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Detailing Essentials #4 | Wax is Back!


Detailing Essentials #4 starts with a slightly weird statement. Wax is back! That’s right I said it, wax is back. Now before you start scratching your head thinking has he lost his mind, hear me out. When it comes to surface protection, we have seen a massive surge of new technologies in the last five years. Ceramic coatings were a major innovation that changed the way we protected our cars. Coatings provide an ultra-durable sacrificial layer with insane water behavior, candy-like gloss, and improved ease of maintenance. Coatings changed the game- plain, and simple. Over the past five years, I have installed hundreds and hundreds of coatings and seen first hand their benefit to long term vehicle care.

So, when does the wax conversations start? You might be thinking. Soon, I promise. Over the years, we have done a fair share of coating maintenance details and have seen how coatings perform under many different conditions. Climate, driving style, wash method, etc., all come into the conversation when analyzing a coating’s performance. What we found is that coatings are a fantastic protective option. However, they might not be suitable for every vehicle, paint system, or owner.

To maximize a coatings benefit, the owner needs to commit to a routine safe hand washing method. If a coated surface is well maintained, then the protective layer can perform to its full potential. If maintenance is neglected, that’s where the problem can start. When a coating is scratched, the only way to remove those defects is through polishing. That abrasive polishing action will remove the imperfections, but it will also start removing the coating you had applied. Now, you can have that isolated area polished and recoated, but it comes with a higher price tag.

Ultra soft finicky paints and car owners that don’t see themselves following a strict wash process can, in my opinion, benefit more from routine light polishing and waxing regiments. In this case, a finish that can be reset often makes the most sense for the owner. The wax finish can be applied and stripped off then reapplied again without a considerable investment of time and money.

Then there’s the feeling you get with wax, that sense of occasion and nostalgia. There is just something special about waxing your car, even in an era of high tech paint protection. The smell, slickness, and jaw-dropping depth all complement each other to create a user experience that is tough to top. I still remember the very first tub of wax I ever bought.

To sum it all up, don’t forget that wax can still be a viable paint protection option. Depending on variables a client’s vehicle might be subjected to, wax may be the best option for the paint. Is wax back? I don’t think it ever left.

James Melfi
Holliston, MA
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11 comments on Detailing Essentials #4 | Wax is Back!

  1. Ron Ayotte says:

    Wax isn’t back… it never really left!

    A lot of people love having their cars and trucks detailed, but to do not want to or cannot afford to have them coated or cannot leave them for the time that is required for the paint correction or coating to cure.

    A few of my favorite LSP combos are Meguiar’s #21 Synthetic Sealant, Griot’s Finishing Sealant or Jescar Power Lock topped with Collinite 845 Insulator Wax.

  2. Matt Carter says:

    I always used to enjoy waxing my vehicle regularly, back when I had more time on my hands. I still think it is the right maintenance process for some enthusiasts over coatings. I am a huge ceramic coating proponent and they are fantastic products, but when I have a customer who comes in and they already wax regularly, enjoy the process, and are not looking for something to last year after year, I don’t try to convince them to change. It is a great way to detail and enjoy your ownership experience with the added benefit of adding a light polish every once and a while without worrying about removing your expensive coating. Great for very soft black paintwork.

    • james melfi says:

      Hey Matt,

      I agree- sometimes as modern-day detailers, we get bogged down in trying to change preconceived notions on proper care. Simply using products some clients are already comfortable with can change the dynamic of the sale. That and there’s the special feeling with wax!!!!

  3. JOHN keturoskey says:

    hey james…can the swissvax u used in the blog be used as a topper over a sealant….and if so do u still have to use swissvax cleaner on the sealant for bonding???

    • james melfi says:

      Hey John, You can top a Swissvax wax over a paint sealant layer. Just remember that the properties of the sealant will be nullified, and the characteristics of the wax are what you are going to experience. No cleaner fluid regular preparation would be required after the sealant application.


    Dear James – thanks for bringing up wax again! I have a Nissan 370Z in jet black. I love Dodo Juice Blue Velvet wax, Wolfgang Fuzion, and even Collinite 845 in the winter. But, I did apply Reload recently to one side as a the hydrophobicity (I live in Oregon where we will get 40 in of rain + snow this winter). Is there any wax that can be applied over Reload? I know that some products do not play well with others. I love the beading of Reload, but also love to apply wax. I don’t mind applying wax more often than normal due to the slickness of an underlying sealant, but am I throwing money away…would the final buff out of the wax just strip away 99% of the wax if applied over Reload? I would like to have a better protective layer against winter road grime especially on lower side panels. Have you tried any wax over Jesscar Powerlock, or any other sealants that might play nice with waxes? Thanks for your insights…always enjoy your presentations.


      we all love to tinker/protect our rides……curious question to ask yourself…why am I trying to “protect” reload??? u may want to use carpro elixir as a drying aid over the reload….bump the hydrophobicity and protect. I am in Illinois and the winters/salt are excessive….but that combo reload/elixir would work extremely well.

  5. Roye Miz says:

    The finish on my Y2000 Lexus SC300 is almost showroom bright. But when I run my hand over the hood, top, and trunk lid, I can feel a very sight grittiness. Should I polish or claybar before my next waxing?

    • L Gonzalez says:

      Roye sounds like the paint could use a claying to remove those contaminants. To remove any marring it will be necessary to polish afterwards and apply protection (wax, sealant, ceramic coating) to finish up.
      Lots of luck and post some pics of the SC.

  6. Jay Ortiz says:

    Excellent post as always James!

    I have always and will always offer wax packages to my clients! Believe it or not some people will personally ask for it and will not change their minds on other forms of protection, so why argue with a customer and potentially upset him? Just give them what they ask! There is occasions where you should know when to stop trying to upsell.

    There are some quality waxes that provide long term protection and now with the more common Ceramic Waxes coming out it will just be a win win situation for detailers and customers!

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