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Auto Detailing Guide - Wax

Wax Auto Detailing Guide

What Does Wax Do? (Return to Top)

Carnauba waxes are a great way to protect your vehicle against the elements. Carnauba waxes often offer stronger protection than sealants do, but will not last as long. Waxes typically last 3 to 8 weeks, where a sealant can last up to 6 months. Carnauba waxes often bead water better than sealants, which makes your vehicle easier to maintain. Carnauba waxes are what you want to use when you want the absolute wettest finish possible.

Layering and Cure Times (Return to Top)

Applying multiple coats or layers of wax can add more protection, gloss and shine to the surface. When you want to apply more than one coat, you have to let the previous coat fully cure. Assuming you apply the wax nice and thin, the cure times will range from 1 - 24 hours. The exact time will vary depending on the specific wax, how it was applied, temperature, humidity, etc.

How Often Should You Wax Your Car? (Return to Top)

In general, carnauba waxes will last anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks. There are many factors that go into determining how long a wax will last. Some of the major factors are if your car is stored in a garage or outside, how many miles are driven, the type of weather conditions your vehicle is exposed to, how well your paint was prepped prior to applying the wax, the frequency of washing your vehicle, and type of shampoo. The key is to re-apply your coat of protection before the previous coat runs out. As you maintain your vehicle, keep an eye out for how well the water beads and sheets off your paint. If water begins to pool and look flat on your paint, then chances are there is little to no protection remaining and it's advised to apply another coat of wax. A good rule of thumb is to re-apply a carnauba once a month (12 times a year).

How To Apply Wax (Return to Top)

  • Step 1: Using a clean foam applicator pad, gently wipe it across the top of the paste wax (for a harder paste wax you may need to exert more pressure in a circular motion)
  • Step 2: Make sure you only have a very thin amount on your applicator pad
  • Step 3: You can apply the wax with light pressure in a circular, back and forth and/or up and down motion, remember to stretch the wax nice and thin
  • Step 4: Wait 10 - 20 minutes before you buff off the excess wax with a clean microfiber towel
  • Step 5: Repeat steps 1 through 4 until your entire vehicle has been waxed

Facts and Tips (Return to Top)

  • Carnauba waxes typically last between 3 to 8 weeks
  • Apply your wax as thin as possible, only a microscopic layer of wax actually sits on your paint, excess wax is just wasted
  • In general you should give each coat of wax 1 to 24 hours cure time
  • It is best to work in the shade when applying and removing a wax
  • Most waxes can benefit from 2 to 3 layers for maximum depth and gloss
  • When your paint stops beading water, it is time to reapply a coat of wax

Here are a few articles related to Wax from our Ask-a-Pro Detailer Blog:

View all Wax articles

Related Videos (Return to Top)

Ask-a-Pro Blog author James Melfi highlights his process of properly applying a car wax.

What's Next? (Return to Top)

After applying your wax, it is best to allow the coat to cure for 1 - 24 hours before topping it with another coat of wax. If you are done applying the wax congratulations on completing your detail work! Mark on your calendar when you completed this detail and create a maintenance schedule for yourself. You can now move on to the interior, exterior trim, wheel and tire care or the engine bay care section.

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