How to wax a car

Updated: September 25, 2013
A car before and after applying a car wax

If you want your car to look like new again, waxing is the easiest way to do it. I took these photos on the same day, before and after we washed and waxed this Acura. It takes only 30-40 minutes to wax the entire car and good quality car wax products are widely available and not very expensive. A bottle of a decent quality car wax cost from $18 to $40. One bottle of a car wax will last you for a few years.
When applied, a car wax forms a thin layer over the clearcoat surface. This layer repels water and covers minor scratches and chips making them less visible and protecting exposed metal from corrosion. The car wax also shields the clearcoat finish from harmful chemicals.
Ready to try? All you need is a good quality car wax, soft cotton towel and a sponge applicator. If you want a more complete job, get some tire shine and window spray too. Your car must be clean and dry. It's best to wax it right after washing. Park it in the shade for best results. Make sure there is no sand left around the wheel arches; sand can scratch the clearcoat while buffing.
If you have a dark car that has stone chips in the front, a color wax can help. Read how to use a color wax on the next page.

Waxing a car, step 1

Shake the car wax bottle well. Apply small amount of wax to the foam applicator and spread it evenly onto one section of the car.

Waxing a car, step 2

You want to make a thin, even layer of wax. Try to avoid black non-glossy panels, like unpainted mirrors and bumpers as the wax will leave white stains on them.

Waxing a car, step 3

Allow the wax to haze; it takes about a minute. You will notice that it appears more "foggy" or "dry." Start buffing when it looks like this.

Waxing a car, step 4

Buff the area thoroughly with a clean soft towel using circular motions. Once in a while flip the towel over; the clean part of the towel works better.

Waxing a car, step 3

It's OK to wax the taillights too. The same way, apply a thin layer of wax first.

Waxing a car, step 3

Then buff thoroughly. The plastic will look more glossy.

Waxing a car, step 3

It's easier to wax one half of the roof from one side, and another half from the other side.

Waxing a car, step 3

Once one section is done, move on to the next one.

Waxing a car, step 5

After the entire car is done, clean the wax from unpainted plastic and rubber surfaces. A window spray cleaner will work well for this purpose.

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