There are so many different types of car waxes and products available, it can be confusing choosing the right wax product for you. We felt the same way, and as a result have created our Interactive Best Car Wax Guide to help you find the right wax choice for your car or truck.
In an effort to explain the many characteristics of car wax, we have broken down all things wax into three criteria: (1) Category of Car Wax; (2) Type of Wax; and (3) Form of Wax.
Two Categories of Car Wax
Also known as all-in-one products, cleaner waxes relies on either chemical agents or an abrasive, or a hybrid of the two, to clean or restore dirty paint to an improved condition. The cleaner wax will remove oxidation and debris from the paint surface, restore depth and shine, and protect the paint from debris damage. The reason cleaner waxes are referred to as an all-in-one product is because the cleaner wax will perform the following functions in one single step:
1. Clean the Paint Surface
2. Polish the Paint to Shine
3. Provide a Protective Layer on the Paint
This all-in-one, or single-step approach, is a time-saving alternative for those not desiring to utilize a three individual step approach involving three different products, i.e. a rubbing compound, car polish and finishing sealant. However, paint with more significant oxidation may require the added concentration found in the three-step process.
Choosing the best car wax for a vehicle will depend on the amount or seriousness of paint oxidation and the amount of time one has to focus on cleaning the vehicle. Additionally, you do not want to use a cleaner wax on a new vehicle or a vehicle with a new paint job. Typically, for most daily driven used vehicles, an all-in-one cleaner wax is sufficient to achieve the result the vehicle owner desires.
A finishing wax does not include any chemical agent or abrasive used to clean paint, however are used simply to put a shine on an otherwise already clean and excellent paint condition. The finishing wax does not clean, it merely adds a protective layer to the paint to minimize subsequent debris and oxidation.
A finishing wax is typically wiped onto the paint, spread over the paint’s surface lightly, and then immediately removed from the paint. You would work the vehicle panel by panel until the finishing wax has been applied over the entire vehicle exterior.
The finishing wax is not applied like a cleaner wax, as the cleaner wax is typically applied with a bit more force to remove defects in the paint.
Types of Car Wax
Wax made from natural ingredients, most commonly Carnauba, which comes from a Brazilian plant. Most products you find in auto parts stores and other retailers contain carnauba only in concert with other ingredients, as opposed to pure carnauba.
Synthetic wax is produced from synthetic components or ingredients. These synthetic waxes are produced to provide consumers a lower costs option that provides a similar result as the natural wax products.
Natural versus Synthetic Wax
It is commonly accepted that a natural wax will produce a shinier finish on your vehicle, however natural waxes, such as a purely carnauba wax, will come at a steep price. A synthetic wax will still produce a nice shine on most vehicles, however a synthetic wax will likely be much less expensive than a natural wax product.
Also synthetic waxes usually provide a longer lasting shine and protection than a natural wax, as a natural wax will need to be re-applied every two months or so. Next, synthetic waxes are usually much easier to apply and remove than a natural wax. There is nothing keeping a car owner from applying a synthetic wax initially to provide longer lasting layer of protection, and then immediately following it up with a layer of natural wax for a deeper glossy finish. There may not be a best car wax for you, but a best combination of car wax depending on your time and desired-result.
Forms of Car Wax
There are three forms of car wax available today, including (1) liquid (2) paste and (3) spray. Each of these three forms of car wax have certain advantages and disadvantages, which we will explore.
A liquid wax is typically the best option for cleaning oxidized paint, and providing a good gloss and protection layer to the paint. However, these liquid waxes are difficult to apply in even layers and difficult to remove. Also liquid waxes will be very sensitive to the environmental conditions, such as wind, sun and temparature. These climatic conditions can affect both the performance of the wax, as well as the level of difficulty in applying and removing the wax.
A paste wax is the best choice for ease of application of a cleaner wax. Paste waxes tend to provide less of a gloss finish than a liquid wax, and provide less protection than a liquid wax provides. Again, climatic conditions can affect both performance and ease of application/removal of a paste wax, and it is recommended to utilize the liquid and paste waxes in a garage, or shaded cool area.
Spray waxes are appropriate for use on new vehicles, vehicles with new paint or vehicles with excellent paint condition. These waxes are simply for convenience, and should not be used to clean or remove oxidation. They provide less protection than a paste or liquid wax, however are much easier to apply and remove than a liquid or paste wax.
Rubbing compound is a compound that contains abrasives used to remove scratches and other minor defects in a vehicle’s paint. Like sandpaper, there are many different grades for rubbing compounds, ranging from a compound containing fine abrasives to one containing coarse abrasives. Rubbing compound may be a cheap and quick solution for repairing minor scratches in your vehicle’s paint.
When applied to a vehicle’s paint, a rubbing compound will move the paint surrounded the scratch until the paint is a depth equal to that of the scratch. The compound will then dry and fill up with scratch in the paint, and once removed will help the scratched area resemble the paint surrounding the scratch. For minor scratches, rubbing compound is an awesome tool.