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Best Car Waxes

Updated June 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 38 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 181 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best car waxes

    Last Updated June 2018

    When you invest in a car, you want to keep it in top condition for as long as possible. But even if you wash it regularly, you won’t get that showroom shine if you don’t use a good car wax on your vehicle at least a couple times a year.

    With so many different kinds of car waxes available, finding the right one can be pretty confusing. You have to choose between natural and synthetic waxes, figure out what formula offers the easiest application, and decide what other qualities will be best for your car. It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed.

    At BestReviews, we’re here to simplify your shopping process. We’re able to offer objective recommendations because we don’t take any free or promotional items from manufacturers. We also know just what to look for in the items we’re considering because we chat with experts who give us deeper insight into the products. That allows us to pass along to you all the key facts about the items you want, and you can feel less confused.

    Ready to pick up some car wax? You’ll find our top recommendations in the matrix above. If you’re just looking for general advice on car wax, our shopping guide has everything you need to know.

    Ideally, wax your car when the temperature is between 55°F and 85°F, so the wax goes on and comes off as easily as possible.

    Why wax your car?

    • Boost Shine

    Simply washing your car can’t give it the high shine that a coat of car wax can.

    • Ease Cleaning

    Washing your car can be a hassle, but a waxed car makes the chore a little easier. The wax keeps dirt and residue from coming into contact with the car’s paint, so you can wipe it away more easily when you wash.

    • Protect Car

    Wax forms a protective barrier over your car’s finish, so acid rain and other environmental hazards won’t penetrate the paint and corrode the car.

    • Smooth Scratches

    Wax can’t remove scratches from your car’s finish, but it can fill them in so they’re less noticeable.

    • Protect Paint

    Rocks and debris can cause small nicks in your car’s paint. A coat of wax can help the debris slide off the surface without chipping the paint.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Most waxes should be allowed to sit on the car’s surface for a few minutes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to know when to remove the wax.

    Natural vs. synthetic car waxes

    Natural car wax is made from carnauba wax, from Brazilian palm trees, which is often combined with beeswax or turpentine to form car wax. This kind of natural wax works especially well on cars with dark paint finishes. It is extremely effective at boosting shine and repelling water.

    Natural wax is available in white and yellow. The yellow wax is made of pure carnauba, so it’s a higher grade. The drawback to natural wax is that the finish only lasts four months.

    Synthetic car wax is also known as paint sealant. It is composed of chemicals that bond with the car’s paint. It offers an extremely long-lasting finish – in many cases, you’ll only need to wax your car once a year.

    However, synthetic car wax doesn’t offer the same high shine as natural car wax.

    EXPERT TIP

    Get the best of both worlds by using both synthetic and natural waxes. Buff on a layer of synthetic wax, and then apply a coat of natural wax for major shine and protection.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Car wax features to consider

    Plastic compatibility

    Most car exteriors have plastic components, including bumpers and door trim, and many of these are dark in color. Some car waxes don’t work well on plastic. The wax can leave behind a residue that’s impossible to remove without a special plastic cleaner. Choose a wax that’s made for use on plastic, so you don’t have to worry about being too careful about where you apply it.

    Quantity

    Car wax is available in containers in a range of sizes, from 11 to 64 ounces. In most cases,  a larger container is a better value, but if you’re trying out a new formula or brand of wax, it’s better to start with a small container. You want to make sure that the wax is compatible with your car’s finish before you commit to buying a larger size.

    If your car has any scratches or other damage, apply car polish before you wax it. The polish smooths the damage and helps the wax adhere better.

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    BestReviews

    Formula

    Liquid car wax is the product of choice for many car owners.

    Pros:

    • Soft, smooth consistency.

    • Easy to apply.

    • Quick to use.

    • Added polymers for long-lasting shine.

    • Easy to clean.

    • Dries fairly quickly.
       

    Cons:

    • Doesn’t always go on evenly.

    • Can be hard to buff out.
       

    Paste car wax is a classic option. It’s what many people think of when they think of car wax.

    Pros:

    • Applies evenly.

    • Buffs out easily.

    • Dries more quickly.

    • Attractive shine.
       

    Cons:

    • Can be hard to spread.

    • Can be hard to buff.
       

    Spray car wax is useful if you’re in a hurry.

    Pros:

    • Quickest and easiest to use.

    • Doesn’t require drying.

    • Good for touch-ups or spot waxing.
       

    Cons:

    • Less shine.

    • Less durability.

    • No cleaning capabilities.

    If there are streaks on your car after waxing, let the sun melt the residue for about 15 minutes. You can then buff it away with a microfiber cloth. Don’t use a brush to buff the wax. The bristles can scratch your car’s finish.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Two-in-one

    If you want to save time when it comes to washing and detailing your car, choose a two-in-one wash-and-wax product. These formulas contain a car-safe soap mixed with a bit of wax, so you can wash off the dirt and grime and leave a shine behind. These products aren’t as durable as wax-only formulas. They don’t protect your car as well either, so they’re best used to supplement waxing with other products.

    Clear coat safe

    Many cars have a clear coat finish, which is a resin or paint without any pigment. It provides an impressive shine, often deepens the paint color beneath it, and can protect the car from sun fade. An abrasive car wax can scratch the clear coat, leaving it dull and hazy. If your car has a clear coat, choose a wax formula that specifically indicates that it’s safe for vehicles with this finish.

    EXPERT TIP

    Use a gentle, circular motion to apply wax to your car. Overlap your strokes to make sure you cover the entire surface. Some car waxes come with an applicator. Use it for the best results.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Car wax prices

    Car wax prices vary based on the formula and the size of the container. In most cases, you can expect to spend between $4 and $40.

    • Spray Wax

    You’ll typically pay between $4 and $15 for a 16- to 24-ounce bottle.

    • Wash and Wax

    You’ll typically pay between $8 and $25 for a gallon container.

    • Paste Wax

    You’ll typically pay between $5 and $30 for a 10- to 16-ounce container.

    • Liquid Wax

    You’ll typically pay between $18 and $40 for a 16- to 18-ounce bottle.

    EXPERT TIP

    To create the smoothest finish, wipe in straight lines when you remove the wax from your car.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    • Wax your car in mild weather. If the temperature is too high, the wax can dry too quickly. In cold weather, the wax may not buff out as easily.

    • Start with a clean surface. Wash your car well before applying the wax.

    • Spot test a new wax on a hidden area. It’s a good idea to test a new car wax in a place that isn’t noticeable to see how your car’s finish reacts to it.

    • Don’t use too much wax at once. Start with a thin layer of wax. If you aren’t happy with the finish after you’ve buffed it, you can always apply a second coat.

    • Use microfiber rags or towels. This fabric is much more effective at applying and removing wax than cotton or terry cloth.

    • Wax in small areas. If you leave the wax on the car for too long, it can become very difficult to remove.

    • Work your way from top to bottom. For the most effective waxing, start waxing at the top of your car and work your way down.

    It’s best to wax your car in a garage or other covered area, out of direct sunlight. The sun can cause the wax to dry too quickly.

    FAQ

    Q. Is natural wax better for my car than synthetic wax?

    A. Either natural or synthetic car wax can work well to protect your car’s finish. Natural wax usually offers a higher shine, but synthetic wax tends to be more durable, which means you don’t need to apply it as often.

    Q. What’s the difference between car wax and car polish?

    A. The terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Polish is meant solely to give your car a shiny, glossy finish. Car wax provides shine, but it also helps protect your car’s finish from the sun’s UV rays, moisture, and other environmental hazards.

    Q. How often should I wax my car?

    A. It depends on your local climate and how you store your car. If you live in a hot climate near the ocean where your car is regularly exposed to salt and sun, you should wax the vehicle approximately every three months. If you keep your car in a garage, you might only need to wax it once a year. Keep the season in mind, too. During the winter, when your car may be exposed to snow and salt, you might need to wax more often to protect the finish.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Bronwyn
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    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer