuss this Article

anon255840
Post 5

Chicada make sure you leave plenty of time to do that because I washed, waxed and cleaned my windows today and it took me four hours.

anon169921
Post 4

there are many different ways this article failed to mention on how to wax a car. First, it depends on the color of your paint, and how long to leave the wax on for. If you have a dark color car, wax your car's body panels in a straight back and forth motion to avoid swirl marks. and remember, the longer the wax has time to dry the better your paint will look.

istria
Post 3

@ Glasshouse- You can't really wax your car too often. How often you wax a car depends on you. You may want to wax a new car every one to three months to keep the paint in good condition and keep it looking sharp, a show car on the other hand might be waxed weekly. You should at least wax your car once a year to protect and re-seal your vehicle against the elements.

I wax my truck every 2-3 months. The only time I break this rule is If I take my vehicle through mud or rough terrain. In this case, I wash and wax my vehicle right after my trip. Waxing your vehicle will protect it from things like acid rain, dirt, bugs, road grime, and numerous other pollutants. If your vehicle is looking dull, it might be a good idea to wash and ax.

Glasshouse
Post 2

I want to know how often to wax a car. I don't want to wax my car too often because I heard it slowly wears away the coating, but I like my car to look clean and shiny. Is there anything between waxes that I can do to keep that shine?

chicada
Post 1

What a great article, I hate going to the car wash because it seems like my car is never completely clean. I feel like it is a waste of twenty dollars. I also cannot afford to shell out $100 to have my vehicle detailed. Next time I will wash and wax my car myself. I already do yard work on Sundays, so I can add a car wash to my list. Thanks for providing a great article on how to wax a car.

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