How to wax a car: A proper guide to car waxing

The Dude —  July 19, 2015

By Robert Ferguson for The Workbench Life

Maintaining your car’s finish requires applying a coat of wax on a regular basis. Car wax provides a lustrous shine and helps protect the car’s finish from moisture and dirt. A properly waxed vehicle is also easier to clean, as the layer of wax helps repel dirt and water.

A wide range of car waxes is available, including synthetics and silicone, Teflon products, and natural carnauba wax. Understanding the different properties of car wax products will help you select the one that is right for you and your car.

Synthetic polymers and acrylics

Synthetic polymers and acrylic-based car waxes offer good protection and are resistant to extreme temperature variations. The wax, sold in liquid or paste form, is easy to apply, with protection lasting up to eight months or longer – which makes it the best car wax for novices.

Teflon and silicone

Teflon and silicone-based car waxes add significant depth and luster to your vehicle’s finish. The liquid products are extremely easy to apply and are extremely durable, with protection lasting a year or more. However, there is a price to pay for that protection and ease of application: molecules from these products penetrate painted surfaces. This process is called “drifting,” and can present major problems if you decide to repaint your car. Once embedded into the finish, the molecules prevent paint form bonding to the surface.


Carnauba car wax originates from the carnauba palm found in Brazil and other parts of South America. This type of car wax is widely considered a natural wax, although some variations include synthetics. Carnauba wax provides a rich, deep luster on dark-colored finishes. The most common types of carnauba wax are sold in a paste, which can be difficult to apply for a novice. Because the finish lasts just two to three months—and previous layers of carnauba must be removed before a new layer is added—this type of wax requires the most labor to apply.

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has more than 30 years of experience in
residential home improvement, which he shares with writing clients across the
U.S. Robert is also a frequent contributor to
Workbench Life

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