Car wax is a protective layer, also called a clear coat, that goes on top of your car’s base primer and color coat. The wax is what dictates the gloss of the car; basically, if your wax job isn’t smooth enough, your car won’t look as shiny.
The function of wax is firstly to
touch upany indentations in the paint job and to give the car a polished finish. A top-grade wax will also prevent future smears and scratches but be wary: wax won’t function properly if it’s not applied to a just-cleaned car.
A good wax job may also let you get away with less-frequent washes and may even hike up your car’s resale
Here are some tips on how to maximize your waxing job, from choosing the longest-lasting wax product—as well as the right type of wax—to making sure you get your pre-wax prep just right.
Top long-lasting car waxes
Luckily for us,
AutoWisedid an inventory of all the car wax products it could find, parsing them for the top 10 longest-lasting waxes.
At the top of the list is Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax, which AutoWise ranks as the “best overall choice.” As a liquid wax, it is easy to apply for beginners and advanced car-owners alike. This wax gives full-coverage protection for six months, making it one of the longest-lasting on the market.
AutoWise’s number two pick is the P21S Carnauba Wax, the “best premium choice,” according to the site. This wax produces an “amazing shine and continued protection that exceeds most other car waxes out there,” and it lasts around two months.
Pick number three, the best choice for car-owners on a budget, is the Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax, which “will melt onto your car just like butter,” according to AutoWise. This product is offered as a butter or spray, and it can be applied just after washing, even while your car is still wet. It works on any paint type and lasts for about three months.
AutoWise’s other top choices include the Last Coat Car Wax, the Car Guys Liquid Wax, Meguiar’s Gold Class Carnauba Plus Premium Paste Wax, the Turtle Wax 1-Step Wax & Dry, Griot’s Garage Liquid Gloss Poly Wax Kit, the Collinite No. 845 Insulator Wax, and the Car Guys Hybrid Wax Sealant. Any of these will give your car a long-lasting, gleaming finish.
Choosing the right kind of car wax
Car waxes come in three main varieties: liquids, sprays, and pastes. Before choosing which type to buy, you should know what you’re looking for in your waxing job, whether that is glossiness, durability, protection, or ease of application.
Liquid waxes are good for a deep cleaning and are your best bet for older cars that really need a polish. These are great at giving cars a glossy finish, and tend to be long-lasting.
Wax sprays win out when it comes to ease of application and removal. They aren’t the best for deep cleaning or weather protection, however, and tend to be the shortest-lasting of the bunch. They work well in a pinch, or if you wash and finish your car regularly.
Paste waxes are notoriously difficult to apply but are the most durable of the wax types. While they may start to lose their sealing power after about five weeks, you likely won’t have to replace a paste wax job until three months have gone by.
Getting the pre-wax prep job right
You can do everything right—choosing the right wax type and product—but still end up with a poor waxing job. If you skimp on the pre-wax prep, you’re bound to get subpar results.
Car-owners should also use a chemical cleaner to decontaminate the paint before applying, according to Car and Driver. The site recommends using a clay-bar product to smoothen the car’s surface, removing any stains or dust particles. For those looking for a perfectly smoothed-out finish, isopropyl alcohol is an especially thorough cleaner.
After this step, your car will be ready for the wax application.
Finally, Car and Driver notes that while most drivers will be happy with this waxing job, if you want even longer-lasting protection, you’ll need to opt for a ceramic coating. These are hard work to apply, but they tend to last from one to two years, making them the longest-lasting option around.